Companies are increasingly adopting an open office environment driven by the need for a free working culture preferred by the young generation of workers.
One of the hallmarks of many a corporate organisation is an elaborate office design with large desks, a secretary almost hidden by a high top counter and a large corner office for the boss.
Well, that intimidating look might be on its way out if an office design pioneered by Vianello Modola Design gets entrenched.
The design involves creating an open office environment driven by the need for a free working culture preferred by the young generation of workers, a contrast to the current formal and strict office environment.
Among the companies that have embraced the new concept is One Africa Media, a conglomerate that includes online marketing startups such as Brighter Monday, Buyrent Kenya, Staynow and Checki.co.ke.
One Africa Media office on 14 Riverside Drive, for instance, looks more like a mini Disney World than an office. Recycled materials have been cobbled together to create eye-catching designs meant to create an easy office environment.
“This concept is meant to challenge the established way of doing things. There are no rooms or partitions that divide people socially and mentally. That is why we have even incorporated several games within the office such as table tennis,” says Carey Eaton, one of the founders of One Africa Media.
Eaton says the concept is about open collaboration, a flat hierarchy, rapid innovation, and attracting smart people and giving them work-life balance.
The company’s workplace includes working in the cloud, ensuring employees work from any place they prefer, office entertainment, periodic office parties and socialising.
“We’ve also incorporated strong values that are important to us by supporting local craftsmanship, innovation and design through the use of recycled Kenyan materials,” says Eaton.
For instance, one of the round conference tables has a car rim as its base. A nearby set of furniture includes seats made of the wooden, cylindrical spools mostly used to pool large cables. These are cut into half and padding material added to give them some soft base.
Visitors’ lounges consist of vintage Volkswagen car seats while some tabletops are made of airplane wings sourced from Wilson Airport. A plane tyre even serves as the support for one such table.
Unlike the corner cubicles used as water boiling points in many offices, there is a full-fledged kitchen decked with high stools where tea and snacks are made in full view of all. How that must get the taste buds overworked!
“We have a laid back culture but everyone here is goal oriented. The easy office setup allows workers to be more resourceful without being micromanaged. In any case, those who want some personal space can always put on their headphones and work while listening to their favourite music,” adds Eaton.
Around the world, more and more companies are embracing the idea of employee satisfaction mainly by redesigning the traditional corporate workspace.
Many are incorporating an activity based work environment, breaking down the traditional office and cubicle walls in favor of large open workspaces.
Besides fostering teamwork, such designs cut down on costs and improve productivity.
According to Business News Daily, such an office design is based on the needs of each company, where employees, by their very nature of work, need to be side by side without walls dividing them.
“When people are in for the day, they can sit down and collaborate with team members, but they don’t have a dedicated space that is theirs. They can come in at any time they choose for a meeting or to network and then that space could be used by somebody else, maybe the next day, who is in the office at that time,” writes Business News Daily.
Well, who said you cannot mix business and pleasure?