Exploring the ‘WE’ Space in a Workplace at Research Park

Presented by: Tina Patel

Problem Statement: Over the past five years, there has been a dramatic paradigm shift in the global economy, structures and cultures of the organizations, workforce demographics, the personal expectations of workers, technology and modes of working. This transition has created a new standard of office environment bearing hardly any resemblance of those of a decade ago. Research reveals a continuing shift toward collaboration in workplace. In 1985, just 30% of an individual’s output depended on working within a group, that figure has been presently up to 80% (Burton & Morello, 2006). Studies further have shown that collaboration usually produces more novel and well-considered ideas than individual work, thereby benefitting from the multiple viewpoints and dialog concepts only a group can provide. The end result: more meetings, more group projects, and less time in between. A Research Park in a university setting constructed its first building on the Campus, which has both private and university research tenants. The purpose of this building is to provide a location where business, industry, university and government researchers and scientists come together in one physical location to conduct and enhance research, new discoveries, technology transfer, and learning. The research park provides incubator space for these entrepreneurs to grow and flourish besides providing them with a sound business plan. A quick observation of this building revealed lack of spaces to collaborate, both internally and externally. Research Question: How do people behave in their physical workspace now and how will this change in future? How does the physical workspace influence collaborative actions such as one on one interaction, two, three and four-person meetings as an example? What types of technology and furniture can be supportive of these specific actions? This research poster drilled down into these questions, as it becomes a great tool to understand behaviors that create an effective office and design a space that is supportive of such actions. This is done through the lens of the building recently build at research park. Design Research Methodology: Utilizing the two research books, 101 Design Methods (Kumar) and Universal Methods of Design (Hanington & Martin) the modes incorporated for this research are: 1. Popular Media Scan (Mode 1.2) and Publications Research (Mode 2.3) 2. Trend Matrix (Mode 1.9) 3. Field Visits, Interviews and Observations (Mode 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6) 4. Insight Sorting (4.2) 5. Mindmapping (56), Scenarios (73) and Foresight Scenario (6.5) Outcomes: This study helped the author and the client understand how collaborative spaces represent a cultural shift from space that is ‘mine’ to a space that is ‘ours’. This also revealed that the employees should be encouraged to start thinking of the entire floor as their office, not just their individual workstations. Analyzing users perception on collaborative spaces through graffiti wall and image sorting could further expand this exploratory research. After receiving the feedback from them much clear understanding can develop about types of interactive spaces they would like to see at the facility. Thus, the spaces could be redesigned to accommodate that. This can further serve as a prototype for other incubator spaces on the campus of Research Park, offering similar environment.

References:

  • Burton, B. & Morello, D. (2016). Future Worker 2015: Extreme Individualism. Garter, 2006, Available: https://www.gartner.com/doc/490706
  • DeGuzman, V. G & Tang, I. A. (2011). 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization. New York: Wiley.
  • Hanington, B. (2012). Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions. New York: Rockport Publishers.
  • Kumar, V. (2011). Working in the UnOffice: A Guide to Coworking for Indie Workers, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits. New York: Night Owls Press LLC