Thursday, December 26, 2013

Take office design cues from Google and Pixar

Developing a space that fosters creativity and collaboration is one of the most significant aspects of designing a productive office. When your company relies on graphic designers, developers and writers to produce great material, design and custom office workstations become even more important. There should be a relationship between the area and the people who work in it. Some of the most creative and industrial people in the world work at Pixar, the digital animation studio, and Google, the Internet-based multi-national corporation. By looking at their offices as a model for your own, you can create a space in which people love to work. 


In 1999, Pixar founder Steve Jobs set out to achieve two essential designs within his new office: one that promoted physical human encounters and facilitated unplanned collaborations through a timeless aesthetic appeal. Only recently has office design considered collaboration important to office design, and in the late 90s, cubicle systems were the status quo. His ideas were ahead of his time and would influence office layouts for the next decade.

Jobs brought in famous interior designer Bohlin Jackson to help create his ideal work environment. To help foster a space for human encounters and collaboration, a large atrium that housed a reception area, employee mailboxes, a recreation and fitness center and a 40-seat movie theater were put into the design of the office. 


Many of the same design features in Pixar's office are echoed in Google's New York campus. By an operational coincidence, Google's elevators are slow. Architects built vertical ladder chutes for employees to use which facilitates casual collisions, a gesture designed to facilitate Jobs's unplanned collaborations.

The layout of the office was also designed to be no more than 150 feet from food. This means that a restaurant, cafeteria or micro-kitchen is always just seconds away from employees. It encouraged workers to bump into each other even if they didn't work in the same department.

Your own office space

You might not have or need the space to lay out your office like these global companies, but consider these features when planning your design:

An open plan - Set aside an open space where employees can walk through and casually meet their coworkers. Facilitate creativity between departments by designing an area that encourages unplanned collaborations.

Emphasize collaborative work areas - Set up a custom office workstations that can seat two or more employees. You can boost the productivity of your workers by creating a flowing, interactive environment instead of one that is restricted and solitary.

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