Putting Place Before Products in Office Design

Office design has evolved significantly from the Dickensian counting houses of the 19th century, informed in no small part by an ever-growing body of workplace research. Yet today’s offices tend to be generally uninspiring places. The soul-sucking atmosphere of the modern cubicle farm is a widely accepted phenomenon and the subject of parody in popular media the likes of "Dilbert" and Office Space. Our supposed savior, the open-plan layout, isn’t doing much better. Roughly 70 percent of today's offices have an open floor plan, and studies of experiences in such spaces reveal higher rates of illness and distraction that often exceed whatever benefits come from working shoulder to shoulder.