Sticking it to office designers

'Velcro' office design named 'Office of the Future' by Financial Times

by Niki May Young 25 November 2008
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    Gensler was appointed by Edelman, the world’s largest independent PR agency, to design a new office space as part of a relocation that would bring together three companies and three cultures under one roof.

    The brief was to design a powerfully evocative and highly productive working environment that would reduce costs, increase productivity, unite a geographically fragmented workforce and define a new cultural personality and work ethos. Further still, another acute challenge faced byGensler was how to integrate three very different, dynamic and culturally strong-minded brands into working alongside one another.

    Prior to Edelman’s relocation in June cross-brand synergies were not being exploited and staff were limited to working at assigned desks with no collaborative spaces and little opportunity for socialising or knowledge sharing.The solution – billed as the ‘office of the future’ by the FT (5th November 2008)– is a sprawling 38,000 sq ft, single floor plate located in Victoria. A powerful new unifying culture of ‘inside media’ envelops the space, drawing inspiration from the world of print and digital media and defines the space for the revolutionary ‘conversation age.'

    Staff work in an open-plan ‘Velcro’ like environment which is capable of supporting change. Indepth consultations with suppliers produced a unique variable density desking system that caters for 260 and can accommodate a further 110 people overnight at no extra cost. This flexibility permits rapid alignment of resources, people, technology and systems giving Edelman acompetitive advantage within the marketplace.

    An aggressive filing audit, a dramatic reduction in ‘owned’ space and a strict policy of every space having at least two functions, permitted the design team to include almost the entire wish list of collaborative spaces on the floor. Staff have much more choice in how and where to work and are encouraged to get away from their desks as much as possible.

    Desk sharing, corridors that double as breakout areas, a reception that doubles as a coffee shop, directors’ offices doubling as meeting rooms, filing requirements reduced by 40% - the overarching philosophy thoughout the entire design process was one of reducing cost, maximingspace, increasing efficiency and boosting productivity.

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