Interior design can have an incredible impact on your state of mind. Considering this fact, we want to discuss what higher education design can learn from what office design has already been doing to increase satisfaction and productivity in the workplace. The distinction between institutional interiors and workplace design has become murky at best. The students of today aren’t accepting of the designs their parents and grandparents once were. Today’s learners demand mobility and choice in a comfortable, aesthetic package.
Coffee Break Anyone?
The breakroom has been a staple in the American workplace for decades. More than just a caffeine dispensary, these are places where employees can get away from their desks and create real connections with one another.
However, recent times have seen changes to this. What was once a walk over to the breakroom has become a quick jaunt to a nearby coffee shop. The industry has taken notice and responded by providing the same types of open, relaxed and creative spaces that you might find in a coffee shop.
Today, we are seeing the importance of that same coffee shop environment in universities.
A New Approach to Work Areas
Office spaces show many of the strongest similarities and differentiators between higher education and corporate interior design.
New corporate offices are open, fresh and inspiring. More and more corporations are restricting owned space to a fraction of what it was 10 years ago. This is due in large part to technology being much smaller and requiring far less space. The result of this has been more space for other amenities, such as that aforementioned coffee shop.
While only true selectively, much of the corporate world has removed – or great reduced – private offices. Employees are sitting together equally with access to conference rooms and 1:1 huddle rooms when privacy is needed.
These design trends seem to be quite successful in higher education as well. By providing storage but not assigned space to an entity, everyone gets more.
Where the Similarities End
The crossover of the workplace and higher education works well when designing for students, but challenges arise when considering faculty and staff. The private office is something of a status symbol that faculty and staff aren’t ready to give up. Moreover, there is a clear need for privacy when talking with students or dealing with sensitive matters. While some argue that small huddle rooms spread throughout open, collaborative spaces could be the solution, only time will tell.
Would you like to learn more about what it would take to design a higher education facility like we’ve described here? Get in touch with the team at CMBA Architect!