Tour an office with no assigned workstations [slideshow]

The New York office of the Gerson Lehrman Group recently redesigned its office without personal desks or cubicles. 

August 20, 2014 |

Most office workers relish the opportunity to personalize their cubicles, but some people also feel restricted in those small spaces. What happens if employees get the run of the entire office, but no particular space of their own?

The New York office of the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), a consulting firm, converted to such a setup recently. Its 250 employees were each given a locker, a laptop, and told to get to work anywhere they wanted.

According to Business Insider, this is the largest-scale implementation of activity-based working in the U.S. Activity-based working is a Dutch theory about office work, which states that workers will be happiest and most productive if they can work in a variety of different spaces based on the task they're performing. 

For instance, you might start out the day collaborating with co-workers in a conference space and then move to a more-private space to work on your own.

The space was also engineered to create better space for hosting clients. Now, instead of taking clients out to restaurants, GLG can entertain them in their actual offices. 


Courtesy of GLG & Vimeo


When Business Insider went into the office, they spoke with a few of the employees about how the new layout is working. 

"I definitely find that moving around helps me get work done," systems analyst Mike Martin said. "I feel like I'm a dynamic person who can work in a loud environment, but there are definitely days where you want to duck off into a telephone booth and sort of dive into the task at hand."

It seems that employees were worried about the change, and about being deprived of the ability to personalize their offices. But Clive Wilkinson, who designed the new space, posits that the need for personalization comes from the fact that workplaces have historically been less than comfortable. By creating a more welcoming space, he said, it removes the need to decorate the office. 

Personal items are stored in employees' individual lockers, which are organized into clusters by departments. 

GLG's human resources department reports that the biggest complaint they've had so far is from women who don't know where to put the extra pairs of shoes they change in and out of during the day, and this problem was solved by the allocation of a closet for footwear. 


Courtesy of GLG & Vimeo


Courtesy of GLG & Vimeo.


Courtesy of GLG & Vimeo


Courtesy of GLG & Vimeo


Check out this video from GLG about the new space

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