Oversized head shots mark where employees work—that
is, when they’re not racing adult Big Wheels or waging a
Nerf gun war. “It’s a space where people are having fun,
working together, trying to achieve greatness as a team,”
says Chief People Officer Mike Malloy.
Quicken Loans, a finance and tech company that
employs 17,000 people in the Detroit area, occupies a
series of historic properties whose past lives are given a
nod in the design. For example, a former bank building’s
massive vault is now a conference room.
er’s conditions, yet we’re still wired to
survey our surroundings for threats—
whether they come in the form of a
saber-toothed tiger or a toxic boss—
and then retreat to a sanctuary once
we feel safe.
The most creative spaces are not
open ofces or “rabbit warrens” of cubicles, he says. Rather, the best ones
are designed so workers have access to
both types of environments.
After generations of building hor-
izontal workspaces, architects are
better understanding the need to go
vertical, too. Amazon’s domes contain
perches where employees can look out
over the campus.
One obvious drawback of open space
is the noise. Stress hormones are released starting with 55 decibels of
sound―the same level of typical human conversations, Medina explains.
“You can watch productivity begin to
decline” when noise rises to that level.
Human voices and dialogue are particularly hard for our brains to ignore.
“That’s the golden egg of design―
to encourage collaboration without
making [workers] crazy because it’s
so noisy,” Truhan says.
YOUR OFFICE SPACE,
Because everyone works diferently, experts recommend giving indi- viduals some freedom to customize their areas. Credenzas in Jamba’s
workspace have cushions so colleagues
can sit to collaborate, for example, but
one employee who doesn’t like that
practice keeps the cushion hidden under the desk.
“No two brains are the same, even
in twins,” says Ryan Mullenix, a partner at NBBJ in Seattle, which is testing the concept of customization on its