I just finished reading Quiet by Susan Cain
She talks in depth about the new obsession for group work or ‘groupthink’ and how this is shaping our workplaces with a bias towards the gregarious and extroverted.
It forces those who are not this way inclined into uncomfortable situations, where there is a high chance that they are not as productive as they could be.
I am working through some layouts for a small office scheme at the moment and the following questions have arisen thanks to Susan;
-What if we gave introverted personalities the chance to just be themselves for a time?
-Can they find a quiet corner to do things their way?
-Can we allow for people to have to opt-in to group space, not just be thrown into the public arena without choice?
-Can we do all this and not effect the extroverted, the people who really need connection, conversation and contact with others to be at their best?
-As designers, how can we convince our clients that what they have read about the benefits of open plan working, team working, and dread to think ‘brainstorming’, might not be all its cracked up to be for the modern workplace.
One answer to my planning problem might lie close to home.
This is the terrace where I live. Its quite unique in that we have a shared lawn (underneath which is the original cobbled street).
Each member of the terrace has a ‘terrace job’. It might be the painting the gate or mowing the lawn. There is a collective responsibility.
The grass is the space where we mix, play, party, relax. The older residents have seen several generations of kids grow up here. Ours kids are the latest installment.
One step back from the grass are the small front gardens, where the unwritten rule is ‘I’m here with my family or friends’. If someone is here, they want leaving alone except for a quick hello.
Once step back from here is the house, the private space where you can retreat if you like.
I have a suspicion that lawn does tempt the quieter types outside anyway, the lesson perhaps being that if you provide private space for escape, even introverts will join the party for a while.