Designing office space for a world of web workers

As more and more people use the internet to make their work mobile and free themselves from being shackled to the office, it’s not just workers’ lifestyles that are going to change – our physical work spaces are bound to as well.

As we’ve covered before, when more workers spend more time away from company headquarters, the size of offices may shrink. But will campuses change in any other ways?

It’s a question that the MIT Technology Review tackled recently via a photo gallery of innovative offices built to serve a more mobile and collaborative workforce. The photos are worth checking out at the magazine’s site, but what general lessons can be gleaned from taking a look?

Giant conference rooms give way to smaller collaboration spaces. MIT cites Microsoft’s (s MSFT) newly renovated offices in Redmond, Washington as an example of this trend. “Pods” helps small teams there come together for short bursts of creative collaboration. “In these temporary work spaces, teams of two to five employees can collaborate on projects for weeks at a time.” MIT writes.

Small but not cramped. With more workers out of the office, companies may need less space but that doesn’t mean they want things to feel cramped – or for team members to worry about finding space to work at the office when they need it. To solve these issues, “Steelcase, an office design company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is designed to use minimal space but create an open feeling through strategic placement of drawers and privacy panels.”

Privacy amidst collaboration. People may now be coming to the office more for collaboration than to buckle down on individual tasks, but even in the midst of group work, team members still occasionally need privacy to make a call or hammer out a conflict. A “pod-like installation with adjustable privacy screens allows for semi-private meetings in communal areas,” is the answer at Steelcase.

Bringing the outside in. Research shows simply seeing nature is good for your brain and your productivity. Some offices, like Rackspace, an IT hosting company, are taking advantage by bringing the outside in, with spaces that “mimic a garden, complete with decking, swings, and fake grass.”

Is your physical office space ready for the workstyle of the future?

Image courtesy of Flickr user :mrMark:.