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CYBERNETIC

Workplace + Technology

OVERVIEW

This undergraduate thesis is an attempt to comprehend technology in context to its conceptual application and its impact on the spatial design of the workplace. The research, book, and viva was completed in the course of 16 weeks. I was awarded the best undergraduate design research thesis, CEPT University, India.
 

 

ROLE

Research

Strategy

Spatial Design

TIME

16 Weeks

Spring 2019

TEAM

Individual

Research Thesis

TOOLS

Design thinking

Indesign

Autocad

METHODO

METHODOLOGY

WORKPLACE


RESEARCH

QUESTION

An inquiry into the application of  technology to identify its influence on spatial planning in offices?


01 

 
 

DRIVER

OF CHANGE

TAYLORISM 1904

BUROLANDSCHAFT
OFFICE 1961

OPEN OFFICE PLAN

HERMAN MILLER
ACTION OFFICE 1969

CUBICLE FARM

OPEN OFFICE PLAN

 

Technology is disrupting workplace behavior. Over the last 10 years, information technology use migrated from the corporate realm into consumer-focused applications and systems. Advances in technology are having a significant impact on shaping the work environment; such that not just individuals are changing how they do their everyday activities, yet the spaces to perform such activities are additionally evolving. Traditionally, office spaces were only seen as a cost. Organizations would hire an architect or designer, ask to design the space, the office would start functioning, the designer's job is done and remains a static space. Now with the increase in the application of technology, office spaces need to be fluid environment and be customized to employees’ needs to improve employee engagement and productivity. 

 

Over period of time, a cybernetic system as an idea of office emerged. A system in which technology connects work and people. These situations together came about into circumstances that informed a rethinking of office design with a better flow of communication and work process. This had moved the office from a data processing factory to a place for creative processing of communication and information. Therefore, it becomes critical for the organization and designers to understand the drivers affecting the shift in the workplace and how to respond with the change.

DRIVER OF


02 


METHODOLOGY

CONCEPTS OF TECHNOLOGY

 

CONCEPTS

OF TECHNOLOGY

PROCESS

CONTROLS

SYSTEM

HERMAN MILLER
ACTION OFFICE 1969

CUBICLE FARM

OPEN OFFICE PLAN

ONTOLOGY

OF TECHNOLOGY

ONTOLOG

PROCESS

CONTROLS

SYSTEMS

Thus, it’s not just the technology we use at work that has changed the office design; it’s the concepts of application of technology that permit us which directly impacts the environment in office design. Therefore, the notion of the use of technology seems
to be an outcome of the mentioned shift in ontological terms which has lead to new ways of working.

INNOVATION

OF NEW WAYS OF WORKING

INNOVATI

TELEWORKING

HOTDESKING

In the workplace, a new “anytime, anywhere” work culture is emerging. New ways of working balances individual space with formal meeting rooms, and non-traditional spaces. The concept of teleworking, hot-desking and other alternative workspaces gives the employee the flexibility to work from anywhere without hampering the work. After deriving the new ways of working, I evaluated them with Duffy work modes and current work modes.

WORK LOUNGE

WORK CAFE

INNOVATION

OF WORK MODES

INNOVATI

The term “action setting” covers various kinds of workstations, meeting rooms, and other zones inside the workplace, each
intended to help a chose type of work activities, for instance, places for communication concentration and collaboration.

The essential presumption of the ABW concept is that it empowers employees to utilize the most fitting activity-based working, by exchanging between various activity settings at whatever
the point they switch between various sorts of work activities (Van Koetsveld and Kamperman, 2011).

 

DEWG & BRE’s, New environment for working investigated elective models of work modes for kinds of the organization to comprehend their diverse effects on space use and occupancy. Hence, it is the innovation of rethinking the time utilization of space that is the
primary means by which architectural design can provide buildings and workplaces
that better support users are emerging needs an organization’s efficiency.

CONCEPTS

The series of case studies discuss the concepts of application of technology in real work scenarios. Case studies discusses four different organizational types and their take on spatial planning as a consequence of technological development

Airbnb CX Hub, occupying a historical Blagen Block, Portland which opened a North American independent operational CX hub in downtown Portland. The CX hub is the first customer experience office outside Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco. The office accommodates 350 employees primarily focused on customer
experience.

 

The idea was to redefine how people can work in a call center which also supports Airbnb’s brand identity - ‘Belong Anywhere’! The office redefines how people can work in a call center. The workplace is the result of Airbnb’s research on how to design work behavior for the customer experience agents in the office.

FIRM | Boora Architects & Airbnb Environments
SIZE | 3437 SQM
EMPLOYEE | 350 People
YEAR | 2014-2017
LOCATION | Portland, Oregon, USA
INDUSTRY | Call center | Online e-commerce

In the workplace, a new “anytime, anywhere” work culture is emerging.New ways of working balances individual space with formal meeting rooms, and non-traditional spaces. The concept of teleworking, hot-desking and other alternative workspaces gives the employee the flexibility to work from anywhere without hampering the work.

The above table identifies a range of workspaces in the Airbnb call center their configurations and the area they occupy in the space. All four work modes were identified in the Airbnb office. Around 56% of the entire space is for a percentage for alternative workspace. There
are four options for “I” shared and “We shared” while three options can be used for “I” owned and “We owned.” This shows the emergence of a range of workspaces “Third place”.

INFERENCE

INFERENC

Airbnb is unlike typical call centers, space planning reflects “CLUB” organization where workers never again need to remain in one spot in densely arranged workstations, the mobility and flexibility have enabled them to work anywhere with ‘Focus’ rather than working on one assigned desk for the entire time.

BCG office changes the standards of the counseling work environment. The office has committed practically 37% for both collaborative works in a team and conference rooms with 37% for lounge and cafe where they can talk about work without occupying individual cells which wouldn’t be utilized for most days of the week.

Wieden+Kennedy office demonstrates the comparative example to “DEN” yet with a change in 50% of focus work with no owned desk in an open place sitting and 41% common areas as lounge and meeting rooms as collaborative spaces in the workplace.

GLG, a telecom office is a contrary model to ordinary club organizations. The workplace has 53% devoted to the unassigned workstation. Even with increased mobility and flexibility, out of the four working environments, GLG, the tech office holds the most extreme space of 54% devoted to unassigned but densely arranged workstation vs Airbnb and BCG with almost 27% of the space.

Conceptual application of
technology shows a shift in the spatial organization


All the four work modes are found indifferent organizational fields i.e. the organizations need a great balance of an individual process, the concentrated study, group process, and transnational knowledge


“I” vs “We” working as the ratio of 53: 47


The shift in office furniture system 40% of shared space as Third place


Non assigned desking
2:1 person per desk
Space reduction person per sqm

Changing notions of
“I WORK HERE TO
I'm WORKING ON THIS”


03 


CASE STUDIES

PRIMARY + SECONDARY

 


04 


KEY

FINDINGS

 

From the analysis of the above-listed case studies and observations from examples, it can be stated that technology is reshaping the functional and spatial organization in different organization typologies. The level of the effect may contrast depending on the integration of the application of technology in the working environment. There are three primary reasons for the impact through the technological development: The processes that informed the way work can be performed in the office, the controls dealing with what tools used to process the information and the system that combines the process and controls to govern where the work can be performed in the office.

 

KEY FINDINGS

ONE

the 1900’s
Technological boom


Better flow of communication and
Information


Work Process


Work Productivity


1900’s Francis Duffy mentioned
technology as a driver to change
in future workplace design

Technology as an enabler

than a driver of change

KEY FINDINGS

TWO

21st century
Technological advancemen
t


Z Generations
Creative simulation in a work 
environment


Workplace flexibility


Physiological needs

Thus, through the research, it can be stated that regardless of the high dependence on IT, work environments are formed by human attributes, for example, physical space and face to face interaction. As a consequence, the role of technology as a driver of change is questioned and the role of an enabler of change favored.

Response to shift in functional and spatial planning

Airbnb, Portland

KEY FINDINGS

THREE

Thus, the research highlights the ever-changing and increasing application of technology is leading to change in the organizational ecology — the above-listed examples emphasis on blurring lines between Francis Duffy work modes in the offices. Based on the results, no organizations can be categorized as being entirely a ‘Hive, Cell, Den or Club.’ Similarly, the combination of all types at any one time must consist of proportions of all four types. The challenge is to design the office that can keep up with changing work methods without disrupting the actual work.

Boston consulting group, Seattle

Third place

Emerging 40% Third place in the
office to increase collaboration is a
design that transforms under-used
break-out spaces into a functional
all-day, multi-functional area


This is a common notion in coworking spaces where people share spaces while working individually on their own business but the same approach of working is seen within independent organizations.

A break out of their traditional meaning of work and move ahead to a situation that is more flexible, engaging, and satisfying.

FOUR

KEY FINDINGS

Domesticity

With the demand for ‘third’ place, it’s clear that the Z generation, i.e., today’s workforce seeks an inspiring and comfortable workspace that enables a sense of calm and makes the work process easy.


To adapt to this shift, organizations are developing offices with a ‘residential’ sensitivity in mind. A merge of “residential” and “commercial,” spatial design elements that are emerging ‘resimercial’ approach which brings aspects of home into the commercial work environment.

At long last, the thought of workplace “domesticity and wellbeing” is turning into a fundamental topic,
one that is prompting changes in the workplace culture and design.

 
 
 
 

WHAT I LEARNT

Literature review and methodology: In order to define the application of technology, intensive reading on concepts of technology as part of the major process. To validate the topic, a literature review for giving lends to rethinking the application of technology in office spaces through the concepts of connectivity, mobility, and flexibility. The literature review was an important part of the research to derive conclusions
 
Click here to view the entire thesis book.
 

 

Let's connect

If you want to learn more about my work, or just want to grab some coffee, I'd love to chat  poddaashna@gmail.com