All stories

A room for thought

This short text is an ode to Sprint Rooms. Whilst putting a lot of thought into the tools we use on a daily basis, here at WONDROUS we’ve simultaneously been discussing how our office space will need to adapt in order to facilitate change.

3 min read

Portrait of Peter Whinyates
by  Peter Whinyates

An Open Workspace

Whilst open space offices certainly have their merits, they also have many disadvantages. There are many reasons why a project will succeed. If you are able to provide an environment where all parties feel safe enough to take risks, a project team will be able to let their guard down faster. This will facilitate a conversation with increased diversity. Psychological safety can be a very real reason why a project may or may not succeed.

The Open Space Myth

The impact of open workspace on human collaboration has meant that whilst human interaction is declining, emails, text messages are rapidly increasing. With all of the monetary benefits an open workspace will provide, there are many reasons to create a more diverse work space. There is no “one size fits all” solution to office spaces. It’s not just the amount of collaboration that is on the decline – it’s also the quality of the collaboration. That’s bad news for us. Not only do we invest  resources into our workforce hoping to create collective intelligence, we also need to invest in facilitating that process, which means our work space needs to mirror that.

To adapt. Or not to adapt

How we work is changing rapidly. Our working environments need to change accordingly.

How can we, as a digital creative studio, stay agile enough to continuously adapt to our clients changing needs and requirements? A standard lease contract will run 5 years in Switzerland — which is a ridiculously long time in today's ever evolving landscape. How do we set up our offices in a way that our infrastructure will adapt to our clients evolving requirements?

Jake Knapp of Google Ventures wrote about how War Rooms are an integral part of Design Sprints. This, I’m sure, rings true for start-ups. Here at WONDROUS however, we have a slightly different setup and our clients have different needs – the results we’re looking for certainly have similarities, however, we’re currently noticing that the route to get there is a different one.

A Room for Thought  

On a recent trip to London with our founder Mitch, we stumbled across a gem of a pub called Fox and Anchor. Towards the back of the pub, there’s a collection of small rooms that are a part of the main room. These rooms within the room are called snugs. Apparently, there was a time when it was frowned upon for women to consume alcohol in public – so these small private rooms were conceived – ladies (or policemen or priests) would be able to enter discreetly, close the door and enjoy a tipple or two. I have been assured that these rooms still find regular usage for a cheeky lunchtime pint, or by CEO’s and celebrities that don’t wish to be seen or heard.

Intimacy is important.

So, who wins?

Whilst there are certainly many downsides to Open Space offices, they definitely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Our teams need space to collaborate, ideate, exchange and create together. We also need spaces to conspire, think, make voice and video calls, meet and co-create with our clients. We need war rooms, design sprint rooms, conference rooms and where the heck do we put the ping pong table and the communal kitchen? We are fortunate enough to share our hometown with an internationally renowned furniture company – who are also investing heavily into the future of the workspace. Our requirements now may not be the same as our requirements in 12 months, which is why we’re lucky to be discussing this process directly with them.  

One thing we do know for sure, is that we’ll certainly have to be making rooms for thought and ideating. Many thanks to the Fox & Anchor pub for the inspiration – this was certainly not the first and last time someone had an epiphany within a snug. Also, many thanks to Vitra for co-creating with us.

Stay tuned for updates on our next generation workspace.

About the author

This is Peter

Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.

Portrait of Peter Whinyates