High on that list is that the space gives me excuses to expand my professional network. That’s possible because it feels good – both physically and socially.
The way the physical space feels makes me (and hundreds of other people) want to be here. You can see the soaring ceilings, the beauty, the brightness from big windows, and the openness of the space. The umbrellas show that they’ve thought hard about how to define space — to make it feel somewhere — while maintaining the openness. The permanent spaces where I now sit have semi-transparent dividers that encourage you to not bother but also get to know your neighbors. Maybe they read Alexander’s The Timeless Way of Building and Newman’s Defensible Space?
It’s harder to see the social space in the picture, but there are hints. The physical set-up encourages people to meet at the reception/waiting area/central coffee station. The clear delineation of quiet and social work spaces ensures that people who want to focus have a place to do that — and gives those who want to interact permission to strike up a conversation when facing strangers across your desk. There are some informal social events (Beer ‘n’ Chat Tuesday afternoons), and slightly more formal lunches or launch events to encourage mixing with just enough structure that it’s OK for the introverts. There’s even an internal online social network for the screen-focused.
The lessons here translate to public spaces and to network weaving.
- How do you make physical and social spaces places people want to be?
- What strategies make them welcoming and comfortable to everyone, regardless of personality, interest, gender, race, etc.?
- How do you allow enough excuses for serendipity and interactions to happen AND enough
invisibility” for people to feel comfortable?
When it’s done right, wonderful things emerge from controlled chaos.