5 Ways High Tech Companies Can Design an Office for All
At Highwinds, Introverts Find Focus & Extroverts Thrive
by Becky Vander Maten, IIDA
There is no one-size-fits-all when designing to optimize a high tech company’s employee performance. Today’s open offices are great spaces for outgoing, extroverted people, and also a big reason other people are wearing earphones. Most employees value privacy in the workplace and are more productive when given an optimal mix of public and private zones to harness their talent. Highwinds is a high tech CDN (content delivery network) headquartered in Orlando, Florida, that delivers content and rich media over their high-performance RollingThunder network to millions of global users. HuntonBrady Architects’ interior design team worked with Highwinds to strike a balance in the workplace that allows introverted employees to find focus and extroverts to thrive. Here’s five ways high tech companies can design for both:
1. Be Quiet – Make earphones the last option. At Highwinds, we installed lower ceilings over specific zones to create a cove-type space. In more public zones, custom hexagonal acoustical ceiling tiles were used as a design element that allowed us to keep a beautiful exposed concrete ceiling with industrial edginess. Throughout the open areas a sound masking system was utilized.
2. Dim The Lights – Technology driven spaces mean more screens and monitors. Darkening the rooms via lighting and paint eases eye strain, and adds visual warmth and a sense of privacy. Give introverted and extroverted employees more control in their workstation by providing dimmers or multiple overhead illumination choices like these overhead surface mounted cylinder lights.
3. Make Collaboration Count – Facilitate times when employees need to collaborate by providing bright, congenial meeting spaces diffused with daylight and views of nature. The conference rooms and break room at Highwinds feature floor-to-ceiling windows and cheerful furnishings. Provide plenty of seating so introverts can choose where they feel most comfortable.
4. Keep It Simple – Multi-colored, wacky spaces do not always equal “cool.” Visual noise is disruptive to introverted employees of any age. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking, told the The Huffington Post. "Introverts feel most alive and energized when they're in environments that are less stimulating.” Highwinds’ employees are focused on complicated tasks during the day, so their workplace design should be easy. Halls and offices are defined by simple architectural lines of angles and curves.
5. Seek Refuge – We designed a series of refuge or huddle rooms down the main corridor for all Highwinds’ employees to make private phone calls, meet one-on-one with a salesperson, or work quietly for an hour or so on a laptop. They are furnished simply with a small table and chairs, or with lounge seating.
How do you strike a balance between introverts and extroverts in your workplace? Join the conversation below.