‘We’re all 100 miles an hour into everything. Texts, emails, meetings…I really don’t think we get more done than we did 20 years ago, it just involves a lot more interactions to get there because we are constantly on each other’s cases. And so we’re all stressed, and we’re drinking more coffee than ever and…’
No, George definitely doesn’t sound happy. And the solution? Now that is tricky, because landlords and developers (and occupiers) like to create buzzy atmospheres that are the exact opposite of relaxing.
‘Everyone wants to feel like there’s a bit of a buzz, which is fine, but you still need decent spaces for quiet chats. I’m not overwhelmed with clients who want quiet rooms, or napping zones, or libraries – but they do sometimes want soundproofed booths for calls, which keeps the noise out of circulation, and they do want to work from home more often, which can be more relaxing if you don’t have kids,’ says George (who has kids).
His suggestion is that 10-15% of floorspace should be quiet, or at least activation-controlled. That might mean breakout spaces or separate rooms – everyone will have a different answer.
‘Watch what the flexible workspace operators are doing – they offer plenty of quiet space. That is the future,’ says George, who agrees with Mick Timpson that less coffee would be a good idea.
‘Less coffee, more water,’ he insists.
For now the trend is towards more, not less, active workspaces, and landlords seem reluctant to resist the trend. As Ann MacDonald suggests, we need to re-think how we relax.
‘When it comes to designing calm, you need to pare down space. It needs to be quiet from an acoustic perspective and almost monastic. We tend to fill breakout spaces with colour, which inspires collaboration by being visually stimulating. However, a relaxing space is somewhere we can be alone. This can take many different forms, for instance, a prayer space, a quiet room, a chill-out zone or a sleep lounge,’ she says.
The property industry, scarcely a relaxing place to earn a living, has a long way to go. But the time when nap-spaces and chill-zones are part of what it provides is moving ever closer.
David Thame will be chairing our Hospitality and Living Sessions at Mix Design Collective 2019. Find out more and register here.