Creating the ideal office in a playful way

Thanks to 3D printers and rapid prototyping, models are experiencing a renaissance. In combination with design thinking, an innovative method to successfully plan office solutions in a fun and systematic way is developing.

Once decision makers have decided to rethink their way of working and therefore their office design, the question of how to approach the task arises. In particular, SMEs without a department that includes office specialists are dependent on a comprehensible and productive planning process. In this very situation, design thinking and rapid prototyping offer tools to implement the best solution step by step in interdisciplinary project teams. These methods are not new – but the adapted implementation in office planning is.

Establishing mutual understanding
One challenge on the way to a strong office is establishing mutual understanding regarding the future way of working. “The CFO has a different idea of the ideal office to the HR manager or clerical assistant, for example. Architects and planners also have their own clear picture,” says Markus Basler, Managing Director of Total Office Management AG, speaking from experience. The key is making problem-solving approaches tangible at an early stage. “There are often misunderstandings when it comes to interpreting 2D plans and 3D visualisations, which leads to additional kinks in planning,” Markus Basler adds. Virtual reality offers support, but even now, a direct influence on alterations still requires considerable effort, he says.

A tangible prototype in 120 minutes
An alternative solution is carrying out workshops with models. Participants from different disciplines develop the joint office from the point of view of the users in an enjoyable way. After a short introduction to general trends, research results and practical experiences regarding workplace design, the participants pull out their diaries and simulate a typical working day, hour by hour. In this way, they immediately become aware that one workplace is not sufficient to optimally carry out the various activities.

Build your own office 
In the next stage, the participants describe their preferred workplace, so that a collage of diverse workplace situations is created. “Through the open communicative culture of the workshops, the participants find out a lot more about the everyday problems and users’ ideas about how the office should function than they do in normal planning meetings,” explains Pietro Tiziani, Managing Director of Lista Office Vertriebs AG. Then comes the part the participants enjoy most: building their ideal office for future cooperation with their own hands. Using photos, plans and models, the teams create a tangible prototype in 1:20 scale. “The participants leave the workshop with a shared idea for their future-ready office,” Pietro Tiziani assures us.

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