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Hold up, a Deskless Office?

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I have a bit of a guilty pleasure that I’d like to share with you all today: I really like interior design. This is probably why I occasionally find myself sharing cool new office layouts, designs and trends with everyone. Now in addition to indulging myself, there’s a lot going on right now regarding the state of the modern office.

If you’re an avid Forbes reader, then I’m sure you’ve seen the recent article on GlaxoSmithKline’s purposed “deskless office”. Ya, you heard that one right. The pharmaceutical giant is purposing a deskless office. This radical layout is indicative of the new way employees work. For example, in a recent survey leading up to their new office layout, GlaxoSmithKline “found that only 35% of work activity took place in offices and cubes, yet we [Glaxo] were dedicating 85% of our space to those.” So instead of rows of inefficient cubes, Glaxo has opted for a series of fluid, open spaces that allows employees to do “what the moment requires, alone or in groups”.  Check out the full details of their new deskless office below:

Glaxo's Deskless office floorplan

So why the radical shift in all of these offices? Well there has been an emerging trend of late, allowing a more collaborative work environment. The shift to a more flexible office space, has really been made possible by the rise of the cloud. With the advent of more sophisticated software it’s now possible for employees to really work away from the office. Glaxo isn’t the only company redesigning their office space to reflect this new form of work. Last year Google redesigned its London headquarters. The new Google space includes things like video game consoles, a coffee lab and various spaces allowing employees to have a “zone” that is best for the type of work they are currently undertaking.

Google's London HQ

Or take technology giant Microsoft, who is in the process of rolling out fundamental changes to some of its European offices. The desire to revamp their offices came from Microsoft’s Amsterdam office. There, they boast no fixed desks. Instead, staff are encouraged to take a seat depending on their schedule and they type of work they are currently working on.

Microsoft's Amsterdam Office

While undertaking such a drastic shift from the norm is always a risky endeavor, I believe that these next generation offices will have large payouts. For example in a test office, Glaxo has already seen “a 45% increase in the speed of decision making.” What do you think? Think a deskless office is worth it? Or is it another design fad? Let me know in the comments below.

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