With so many colleges offering coffee shops and eateries with Wi-Fi, it is easier for students to find spaces to work with a mobile device. However, many corporate settings have been slow to adopt a similar approach that the young work force would find attractive.
The new generation prefers comfortable and open environments that mirror home and gives them the freedom to choose their surroundings.
Walk around a college campus today and it's evident how important the laptop computer is to students' study time. Peek into a classroom and you will know very quickly which classrooms were designed to accommodate laptops and which ones were not. When you find cords on the floor and a line of students huddled around the sole outlet in the back of the room, you know.
Study and collaboration spaces are now designed to accommodate enough power to create some autonomy as to where a student chooses to study. However, it is complete autonomy that students and the young workforce desire, and with the extended battery life on our devices, we realize that to design a successful collaboration or study space it will require more than enticing students with an outlet. The outlet is slowly becoming less important compared to the desire for casual and impromptu meeting space.
When students enter the workforce they are finding a disconnect between the spaces they learned in and their new work environment. The typical corporate landscape features cubicle farms, not a prairie of seating options that caters to a "work where you feel most comfortable attitude." Just like higher education buildings corporate environments need to consider open areas that accommodate working on a laptop or tablet.
These spaces also serve as an impromptu meeting place where co-workers can share ideas. Hands-on and team-based learning pursuits are the norm at most universities and they are shaping the way students solve problems and operate in the corporate world. It makes sense that the spaces these students will work in should mirror the environment where they learned their problem solving skills.
After two years of owning an iPad that has over 10 hours of active battery life, I've noticed my own dependency on outlets and my desk has diminished. Now other factors are becoming more influential in where I choose to work. This has come true for students and the young workforce as well. Here are some points to consider when designing a modern higher education or corporate facility:
-Flexibility: Furniture and seating arrangements need to be flexible to allow students and employees the choice of working in isolation or with a group.
-Transparency: Allow people to connect, whether it is visually through glass or in an open room. People choose to work in public areas because they want to get away from the isolation of studying at home or at a cubicle. They want to be around people.
-Surface Area: Work surface is very important. Comfortable chairs without a table nearby can go unused if people have their laptop. Also, don't forget the coffee. It seems like too many study and collaboration areas don't give enough space for both your drink and your mobile device.
-Technology: If the space is used more for collaboration than individual work, the ability to connect multiple devices and to share screens becomes important.
-Wireless Internet Access: This seems to be a given these days, but not all areas have it. It has become a prerequisite to any area of work or study.
Companies should remember that the new generation of workers have different preferences in their working environments and that plays a huge role in designing a successful work space for university and corporate settings. BSA LifeStructures has designed many higher education facilities that cater to collaboration and team-based pursuits for learning, it is time that the corporate world started to mirror that formula.
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