NWoW is not just about demolishing walls, but also about designing the right concept for the right organization.
New Ways of Working, Flexwork, Open Space Environment…the confusion existing around the present day transformations of the way we work, is mirrored in the confusion about its terminology.
Many people equal NWoW with the possibility of working at home. Or with sitting together in one huge space where nobody has their own desk, losing hours a day trying to find the right colleague. ‘In the end it is just a way of saving money for your boss’, many employees conclude. And if NWoW is carelessly implemented they may have a point.
Fokkema & Partners Architecten has designed office space with NWoW from its very beginning and has, over the past 15 years, developed and implemented innovative working concepts for more than 1.000.000 square meters office space used by at least 50.000 employees.
Based on this experience, Fokkema & Partners stresses that there is not one NWoW. Fokkema distinguishes at least 3 different types: NWoW Classic, NWoW 2.0 and NWoW Lite. For a commissioner it is very important to realize for which type he is choosing and for what reasons.
NWoW started with a transformation in management style in which employees got more responsibility en freedom and were not merely judged by their physical presence alone. Managers had to switch from the classical ‘command and control’ to a new model of ‘support and trust’. The output became the criterion.
One of the important spatial transformations behind NWoW is that by facilitating informal meeting people share their knowledge and experience and are more attached to their company. (Informal) meeting areas play a essential role in the design. For example the former canteen, which was only used during lunchtime, is transformed to a restaurant in which different zones and spheres facilitate meetings and appointments 24 hours a day.
Fokkema & Partners Architecten distinguishes at least 3 different spatial translations of the NWoW concept:
NWoW Classic fits like a tailor made suit and only functions for the designated purpose. It is activity related with different spaces to concentrate, to communicate and to collaborate. Each type of space is optimally designed for its specific purpose. A substantial percentage of the employees share their desks. The interior of NWoW Classic is rather static compared to the other 2 types, because people move within small domains of about 24 workstations. These domains each have their own concentration rooms, meeting rooms and phone boots and are repeated through the building. Depending on the type of work employees in exceptional cases have their own room. For functioning appropriately much attention for acoustics, climate and ICT is needed.
NWoW 2.0 is like a wardrobe from which you choose according to the occasion. It departs from a bigger scale. On one floor different zones are realized, for example the Library, the Atelier and the Workfloor, each having a different design and look & feel. The building refers to an urban scale with atria, squares and interior streets. People don’t have their own workstation, but move freely through the different zones choosing a workstation in the zone most fitting to their tasks. Diversity between the different zones is important, to make sure that the employees really have something to choose. The collective zones/informal meeting spaces become public space in which the outside world can be brought in: for example by hosting a grand café, a restaurant or an expo in the atrium and meeting rooms and auditoria also available for external partners.
NWoW Lite is like the ultimate outdoor jacket which protects under all circumstances. It is closely connected to temporary transformations of existing buildings. The different spaces are based on the existing situation and structure and on reusing a big part of it. The transformation adds the bare minimum. The character and feeling is one of exploration and discovery. Space is highly adaptive by using flexible structures and making the loosely activity related space multifunctional.
The interior is clearly visible as a temporary solution and evokes a different attitude of the user. People are not only more flexible but have more space to explore and to adapt space to their own wishes, because the interior is not completely finished. It’s interactive space. Temporality equals ‘more freedom of behavior and more experiment in thinking’. This type of NWoW is the most dynamic. It’s not about uniformity, but about diversity and exploration.
In adapting an office environment to NWoW it is important to choose the right type of HNW based on a good analysis of the program of requirements and the exact workprocesses, the average age and education of the employees, the identity of the organization and the possibilities of the building.
From the very start of the design process a unique design solution is developed for each organization in close cooperation between the design team and the commissioner. The choice for NWoW or a more traditional type of interior should be the result of a balanced consideration of all different aspects of the organization.