Whilst checking out the Core77 Design Awards, Bell Labs Global Whiteboard designed by New York based Potion got us once again musing on the impact collaborative working is having on the way we work. The whiteboard has been developed to present every paper and patent published by Bell Labs (such as the telephone – yep it’s Alexander Graham Bell ) which appear in bubbles in the background as the user searches for products, authors and concepts.Researchers working for Bell Labs are therefore presented with a range of information they might otherwise never have searched for, creating links between concepts and sparking inspiration.
Bell Labs researchers are working interactively with database information in a similar way collaborative meetings work with ideas – it just allows them to easily pull and consolidate the ideas they want to keep. What’s also great about this kind of whiteboard technology is that it allows you to work interactively in an unstructured way – cutting out those awkward moments in video conferencing or conference calls when everyone speaks at once.
Interactivity rather than collaboration is the focus of the design. The information itself isn’t any more or less findable than in some kind of computer database but by presenting the researcher with similar concepts they might not have otherwise searched for the whiteboard inspires the researcher. What’s interesting is that it also encourages them to work within Bell Labs company values – helping them to support and sustain their brand whilst innovating new design.
Of course, how you work as a company is increasingly woven into who you are as a brand. Whether you’re open plan, all offices, cubicles, tablet-based, SBU or project-driven teams now overshadow the classic Mac vs PC identity challenge. As considered in our last blog, work environment has a proven effect on the productivity of your company and we’ve several companies who’ve deliberately customised their space to suit the way they work, whether it’s a colour scheme, space planning or a full refurb to fit their changing needs. Broader communication and collaboration solutions have meant that the way we work has moved away from the traditional office depicted below. The trend instead is to branch into fragmented collaborative areas.
Clients are not only using the spaces throughout the building, lounge areas, meeting rooms, roof gardens, terraces, kitchens for informal discussions but now companies are starting to design their offices in a similar manner; physical space is adapting to our new ways of working. Instead of cubicle workers many teams are now project-based, cross-functional and work on trains between meetings and globally-based offices. Companies are installing hot-desking areas within their office space for people who aren’t based their all the time.
That’s not to say that the office is dead. There will always be a need for companies to have a space to be at home, it’s just that the way we interact with information is changing and this is encapsulated by the Potion’s Global Whiteboard. Self-sufficient and intuitive IT means we’re interacting more and more with stored information in a way we’ve never done before. But how far can interaction with technology take us, is this type of interaction just fun but faux-collaboration?
The Office Team