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2 Open Office Space Types for Focused Work

by Alan Ruby / March 6, 2015

In my previous post about space reduction, Technology, Mobility, Flexibility, and Beyond, I discussed the evolving work environments of today’s office space. In the series to follow, I will review some of the key components of today’s mobile office environment, as well as a review of the ever-changing components of the flexible office environment as it transitions from concept to an accepted application.

Let’s begin with an explanation of the difference between focus spaces and collaborative spaces in the open office. In an open and mobile office environment, staff members frequently work from home or other locations outside the office. At times, staff may only be in the office for a brief period between meetings. In the absence of a private office or a dedicated workstation, these staff members need a place to focus on their work, hence the name “focus spaces.”

However, these staff members periodically need “collaborative spaces” to meet or work with other similarly mobile staff members.

Focus spaces commonly include “touchdown stations” and “get away booths.” Occasionally, I have heard touchdown stations referred to as bench desks or bench seating, and getaway booths referred to as phone booths or call rooms. A more detailed explanation of each space follows.

Touchdown StationsMobile Office Touchdown - Fentress Inc

Touchdown stations are grouped open desks arranged to accommodate an individual staff member or perhaps two working together for a limited period of time on a first-come, first-served basis. The desks are usually five to six feet wide and can have low privacy dividers between them. They need not be furnished with telecom connections since the mobile staff members normally rely on smart phones. If WiFi is available in the office, they also need not have data connections. The ratio of touchdown stations to staff members is entirely dependent on the level of mobility occurring in the specific office. The following photo shows a typical touchdown station.

Get Away Booths

Get away booths are eMobile Office Booth - Fentress Incnclosed private spaces, approximately 30 square feet in size, that are available for an individual staff member to make phone calls or send emails for a limited period of time, again on a first-come, first-served basis. They are essentially a comfortable enclosed booth that may be furnished with a built-in desk or lounge seating. These spaces provide an occasional escape to offset the visual and acoustic distractions staff members experience while working in an open mobile office environment. As with touchdown stations, telecom and data connections are not likely to be needed. Similarly, the ratio of get away booths to staff members is also dependent on the level of mobility occurring in the office. The following photo depicts a typical get away booth.

Focus spaces are key to a productive open office staff, but an effective open office also requires space for collaborative work. In my next post, I will review the importance and function of huddle rooms and “the hub.”

Tags: Open Office Design

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Alan Ruby

Alan Ruby

Alan Ruby joined Fentress in 2002 and is one of the company's senior architects. He combines an extensive knowledge of architecture and the built environment with analytical skills. Alan is an avid scuba diver and cyclist, and a long-time collector of abstract art.