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OM in the News: Revolutionizing Office Layout–Part 1

May 9, 2017

Open plan designs dominate Sky’s new HQ

Today’s and tomorrow’s blogs tell the story of the new approach to office layout (Chapter 9) at several forward thinking companies: Today we note Britain’s Sky TV (outside London). Tomorrow, we look at some Silicon Valley high-tech office layouts.

“The Sky TV building’s steel staircases appear to be randomly scattered,” writes The Financial Times (May 2, 2017). But there is architectural intent in this — they encourage people to circulate and mix. It is a hot-desking environment but also offers a range of facilities for those wanting some sense of seclusion and privacy. Staff can work anywhere across the building. People type away in sofa-filled zones, in cafés and in booths.

While these ingredients are found in many modern offices, there are a couple of unusual features. One is a full-size cinema to one side of foyer, used for screenings and meetings. The other is a glass-walled studio in the middle of one of its atriums. There, a Sky News presenter is talking live. There are different clustered arrangements of desks — the idea is to break up space so attention is not solely focused on endless banks of desks receding into the distance.

Some of the innovations designed to ease the working week are less obvious. Sky’s CEO says much of the internal mail system deals with personal rather than business-related post. The reason for this is that most work communication is now done electronically and people do a lot of shopping online. “We have an Amazon collection point here. Why treat it as a problem when it can be a benefit?”

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. How does Sky TV’s layout differ from traditional office designs?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the layout described?
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