A few weeks ago I
visited Autodesk’s new offices in Farnborough (see pages 35-37) and not for the first time wondered why I ever turned my back on corporate life. Current trends in office design have made the office a much more inviting place – Autodesk even welcomes dogs. Office interiors companies tend to emphasise how investment in design is indicative of a company’s attitude to its employees. I don’t think that’s necessarily true: there are other and arguably better ways to show one’s appreciation than a comfy chair. What successful examples do demonstrate, however, is an understanding of work processes. Businesses that provide different working environments to suit diverse needs (break-out area, quiet room, touchdown desk etc.) show a commitment to support staff in their working lives that is more persuasive than money spent on designer furniture and outre lampshades. In an ideal world you would have a budget for such things, but you can still transform your workplace without one.
A taste for paper
After any installation project, architects and designers rush to get photos taken before the client moves in and trashes the place. What’s striking about Autodesk’s office is that after months of occupancy surfaces are still clear of clutter and there’s hardly a sheet of paper to be seen. Welcome to the brave new world of work. New figures from Gartner (see page 5) reveal that in mature economies the number of pages printed on office devices fell by 5% in 2011, following a fall of 1% in 2010. Autodesk has managed to reduce the amount of paper it uses by getting rid of personal printers and waste bins and having centralised MFPs and recycling stations instead. In other words, they have made it harder to print. At the UK launch of printers based on Memjet technology (see page 13), Memjet Office President Bill McGlynn said that his aim was to reverse this trend by flooding offices with high-speed printers. The big question is will office workers be receptive to this approach or have they already lost the taste for paper?