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3 reasons why digital nomad offices are not the best

45% of Belgian’s say they are allowed to work at least one day a week remotely. The role of any architect is to adapt to this new way of working. Since the beginning of times, office design has evolved in function of the social and economic changes.

The new way of working (hybrid working) are tending towards the design of more open spaces than ever before.

Originally, open office comes from Frederic Winslow Tayler, designed to control employees during their work. In the early 20th century, the industrial revolution brought an increasing need for efficiency and productivity, office design evolved to a design where the goal was to fit as many people as possible in as little square meters as possible. Comfort was not of any concern back then.

Today, office design has a more holistic approach and tries to incorporate human wellbeing to its conception.

How is office design reacting to a new way of working : hybrid working?

Office design today, is proposing what we call a ‘nomad way of working, at work’. Resulting in as many open spaces as possible with no one owning a personal desk. From an economic point of view, it is more than relevant. It reduces electricity, reduces the amount of needed square meters, reduces costs overall.

This new way of working brings more diversity and breaks one’s routine, which is extremely beneficial for stimulating the brain. Some parts of your brain will benefit from this new scenario: sitting at another office every day, having another neighbor every day. The unknown breaks the routine and stimulates the brain.

And yet, there are also many downsides to these open and nomad office spaces.

3 reasons why Nomad Office Design isn’t serving your employees wellbeing:

1. Absence of feeling of belonging

One of the primary human needs is to have one’s own territory. This is a biological and cellular need. Most of the worldwide conflicts are related to ‘owning territories’ and these have been going on since the beginnings of time. When we lack of territory, we miss a sense of belonging.

When one has no ‘owned space’ at the workplace, it has a direct impact on one’s sense of belonging to the company. Great results come from envy, from motivation, from the idea that we contribute to something greater, to the growth of the company. The more one feels detached to the company, the less motivation, envy and satisfaction will follow.

2. Lack of intimacy, what about the introverts ?

Office design tends to forget that we humans don’t all function in the same way. Introverts represent up to a half of the population. Introverts have as main threat that they need intimacy and solitude to feel good and be at their maximum state of flow. They recharge their batteries when they can be in their own ‘bubble’.

Yet, today’s new way of working is all about open spaces with as main objective create more teamwork and collaboration. These spaces are important and great for extroverts, but they don’t take an entire part of the population into consideration.

3. No space and silence for new idea’s

Some of the greatest ideas immerge from moments of introspection, calm and silence. Nomad and open office design are spaces where noise is always present, where there is a lot of stimuli and where the brain is busier checking out what is happening around than creating space for new ideas.

How does the brain work ? Our subconscious mind (also called reptile brain) is a part of our brain that is responsible for our primary responses and reflexes. It is in charge of our survival, and is not able to rationalize and to think about situations. What happens when the subconscious mind is overstimulated ? It is in alert modus, everything, especially every movement becomes a treat to the subconscious mind. Movement behind you are the worst, your eyes cannot perceive them, but your brain can. When the subconscious mind is overwhelmed, you lose ‘easy’ access to many parts of your brain. Your rational mind is intact, your ability to think and analyze is not bothered in open spaces. But your creativity, your memory and your intuition are completely disrupted.

Digital nomad office is not the best
Open office design, digital nomad office

So, how to fix this? It is all about balance. Here are a few tips to create the perfect office design:

- Ask your team what they need and want. Most people have a high personal awareness about their way of functioning. They know if they are introverts or extroverts. Design spaces that take both into consideration, that offer a combination of closed spaces and open spaces.

- Increase their sense of belonging. If for some reason(s), it is impossible to give everyone a personalized office, you could offer to everyone team member an own wooden pallet with his name written on it, and they can place it on their office for the day ? These simple actions increase the sense of belonging.

- Invest in #homeofficedesign. If your employees are perfectly settled at home, if their home office gives them the intimacy they need, triggers their creativity and ensures their productivity, they will be happy to come to the office for social interaction and sharing. Extroverts will feel the other way around, they will feel nourished when they come to the office, this will be their moment of ‘recharging’.


TESTIMONIAL from a client :

That's exactly it! when I'm in an open space, I always try to get a seat with my back to the wall and a view of the front door. Also no, I will constantly look up at every noise. Indeed, so I don't have to watch my back. You confirm my feeling.


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