Blogs & Thoughts

The Workplace: A Day in the Life

The workplace is used by individuals with a range of characteristics and personalities. It has to support and respond to many different needs, being forced to cope with often competing requirements. Is there a typical user?

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  • Author Chris Carr
  • Date 26 October 2020
  • Read Time 5 minutes
Meet John

Jon (25) flat shares and doesn’t have an ideal spot at home to work from. He typically works 5 days / week in the office. He is first in every day (6-6:45 in the gym, 7:15 in the workplace). Jon scans his badge and is given a reminder on the console of which desk he’s pre-booked. He gets his laptop and working files out of his allocated locker and makes a coffee while he fires up the tech. He checks his e-mails on his phone while coffee is ‘brewing’ before returning to his desk. Since he’s in early, he books a small focus booth between 8:30-10:30 so that he can avoid the buzz when the majority of his co-workers come in. The office isn’t going to be too busy today with desk bookings, so he doesn’t need to vacate the desk he’s booked. 10:30 – time for an informal catch-up with colleagues over tea and coffee in the staff kitchen. The rest of the day is spent either working at his desk or having quick catch-ups in many of the informal areas throughout the office – it depends which one is free and whether or not a lot of space is needed for people and ‘stuff’. Jon’s boss comes in to the office after lunch following an off-site meeting – they sit down at an empty team table to catch-up and plan actions following the meeting. The boss has typed up something on the train and casts it onto the end of table monitor for ease of reading. With laptop and papers stored until tomorrow, Jon is out the door by 4:00.

Meet Paula

Paula (45), works in the office 2 days / week and works at home 2 days / week with compressed hours. She manages a team who have a blended working pattern over 5 days. With less time in the office, Paula needs to make most productive use of her time with her colleagues. She has planned a day that has quite a few catch-ups and has pre-booked the small meeting room in the morning: some 1-1s with her team and also some Zoom meetings with external clients. A brainstorming session has been planned for after lunch. The entire team have scheduled their week so that they are all in the office today. The scrum space is booked out; members of the team present ideas and then there is a ‘crit’ with wall space / screen space used to develop ideas and record decisions. The space is flexible so tables and chairs are moved about to create / clear space. The kitchen is located nearby, so discussions continue to take place as the team take a quick break to get some drinks and (healthy) snacks. Paula gets on with some admin / desk-work before she goes home. There are still one or two people in the office when she leaves at 7:30pm since they didn’t arrive until lunchtime and have shifted their working day.

Meet Roisin

Roisin (29), doesn’t work for the company but is attending a training event that lasts the whole day. She arrives and signs in using her digital invite. She will stay in the city overnight, so stores her case in the entrance locker space – this allows her to access it as and when she needs to during the day. The invite grants her access to the staff kitchen throughout the day, but the team table in the business lounge outside the large seminar room is set up for the event attendees to have breakfast together. The morning is organised with presentations and discussions; in the afternoon the attendees are split into teams – some remain in the seminar room, others use a booth in the staff kitchen and others use the team table – all three spaces have been set up with technology for these break-out sessions. There is no need for privacy for these sessions, so a semi quiet space works. The teams reconvene in the seminar room to present back to the whole group. The business lounge is set up for end of event informal networking with members of the host organisation encouraged to interact with the visitors.

Meet Tony

Tony (31), is attending a meeting in the office and works for a partner organisation. The meeting starts at 10am but Tony has agreed with the meeting host to arrive early and make use of one of the numerous touchdown spots in the office. After he signs in, his host shows him the different touchdown settings that he can use – some bookable, some not. Tony sits in the staff kitchen carrying out some admin prior to the meeting (with colleagues who are based in the office). During the meeting Tony gets an e-mail to notify him that an afternoon catch-up has had to be brought forward. He asks his host if there is a space where he can make a Teams call. A small booth is booked for him and he’s left to work in their for an hour before he leaves the office and returns to his own workplace.

With the exception of the prominence of Teams calls, the above could have been written about the workplace at any time in the past decade. It describes spaces that are used for short periods of time, are sometimes customisable, sometimes bookable and most importantly describes variety and choice in the types of space that allow people to get away from being tied to a desk. The workplace above also addresses the desire of staff to move beyond the confines of Mon-Fri, 9-5.

It’s not new and it’s most definitely not rocket science.

Chris Carr, Senior Workplace Consultant

Chris arrived in workplace consultancy following stints as a scientist in the USA and a tour guide in Greece. He is passionate about the interaction between people and the workspaces they inhabit. Over the past six years, he has worked with numerous clients to help them envisage more effective and engaging spaces.