Introducing the 3Cs
In his book, New Demographics, New Workspace, Prof Jeremy Myerson summarised the needs of the modern knowledge worker by creating three distinct space concepts – Collaboration, Concentration and Contemplation. We have used these ‘3Cs’ descriptors to guide our planning and both create defined areas of work style and make furniture choices designed to match the needs within those activities. An inclusive space, offering choice for knowledge workers and matching the needs of their working day.
Working together to progress team or individual goals. Listening. Discussing. Questioning. Sharing. Learning.
Making space for collaborative work is not simply about creating a series of meeting rooms. There are as many settings suitable for collaboration as there are ways of collaborating.
People come together in different numbers – it only takes two to collaborate – and may need space for a team to spread out, record ideas, share work and inspire each other or for a smaller group to talk quietly, progress methodically and address challenges.
Being ‘on hand’, ready to collaborate, yet actually progressing individual work, is also a recognised need within workspace. We call this ‘heads–up’ working, where you are working individually but actively open to approaches and joining in. This type of work sits within or on the periphery of collaborative space but acts as an important element of making collaboration successful.
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
Individual tasks – writing, reading, typing, calculating, designing, listening – a whole host of typical knowledge worker activities which, as the term implies, are best undertaken alone... and in peace. However, so much has been made of the need for teamwork in modern working environments that many offices have over–delivered in terms of collaborative space at the expense of lack of places designed for concentration.
Today’s office so often ‘forces’ employees to undertake concentration tasks in an open–plan, typically collaborative–suitable space, where noise and distraction are a negative influence. The rise of ‘benching’ as a cost saving mass solution, rather than its original value as a specific collaborative space is a classic example of this lack of choice.
The absence of quiet concentration space is most often cited as the number one frustration of knowledge workers, whose role requires a huge amount of individual processing and peaceful analysis.
Taking time to stop, and consider, is a much needed but often ignored activity that can bring huge value to an efficient and productive workplace. Reflecting on tasks, quietly questioning what direction to take, emptying the mind to refresh and start again, or simply resting and recharging the batteries are all important elements of productive work. This is possibly the most ignored work style, perhaps as it can have an outward appearance of inactivity and a dated perception of ‘slacking’, and is often the least catered for in terms of a suitable environment in which to contemplate.
A core element of knowledge work – thinking – is where all that experience and expertise is drawn upon to find the best solution for today’s challenge. The majority of today’s leaders and managers would still agree with the long cited 4 P’s – Planning Prevents Poor Performance – and yet giving over space for the contemplative area of planning is often ignored.
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action”
With these 3 key areas, each with their own choices of settings, we believe the agile workforce – whatever their age or roles – can find an environment that inspires, meets their needs and frees them to fulfil potential.