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Jun05

To Kook Or Not To Kook

That Is The Question

To Kook Or Not To Kook

When it comes to office design, you have a fundamental choice to make.

Do you go ‘traditional,’ which can mean anything form corner offices and cubicles to open plan with break-out spaces, or do you follow the lead of mad genius companies like Google and go ‘kooky’ – sleep pods, slides and other ‘never knowingly dull’ contrivances to keep your staff alive, awake, allegedly enthused and thinking outside whatever box the traditional box imposes on them?

The answer is probably not as obvious as you think.

Obviously some industries, and some offices, have a tendency to suggest their own gravitas – some legal firms would think it was beneath their professional dignity to have slides and foosball tables, but there’s actually no inherent reason why this should be so. It’s more or less what we’ve come to expect, infecting our preconceptions of what a lawyer’s office should be.

The London Economic website recently considered the pros and cons of going kooky on staff, productivity and ultimately on business.

Among the positive effects of the kook factor, it said, were physical movement – kitting your office design out with areas for fun, competitive activity encourages staff not only to get out of their chairs, but to interact on an indirect non-work-related level, and so to bounce ideas back and forth, to spark creative solutions and to build alliances and potential brainstorming teams. If that sounds arty-farty and only applicable to design-types, the LE site noted that in Australia, a firm of accountants had kitted out its office with the likes of snooker tables, running lanes and even basketball hoops.

That’s right – Ozzie Accountants Can Jump. See what we mean about going beyond the assumptions we’ve come to make about certain jobs and professional dignity?

Getting your staff up, moving, and working together can stimulate their creative juices, certainly, but endorphins will stimulate their productivity in most fields of endeavour, be it number-crunching or phone-banking. Getting them away from their desks and letting them switch off to recharge their brain and their enthusiasm’s a great benefit of the kook factor.

The downside of such designs is that they can as often be distracting as they can inspiring. As the lines blur between workplace and fun-palace, kooky design can actually sap enthusiasm from your staff to go back to the business of meeting their targets.

And for all the foosballing lawyers and slam-dunking accountants, the element of appropriateness for the business model you’re trying to sell to visiting clients and customers. So – to kook or not to kook? Ultimately the decision is yours, and it depends on how you and your business balance the pros and cons. But whatever you decide, it’s worth talking it over with your office designers, to see what could be achieved within your space and your budget – it might just be worth adding a little kook to your design here and there to make you stand out from the crowd when it comes to attracting, invigorating and retaining the best staff.

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