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The Single Concept That Is The Future of Creative Office

When it comes to the best creative office environment, different approaches have dominated over the years, from flexible seating to collaborative space. One approach to encouraging employee engagement comes down to a single concept that can manifest in many ways: choice.


About 330 industry leaders made the choice to join us this week for Bisnow's San Francisco Creative Office & Tech event, which boasted more than a dozen panelists with insights on creative office and tech tenants speaking before the packed house.


Variety is key right now, said Elfreda Chan of M Moser Associates, who spoke on our panel about the next generation of workplace environments. With choice comes the need for flexibility, which can include using walls, library spaces or a café or kitchen as places employees can work.

Sometimes allowing choice means finding creative ways to make the space more usable. For a company kitchen, the addition of background music can create more of a coffee-shop feel where employees can have a meeting at one table without worrying about what is going on at the table next to them, she said.

At Pinterest, employees are OK with having smaller workspaces as long as they have a choice of different areas from which to work, said Jen Nguyen, head of workplace for the company. Jen spoke on a tech tenant panel with Kevin Kearns of PayPal. We snapped Kevin, Layla Baird of Pinterest and Jen chatting during the networking portion of the event before the panel.


Choices at Pinterest include soft seating in some areas and phone rooms for privacy. It lets employees choose what works best for them. Pinterest has an area called "The Library," where employees know they can go for uninterrupted time to concentrate, Jen said.

That flexibility is one reason connectivity is so important, Kevin, who's director of real estate and facilities at PayPal, said. He said employees want to choose where they work and want to know they have the access they need, whether printing from their location or being able to get and stay online.

Choice also can extend beyond a building to include employees having workspaces at home or working from multiple offices, Kevin said.


It used to be that companies just made cubicles and put people in them, said SideMark CEO Sandi Jacobs, but now they're looking at what people need. We caught Sandi, center above, chatting with panelists Kerry Atkinson, VP of interiors for Swinerton Builders, and Jana Gunsul, principal at DES Architects + Engineers, before the event.

Jana said employees need to be engaged in their work without interruption to be productive, which creative choices also allow. Employees can collaborate or bring in clients when they want and find ways to go off alone when they want.

"It's a moving target. We're all learning from each other what's working," she said.