Many companies and office owners claim to know what workers want from their office space. But one London flexible workspace firm is undertaking some proper academic research to uncover the answer and give itself a competitive edge in the co-working world.
Fora has teamed up with professors in ethnology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to undertake a three-year research programme into the optimal design and composition of office spaces.
Using its portfolio of offices as a laboratory, Fora is using a combination of quantitative analysis tools such as sensors to monitor which parts of its buildings are used most frequently, and qualitative surveys to better determine what customers like and dislike.
The programme has only been running three months, but already has yielded some results and provided solutions to issues that office users face, particularly in co-working spaces.
Fora has introduced speakers that hang from the ceiling and emit white noise at specific frequencies, essentially acting as noise bafflers. These reduce the loud background noise that anyone who has ever worked in a co-working space knows is a significant problem.
The programme also suggested that Fora move its head office staff to new buildings as they open, to provide an instant sense of community in buildings when occupancy is at its lowest.
“We could have gone to a professor and paid them to say something good about Fora, but we believe we want to change the way people work and create the best possible innovative and collective workspace,” Fora co-founder Enrico Sanna said. “We have an independent research department working with us, and they won’t cut corners.”
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