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Learning from old-fashioned office designs

Looking back is necessary to remember the path traveled

Just as changes occur quickly and adapting is a must, when it comes to space planning it is necessary to remember everything that the past has taught us. As we move into a new generation of offices, emerging to meet multiple needs for today's different generations of workers, expect an eclectic mix of corporate spaces that take the best of past designs to provide the most modern options, varied and effective.

We will travel to the past, before 1945, when the so-called Silent Generation occupied the offices.

In this post-war period, the main focus for offices was on orderly and efficient massive spaces. These offices were spread over a single large floor with rows of workstations en masse for the workforce, with smaller offices reserved for managers.



These spaces were designed for efficiency, filling the space with staff so that every square foot was countable.

We move on to 1950, when desk dividers (clusters) were introduced, creating a kind of neighborhood within work floors. This trend was launched by German designers, the Schnelle brothers, who wanted to create more advanced spaces designed to translate as an office landscape, with desks grouped together to make it easier to work together and much less rigidity in the structure.

The 1960s and mid-1970s saw the dawn of the action office. In these decades the communication and telephone revolution began, arising the need for tranquility in workspaces, which led to the creation of the cubicle culture. The architecture and organization of the offices would take a leap, appearing with portable walls, at an angle, to form workstations and, essentially, isolate excess noise. These offices lent themselves to a more private style of working, which provided greater focus.



In the 1980s and 1990s, the cubicle era gained in appeal and utility, with workstations often supported by a fourth wall to allow additional privacy in these confined spaces filled with large desks and computers.

But as the 90s progressed, technology did too. The Internet and digital innovations have seriously changed how work is perceived and performed, making it easier for the world to connect and interact more and more quickly than in the last two decades. The new technologies would have a hard impact on the physical space of the office. Computers would shrink over time, walls would fall, open flooring would become a necessity, and laptops would enable new work styles, such as working on the go.



Without a doubt, there is much to learn from the designs and trends for the offices of previous eras. If we took the best parts of each generation and allowed them to integrate into today's designs, we'd be looking at an absolute revolution in efficient space planning: rows with interconnecting dividers at tables; quiet spaces to encourage concentration and maintain privacy; the best technologies; simplicity of style and the creation of an easy workflow for every generation of workers.