What Office Spaces Mean to Us
We understand that the way you work is changing everyday, and you most likely aren’t able to meet in person with your team right now. We hope this information serves as a look toward the future. Our team at HON is here to support you through the transitions and look forward to when you're all back in the office and collaborating together.
At HON, we are in the business of making office spaces work better.
Right now, millions of us have left those spaces behind in the interest of public health and safety. To say our work and personal lives have been upended would be an understatement; the weekday routine—breakfast hustle, coffee gulp-down, co-worker hellos, lunch meetings, afternoon caffeine break, school pick-up—most of us have perfected for years has been indelibly affected, and indefinitely suspended.
We will adjust, and we will emerge different from before—tried and tested, but with newfound appreciation for the workaday comforts of ringing phones, intercom announcements, friendly greetings, and of course, face-to-face interactions. Until we can return to our familiar office environments, we’re taking comfort in what we value most about the workspaces we share, and those we share them with.
Whether you work in an open office or one defined by cubicle walls, every employee occupies a space—and brings his or her own unique vibe to it. Consider the family photos, children’s artwork, bobble heads, school pennants, awards and certificates, one-of-a-kind mugs, travel souvenirs, concert posters, sweaters draped on chairs, and evidence of long-running practical jokes. You probably know who harbors a secret stash of chocolate or has the best Dry-Erase markers. Behind each desk or bench sits (or stands!) a person who brings a one-of-a-kind perspective to the office every day. Our workspaces are better thanks to this melting pot of thought and experience.
Whether everyone is set up with the same desk and chair or allowed to choose a colorful cushion or storage unit to suit individual needs, our office spaces are the canvas for the people who inhabit them. There’s a reason empty cubes feel cold; it is the energy of people who warm them.
Every day, we are inspired by those around us—and their spaces.
Speaking of inspiration, have you heard of a “hallway collision?” Nope, it’s not a workplace hazard; it’s a term that describes the kinds of unexpected encounters that can lead to breakthrough ideas. According to Harvard Business Review, “chance encounters and interactions between knowledge workers improve performance.” That’s one reason why some companies have been reluctant to widely embrace working from home, and why others went all in on the “third space” movement by introducing lounges and cafés that encourage casual congregation.
If you’ve ever struck up a conversation with a colleague outside your department, then walked away practically bursting with new ideas, you’ve benefitted from the “hallway collision” phenomena. Our brains are quite literally “fired up” by interactions outside of our norms, and running into a co-worker from the other side of the building can help us find solutions to our own team’s challenges that we hadn’t considered before.
None of this is to say that these sparks can’t happen virtually. But it’s hard to argue with the alchemy that comes from being face to face with other people. And while technology has and will continue to change how and where we communicate, it is best when used as a partner to in-person collaboration—not a replacement for it.
The Work Family
“We’re in this together” has become an important, meaningful call to action in the last several weeks, but at the office, it’s always been that way. Even when we’re at odds, engaging in debate, or frustrated with our co-workers, we’re all on the same team. And that sense of belonging, of camaraderie, can keep us going in the face of enormous challenges.
Data claims that Americans spend about one third of their lives at work. Given that investment, how could we not come to see our co-workers as a second family? If we’re lucky, we’ll keep some of them as lifelong friends, serving in each other’s weddings or as godparents. Others we’ll remember as mentors long after we’ve moved on to other roles. We’ll think of co-workers past and present when a shared joke comes to mind; we’ll provide references as they grow in their careers; and we’ll be a shoulder to lean on in times of personal or professional struggle.
Meeting around the conference table, having lunch in the cafeteria, putting heads together at a desk, ideating at a whiteboard, walking the corridors to get a coffee…these shared moments are the rhythm of our days, the shared spaces are some of our most reliable comfort zones.
We are in this together, because we are better when we’re together. And when we return to our office spaces across the country, we’ll remember, instantly and with even more gratitude, just why that matters so much.