June 12th, 2015

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Not long ago, it was easy to tell a person's status in the workplace. You knew when a coworker made it to the top – he or she made the requisite move to an elusive corner office. But digs that come with modifiers like “spacious,” “breath-taking or “glamorous” are disappearing from the office landscape today as more organizations move to open floor plans where everyone from the CEO to the part-time intern works together.

So what happens to status in this great democratization of desk space?

That was the question explored in an article in WHY Magazine, a publication by furniture design company Herman Miller. According to the article, people are motivated by the following six things, all of which should help guide an organization’s office design:

  • Security
  • Autonomy
  • Belonging
  • Achievement
  • Purpose
  • Status

Exactly how status is defined or perceived by workers can vary over time or between cultures. It's a bit different today than it once was.

Status in the workplace today is more about the respect we receive for a job well done – repeatedly. Office design is focused on function and having access to the people and the tools we need to do what we do best.

“The freedom to come and go as I please, being able to choose where I want to sit, getting assigned to a key account, posting to social media about the free organic Thai food in the cafeteria – these are all ways that people sense status now,” reports Tracy Brower, Director of Human Dynamics and Work at Herman Miller.

Does this mean we no longer dream of sweeping views of the city in our work environments?

Not necessarily. Some workers would still appreciate the guaranteed solace associated with a somewhat secluded corner space. Because of this need, maintaining some bookable spaces, such as meeting rooms, is considered essential even in the most flexible office environments. It just might not be a corner office.

You can read more about Herman Miller’s findings as well as how some organizations are accommodating status in the open office in There Goes the Corner Office, Here Comes the New Status.

 

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