Choice & Control

The phrase runs through my mind of late, usually during the wee hours of the morning as I weigh the options: settle into my favorite deconstructed English roll armchair for a few hours with lap top and misty view of the gardens (the rhodies and irises are blooming), or make a super early commute to the office (with the really great espresso machine) because I crave community and need to/want to collaborate on projects today with colleagues.

Your options might be a WeWork co-working space, or the local Starbucks (the high-top table versus low-top table versus lounge chair next to the wall outlet) between sales calls. Or maybe you’ve booked the glass walled conference room at your main office for a team meeting, will spend a few hours at a free address workstation, and finish up the day at your home office.

Perhaps others spend the majority of their time in an assigned workspace, after dropping off the kiddos to a school where students have been allowed the freedom to choose the best way to learn—standing, wobble chairs, sitting on the floors—as teachers adapt to change within their environments.

Work is about what you do, not necessarily about where you go, and the location or setting allowed to complete that work is unique to each company’s work policies.

Jim Keane Quote

“Every company has a need to give their employees more choices how they work, and more control over where they work,” says Jim Keane, President and CEO of Steelcase (the number one office furniture manufacturer in the US and in the world). “It’s more about a culture shift, than furniture.”

Choice and control over the work environment can be achieved with an ecosystem of spaces, designed to encourage people to choose from a variety of environments depending on their task, the technologies they’re using, or simply their state of mind.

Consider flexible meeting spaces, movable walls, seating to support various postures, walk stations, free address/unassigned workspaces, lounge areas for space away from the desk, areas with natural light designed for communal use rather than sectioned off for leadership, and the integration of technology into thoughtfully designed furniture.

Author Ann de Bruin, OpenSquare Workspace Consultant / Education


Ann joined OpenSquare as the Workspace Consultant for our Education Team in January 2019. She is a Canadian ex-pat with a passion for learning, who comes to us by way of Hawaii and Los Angles, where she worked for various Steelcase dealerships as designer/account manager/sales. Ann traded the sunshine and surf for Washington rain and those amazing views Mt. Rainier to be closer to her daughter and family in Renton. In her free time, you’ll find Ann hanging about the aisles of Home Depot plotting renovations for her vintage seventies house with the faux wood carpet, or in some neighborhood café perched at a counter with pen, paper and a semi-dry cappuccino.