A recent collaboration between The Good Mod and Airbnb points at a growing trend in office design for the laptop-wielding workforce
Workspace design has long accommodated sitting in one place, uncomfortably, for long periods of time. On top of research that suggests how being sedentary for eight hours a day might eventually kill you, being forced to do your job from a single spot while working on a laptop simply doesn’t make sense when the machine is, you know, portable.
This was the premise of a collaboration last year between Airnb and The Good Mod, a Portland, Oregon-based design firm that was commissioned to build office furniture with not only the stressful setting of a new call center in mind, but for a workspace in which the majority of the staff would be using laptops. The latter works hand-in-hand with the growing open floor plan trend, as workers with movable machines can now roam freely throughout offices. But workplace furniture, even with the new freedoms provided by sofas and chairs and a lack of designated areas for employees, hasn’t necessarily caught up with the needs of mobile work devices and how people tend to use them at the office.
This was a large component that The Good Mod looked to tackle in its development of pieces for Airbnb’s call center, noting on their blog that they went in “thinking about home use [versus] busy commercial office use” for laptops. Thus, the final furniture designs feature details that have been optimized for laptop use, such as conference tables with integrated power outlets, chairs with thick armrests, and furniture pieces that can be used as footrests that are light enough to move, but heavy enough not to budge. The furnishings support mobility and help limit the discomfort that can come from sitting and staring at a machine on a lap all day. Subtle additions make it easier to change positions and ensure no one goes without access to power, two key ingredients necessary for supporting an all-laptop environment.
Around this time last year, the media marveled at how the The Good Mod team and was able to create a call center that wasn’t hellish place to work. But more than that, this collaboration was onto something: with the rise of laptop use at the office, the furniture on which work is done has to evolve to fit the needs of the times, namely, to be adapted for portable work devices and all the new scenarios that come with their use in a business environment.