How to design a workspace for maximum productivity From her work on Mill City Clinic, a next-generation, community-focused health care center in the University of Minnesota Physicians building in Minneapolis, to Field Nation’s totally adaptable office space in the Baker Center downtown, Studio BV founder and CEO Betsy Vohs is quickly developing a reputation for forward-thinking workplace design. Her holistic approach to workplaces, which takes into account both productivity and creativity, can help guide the way.
How do you create architecture around your most optimistic sense of what you are as a business?” —Betsy Vohs, founder and CEO, Studio BV
Understand the core business. “Companies sometimes make real estate decisions for really large amounts of time—10, sometimes 15-year lease decisions—which is crazy if you think about it: Eleven years ago, no one even had an iPhone. So to think about how we’re going to work in 2030 is absurd, right? So when designing, we try to ask questions around: ‘What is the core of their business?’ ‘What won’t change?’ And then we try to design for flexibility because everything else will change.”
Think comprehensively. “If you want to see a really big shift for your business, you’ve got to think about everything. How do people communicate with each other? Where do they celebrate? Where do they feel inspiration throughout the workday? I think that’s a big thing that we’re trying to achieve for people—giving them something more than they could’ve gotten at home or at Starbucks.”
Democratizing private spaces. “Open offices are never going to disappear completely because we don’t have the luxury of having dedicated private space for everybody—the expense of it would be too much. What we can get to is a halfway point: open offices that don’t feel like a cubicle farm, that are more interesting, that are broken down into smaller ‘neighborhoods.’ Then we can share private spaces and make privacy a more democratic process.”
Tools of the Trade: Vohs’ favorite design objects.
Sit-to-stand desk.“A sit-to-stand desk can help you change your posture throughout the day, promote improved ergonomic health, and give you more energy throughout your day, thereby increasing your ability to focus and be productive.” C9 Desk by Watson Furniture, watsonfurniture.com
Ergonomic chair. “It has all the supports but a minimal back.” Fern Task Chair by Haworth, haworth.com
Task light. “Minnesota winters get dark, so having good light will help you focus and be more productive. If your office has a window, the best location to manage glare is to position your desk to sit perpendicular to daylight.” Tip Lamp by Muuto, muuto.com
Monitor arm. “This allows you to use your laptop as a second screen and creates more space on your desk for papers and other essentials. Plus, it helps the monitor align with your eyes in the seated or standing position.” M10 Monitor Arm by Human Scale, humanscale.com