5 Things I Learned from Perkins+Will London

This past Fall, I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the brand new Perkins+Will London office through Perkins+Will's Talent Exchange program. The program allows junior and mid-level employees to temporarily work from one of our 26 offices, filling a temporary staffing need while immersing themselves in a new city, bringing a new perspective to their host office, and ultimately returning to their home office with new skills and ideas.

When I returned to Boston, our Office Re/Fresh project had just been announced. Having just experienced another Perkins+Will office for the three months prior, I was excited to share my experience with my Boston colleagues. Below, see the top 5 things I learned from Perkins+Will London and would love to see implemented in Boston's Re/Fresh.

 1. Desk Returns

Like our office, the London office uses bench-style seating. The difference between the two offices is the lack of returns separating individual workstations. After working for 12 weeks without a return or file cabinet, I learned how to work without the excess clutter that I was once so accustomed to. Interior designers and architects require so many materials: drawings, sets, catalogues, even clothes, shoes and so on. And of course, our London colleagues are not much different, but they methodically de-cluttered before moving into the new space, and the design provided solutions for personal and project storage. I am excited that we are planning to densify our workstations, ultimately getting rid of our returns, and have begun to de-clutter with office-wide events.

 Workstations without returns

Workstations without returns

 Collaboration areas that double as individual working areas

Collaboration areas that double as individual working areas

 2. Collaboration Areas

As storage and flat space is limited at employee seating areas, there are numerous dedicated collaboration areas throughout the office. These spaces functioned as project storage, pin up space, and even individual working space for those who need a break from their desk. As our work area will soon be densified, I believe we will need more of these breakout areas for teams and individuals around the office and look forward to this new style of working.

 Plenty of pin-up space near collaboration areas

Plenty of pin-up space near collaboration areas

 3. Virtual Reality (VR) Space

Interest in virtual reality is undeniably increasing, both in-house and with clients. To address this growing trend, London dedicated a portion of their office for VR use alone. I can envision a dedicated and clearly demarcated space in the Boston office for this technology, as our own design teams and clients are integrating the technology more and more into the design process.

 4. Community Recycling and Trash

When I first started at the London office, I noticed something small but somewhat unusual to me: individual desks did not have their own trash and recycling bins. However, I soon noticed that, though this was a small detail, the office looked so much cleaner overall. Plus, I felt that the remote ‘community’ receptacles, all integrated into millwork, encouraged me to move more often. Bonus points for healthy environments that encourage activity!

 The materials library located near the reception desk

The materials library located near the reception desk

 5. Materials Library

The London office used a reduced reference material library housed in custom millwork, with adequate lighting, just behind its reception desk. I realized that having a smaller library at such a visible location had some unexpected benefits. First, it prevents messiness and forces everybody to be mindful about what they leave behind. Although it has a reduced size, this actually necessitates that teams plan ahead for concept design presentations, as we had to create the palettes farther in advance to allow for materials to be ordered and delivered.

Having seen the impact of these small differences firsthand, I look forward to seeing what our talented Re/Fresh Committee will design and implement in our office!