What Office?

More than 3 out of 5 companies now allow employees to work mobile, totaling 119.7 million workers in the United States. What does this mean for the future of employment? 

Mike Bistline and Brian Shapland of Turnstone dropped into downtown Baltimore this morning for coffee and Small Talks with Hyperspace.

Small Talks, hosted by Turnstone, are a series of inspired talks created for small businesses. Each year the topics change, based on Turnstone’s dedicated research and what they find to be the freshest trends in the workplace.

This year, with the number of coworking spaces doubling each year, and the rapid advance of Millennial workers, Turnstone zeroes in on mobile workplaces. That is, mobile work either in or out of the office, from telecommuting to flexible design.

Designing for the new mobile workface begins with “unchaining the user” from the desk.

Unchaining the User

The user in this case is the employee. Mike presented the small crowd with a novel idea. The number of employees should not equal the number of desks. People need to know they have a place to sit and a place to store their stuff, but 2/3 of office space throughout the nation sits empty each day.

Look at Turnstone’s own office. With 40 employees, it’s outfitted with just 19 desks. Each is used by whomever, as needed, with a number of other unique spaces around the building for different types of work: spaces for collaboration, for privacy, and for fun!

Well, if not a desk, what DO people need at work? They need three things: to know they have a place to work, a place to store their stuff, and an easy way to amplify the devices that they use (e.g., a monitor to share what they’re working on from their laptop). And to use those devices, now more than ever, they need easy access to electrical power. The average employee requires 4-7 outlets to power the devices they use throughout the day. For max productivity, designers must build in easy connections, within arm’s reach.

Wait, let’s go back to having a place to work! Without a desk, where do I go each morning?

Mike employed the analogy of a city. We like cities.

Cities have vibrant activity, a bit of density and “buzz”, and a sense of culture. Within cities, are numerous places to meet and mingle, yet there are also places to be alone and anonymous.

While you may not want to strive for anonymity at work (job security doesn’t pair well with anonymity), the workplace should have a mixture of settings, much like our favorite cities do. Each space is designed for a purpose: for quiet work, for social interaction, and for meetings, and we flow in and out of these spaces as we see fit.


To allow today’s mobile employees to flourish, you must give them the freedom to create, allow them to express their passion for what they do, and most importantly, build in flexibility so that as the work landscape changes, your business can as well.

The Turnstone team is passionate about supporting people wherever they work, be it at home, from an office, or on the go!

Meet the designers at Hyperspace to find out how Turnstone can impact your own space or to get an invitation to the next Small Talks networking event.

Topics: Office Space

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