Office design is an ever-evolving field. In the last 10 years especially, our ideas about what the office is supposed to provide have changed dramatically. It’s possible now to work in a private office, a semi-private cubicle, a totally open office environment, or from home. The question of which model to embrace has a lot to do with the needs of your organization and staff.
Because of this, we can learn a lot from Montessori schools, which thrive on independence and creativity. Here are three of the most valuable lessons Montessori has for the modern office.
1. Be Flexible
Montessori students don’t have assigned work spaces. Instead, they move about the room as needed to work on various projects and lessons. It’s important to think beyond the traditional office mold when making your floor plan. It’s possible that set office cubicles are the best choice for your employees, but there’s no sense wasting real estate if people would be happier and more productive in a more open environment.
2. Rethink Departmental Organization
At Montessori schools, kids are grouped by planes instead of grades. The idea is to create groups that function together on a developmental level, not an arbitrary age separation. So you might have a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old in the same class, and a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old together in another class.
Companies can use this model to help them create work groups that make sense in terms of the projects they’re participating in. If design and marketing work together a lot, put them closer together instead of building walls — real and metaphorical — between people who need to communicate in order to get the job done.
3. Let Workers Work
Montessori organizes time into longer, uninterrupted blocks, instead of creating smaller, more frequently-changing classrooms. In theory, this enables kids to concentrate and learn from their work, instead of being called away to other activities.
This is an even more useful idea for adults, who often seem to need at least 20 minutes to get their head in the game after being interrupted. When planning your office design, create places for workers to go and concentrate fully on the task at hand.