Defining Freedom in the Workplace

There is a strong link between freedom and mobility in our societies whereby mobility is often an indicator of social advantage, this rings true also in our work environments and was the leading theme at a Mix Interior roundtable where our Design Strategist Jordan Jones recently took part. The full write up can be read here in the July issue, however Jordan shares his insights in our latest HLW storyboard blog.

HLW Design Strategist Jordan Jones

HLW Design Strategist Jordan Jones

Movement within the workplace is a facilitator of social cohesion across the organisation and the cross pollination of knowledge between teams. With it creates encounters that spark conversations, build relationships, and inevitably lead to collaboration and innovation developed from new ideas.

At work we typically have two types of networks, our foreground network made up of our immediate colleagues with whom we have regular and frequent contact resulting in a conservative mind set of beliefs.

Then we have our background networks whom we have infrequent contact with and will often have two separate perspectives that when exchanged generate creative and innovative ideas as a result of varying beliefs, drawn from different experiences.

The challenge is to ensure that both are equally supported for the conservation of knowledge but also the generation of new ideas. We can strategically programme space in two ways to influence movement and encourage such encounters to support both foreground and background networks.


It is important to think of movement and placement when configuring space as people will move naturally following the flow of the spatial configuration, or following the shortest path if left open. Configuration can be used to support everyday movement or symbolically to emphasize a certain feature with an abrupt change in direction or using urban blockage to noticeably push movement off course.


Certain functions will be more popular and have a higher frequency of use such as tea points and print areas. Being able to identify the more heavily used spaces can be used strategically as attractor spaces - drawing movement towards them. When consolidating or positioning these types of spaces in close proximity, the multiplier effect happens.


A well designed environment would support mobility with strategic spatial configuration, placement and empowerment so people feel free to work in a setting complementary to their activity. A truly successful workplace would consider positioning settings and functions within zones complimentary to the activity taking place in them.

Your integrated spaces are most often accessible from the main circulation, nearest to the floor entrances.  The opposite is true for segregated spaces often found in deeper parts of the floor.  Quiet areas would be best situated in segregated areas where movement and distractions are minimal. In contrast, teapoints are most suitable in more integrated accessible space - unless your strategy is to attract movement to or away from a certain part of the floorplate.


With these basic principles in mind take a look at your floorplate, and consider sketching as a way to think about where things are placed, why they are placed where they are, and the impact of that placement. How does your space facilitate movement and support freedom.

To learn more, check out the July issue of Mix Interiors magazine.