Sunday, August 17, 2008

bosti - a workplace guru

BOSTI stands for Buffalo Organization for Social and Technological Innovation is at once an interior design consultant and business management consultant, both and neither at the same time. Their specialty has long been the analysis of business organizations, to distill their overarching mission and determine their organizational hierarchy and how their physical space could be designed to support behaviors that furthered their mission. Does that sound complicated? Well it is, but its the fundamental way to get at creating a workplace that works. In many ways this is a concern of larger corporate organizations, and in fact BOSTI's client list shows a parade of some of the largest and most progressive corporations in the world, as well as a host of office furniture manufacturers seeking their insight for the design of products for the workplace. So why are we interested in them here?

Workalicious is not aimed at the corporate world. Its aimed at smaller business, coworkers, and home offices; places where the workers actually have some control over the making of their places. I'm interested in BOSTI because many of the current trends in workplace organization and design began with their research, findings, and recommendations. The current move away from cubicles, the design for support of team work, and alternative office strategies like hoteling were all idea advanced by BOSTI. It has lead to a proliferation of products that are more flexible, more reconfigurable, and even products intended for smaller scale offices like ours.

BOSTI really established the idea that the workplace is a tool to advance your work. Now every furniture manufacturer may have made the same claim but BOSTI took the idea so much further. By examining the business practices of a given company they were able to suggest design solutions that were often unusual and unexpected. The goals or mission of a business are best accomplished by particular culture and behaviors in the office, whether it be teamwork, collaboration, or individual task work. The organization of the office space can support or work against those behaviors. The function and character of the office furniture and implements can support or work against the organization of the office as well. New scenarios for office structure suggest new types of furniture, or new ways of using existing furniture.

What I want to do here at workalicious is apply this type of thinking to the kinds of emergent workplaces I see my friends and colleagues using. Small businesses, and home operations, businesses that are growing and struggling to hold onto the culture that made them successful. I think we all have something to offer each other by showing what has worked for us in the past and new ideas we have found. I would not be surprised if someday corporate america came dipping for these ideas to transform their own workplace. Its happened before.


Note: The founder of BOSTI, Michael Brill died in 2002 which is a terrible loss. But he wrote extensively on the subject of office design, often commissioned by furniture manufacturers who published small books about his ideas which were supported by their products. You should seek out his writings if this rethinking of the office interests you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin