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How do you work? The Rise of the 5th Work Mode.


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The meeting notification on your desktop signals a strategy session that’s starting in an hour.

You shift into focus mode as you review notes from meetings prior. A silent, uninterrupted brainstorm produces the ideas you’ll bring to the table.

Notes in hand, you arrive in the conference room and switch into collaboration mode . Your team’s enthusiasm grows with a productive back and forth among team members. Your project begins to take shape.

With new task lists delegated to pairs, you and your partner move to learning mode and spend the rest of the work day researching and information-gathering together.

At day’s end, the team reconvenes for celebratory drinks in the lounge just below your office. Ahh, socializing mode , at last.

Sound familiar?

These four modes, known as “work modes” were formally introduced to office space design in a 2008 study by Gensler that explored how office design relates to business drivers and outcomes.

Below, we delve a little deeper into the importance of these work modes, the rise of the fifth work mode, and how you can make way for it in your office space.

Why employers should care about work modes

When you designed your workspace, what were the driving factors?

Aesthetics? Floor plan? Cost?

Some businesses build workplaces solely to support the sale of their products instead of considering the wellness of the people who make the products.

That’s a grave mistake.

When the wellness of products is placed over people, the people, the products and the bottom line suffer.

But that’s probably not news to you.

For quite some time, companies have been making efforts to acknowledge employees’ physical well-being, as they have offered onsite fitness centers or discounts on gym memberships, healthier options in the company cafeteria, and even complimentary smoking cessation services.

Today’s forward-thinking wellness programs are designed to serve the whole employee—addressing both the physical and psychological health of workers.

Employers prioritizing total employee wellness are driven to accommodate various work modes, giving employees time and space to socialize , work collaboratively , learn and then focus in order to do their best work.

And it’s no wonder.

Findings from the 2008 Gensler Workplace Survey revealed that office space design centered effectively around these four work modes is connected to improved employee engagement and company performance.

Specifically, Gensler found that top-performing companies (companies with higher profits, better employee engagement, and stronger market and brand position than average companies) have significantly higher-performing work environments.

And in terms of employee happiness (or psychological wellness), one stat says it all: Gensler reported that at top companies, 82 percent of employees are satisfied or highly satisfied with their workplaces, while at average companies, that percentage is almost cut in half with only 43 percent of employees reporting workplace satisfaction.

But this study is now nearly a decade old, and some things have since changed.

The rise of the 5th work mode: Rejuvenation

Office space design centered around collaboration in the workplace has been a growing trend for some time. We all know that collaboration contributes to innovation and is an effective work mode for many people.

Working primarily in a group setting is not for everyone, however.

In fact, one-third to one-half of the population considers themselves introverts. For these valued members of a team, focus mode is a more comfortable fit.

In a 2012 study by Gensler on focus in the workplace, of the 90,000 employees surveyed, 88 percent named focused work as the most critical part of their jobs. So as accommodations for collaboration work mode in the office have grown, the study showed that “workplace strategies that sacrifice individual focus in pursuit of collaboration will result in decreased effectiveness for both.”

For introverts in particular, working entirely in focus mode can be tiring and ultimately unproductive. So there has to be balance.

Whereas extroverts can switch into socializing mode to refuel, introverts have little room to recharge in an environment that only supports four work modes. Focus mode may be a good fit for a working introvert, but the other three modes offer little opportunity for an introvert to “reboot.”

And therefore, the need for the fifth work mode— rejuvenation .

Opportunities for rejuvenation require downtime, allowing employees to refresh and recharge within the work day. Stepping away from collaborative workspaces for small periods of time helps employees avoid burnout. And most importantly, while offering opportunities for rejuvenation does benefit the introvert, time to recover from engaging tasks equally benefits the extrovert.

As an employer interested in increasing productivity as well as employee satisfaction, consider designing spaces where rejuvenation can take place.

How to design with rejuvenation in mind



While activity-based workstations (stand-up desks, long communal tables, comfortable gathering nooks) support the four traditional work modes, designing with mental, physical and emotional rejuvenation in mind requires slightly different approaches.

Mental rejuvenation

To rest the mind following a particularly high-energy strategy session, provide space for mental rest. Create areas within your office where employees can get space away from each other. Semi-reclined furniture and soft cushions will reinforce the purpose of a mental rejuvenation corner, nook or room.

Physical rejuvenation

For employees who may be running from office to office or client to client, designate a space where they can physically rest in quiet to show your commitment to their health and wellness. You might even consider converting small meeting rooms into meditation rooms or nap spaces.

Emotional rejuvenation

After particularly intense meetings, help calm your employees’ minds and reduce stress levels by providing them opportunities to “clear their emotional slates.” Try adding walking paths, reflecting pools or a living wall to your office space. You might convert an existing space into a stretching area, complete with yoga mats and props.

Providing areas designated for rejuvenation throughout your office provides your employees with opportunities to balance high-energy, engaging work periods with time to refresh and renew.

In the mode to rejuvenate your office space?

We’d like to put your mind to rest when it comes to providing opportunities for rejuvenation in your office. Connecting Elements offers innovative design solutions that allow your employees to shift easily into rejuvenation mode. To get an idea of how we can help revive your office space, give us a call at 877-779-3409 or contact us through our online form.

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