Designing flexible workspaces for rapid innovation

Article 3/4 in the “Leading Transformation” series.


By Nabil Sabet
Group Director – New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto

and Charlie Millard
Director, Head of Office – London, Amsterdam, Paris

and Jeni Durksen
Senior Associate, Design – London

and Frances Gain
Senior Associate, Workplace Strategy and Transformation – London, Amsterdam, Paris

Leading Transformation’ is a series of articles from M Moser Associates about human-centric design. They discuss the workplace strategies helping leaders gain a competitive edge during the transformation of their businesses. You are reading article 3/4.

How to embed innovation in a flexible office environment

To provide physical structure to the innovation process and spark new ideas, spaces need to be future-proofed, aid collaboration, and stimulate the imagination. 

Collaboration spaces (blue) adjacent to focus spaces (red) to support quick transition between different kinds of working

Collaboration spaces (blue) adjacent to focus spaces (red) to support quick transition between different kinds of working

How important is innovation?
28% of high growth companies increased investments in innovation by more than 50% between 2012 and 2017. In their research into disruption, the EY Centre for Board Matters revealed that 67% of investors want companies to undertake potentially disruptive innovation projects.

LinkedIn Design Laboratory, Sunnydale CA

LinkedIn Design Laboratory, Sunnydale CA

Developing new workplace innovations
As seen in LinkedIn’s Design Laboratory, dedicated areas for research and development can be key to testing ideas. Reconfigurable workspace sits alongside flexible project spaces for brainstorming and ideation. When creativity is given its own space in the office, a culture of intelligent risk-taking means teams can fail fast, apply learnings in real-time and rapidly find new solutions. In the space created with M Moser, LinkedIn discover, test and develop new workplace strategies and concepts to be incorporated in their offices around the world. 

M Moser Associates, New York

M Moser Associates, New York

Technology transforming workplace mobility
Jennifer Magnolfi shared in the book “Spaces for Innovation”, “To innovate, businesses will have to harness the intrinsic potential of a 21st century workforce for whom the digital workspace is sometimes the primary workspace”. The supporting infrastructure such as power, data and connectivity frequently restricts an organisations ability to create truly mobile enabled workspaces. Now, solutions like the mobile battery technology replacing underfloor power in M Moser’s New York office (above) are beginning untether people from their proximity to the nearest socket. 

The impact of hierarchy on the workplace
One of the biggest barriers to innovation is hierarchy, solved by recognising that employees at every level need to be engaged in the problem solving. Harvard Business Review highlights, “a growing body of evidence that shows that organisations with flat structures outperform those with more traditional hierarchies in most situations”.

When we design workplaces without hierarchy, many people are able to embrace different kinds of working. For example, while private offices provide privacy for sensitive conversations and quiet for focused work, it is rarely necessary all of the time.

By reducing this obstacle, the workplace can become a breeding ground for thinking in exciting and unanticipated ways. Enabling this broad-spanning contribution to creativity with a designed environment can prevent the exclusion of groups with untapped potential.

Hierarchy also affects our access to the right people, which can in turn stifle collaboration. One of the key arguments in favour of open plan offices is the removal of physical barriers between people. With a range of options the use of space is more intuitive, so employees are both more likely to approach a manager in an open area and respect their need for privacy when occupying a focus space.

Read more in article 4/4
Adapting workplace construction to support business change

Request Download


If you are interested in working with us, have a look at our careers page.


If you are interested in working with us, have a look at our careers page.


Thanks, you're subscribed.