Is This Glacier-Like Structure the Office of the Future? Probably Not, Say Workers and Experts

raaafThe office of the future might not involve sitting or standing a desk — it might make workers lean instead.

Dutch design firm RAAAF worked with artist Barbara Visser to develop a studio that looks more like it’s covered in glaciers and boulders than cubicles. The gray, geometric structures don’t offer comfortable seating but instead force workers to lean or sit at odd angles, often moving throughout the day.

Much research has been done in recent years concerning the harmful effects of sitting all day at work. Prolonged sitting has been thought to be responsible for a variety of health problems, from weight gain to heart disease.

While standing desks may solve the problem for some workers who need more physical activity, it doesn’t quite promote much movement.

So after a call for new designs for shared office spaces from the Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands, RAAAF responded with their blueprints for “The End of Sitting.”

Ronald Rietveld, one of RAAAF’s founders, explained, “We wanted to create not just furniture, but new ways of working actively on the scale of the whole working environment.”

And employees in such an office would be forced to work actively, moving throughout the day in order to change positions to continue working comfortably (or as comfortably as they can when leaning against walls).

So is this just another kitschy trend in commercial design, or will other office furniture services follow suit?

Groups of independent workers, from writers and philosophers to designers and students, have tested RAAAF’s space and found that they have experienced increases in their well-being — but also decreases in physical fatigue, which is the firm’s goal. Complaints, though, have been raised as to where workers can put their coffee cups while they work, given the lack of flat surfaces.

The project raises other concerns for workers, though, such as where do they keep their supplies and files, and how can departments hold meetings in an effective manner? The design also doesn’t predict how productive workers can be in such an environment.

The prototype for a futuristic office doesn’t really give any of those answers, and only time will tell whether businesses would adopt such a model for their workspaces.