From Education to Workplace: Designing a Seamless Transition
We live in an ever changing economy. Students and employees joining the work force today, think, work and act differently than past generations. It is our responsibility as designers to create spaces that respond to this younger generation. They are, in fact, future leaders of our nation.
As a firm, DLR Group is fortunate to practice across multiple sectors, including both education and workplace. Our design teams regularly share valuable information on trends and benchmarks that will shape the future of facilities for both user groups. A common theme we see in both settings is the high degree of flexibility day to day and adaptability year to year. And three kinds of specific spaces are emerging as the appropriate support for the day to day activities of the creative economy: gathering spaces that support synergies among many; pods that encourage small group interactions; and huddle spaces that foster one on one dialogue.
One current trend in education is the subtle shift in how curriculum delivery is providing content along all of the spectrums of learning from early childhood to post-secondary. Elementary schools are starting to include spaces geared for multi-age, multi-modal learning. In these facilities, students are grouped according to their learning levels where they are allowed to determine the length of time and order of their day to day activities, with either peer or teacher interaction as needed for them to complete their given assignments.
Continuing along the spectrum of lifelong learning, middle and high schools are incorporating an increased focus on project based learning, and/or career and technical education pathways that allow students to apply theory to practice in a specific content area that holds their interest. This is consistent with the development of work environments that are specifically tuned to the culture and products of a specific industry.
In higher education, this trend continues with an increased priority on the right mix of research, lecture, collaboration and social spaces that promote and foster social interaction and engagement. The power of community is evident when peers gather to talk about a common problem or required outcome or deliverable.
All of the spaces I mentioned above are designed to adapt over time, allowing for variety of activities such as online learning where students quietly gather information on a path to knowledge, messy maker spaces where students tinker and allow the creative juices to flow, or collaborative spaces where classmates share ideas and insights. These spaces also spill over from the education world to business, resulting in collaborative and adjustable work spaces that meet the needs of all employees and minimize the transition from school to workplace.