Space is a powerful tool to foster engagement, inspire innovation, and drive productivity. But what exactly does an optimal space look like? In the Science of Space, we explore how the science of intentional design can turn any work environment into a holistic experience.
A unique approach to workspace design impacts connections and the employee experience. That’s why, at WeWork, we intentionally design offices to set the stage for happier, more productive, and more highly engaged employees.
Take our research on internal staircases: It turns out that the humble staircase can play an integral role beyond just allowing people to get from one floor to the next. In fact, a well-designed central staircase can provide connectivity between people in a way that ordinary stairwells cannot.
The idea that staircases can be used in this way comes in part from a theory called the “Allen Curve,” which studies the relationship between physical distance and employee interaction. The findings reveal that more communication happens when employees can physically see, hear, and engage with each other.
In other words, people are energized by being around each other. Inspired by this concept, the WeWork team began experimenting with designing more open internal staircases. By incorporating visually interesting staircases into WeWork locations, the team has helped nurture a feeling of community. That’s because a staircase’s location inside a building, how visible it is, and which amenities it connects to all have an impact on employee interaction. Plus, colorful and aesthetically pleasing staircases can serve as a stunning element to brighten up a space.
Take a look at how these 10 unique WeWork staircases connect and inspire those working in their locations.
The open layout and floor-to-ceiling windows at WeWork Hanse Forum ensure that workers don’t miss any of the action as they climb floors. Glass walls also help to reinforce social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s concept of “familiar strangers,” which contributes to a sense of community in the workplace.
The beautiful spiral staircase with white marble flooring and scroll design metal handrails is a thing of elegance—perfect for WeWork 92 Av. des Champs-Élysées in Paris. It’s a great example of how the culture and vibe of a city can influence the workplace design.
The open staircase with floating light wood steps and lattice design walls creates a warm and airy feel at WeWork RMZ Latitude Commercial. Also note the touch of nature on the landings—plants are key to employee comfort in the workplace.
Bold and blue, this staircase makes a statement in WeWork Embassy TechVillage’s industrial-style workspace, also in Bengaluru. Balanced with the open ceilings, the space creates the optimal balance of calm versus high energy.
Vibrant, colorful, and whimsical are just some of the words that could describe the rainbow palette of this staircase at WeWork Centtral Interlomas. The yellow, orange, and red colors of the slatted wall of the staircase are perfect for inspiring creativity.
Part staircase, part library, this light wood staircase functions as a cozy book nook for those seeking some digital-free downtime at WeWork Artz Pedregal, another Mexico City location. Creating strategic communal spots like this can also help encourage face time, and keep the communication flowing.
The wall art that accompanies this simple staircase at WeWork Dama Station Business Center adds a bright and cheery artistic flair. Adding playful touches like this into a workspace helps inspire innovation.
Fun and functional, the striped staircase at WeWork Taohui Xintian also serves as a way to separate the office into different functional spaces, from a casual waiting area to a place to socialize to the meeting rooms and offices that make up the perimeter. Workers can easily glance up or down to see who’s using common spaces on adjacent floors, giving them more incentive to connect.
A cheerful mint floating staircase with white railings and hardwood steps serves as a centerpiece that complements WeWork CCSS’s other design highlights, including white globe lights and greenery. This type of transparency helps balance energy between the floors of the building.
San Francisco, CA
This modern and stunning teal curved staircase, complete with teal metal railings and hardwood steps, adds a feeling of tranquility to the center of the room at WeWork 44 Montgomery. Clearly, the designers knew that adding shades of green and blue have a calming effect, as does the natural light streaming in.
This article was originally published on August 7, 2019, and has been updated throughout by the editors.
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer who covers work, personal finance, and higher education. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Family Circle and Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter.