The Medieval university is the best designed working space
I have come to believe that a lot of the frustrations at work have to do with office spaces. I believe the monotony of schedules, the mindless “busy” work that happens at the desk, the constant interruptions and the metawork of meetings are all a consequence of our current ideal of open spaces offices
My general take is that, if possible, offices should be avoided. If, however, an office is needed or desired, I think the open space should be avoided.
What do we want in an office? IMO, there are 3 things you are trying to do at work: do coordinated work with others, have random conversations with others, and do your own private, silent work.
My take is that these 3 types of work are sufficiently different that require separate spaces.
I find that the model of the medieval university offers a good example of how to do this: 3 very different spaces with 3 different purposes in one place
The library: a place to do solo work (and get resources, which today takes place on the internet). Silence is enforced by staff and peers. There is no assign siting. The library is not my office, yet there is no time limit on sitting. There are fewer seats than students; limited supply helps limit the pretext that by sitting on the library you are magically doing work which is a common phenomenon of the office desk
The classroom: booked on a recurrent basis, mostly by teachers/managers. Emphasis on focus on recurrent meetings, less on one-offs. This setup incentivizes parties to be more conscious of the use of group time.
The courtyard: a place to meet and socialize. Helps build relationships (which in turn fosters better collaboration) and to encounter unexpected
Classrooms on one end, the library at the other, the courtyard in the middle
Being at the office all day feels oppressive to me. Having my own desk isolates me in place design to get people together. Open floor plans bread interruption. Easy interruption leads to shallow thinking.
Thoughtfulness requires time. Collaboration requires structure if not to be abused. The medieval university layout is a better solution