Is the Eudaimonia Machine the Future of Office Design?
The Eudaimonia Machine is a central concept of Aristotelian ethics, a final stage of a video game and an exciting new concept within office design. Rooted in the human endeavour to achieve our fullest potential, the Eudaimonia Machine and its ethos have permeated throughout different cultural spheres. When it comes to design, the Eudaimonia Machine is an innovative and sometimes controversial approach that has the potential to revolutionalise office design.
In the fast-paced nature of modern society, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to provide dedicated, focused environments for their employees to do their best work. Open-plan offices saw a surge in popularity in the early 2000s thanks, in part, to the refit of the Google HQ in 2005. The intention of the open-plan office was to deconstruct ‘top-down’ hierarchical structures within businesses and to, quite literally, open up spaces to encourage collaboration and create a more equal environment. The problem with the design of open-plan offices, however, is that they don’t facilitate the opportunity for ‘deep work’ and instead are full of distractions and interruptions. Research from FlexJobs found that 76% of workers avoid the office when they need to focus and get important work done.
The Eudaimonia Machine’s design offers a radical transformation of the office, creating five layers of workspace dedicated to the different types of work employees need to do. Coined by architect David Dewane, in Computer Science Professor Cal Newton’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, each of the five levels are intended to trigger a different mental response within employees. Each zone flows into the other, allowing workers to transition seamlessly between the various stages of work.
The Gallery: Acts as the company’s first impression and seeks to inspire all who come through its doors, whether visitors or employees.
The Salon: This may include amenities like coffee machines and open space. Its goal is to create a sociable environment that facilitates conversation and idea exchange, which David notes is equally important as ‘deep work’.
The Library: Creates a buffer to the bustling Salon and into a more engaged environment. The Library enables research and is home to all the written resources and materials that employees might need to achieve their tasks.
The Office: Where teams can conduct ‘Light Work’, such as administrative tasks and emails. The Office is the closest thing to a traditional working environment out of all the zones.
The Chamber: The final zone facilitates teams to conduct solo ‘deep work’ in an uninterrupted environment for up to hours at a time. This could include isolated, soundproofed booths for one person. The Chamber will have all the usual amenities employees need but in a concentrated environment.
The Eudaimonia Machine model provides sanctuary for all personality types and empowers flexible working by supplying its users with options, which, in turn, boosts productivity and employee well-being.
At AW Spaces, we explored the application of The Eudaimonia Machine with our client, Vidsy. As one of YouTube’s certified creative partners, they needed a space that reflected the progressive and modern ethos of the brand. The Eduiamonia Machine is an ideal design choice for brands who want to embrace and combine the collaborative nature of the open-plan office and the productivity of traditional office space with the choices provided by hybrid working. Key features included a bespoke breakfast bar that doubled up as a collaboration table in the kitchen, perfect for throwing down ideas and enjoying snacks from the table’s hidden food storage and glazed moving walls between the boardroom and breakout area to enable large business and social events. We opted to make a feature of the open brick walls and bring in dartboards and pool tables. The results provided Vidsy with a beautiful office that exudes creativity and enables inspiration whilst providing its team with the time and space needed to get in the flow and achieve ‘deep work’ to the best of their ability.
Whilst The Eduaimonia Machine may not be entirely suitable for every office, there are lessons for businesses to take from the model and the impact dedicated focused zones can have on its employees.