The case for designing offices more like bars

February 16, 2017 Sanjana Saluja

The secret to productive office design is getting workers to see eye-to-eye, literally. The eye height at that you engage with people can increase your chances of striking up spontaneous conversations. Quartz explores why we should design our workplace more like bars.

In bars, the counter and stools are placed at a height that puts those sitting and standing at the same eye-level. The height of the counter and matching stools is so well established at between 40 to 42 inches that it’s known as “bar height.” Eliminating this 12-inch difference naturally engineers conversations between strangers who are now both sitting and standing face-to-face. That 12-inch difference makes casual conversations much more likely to happen. (And not just because you’re two glasses of wine into your evening.)

By this logic, in order to facilitate communication and collaboration, we should make our workplaces more like bars. Without the drinking.

Eye-to-eye, face-to-face connections are critical to workplace success; they are the basis for building common ground, trust, and facilitating the flow of ideas. Yet so many workplaces are designed to be a divided plane between those sitting, standing, and walking. When someone is sitting down, they are roughly 12 inches below the eye height of someone walking by—and this elevation segregation means everything to workplace productivity and conviviality.

Find out how workplace design can manufacture eye-to-eye happenstances here.  

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