Since the beginning, administrative offices have been walled off from the rest of the school community. Decorum and privacy called for the typical office setup: large desks, walled rooms, and lots of bookcases. But in a successful school, administration and staff are equal partners in collaboration with students and faculty.
Reflecting this paradigm shift, administrative office design has stopped isolating the staff and has instead started giving them a space that everyone looks forward to visiting.
There is no reason why a school’s administrative office cannot emulate those creative, energetic workspaces found in Silicon Valley offices. In many of those spaces, you can see clear across the room. Employees are free to move about, collaborating with spur-of-the-moment ideas in any space they can find.
What the New Office Looks Like
Just as in the ideal for the rest of the school, collaboration takes center stage in the office. Obviously, teachers and administrators collaborate on a regular basis. But so do students with other staff members, like guidance counselors and registrars. The modern office supports those activities with mobile and flexible furnishings, including seating and movable walls.
A modern office space not only creates conference rooms for meetings, but also offers a variety of options that can facilitate smaller groups. An administrator’s office can grow to accommodate multiple people, or shrink to offer privacy. It’s now an option to host a department meeting or PLC in the office rather than in a classroom.
Don’t forget about the equipment! Just as teachers and students need to have ready access to the latest technology, so does administration and staff. The elimination of desktop computers makes this office flexibility possible, but should still offer private spaces for quiet work or confidential meetings. Presentation equipment is also key in any area where groups of people may meet.
A functional administrative office should be the nerve center of the school. It can be a place where great educational ideas are formed before being implemented in the classrooms and other spaces. All that shift requires is a new approach to the design.