Combining Sociopetal and Sociofugal Spaces in Modern Offices

More and more office owners and managers are coming to understand that office design plays a major role in employee productivity, morale and related areas, and have begun to pay increased attention to this area in recent years. Some will delve into a number of concepts as they look to maximize their design efficiency, and one theme that’s worth considering here is the area of sociopetal spaces versus sociofugal spaces.At Premier Office Design & Furniture, we’re happy to assist you with numerous areas of office furniture design, installation and related areas, and we often help clients dig into some nuanced areas when it comes to their needs. What do the terms sociopetal and sociofugal mean when it comes to design areas and spaces, and what are some great office areas where you might consider combining these themes for maximum impact? Here’s a rundown.sociopetal sociofugal spaces offices

What Are Sociopetal and Sociofugal Spaces?

Some of our readers will not have heard these terms before, but they actually describe common and basic things you’re quite familiar with. Specifically, sociopetal spaces are those that tend to feature “radial” and similar patterns, meaning seating elements are meant to face inward and there’s a focus on communication and collaboration. Meanwhile, sociofugal spaces are the opposite, with more “tangential” patterns that see people facing away from each other, often meant for independent work.In very general terms, then, sociopetal spaces are good for collaboration while sociofugal spaces are good for individual productivity. That said, it’s also worth noting that there can be some crossover in these areas – for example, a conference room might have sociopetal aspects to encourage collaboration during the meeting itself, but also sociofugal patterns so people can focus on their own materials and notes as needed.In fact, this concept will be what we discuss for the rest of this blog. Here are several examples of office setups that do a great job utilizing both sociopetal and sociofugal design elements to great succcess.

Breakout Spaces

Many modern offices are now incorporating breakout spaces, which are areas meant for small group collaboration that are typically removed from the main work area. These can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but a common thread is that they often have both sociopetal and sociofugal aspects depending on how they’re utilized.For example, you might have a couple of large tables in a breakout space that can accommodate 8-10 people each. These would obviously be sociopetal, as they’re meant for group collaboration. However, you might also have some smaller individual desks or “booths” set up along the perimeter of the room where one or two people can sit and work independently if need be. This would be more sociofugal.The reason this is such a great setup is that it allows for maximum flexibility. If you need to do some group work, the large tables are there for you. But if you just need a quiet space to make some phone calls or get some individual work done, the smaller areas are perfect.

Huddle Rooms

Another common and effective way to utilize both sociopetal and sociofugal spaces in your office is through the use of huddle rooms. These are smaller meeting areas, usually meant for 4-6 people, that can again be used in a number of ways depending on your needs.Like with breakout spaces, huddle rooms will typically have both sociopetal and sociofugal elements. For example, you might have a large table in the center of the room where people can sit facing each other (sociopetal), but you might also have some individual chairs set up along the perimeter for people who need to focus on their own work (sociofugal).Huddle rooms are great because they provide yet another level of flexibility when it comes to your office space. If you need a quick meeting with a few people, the huddle room is perfect. But if you need to do some individual work in a quiet space, it can accommodate that as well.

Cubicle Connections or Related Setups

If your office still uses cubicles, there are ways to set them up in a way that promotes both collaboration and individual productivity. One common method is to have a “U” or “L” shape of cubicles, with the open end facing a central aisle.This setup is sociopetal because it encourages collaboration, as people can simply turn around in their chair and talk to the person in the cubicle next to them. At the same time, it’s also sociofugal because people can close off their own work area if they need to focus on individual tasks.

Meeting or Multipurpose Rooms

For larger collaboration sessions, you’ll need a larger meeting or multipurpose room. These rooms can have a number of different setups, but a common one is to have a large conference table in the center with individual chairs around the perimeter.This type of setup is good because it allows for maximum flexibility – people can collaborate around the central table if need be, but they can also move to the perimeter if they need to focus on their own work.As you can see, there are a number of ways to utilize both sociopetal and sociofugal spaces in your office. By incorporating these concepts into your office design, you can create a space that is both productive and conducive to collaboration.If you’re not sure where to start, our team of office design experts can help you come up with the perfect layout for your office. Contact us today at Premier Office Design & Furniture to learn more about this or any of our other programs or services.