When the Gate 3 WorkClub opened its doors this week in Emeryville, CA, it dramatically redefined my notion of a "workplace," combining modernitywith the expert community character of a guild hall. Work may be work, but for WorkClub proprietor Neil Goldberg, an award-winning industrial designer who once worked for Herman Miller and led the influential Praxis Design, work can be a medium for personal growth and expression. Work that occurs in a designed environment can itself be a desirable experience.
Earlier this year I partnered with Neil, Gate 3 director Amy Catalano, Drs. Charlie Grantham and Jim Ware from The Future of Work Foundation, and Garrett Choi, now VP Engineering at BeHere, Inc. At the time, Neil was coming to grips with the reality that when he shut down his design firm, he became the owner of a large, empty building. Within a few weeks, however, led by Neil, we managed to come up with the rough outlines of what would become the Best Place in the World to Work.
What makes WorkClub such a likely success? Design. Design of space. Design of functions. Design of process. Every aspect of the Gate 3 experience has been intentionally crafted to enhance the quality of worktime spent at Gate 3.
For example, as a "WorkClub," Gate 3 has Members (rather than renters) who can adjust their use of the facilities to suit their working style and requirements. The building is divided vertically and laterally to create varied functional and physical properties for each "region" within the Gate 3 building. For example, on the second floor where most work takes place, baffles, telephone booths, and various wall design make for a quieter ambience, the further one walks from front to back. Silence is the property at the end. Lighting, too, is handled with aplomb.
Gate 3 has three environmental layers that correspond with each other and which serve to satisfy WorkClub members' multiple requirements.
The Infrastructure. Building, lighting, acoustics, furniture. It helps
that Herman Miller is Neil's former employer and a sponsor of Gate 3.
IT Services, the "Virtual Office." Telecommunications, technology,
networks, wireless, computer and video applications.
Human Milieu. A constant stream of facilitated activities: workshops,
lectures, presentations, brainstorms, guest speakers, the Cafe. A Gate 3
facilitator arranges and manages these interactions.
It's the interaction of these three experiential strata that makes Gate 3 such an intriguing experiment in redesigning the workplace and the experience of work, perhaps the most significant advance since the invention of the assembly line. The challenge now is for Neil and Amy to spread the word and attract the necessary critical mass that will determine Gate 3's viability. If WorkClub Emeryville succeeds, expect to see others elsewhere, put together quickly and with a clear vision of an unbounded, global work environment that serves the people who labor within.
I'm meeting with Gate 3 innovator Neil Goldberg later this month for a full report. Send your questions for Neil and his team to me now.