For far too many of us, the workday has no tangible cutoff. We stay at the office too late, continue to answer work emails during the commute home, and think about work problems through the weekends. Amsterdam design studio Heldergroen can’t stop its workers from thinking about work after office hours, but it sure knows how to kick them out of the office with these brilliant disappearing desks.
At closing time, the desks in this studio are raised up to the ceiling on the type of steel cables used in theater productions. All of the computers, papers and everything else on the desks stay in place, but the large shared workspaces are lifted far overhead. Taking away the workspace sort of forces the employees to strike a healthy work/life balance by eliminating the temptation to stay late.
During office hours, the large desktop slabs rest on rolling cabinets to keep them steady. When the desktops are lifted up and the cabinets rolled out of the way, the space becomes open and flexible. The company makes the studio available for free to anyone who wants to use it. It can host dance classes, parties, yoga sessions, or whatever the public desires.
The disappearing office furniture can also help employees take a few breaks for activity or mental health during the day. The desks can lift up for a short exercise session or team-building exercise during working hours, making the space kind of perfect as a dynamic work/life/recreation space.
“In Haarlem we became world famous thanks to our desks that went up in the air at the end of the day. Anthony Robbins, CNN, Oprah Winfrey, CCTV, Herald Tribune, Eva Jinek, Der Spiegel, Chinese State Television and more international media spoke about it. The story of our ‘flying tables’ was not about the desks, but about the view of our agency on the world. Especially how that world could become more green.”