In Greek philosophy, Eudaimonia (also known as Eudaemonism) was related with having a good, healthy, happy, prosperous state of being. Hedonists mutually agreed that Eudaimonia was the greater good and would ultimately result in greater pleasure on the long term. Overall, the Greek concept represents a state of mind in which humans achieve their full potential.
The concept was introduced in architecture and design as ‘Eudaimonia Machine’ by professor architect David Dewane, featured by Cal Newport in his book ‘Deep Work’. The concept envisioned by Dewane consisted in 5 spaces, where there are no hallways and one must pass through one room in order to get to the next one. Applied to a modern commercial office layout ‘Eudaimonia Machine’ encourages a mix between places where shallow work happens and places designed for focus and deep work:
- The gallery
Represents the first place one enters directly from the street. This room contains examples of the deep work produced inside the machine. The gallery, often associated with the Reception area is meant to showcase the company’s culture and brand by promoting the work done inside the machine.
- The Salon
“The salon is designed to create a mood that ‘hovers between intense curiosity and argumentation.’ This is a place to debate, ‘brood,’ and in general work through the ideas that you’ll develop deeper in the machine.” David Dewane
Associated inside an office space with the coffee area and lounge, The Salon, promotes collaboration, interactions and debates and it usually offers flexibility and mobility.
- The Library
Represents the room that stores the entire information produced along the way in the office space. In Dewane’s eyes it represents “the hard drive of the machine”. The Library gathers also all the necessary tools for accessing and using the information.
- The office
It is meant to be used for what Cal Newport calls “shallow work”, collaboration and meetings being included in this term. All work requires sometimes this type of activity, that is basically just the preparation for deep work. It’s the place where the team acts together, share information and takes decisions for the next projects.
- The chambers
After moving from one room to another we end up in the spaces where according to Cal Newport, ‘deep work’ is happening. Workers get access to this rooms to completely focus on the work discussed earlier in the previous space. The chambers are less used in the recent corporate design and as a result more ‘shallow work’ takes place inside ‘the machine’ instead of focused one.
In his book ‘Deep work – rules for focused success in a distracted world’, Cal Newport talks about productivity as being connected with the ability to produce focused work. During the process of ‘deep work’ we produce better results in shorter time, fact that leads to better performance and increased fulfillment in our work. Distractions that occur during the working time, along with an extreme openness of the office layouts recently, resulted in more shallow work being done. But, in order to get a truly remarkable result in one field of activity, one needs to find the ways to achieve the full potential of his self, through deep and focused work.
Ludwig van Beethoven said: “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
What if the interior design of your company can increase the satisfaction of your employees and together with it the productivity overall? What if, by applying the principles from ‘Eudaimonia machine’ you can have better results in the future, by giving to the people the opportunity to grow and innovate? Deep, extended periods of focus can do all this. By mixing the open, collaborative areas with enclosed, focused based rooms you encourage all types of work to happen in every moment of the day. The ‘Eudaimonia machine’ concept, illustrated by Dewane in Cal Newport’s book, offers a flow of work by moving forward always into an organically process that leads to better and faster results.
As a conclusion of this short introduction in ‘Eudaimonia machine’ we excerpted a passage from Cal Newport’s book, that explains clearly the need for both types of spaces inside workplaces, collaborative and enclosed for deep focused work:
“We can now step back and draw some practical conclusions about the role of collaboration in deep work. The success of Building 20 and Bell Labs indicates that isolation is not required for productive deep work. Indeed, their example indicates that for many types of work — especially when pursuing innovation — collaborative deep work can yield better results. This strategy, therefore, asks that you consider this option in contemplating how best to integrate depth into your professional life. In doing so, however, keep the following two guidelines in mind.
First, distraction remains a destroyer of depth. Therefore, the hub-and-spoke model provides a crucial template. Separate your pursuit of serendipitous encounters from your efforts to think deeply and build on these inspirations. You should try to optimize each effort separately, as opposed to mixing them together into a sludge that impedes both goals.
Second, even when you retreat to a spoke to think deeply, when it’s reasonable to leverage the whiteboard effect, do so. By working side by side with someone on a problem, you can push each other toward deeper levels of depth, and therefore toward the generation of more and more valuable output as compared to working alone.” Cal Newport ‘Deep work – rules for focused success in a distracted world’
Don’t work, just have fun & create!