3 surprising ways the mosque can inspire your next office redesign
- 20 November 2018
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Your company just announced that they’ve acquired new office space and they are soliciting ideas from all employees on how best to design it for maximum productivity and performance. Your instinct will probably be to jump online and look at office design inspirations from Google, Facebook, and other “best places to work” companies.
What if, instead, you drew inspiration from an institution that has been the center of the Islamic economy for hundreds of years, an institution that’s deeply rooted in spirituality yet played an active role in the Golden Age of Islamic civilization. This is, of course, the masjid (mosque).
The masjid may seem a simple building with little to offer as inspiration for modern office design. However, here are three surprising ways that the masjid can help inspire your next office redesign:
1. HIGH CEILINGS
Have you ever wondered why houses of worship tend to have such high ceilings? Perhaps the early architects knew something about how human think inside buildings. According to researchers from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, “ceiling height can affect how a person thinks, feels and acts, and when a person is in the space of 10-foot ceiling or more, they’ll tend to think more freely, more abstractly vs. more detail-specific thought.”
In a house of worship, free thinking and abstract thinking is critical to connecting with spiritual concepts such as the unseen, the hereafter, and divine messages. Our modern workplaces, which place a high emphasis on creativity and innovation thinking, may want to take a cue from traditional houses of worship and raise their ceilings too.
People hate open-office plans due to their lack of privacy and noise levels. However, a mosque can provide a model for a productive open-office plan through the following three elements:
It Is Quiet
When you walk into a mosque, no matter how busy it is, there’s a general quietness in the air that is conducive to productive, high-quality work. It’s the same type of calm you’d find at a library, where there are lots of people working, but they’re silent.
The Acoustics Are Well Managed
Have you noticed how, when you’re in one part of a mosque, you can barely hear what people on the other side of the mosque are saying? Compare this to an open-office plan, where you can listen to the sound of your colleague sitting five desks away munching their Doritos! The answer lies in acoustics. Mosques are built to absorb sound through their high ceilings and carpets, which reduce echoes and noise transmission when people are speaking openly.
You Have a Choice
When you enter the masjid beyond prayer times, you have a choice: either sit in quiet contemplation and spiritual devotion or join a study circle where knowledge is transmitted. The two can happen simultaneously, without one disturbing the other. The same can apply to your office. You need to have spaces where you can be alone, working on your next project or tasks, or join ongoing collaborative conversations to help your business thrive.
- THEY HAVE A DIRECTION
Every masjid, globally, is designed to face one thing: the Kaaba in the Holy City of Makkah. This sense of direction and focus is a powerful and unifying force for the global Muslim community. You can bring this same sense of direction to your office. I personally encourage companies who operate in the Islamic economy space to design their buildings and offices keeping the Qibla in mind. It adds a philosophical dimension to your office design that connects with the mindsets, values and rituals of your employees.
Office design is as much of an art as it is a science, and it does have an impact on how individuals perform as well as how they collaborate with the team. Although we can learn a lot from the Googles of the world, let’s not turn our backs on the simple, elegant designs of mosques that have stood the test of time and helped people (and an entire civilization) be at their best.
Mohammed Faris is an international coach, author, and speaker who helps executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs rebalance their lives spiritually, physically and socially to achieve peak performance and live meaningful lives. He’s the founder of ProductiveMuslim.com and author of The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity.
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