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Montessori School of Greater Lafayette Blog


Insights and inspiration from our Montessori classrooms.rss


 

The Media Scape area of the Cummins Corporate Office Building in Columbus, Indiana. Photo by the Antal Building Corporation.

  

- Thanks to Jennifer Tyrrell for this guest post. Jennifer is a Montessori teacher who worked in the Spruce Toddler class at MSGL from 2003 - 2005.

     One of the arguments I hear most often when I'm describing Montessori is that the open workspace—in particular the freedom to move around, to work where you do best for a specific task, and the ability to make a snack when you like—is not properly preparing children for the realities of life or the workforce: at some point they will have to learn to stay at their desk and do their work like everyone else. I think my husband's workplace shows the opposite to be true. 

     My husband Jeremiah took the family to visit his "office" in Cummins’s COM building. Cummins is a well-known, large, international, Fortune 500 company that makes diesel engines, and they’ve recently built this COM building in their Columbus, Indiana, headquarters with a “collaborative workspace” design. They have converted several spaces in other buildings to this open style, as well. With this collaborative workspace, departments are located on the same floor, as much as possible. Though employees can work wherever they like on any floor, they are encouraged to work amongst their department's floor.

A work area with sitting and standing work spaces in the Cummins Corporate Office Building.  Photo by the Antal Building Corporation.

 

     He showed us his locker (hook and cubby) with a couple drawers for his personal items and work laptop (each employee is given one as their primary work tool), and a thin cabinet for his coat and outerwear. Then we walked around a huge floor with areas that have a variety of tables, some standing height, some for chairs; other areas with couches and coffee tables; other more intimate areas with armchairs and footstools (Jeremy's favorite). A couple of kitchenettes with long counters and stools (snack tables) are located centrally with no walls enclosing them. There are cabinets (shelves) that divide some places and contain files and materials for everyone to access. 

 

The kitchenette area in the Cummins Corporate Office Building. Photo by the Antal Building Corporation.

 

     There are even treadmills with laptop spaces and hookups for those who need movement as they work (they are calibrated for walking, not running . . . we walk in the workplace :) There are walls to divide the elevators and small conference rooms (which can be used and reserved by any employee), but other than those areas, there are no rooms, no “offices”, no cubicles, it is all shared space: managers working amongst underlings. It looks like, well . . . a grown-up Montessori classroom :)

 

Employees working on treadmills at the Cummins Corporate Office Building in Columbus, Indiana. AP Photo/The Republic, Joe Harpring.

 

     They are doing this to encourage collaborative problem solving and to make the workday more pleasant so that Cummins continues to retain younger employees. Please share with anyone who questions the appropriateness of Montessori's open workspace. :)

     You can read a news article about more of the company's redesigned workspaces see additional photos, here.

Cheers!

Jennifer

     Jennifer Tyrrell is a Montessorian who has worked in public and private Montessori schools in Indiana and Wisconsin. She got her start in 2003 as an MSGL toddler assistant and is very thankful for that experience. MSGL is the strong benchmark by which all the other schools she has taught in are compared. She is currently living in southern Indiana, soaking up rural life in the woods with her two children, her husband, and soon, some chickens.