Whether an office is in a building or home, workplace designs are transforming how business is conducted. What’s more, the design of that space has become part of an organization’s overall strategy for change. In addition, companies are finding that it makes more sense to make the best use of space and tools—i.e., to result in worker satisfaction, improved productivity and other human/social factors.
It’s true that rising real estate costs and the necessity for flexibility among employees and workstations also contribute to the metamorphosis of today’s workplaces. While some companies “hotel” their employees by having them “reserve” a workstation in their headquarters when needing an office (working from their car or home the rest of the time), these “reservation only” areas may be used by many different employees for a variety of purposes. Therefore, when considering a redesign of your work areas, it’s important to begin viewing space as a strategic asset rather than simply a cost of doing business.
Today, it’s necessary to look at workspaces in terms of the return on investment and the realization that planning and managing these spaces strategically can generate greater productivity and efficiency. In fact, by thinking of your space as a tool for organizational change, architects and designers will help change the way your space is valued. Research indicates that well-designed spaces actually contribute to increased productivity and overall effectiveness of employees. Therefore, it’s important to use space as a tool to impact human behavior.
What’s a Designer to Do?
While a larger facility reduces the need for more equipment, energy and staff than a collection of smaller spaces would require, it’s important to realize that there will always be activities that need some privacy, intimacy and isolation to assure optimum results. Therefore, even though a large space without walls may be faster, cheaper and easier to rearrange, creating successful smaller spaces that support bigger surroundings is imperative.
John Duvivier, a noted architect with Bottom-Duvivier in Redwood, Calif., says that small spaces will dominate the office environment in years to come. “Offices will become meeting centers with small, individual touchdown areas.”
Another principal in the firm agrees. “Providing no meeting places except workstations is an invitation to constant interruption,” Lisa Bottom said. That’s why providing special, informal meeting areas where your staff can discuss business and develop solutions is now a requirement. In fact, studies show that many people waste 15 to 30 minutes a day due to workplace distractions and trying to find a place to meet.
Cheri Bromberg, a Steelcase application design specialist, adds that rising real estate costs and smaller workstations are definitely becoming the norm. However, it’s important that you consider the value of space for an organization is far greater than just the cost of real estate, building and furniture. In fact, the value of the physical asset and more productive employees provide a significant rate of return on any design investment.
Consolidation and Balance is Key
Whenever work areas are reduced, some needs have to be met in other areas of the company. For example, one area may not require filing, whereas another one will. And there must be a balance between space devoted to individuals and to groups. This balance is determined by each company’s goals and how its employees work. No two will be exactly the same.
The exciting news is that workspace designers can help organizations refocus their energies on customer service and employee productivity simply by evaluating these objectives and creating a work environment that helps achieve company goals.
Maximizing Performance and Productivity
Are you seeking ways to enhance your client service and maximize productivity? A newly designed workplace may be the answer. However, it’s important to enlist the aid of qualified designers who can customize an office design that will incorporate current office equipment and technology for a work environment that is in line with your company’s overall goals. IBI