Making Workplace Design Current

Believe it or not, trends in office space configuration and size will affect office leasing and sales. Are you questioning how this will affect the commercial real estate industry? Well, the commercial real estate institute asked Steelcase, a manufacturer of office equipment, to predict what the future has in store for the real estate industry in regards to space and design.

Space Design Predictions

1.  Collaboration is the New Work Model

When we look at some of the successful companies in Silicon Valley, we hear how one founder started his company with 4 friends in his garage. Mind boggling!

As the 4 friends decided to launch their business and grow outside the garage and move into a bigger, more traditional professional space, with more employees, and an opportunity to soar… something happened- they lost their passion.

(Sounds similar to how Facebook got started in a college dorm room. Luckily, they didn’t lose their passion for building something big!)

Essentially, every company reaches a point in its organizational maturity where it loses the original buzz, why not provide a space that is more collaborative and supports the need to balance both think time and team time in order to create a new passion.

2.  Say Goodbye to Big Private Offices

Imagine an alternative work environment in which each team member has a smaller workstation, but all the workstations are put into a wagon train formation. Instead of having a conference room down the hall, the conference room is in the middle of the workstation, and the team members are just close enough to overhear each other, and they’re buzzing with project ideas in each station and in the middle space. When privacy is needed, the smaller workstation offers a door.

3.  Say Hello to Shared Private Enclaves

Using some simple knowledge about how others interact, space planning can restore that feeling of an entrepreneurial garage without sacrificing privacy. For example, instead of everyone having an 8-by-9 foot workstation, perhaps they could design smaller workstations, and use the extra space to create a pint-sized enclave with a door with two pieces of lounge furniture, a table, a laptop connection, and a phone connection that is shared among five people.

This can be an area where team members go when they need time to look through notes, write notes, or conduct research on their computers. To make private phone calls, employees can move out of their workstation into a more private setting and shut the door. Privacy doesn’t exist in the way office buildings are being built today; employees often move out of offices into open plans and lose their privacy.

4.  Today’s Workforce Requires Touchdown Spaces

Companies are beginning to realize that employees do not need to be at their desk to actually be productive. Today, some employees are much less tied to their office space. Instead, computer repair representatives are in their offices very little. But when they are using their spaces, it’s critical that they be functional.

5.  Management Must Rethink Technologies

A shift in technologies needs to happen, too. Laptops and wireless phones have disconnected the worker from having to be at their desk all the time. Designing for the organization also must be rethought so people can easily locate their files. Immediate files must be separated from long –term files.

As an extreme, for an alternative work environment to function properly, it takes a management team to say,” This is what we will be doing, and I’m going to lead by example. I’m going to move out of my office, put my files in central storage, keep my immediate files with me, and untether myself from technology.” If a company is not ready to make that change, then its plan should be much more traditional. However, competitive pressures and rising real estate costs are forcing many to rethink how they provide space.

What are your thoughts on how you can help improve your company’s overall space in order to help the employees function more effectively and efficiently?

I’d love to hear from you so be sure to place your comments below.

Want an opportunity to speak with me on how you can improve your workspace design? Click here to schedule a time to talk.

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