The key to maximizing the value of your workspace is to put your people at the center of the design process. Take the time at the beginning of your office design project to really understand your staff’s daily operations and your business objectives. As Weld Ransom, PlanForce Group’s Managing Partner, says, “Take pains to understand how the business works before you design—so the final design works for the business.”
How much space, for example, do you really need per employee? If you asked that question even ten years ago, commercial real estate professionals would have said that office space should be sized at 250 square feet per person. Today, that number is considerably lower, with most businesses under 200 square feet, and many approaching 150 square feet per person. With the shift from closed offices to open plans, from individual cubicles to flexible work areas, the workspace of the future will not follow the old formulas for office space calculation. Update: With the health concerns from COVID-19, many companies are looking to shift back to closed offices and more space for employees. Now, more than ever, flexibility and organization are key to success.
Today, it’s much more important to get the relationships right between each of the different spaces. You need to ensure that departments that work together are near one another, and that no one has to hike across campus just to get their job done. Getting these adjacencies right — which people sit where — and providing access to the right kind of work spaces — be they solitary, group, or creative space — is just as important (if not more so) than picking the right carpet and wall colors.
Usability is also a critical aspect of modern workspaces. Take, for example, the office lunch room and your front lobby. How can you design these spaces to be more inviting and usable? If your office entryway serves as little more than a passageway between the sidewalk and your employees’ desks, and they only uses the cafeteria during lunch hour, there’s a lot of wasted space that you’re paying for all the time. How much of your workspace, in fact, remains empty most of the day? By designing these spaces to be more smart and engaging, they can become something that your people can really use throughout the day.
To make the most of your office footprint, try to create spaces that can be utilized in more than one way — not just as a conference room, waiting area, or lunchroom. This goes along with what we’re seeing as the evolution of work. Today’s office workers don’t want to just be stuck in their cubicles all day. They want informal places throughout the building to get together and collaborate — or just escape from their desk for a change of scenery.
Take pains to understand how the business works before you design—so the final design works for the business.
Weld Ransom, Board Director, PlanForce
In many modern workspaces, people can feel free to sit anywhere. They can work on their laptops or have a casual meeting, which extends their experience of the office environment. These common areas can then become another place for your team to gather. Giving employees this kind of choice over their workspace leads to higher innovation, job performance, and workplace satisfaction.
That’s what Gina Fast, Director of the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology, experienced. Along with the improved aesthetics, PlanForce helped create an office that really works. There are a variety of spaces to support the different types of work the Board performs all with access to natural light.
This variety is important, as the environment truly affects the tone of each meeting. Fast says that the staff get different outcomes based on which location they use. And all of the rooms are regularly utilized. The office has also become a place that licensees enjoy, which helps promote positive interactions. The staff have enough room to host licensees and to do their jobs, without any extra space going to waste. Best of all, “the staff are much happier coming into the office now,” says Fast.
Equipped with a designer’s eye, a storyteller’s soul, and a marketer’s targeted goal-setting, Brock works with clients to help develop integrated branding, graphic design, and digital marketing solutions — creating property marketing and space branding solutions to tell their stories and reflect their values.