Insights

Cool Spaces – The Creative Work Environment

By October 31, 2016 No Comments

At H. Hendy Associates, we believe that employees and their work environments should be considered in the same light, creating an environment where science and design can intersect to make office space a real investment for a company, not just an expense.

Ultimately, the motivation behind pursuing and selecting an advanced workplace environment should be focused around its effectiveness in reaching your goals, allowing you to evaluate the options that fit your business and select the one with the benefit-cost ratio that makes the most sense.

 

6 Questions Leadership is Asking About Office Space –

 

When Should a Company Rethink the Way They Are Working?

Leaders should view their company’s office space as a powerful tool for their business success. When an office space stops offering the company an edge over its competition, it is time for a change. Oftentimes a space has simply lost its vibe due to outdated design, but sometimes the problem has more to do with the way the organization uses the space and the way in which the organization works. There has been an intelligent shift in priority from legacy layouts that have conventional, dedicated personal space to the need for more on demand, activity-oriented spaces. Companies and office design used to focus heavily on the personal space that employees use for 30 to 40 percent of the day, versus the shared spaces that they use during the 60 to 70 percent of the time that they are away from their desks. By shifting the focus and implementing process-oriented design and programing throughout these more highly used on demand spaces, Hendy clients are finding unexpected increases in productivity and speed to market that result from increased collaboration and availability of technology. Designed and implemented correctly, tailored on demand space can offer the competitive edge that companies should expect from their office space, both in terms of the bottom line as well as recruitment and retention.

 

Forbes & Fortune Say That Open-Office Design Doesn’t Work.

The concerns around the risks of open office space are legitimate. Problems with privacy and distraction are a big issue, and when office space is not designed, planned and programed to meet the needs of the specific company it will serve, it can result in problems related to workflow, productivity and employee morale. In today’s workplace, it is unacceptable to have to hunt for a conference room or place to focus, and that’s a big problem that organizations encounter in poorly designed and executed open office work environments.

At Hendy, we advocate for companies to seek and implement new ways of working, not just jump to the conclusion of open office space. For some teams opening up their workspace is part of the effective measures that we recommend for matching the company’s space to its process. At the same time, for those that choose to make that change, we implement a specific method to determine how a company utilizes its current space and what new workplace solutions will contribute to increased productivity and engagement in their new space.

 

So, How Can a Company Make a New Work Environment for Them?

A new workplace design must always support the company’s business objectives first. This will bring the space to life using awe-inspiring design that will breathe life into the space. Very simply, the transition process to a new workplace environment (whether it’s an open office or not) and a new way of working is about asking, observing, and designing with performance-based solutions. The Hendy team always starts with inspiration sessions. This is when we get a chance to conduct our interviewing process to develop our understanding of the way this particular organization works together as a team. Next we tackle workflow programming to confirm how work moves through the organization and how employees work and communicate to get the job done.

We also focus on evolving the company’s connectivity capabilities through integrated technology solutions. This is a crucial piece to an office design that will truly improve internal and external communications. Improved technology that works hand-in-hand with deliberate design is proven to increase speed to market. The next step of this performance-based design process is the piece that most companies that are currently struggling with ineffective open offices have overlooked: change management. It is crucial for leadership to invest in the professional introduction of their new space to the team.

A well thought out aesthetic can enhance creative thinking. But, this is only the starting point of a sustained catalyst of a company’s realignment of new work place processes. When employees are brought into the organizational realignment from the beginning and are able to see how and why leadership has invested in a new way of working, it is easy to gain support and attract advocates for the progress and growth that comes with these improvements.  Hendy’s change management process also includes an employee satisfaction analysis. This ensures that continued programming addresses organizations’ ongoing needs and that the new space continues to serve as a tool for companies’ business success over time.

 

How Much Space Per Employee Do We Actually Need?

There are varying schools of thought on this issue. Many companies’ main concern still lies in reducing square footage, which may ultimately be counterproductive to bottom line profit. At Hendy, we believe that the goal of looking at a new way of working should not be just reducing square footage. Our main concern for our clients is always about developing a space that works best for employees and optimizing business operations.

That said, exploring new ways of working can often result in a need for less space. For example, many newer buildings have shifted cores that allow flexible layouts, which result in increased occupancy and more productive space utilization. Exploring dual utilization of space – or looking at how a lunch room might also serve as an ad hoc meeting room, casual client presentation area or all-hands engagement hall – can also open up opportunities for square footage reduction without losing productivity. Many buildings offer a variety of free amenities ranging from large conferencing centers, gyms and open landscape meeting areas, enabling tenants to reduce their square footage.

Over time, the long term trend will continue to be a decline in space requirements. In fact, new leases are averaging an 8% reduction in square footage. CoreNet’s most recent estimate is that work spaces need approximately 150 square feet per person. At Hendy, in Orange County we have observed that the best results occur at between 170 and 180 square feet per person.

Additionally, the increase in the mobile workforce and “work anywhere” policies has resulted in more employees who work away from the office for at least part of the work week. As these programs are becoming more formalized, we are seeing less need for dedicated employee space, and a larger need for flexible shared space, which can also result in the need for less square footage.

 

There’s Also Recently Been a Lot of Talk About Wellness in the Workplace.

Today companies and employees now demand even more and look for offices that not only create better work environments, but healthier workforces. As a culture, we spend nearly 90% of our time indoors, and our surroundings have a significant impact on our health, happiness, productivity and well-being. Our predominantly indoor lifestyle results in the need to create a built environment that responds to human needs.

The WELL Building Standard, a comprehensive approach to human health and wellness related to the built environment, looks at seven different categories – including air quality, fitness, nourishment and comfort, among others – and assesses the impact of each category on the space’s users. For example, a WELLcertified space examines how lighting affects the users’ circadian rhythms and adjusts the lighting structures to maximize health benefits, such as improved sleep patterns, which ultimately influence productivity. By taking a holistic view of the workspace – from its environmental impact to its business impact to its health impact – a company can create a more effective, engaging and fulfilling environment for its employees.

According to the numbers, office wellness initiatives are working. A recent study conducted by CBRE reports that 92 percent of employees reported that their WELLcertified workspace has created a positive effect on their health and well-being, and 94 percent reported a positive impact on their business performance. And, the number that is most telling is that 90 percent of those surveyed say they would not go back to their old ways of working.

 

What’s Your Prediction About the Office of the Future?

The office of the future will be heavily focused on two main factors: the increased integration technology and the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce. Moving forward, the workplace will be fully enabled by technology, and that transition will be championed by individuals – Millennials and Gen Y – who have only ever lived in a world where technology is seamlessly integrated into their lives. Physical spaces will need to mirror the flexibility and power of digital spaces. Technology integration is about building simple portals connecting the two, so your employees can flow between them.

Studies have repeatedly shown that work location flexibility and “cave days” where employees work from home or another secluded area for a day to create heads down focus time, result in increased productivity. Leadership can no longer ignore this benefit to its bottom line.

As a result, work anywhere environments and formalized work from home policies will be the norm, which will have a huge impact on the way that offices are designed and utilized. Instead of serving as home bases, office environments will take on a more “urban central” role, making them a space where employees can come to meet as teams or directly serve the organization in another role. To that end, future office design will feature a wide variety of conferencing and meeting rooms and flexible space to accommodate those needs.

For more information please call H. Hendy Associates at 949-851-3080 or visit www.hhendy.com.