Monthly Archives: December 2013

Four Surprising Facts About Workplace Productivity

The average American spends at least one third of their time at work–that’s 40 hours per week. How much of that time is wasted on navigating poor workplace layouts, seeking inspiration for a project or finding the right equipment for a job. A recent online article by the Arts Institute explains just how important and effective work layout is to your employees.

As far as workplace productivity goes, what you don’t know might just surprise you. Here are four surprising facts we’ve found about workplace productivity.

Lights, camera, action! If you’re feeling “dull” after an hour of work it may not be you — it could be the lighting! Many studies suggests that workplace lighting plays a large factor in productivity. Lighting that is too dim or too bright can hinder inspiration.

Workspaces should be interactive not sterile. Of course, in the old way of doing business, creating a playground for adults, was “frowned upon” but that has all changed! Interactive spaces like open work areas, view-worthy windows, and interesting art are all great ways to make your workplace interactive.

That furniture arrangement says a lot about your organization. When you want to encourage camaraderie or equal responsibility, consider rearranging your office areas. Turn the desks at an angle so that each employee can face one another yet have a separate view. Pointing everyone’s desk towards the wall will limit productivity; however turning all desks to work one another could encourage too much playtime. Don’t be “stoic” with your layout planning. Try new arrangements and ask employees for feedback.

Allow employees an opportunity to customize their personal space  Here’s another valuable tips from AI,“Highly creative teams will hang things on the wall that remind them of being successful and decorate according to their own styles. So if we over-design the workspace and create restrictions, we may be limiting their ability to express themselves.” Don’t plan every single detail of the wall space. Give your team a chance to make that spot their own.

Your workspace can shine and we’d love to help you find the office space to make that happen. Please contact us for more tips and ideas on arranging your office space.

Improving Workplace Efficiency in Your Office Space

Feng shui, the ancient art and science that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space, is a term that’s probably been thrown around your office at one time or another. Finding the harmony and making your office workspace more efficient has, in fact, landed on the agendas on many office managers. The good news is, there are a few  things you can do immediately to make a more efficient office workspace.

Take inventory. (And by that, we mean start by doing nothing more than taking a good look around). What do you see? If the answer is disorganized cube set ups, random file cabinets, drawers overflowing, yet a space littered with empty desks and an overall fairly mundane floor plan… it’s time to make a change. Create a new blueprint for the way you want your office to look. Then, let it be your guide.

Turn Physical Storage into Digital Storage: Once upon a time, a professional organizer may have suggested proper shelving to stack all the boxes cluttering up the office. But what you really need to do is take all those file folders, documents and other important pieces of paper relevant to your business and create a digital archive. This not only saves on space (goodbye, boxes!), it allows for quick retrieval of all documents properly stored on a computer server. So long clutter, hello efficiency!

Clean off your work surface: Repeat after me – “My desktop space is not a garbage can.” It’s a motto more of us should follow, especially if you walk through your office space and really take a look at everyone’s desks. Chances are the majority of them will be covered in old files, knick knacks, yesterday’s lunch carton, empty beverage containers, takeout menus and the like. Hidden away are awards, diplomas and certificates of achievement that should be more prominently displayed.

Replace ‘all those machines’ with all-in-one machines: How long has your business been operating with a copy machine in one corner, a fax machine in the other, several printers (some not even on a network) scattered around the room and the constant hum of electronic machinery serving as ambient noise in a seemingly never-ending loop? If you can find a machine that does three jobs and takes up the space of one, your efficiency is likely to skyrocket. Plus, there’s the added benefit of no more missing warranty cards, or hours on hold with tech support. One machine means one call for a product that will save you time, money and endless frustration. The result? Better efficiency.

On a final note, we bring you this study from the University of Penn, which found that making changes for a more efficient use of office space led one company to fit the same number of employees – 1,300 at once facility – into square footage that was a quarter of the size they previously occupied. Not only does that impact their bottom line, the company in question said early signs showed the changes helped to foster better communication and idea sharing.

Are you looking into ways to make a more efficient use of your office space? Contact us today to learn more.

Office Space: Details to Inspect Before Signing a New Lease

office space to rentAccording to the CoStar Group, companies are trending toward the renting of smaller office spaces and that the average space per employee has decreased from 250 square feet to 195 square feet. Office efficiency appears to be driving the downward space trend, so if you’re in the market for a new office space, make sure to thoroughly inspect the space before signing a lease to ensure it’s right for your business. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during your inspection.

Watch for Hidden Wording

You may be happy with a quick walk-through with the landlord, but there is a good reason to do a professional inspection on the space. The Small Business Administration reminds us that commercial leases can have different wording about maintenance and repair. Some could state that you are responsible for all repairs while others might specify the areas for which you are responsible. Make sure you don’t get hit with a large HVAC repair bill six months after you move into a space!

Look at the Big Picture

Northwest Building Inspections lists a number of building issues that could affect you and your business. Ask for a current building inspection report from the landlord, and if it’s not available, have someone come out and do an inspection of any areas that affect your office space.

  • Parking areas in need of major repair
  • Hand rails that are loose
  • Loose roofing directly over your office
  • Signs of leaks around windows
  • Signs of pest activity on or around the building
  • Storm water not draining off the property
  • Fire hazards such as flammable materials kept next to HVAC units
  • Fire alarms and extinguishers that are not functioning

A client could damage his car by hitting a pothole in the parking lot. Or they could slip and fall on crumbling concrete stairs with a loose hand rail. You could be liable for these potential dangers, so take the proper steps to ensure they aren’t an issue.

Inspect Your Office Space

After walking through a full building inspection, you will have an idea of what you’ll need to look for in your specific space. For instance, if termite activity was spotted in the wood entry way into the building, you’ll want to bring in a professional to check your space for the same pests. The California Department of Public Health lists a number of pests that could be present in your office for which you may need to call in a professional:

  • fruit flies – sugary foods and ripe fruit attract these insects
  • fungus gnats – these are drawn to over-watered plants
  • beetles and moths – attracted to snack foods such as nuts, crackers and chocolate
  • ants – may come inside during hot summers or wet winters
  • cockroaches – most live outside but they may come inside to find food
  • rats and mice – may come inside to nest and will chew on plastic, fabric and paper

Any sign of pests on the property requires hiring an exterminator to make sure they are eliminated before they cause more damage. Signs of termites or other wood-boring insects could mean expensive repairs down the road if ignored.

The Facilities Inspection

Pay special attention to all the building’s facilities that you’ll depend on each day such as:

  • lighting and electricity
  • heating and cooling (HVAC)
  • hot water systems
  • refrigeration
  • plumbing
  • any other appliances

Is the office space well lit? Do all of the electrical outlets work? Are there any faucet or toilet leaks? A thorough inspection of the space is needed so you’ll know what to negotiate in your lease. A nice looking space could be hiding a number of repairs that you don’t notice until after you’ve moved in.

5 Tips for Achieving a Smooth Office Hoteling System Set-Up

Are you interested in finding out how to create an Agile Workplace and how to set-up an office hoteling or desk sharing reservation  system ? Are you concerned about how to make it all work? If so, you may want to read our five tips for putting an office hoteling system in place:

#1: Company-wide Organization

Keep in mind that a high degree of company-wide organization is essential when it comes to implementing an office hoteling system. Otherwise, your employees will spend more time familiarizing themselves with the space and locating crucial items than actually working. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that things like office filing systems are streamlined and centrally located.

#2: Forecasting Demand

Because running an office hoteling system is similar to overseeing a lodging property’s room division, you’ll need to become proficient at forecasting demand.  In the beginning, the best way to do that is to plan for high demand and overflow situations. Such planning may include establishing portable work stations and investing in extra wireless enabled lap tops.

#3: Reservations System

Of course it is also necessary that you set up an easy to understand reservation system. It should ideally be built with the principles of time management and fairness in mind. For example, you may want to allow employees to reserve 30 minute and one hour blocks of space at a time to allow for brief work sessions

#4: Central Contact System

Since it will be unlikely that everyone will be in the office at the same time, be sure to put a central contact system in place too. It will allow you to communicate effectively with your staff whether they are on or off site. The system may involve something as simple as a telephone number database or a computer PM service.

#5: Obtain Staff Buy In

Lastly, don’t forget to have several meetings before the office hoteling system’s implementation. It will give you a chance to ensure that all employees have bought into the concept and quickly address any concerns that some may have about the new system.

For more tips like these and help finding the right office hoteling location for your business, please Contact us. We can help get you started finding out about creating an Agile Workplace and how it might work for your company.

Chicago Office Space Market Update

Perched on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago, nicknamed The Windy City, is home to nearly three million residents, making it the third most populous city in the U.S.  Chicago started as a trading post and later was incorporated as a city in 1837.  In 1871, The Great Fire claimed the city, due in part to the buildings, streets and sidewalks being made of wood.  Most of the debris from the fire, dumped into Lake Michigan, has become the foundation for Grant Park, Millennium Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

During the rebuilding of the city, previous wooden structures were replaced with steel and stone, setting a worldwide precedent for construction.  In 1885, the world’s first skyscraper was constructed using steel.  During this time, Chicago was becoming the leader in the improvement of public health.  As part of this movement, the problem of sewage contamination in the city’s primary fresh water source, Lake Michigan, needed to be addressed.  In 1900, the city resolved the contamination problem by reversing the flow of the Chicago River away from Lake Michigan and toward the Illinois River and Mississippi River.

Consisting of 26 miles of lake front, 15 miles of bathing beaches, and 19 miles of bicycle paths, the city of Chicago is a mecca for the outdoor lover and tourists alike.  Chicago attracts nearly 40 million visitors annually, making it the “most-visited” city in the midwest.  Offering world-class dining, entertainment, shopping, and five star hotels, Chicago has something for everyone.  Tourism contributes over $11 billion annually to Chicago’s economy.

There are four major sections of the city:

  • The Loop (Central Business District), North, South, and West sides.  The financial and cultural center of Chicago is located in The Loop. It is the second largest central business district in the U.S. and is the headquarters for eleven Fortune 500 companies
  • The North side is home to many high-rises along the lakefront and is the most residentially dense section of the city.
  • The South side is where the University of Chicago is located and most of the facilities of the Port of Chicago.
  • The West side plays host to the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks, The University of Illinois at Chicago, and Harpo Studios.

The Chicago Central Business District office market showed stabilization in the third quarter of 2013.  The overall vacancy rate declined to 15%.  The asking rental rate increased from the second quarter to $33 per square foot.  Looking forward, a stronger office market is expected, which could lead to an increase in rental rates.

The Chicago Suburban office space market saw a positive absorption, causing a drop in the vacancy rate to 20% from the previous quarters 20.5%.  The third quarter asking rental rates increased to $21.00 per square foot.  Leasing activity has become sluggish, and if the trend continues, it could put a halt to positive absorption and declining vacancies.

Find Chicago Office Space

Office Space Planning: What Your Space Says About Your Company

Your office space planning & design reveals a lot about your company–to both employees and customers. While connecting floors with a giant slide like Google may not be affordable or functional for your group, chances are you could use an upgrade. Excite your team with a new and improved design in your office space planning! Express your vision; start with these ideas when searching for your new digs.

  • Room to grow: It’s better to have a bit more space than not enough. A crowded office complex with a cramped connecting hallway not only feels claustrophobic, it stifles creativity. By giving your company extra room, you’re saying, “We are on the grow!”
  • Easy to access: You’ve got posh new headquarters but unfortunately, HQ is located a few hours away from home. Your key players have to spend a significant amount of time on the road–just to come to work. When selecting a new office space, consider the commute. Show your team some “love” by choosing an office space that isn’t at the opposite end of a gauntlet or at least implement a teleworking policy that would permit flexible commuting. Also, think about the parking situation. Your office setup needs to have an easy to locate entrance and exit that doesn’t require a hike to get there.
  • A clear flow of traffic: If you were a stranger visiting your office, would you be able to navigate the workflow areas without a map. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that visitors should be met by a reception area, not walk into the fulfillment warehouse. Still, there are more subtle traffic concerns to consider. For example, if your company has started the new year with a significant investment in public relations, shouldn’t this department be located closely to management? Also, think about walking a document through an average purchasing process. Bottom line–your flow of traffic decisions should be practical and make sense.
  • Achieve the right balance:When clients arrive at the business, they want to see success and a professional environment, not question where their money is going. Your office space design should encourage confidence, but not create a cause for concern.

Office space planning and design takes some care and time. Let us help you begin the search for an office you’ll be proud of! Contact Us to us today. We’d love to help!

Miami Office Space Market Conditions

Nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America”, Miami is the second largest city in the United  States with a Spanish-speaking majority.  During the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba (1959), many Cubans sought refuge in Miami, increasing the population.  Miami’s metropolitan population grew from one thousand to nearly five and a half million in the years between 1896-2006.  With such a large concentration of people, and given its small land area, Miami has become the most densely populated city in the U.S.

Miami’s culture is deep and varied, due to the Latin influences brought from Cuba and around the world.  These influences can be seen in music, fashion, arts, media, and especially the cuisine.  Citizens have even adapted a unique dialect, referred to as “Miami dialect.”  The majority of residents speak Spanish.  Other languages spoken include Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and English.

The tropical weather makes outdoor activities here a year round pastime.  Snorkeling, boating, and sunbathing along the sandy beaches being among the most popular activities.  Miami has four professional sports teams to provide additional entertainment resources: Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, Miami Marlins, and the Florida Panthers.

The Port of Miami, also nicknamed the “Cruise Capital of the World”, is the busiest port in cruise lines.  Approximately one out of every seven of the world’s cruise passengers board in the Port of Miami, myself included.  Miami International Airport is the largest travel gateway between Latin America and the U.S.  These two points of entry for tourism contribute nearly $17 billion annually to the local economy.

Downtown Miami contains the largest concentration of international banks in the United States.  Several large corporations are headquartered in Miami, including Burger King, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, and U.S. Century Bank.  It is also the production center for Spanish language media programming for Telemundo, and a major music recording center for Sony Music Latin and Universal Music Latin Entertainment.

The heart of the city is downtown Miami, and is Florida’s largest and most influential business district. The other sections of Miami are partitioned into North, South, and West.

Miami’s office market is expected to remain strong due to demand, but growth will be at a slower rate.

Submarket

Vacancy Rate

YTD Net Absorption

Avg. Asking Rate

Downtown

21.3 %

(67,418)

$29.25

North

23.4%

(2,931)

$22.10

South

32.0 %

17,180

$23.87

Source: CBRE Miami Office Marketview Q3 2013

Assessing Your Office Space Needs Before You Rent Office Space

Close your eyes and picture your dream office space. Does it include wide open spaces, windows with a view, large, private offices with doors? What about a spacious, comfortable waiting room? According to a study done by the University of San Diego, the United States uses more office space per worker than any other country. While this varies by industry, on average the U.S. offer employees more work space per person. But the fact is, space is money. The larger the office space, the higher the cost. So a balance must be found between creating a comfortable, functioning office space and paying the price for wasted space.

But how exactly do you determine how much space is needed for your office to be a well-functioning office? While there are many theories on how office space should be allocated by industry, position, and services, there are some basic rules of thumb that you can follow to decide exactly how much space you need when you rent office space. A few things to take into consideration are:

  • Privacy – how much privacy does each worker need for their tasks? Will noise be a factor when they are on the phone? Do they share tasks or need to work in teams? Each of these factors can help dictate how much space per worker. An average for a cubicle or open workspace is only 125 sq ft per person.
  • Office equipment – what type of equipment will you have in the office? Does each worker have their own or will they be shared? What type of computer equipment will be in the spaces? Small printer or large copier? Equipment special to your industry? Determining what space your equipment your business will need to operate can help determine space needs.
  • Number of employees – not all businesses require office space per person. Some have field workers who only come to the office to report, pick up supplies, or other needs. Some only require storage space for their equipment. The space needed per employee should be based on what their office space needs are and when they need to use it.
  • Customer needs – the customer needs should be considered as well for office space. What types of customer needs does your business have? Will the customer be waiting? Will the customer be in conference with employees? Will they simply come in to pick up or drop off items? On average, a reception area should be approximately 100 sq. ft with an additional 10 sq ft of room per customer in the waiting room.
  • Storage space – storage space can be a flexible space, but large enough to fit your needs. When considering how much space is needed, take into consideration any supplies needed for the office, any equipment storage, stock, packaging or other bulk items you may need to store. An average size is 200 sq ft. but depends on the type of business.
  • Growth potential – thinking ahead to the future can save you time and money. If you plan on expanding in the near future, hiring more employees, or other types of growth, you should consider adding 10 to 20 percent to your space needs. Most leases are signed for anywhere from two to five years and office rentals from month-to-month to 1 year. The cost of outgrowing your space can be very expensive and can include breaking a lease, the cost of moving, and the downtime while you relocate. Planning ahead for growth can save you that cost.

While these suggestions are only an average, it can give you a starting point for considering how much office space you may need. You should also try out our office space calculator and office space planning checklist. Each business is unique and has individual space needs. Planning out how much you will need based on your individual business will give you a good idea when you start looking at office rental spaces. For additional information on office space planning and help finding the perfect office space to fit your needs, contact us. We are experts in finding the right space for your office rental needs.