Monthly Archives: May 2014

Office Space Design: Collaborative Workspace

team Collaborative Workspace

Your office space is more than just the physical address where employees gather, the mail carrier delivers the bills and the copier hums along. In fact, inside your office there is a microcosm of connection opportunities that either hamper or encourage group efforts and collaboration. You want to create a Collaborative Workspace to enhance employee engagement and productivity.

Collaboration Busters

What prevents workers for putting their heads together, brainstorming and working on projects?

  • Cubicles. Artificial space separators are designed to help individuals focus on their own tasks. Walls are too tall for communication.
  • Executive offices. If you hide away the management team, there is precious little opportunity for asking questions, getting directions or bouncing ideas off those who have the power to approve or deny them.

Inspiring the Group Effort

Steve Jobs was a big believer in unplanned collaboration. This concept simply suggests that impromptu meetings between team members tend to accomplish more than the scheduled must-attend sit-downs around the conference table. If you have ever visited the Pixar campus, you will notice the huge atrium space that is perfectly set up for a number of these unplanned collaborative efforts to be underway at one time.

Quoting Jobs’ biography, My Turnstone notes that the late innovator rightly recognized a loss of the “magic that’s sparked by serendipity,” which inspired him to set up office buildings that would “make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium.” Getting together team members who do not regularly interact is credited with sparking quite a few of the great ideas that have come out of Pixar.

While your office space may not have a large atrium, you can nevertheless encourage group efforts.

  • Intentional collaboration spaces. Office-wide WiFi, large empty desks with computer hookups, printers that function wirelessly and an office intranet are just a few ideas that turn an office space into an opportunity for team work.
  • Incorporate the conference room. A conference room is rarely used and frequently takes away valuable office space. Switch out the regular doors with sliding or swivel doors to open up the space when it is not scheduled for use. Opt for a large table that consists of movable sections. These sections – when separated – become suitable breakout tables for team projects.

Finding an office space that meets your spatial requirements for a collaborative workspace does not have to be a tall order. As noted by The Record, Canada’s top employers champion this particular office setup. One human resources vice president stated that “there’s not one thing that makes you a top employer … you need to be innovative and creative.”

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By: James Osgood

Photo Credit: ralphbijker via Compfight cc

Developing A Good Workplace Strategy

Businesses of all sizes should regularly take a look at the workplaces that they provide to their workers; determining what they are doing well and what they could improve. The primary focus for many businesses right now is on developing a good workplace strategy that focuses on improving the productivity and health of their employees. Here are a few suggestions.

Productivity And Health

Two considerations that most business owners are focusing on within their workplace strategy are productivity and health of their employees. When it comes to health, menatl health is especially important. Here are 13 workplace mental health statistics that show why mental health is so important.

Not surprisingly, thoughtful workplace design can be a powerful tool for supporting employee performance. And a collateral benefit is that what typically supports productivity also enhances employee health and wellness – it’s all interrelated.

Natural Sunlight

One way to change health outcomes in your office in a major way is to align the design of the office in such a way to allow maximum sunlight. The more natural light allowed into the office, the better the average mood of the employees inside. The human body needs to come in contact with real sunlight, and having access to natural light is also good for combating symptoms of depression.

Control Over Noise

Another area to look into when it comes to office design is the level of control that employees have over noise. It is not that noise needs to be completely eliminated from your office, but giving employees control over the amount of noise that penetrates their space to some extent makes them happier. We all like to have a sense of control, and the more control over noise that one has, the better they can focus on their work.

Certified OfficeFinder SpecialistWant to know more about workplace strategy? We can help your workplace become more productive and improve employee engagement. Please Contact us and we will get you started in learning about creating an Agile Workplace and then show you how it might work for your company.

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Bring Back The “Water Cooler” To Fuel Employee Productivity

Water Cooler to fuel employee productivityIn the corporate culture, sometimes things are accepted as truths simply because they have been told so often that it is believed that it has to be right. This leads to bad things in some cases as the supposed “truths” that people are giving voice to are not factually based. One such theory is that water coolers are huge drains on employee productivity. The “water cooler” in actuality could be anywhere that co-workers meet on an informal basis.

The “Water Cooler” Meetup

It is almost legend now that employees will gather around the “water cooler” to gossip about the latest goings on in the workplace. A lot of employers accept this as fact and want to believe that their employees are wasting company time. However, real academic research has been done on this very topic, and it has been determined that employees are often more productive when given access to “water coolers.” How can this be?

Health Concerns

When a real water cooler is involved, an often overlooked benefit and a big positive for water coolers are the health advantages that they provide. Instead of having a workforce that is dragging, you can have one that is pepped up and happy to be going to work. mentions this in terms of health benefits for drinking water. Keeping employees hydrated will result in a healthier workforce. Hydrated employees will not tire as quickly and end up being more productive.

New Ideas Generated 

What was once viewed as idle conversation or gossip is now starting to be recognized as something more. When employees gather around the “water cooler,” they may be talking about the latest movie or office romance at first, but that often leads to other topics. Those other topics are where new ideas can be generated. Those news ideas can sometimes translate to a new ideas for business, and that is what every business owner would like to see happening. Studies show that many productive conversations occur when employees randomly encounter one another.

Social Engagement

One of the pitfalls of the digital age is that is hinders the development of interpersonal relationships between co-workers. Virtually all interaction is done electronically by email. The “water cooler” allows for the development of these relationships in an informal atmosphere. These better relationship will result in better collaboration on projects through improved employee relationships.

Studies also suggest that knowledge exploration will not occur until employees have established a level of comfort with one another; this is why socializing interactions, though not always intellectually fruitful, play an important role in promoting more substantial discussion during water cooler run-ins.

Much of the current thinking related to workplace strategy includes having areas within your office for collaboration. Even those offices that are not specifically designed with collaboration areas can take advantage of the “water cooler” effect to allow employees to share ideas, develop personal relationships and hydrate which will end up fueling employee engagement.

Want to know more about workplace strategy? We can help your workplace become more productive and improve employee engagement. Please Contact us and we will get you started in learning about creating an Agile Workplace and then show you how it might work for your company.

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By: James Osgood

Photo Credit: paulswansen via Compfight cc

What to Consider Before You Lease Office Space

office space for leaseMaking a bad decision when it comes to choosing office space can have negative repercussions for any business, including loss of customers and a big impact on your bottom line. As many landlords prefer three to five year leases, it’s essential to know what you’re looking for before you lease office space and sign on the dotted line. Find the right office space, make the best decision for your company and start making money.

Use a Tenant Representative to Lease Office Space

Choosing the wrong broker, or not using one at all, can add up to a very expensive error. Tenant representation is essential, but you don’t want to rely on a broker with a conflict of interest, such as one who represents both the tenant and the landlord. Use one who strictly represents you as the tenant, which ensures that the broker remains true to their fiduciary duty. You wouldn’t use an attorney to represent bother parties, and the same holds true when signing an office lease.

As a business’s office space is usually one of its biggest expenses, having the right broker on your side can often help to reduce the company’s bottom line and also help protect its interests in a number of other ways.

Determining Priorities

Before signing an office lease, have you considered all of the short and long-term priorities of the business? Ideally, you should have an office space planner conduct a space program to determine your size needs including aspects like floor load capacity in order to support heavy equipment. Your tenant rep can help you with finding one and very often it will not cost you anything. Landlords provide this as an incentive to get you into their building. You may also want to find a space to lease within a larger complex that allows for future growth.

Understand Associated Costs

In addition to monthly rent, make sure you understand all costs involved, such as utility costs, common area maintenance fees, Internet and telephone installation costs and possible extra HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) costs for running your business after hours.

Both you and your broker should inspect all documents thoroughly as they are designed to benefit the landlord and make them money, not you.

Take Your Time

Not giving yourself enough time to make the decision and to go through the entire process of securing an office lease is one of the biggest mistakes office tenants make. You need time to explore the market with your tenant rep, tour facilities and interview landlords. Most tenants tend to significantly underestimate the time it takes to complete each stage, whether renewing, moving or starting fresh. Depending on your space needs and how complex your technology, the office leasing process may take 6 to 12 months or longer just to find and negotiate a deal.

Taking these considerations to heart will help you have a positive outcome when you lease office space.

Related: Top 15 mistakes Tenants make When They Lease Office Space

By: James Osgood

Workplace Strategy: 5 Ways to Make Office Hoteling A Success

Office hoteling is a workplace strategy of using office space as needed by using a reservation system rather than assigning desks, cubicles or individual offices that see only a part-time occupancy by workers. On average, most offices will have only a 50% to 75% occupancy at any given time. By fine tuning the amount of office space based upon usage, will lead you to significant savings. While it sounds like a very informal arrangement, it’s actually not the case. There are many technology options in the marketplace to help ease the transition and ensure success . In fact, many office managers have embraced reservation-based hoteling, which requires some planning but affords the worker the flexibility of working where and when they can be most productive. It also leads to happier and more engaged employees.

There are five ways to make the practice of Office Hoteling work for your office.

  1. Group workers by task. The Alamo PC Organization suggests that many office spaces are only fully occupied as little as 30 percent of the time. If the spot remains vacant for the other 70 percent, this is a waste for which you pay! When you group your workforce by task, you get a better idea of how much space you need to allocate for a set schedule of work hours.
  2. Decentralize your workforce. Major corporations have already discovered that placing customer service representatives (CSRs) into dedicated call centers frees up space at the main office. Frequently, the management team chooses less expensive rental markets to place these call centers. This step has the potential of cutting down on the overall rent that your entire operation has to pay.
  3. Review hardware and software needs. Interacting with clients, vendors, customers and management is now largely a task that can be done via the Internet. You have the option of designing predefined work spaces that allow every worker to log on with a personalized password, which would then take the employee to an individualized desktop. Other companies have chosen to purchase personal laptops for the management and supervisor teams, which lets these professionals set up a workstation anywhere with wireless Internet access. Printing is done via wireless technology as well.
  4. Redesign the office space. Cubicles have fallen out of favor. An open office space design is the new trend that makes more efficient use of the available square footage. If your business is national or multinational in nature, it is not uncommon to have workers from other locations visiting your organization. Giving them an opportunity to sit down and start work should be as simple as pointing them to an open seat and letting them unpack the laptop computer.
  5. Keep track. Office hoteling only works when you know where your workers are, where they are supposed to be and if there are any discrepancies in the scheduled hours and the hours that are actually worked. Check-in terminals are one option. Logging into a phone – for call center CSRs – and checking in via an Intranet are additional options.

When you follow these steps, you are in a good position to reduce the overall size of your office, provide more flexibility to your work force and improve your bottom line!

OfficeFinder will gladly work with you to find you just the right office space.

Certified OfficeFinder SpecialistWant to know more about workplace strategy? We can help your workplace become more productive and improve employee engagement. Please Contact us and we will get you started in learning about creating an Agile Workplace and then show you how it might work for your company.

Find Office Space