5 Ways to Open Up Your Office Space (and drive down costs)

Image courtesy of OTJ Architects
Image courtesy of OTJ Architects

Architects are crediting a new workplace design trend with increasing productivity while decreasing organizational expenses. Could this be something your business center should consider incorporating?

If you’ve been paying attention over the last few years you’ve noticed that the traditional workplace has encountered a transitional shift to what is now known as the open workspace. The objective is to drive more flexibility for employees to collaborate in a dynamic community. But the ultimate goal is a stronger return on employee investment.

According to a Harvard Business Review article about workplace benching, traditional, cubical-based office layouts prohibit a productive flow of information. This results in an average of 4.7 hours of time for a knowledge worker to get a response from colleagues and 8.8 hours to get a response from managers.

“Employees require new workplace solutions that facilitate the flow of information and ideas,” says Lance Jaccard, partner at OTJ Architects. “What worked for yesterday’s Baby Boomers is not working for today’s Millennials, who are now entering the workforce in this weak economy.”

Jaccard believes that businesses looking to become more fiscally responsible can find solutions to many problems by moving to an open work environment. Could this mindset drive a demand for pure open workspace in your business center as opposed to private executive office suites? It’s not likely, at least not in the near-term. But the coworking movement is embracing the concept and that could draw some traditional executive office suites tenants to this alternative workspace.

Consider the facts: According to an article in Business News Daily on redefining traditional office space, Activity-Based Working environments can reduce overall space requirements by up to 30 percent. That lowers costs, reducing paper usage by 89 percent and decreasing power consumption by up to 50 percent.

That doesn’t mean that you need to transform your business center into an open environment with Activity-Based Working areas. But you should be aware of the trend in the larger scheme of the officing world. And you can draw from some of these principles in your business center.

Here are 5 ways in which these strategies, developed by OTJ Architects, could play out in your business center:

  • 1) Create magnets: These spaces utilize multiple types of seating arrangements and strong A/V and IT capabilities to invite and attract employee and visitor collaboration. Internal groups are encouraged to share the space reinforcing a sense of community, as well as the “One Company” identity. Your business center’s conference rooms can serve this purpose.
  • 2) Create flexibility: Multiple places to work provide more opportunities to get work done in various capacities. Examples of flexible spaces include multi-purpose magnet spaces, library-style quiet rooms or a media room with television displays and social media feeds. There’s nothing stopping your business center from creating one of these flexible environments.
  • 3) Utilize natural light: Using glass between interior spaces and windows help increase productivity while decreasing power utility usage. Many business centers are already tapping into this trend.
  • 4) Create huddle rooms: Huddle rooms create a sense of security that reinforces individual privacy and supports acoustic standards. A smaller meeting room in your business center could serve this purpose.
  • 5) Create collision zones: Replace linear hallways and corridors with organic pathways strewn with conversation nooks and gathering stations to invite coworkers and visitors to take advantage of opportune “collisions.” This design factor may be out of your control but if you are doing a build out on a new lease you can incorporate this strategy.

Image source: OTJ Architects’ award winning design for Navistar

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