By Wesley Edmonds, OFS Brands
Ding! Another notification on your phone? No, the ding was the elevator doors opening to the eighth floor to start the day. The first question is how excited are your employees to step off the elevator? The second question is where are they going to begin their day? Do they have choices for focused, shared or team-oriented work? Do your spaces enhance or detract from the culture you’re striving to achieve in your organization?
There has never been more information available about how we should work than now. Who’s right, who’s wrong and how do we distill the information to glean core data and practices that can influence our next space? Put on the human-centered lens when digesting the content; then, at minimum, you are putting people first to see if the theory holds true when immersing yourself in someone else’s shoes. You have to observe activity and behaviors because more often than not, people unintentionally say that they work one way when they actually work another.
So, with the human-centered approach as the foundation, layering these additional elements outlined below will assist in future-proofing spaces.
Individuals Need Choices
People, organizations and countries all work differently. The most common styles of work can be simplified to include: focus, learning, interaction and social. Depending on the roles and responsibilities, as well as one’s introvert and extrovert personality, choices come into play. Does my organization have the spaces and technology available to support me in what I need to get done today? Across all the generations, you’re seeing employees gravitate to more unassigned, communal spaces to get work done.
Don’t be fooled by their casual appearance, as noted by Pam Light, SVP, HOK in L.A., “Clients ask me, ‘what’s this space over here you planned with nobody’s name on it?’ I respond with ‘that is where the most work will get done.’ We purposely plan in 30% to 40% of communal space, because the research and our experience shows how important it is to productivity and overall culture.”
Take a close look at your organization’s daily occupancy and figure that people will generally bounce between their primary space and then to various ancillary spaces.
Homefulness and Well-being
At the core, everyone wants to feel secure, comfortable and valued. The feeling of arriving home after a long trip is what we should strive to create at the office. This is homefulness. Once the morning responsibilities have been taken care of, whether that’s kids, tracking down that needed cup of coffee, exercising, centering yourself for the start of the day or all the above, you want employees to feel exceptionally well about where they are. What’s more, the rigorous effort to develop the most sustainable structures has paved the way to focus on the overall well-being of people occupying those buildings. There are logical choices that organizations can do to improve the well-being of its employees.
One of the biggest components to a healthier day is movement. Eliminating extended periods of sedentary positions, whether standing or sitting, should be the goal of every space and, therefore, the importance of ergonomic solutions. The creation of destinations, so that employees will get out of their seats to seek them out, gives people choices and empower them and their space to relocate to get work done.
There are nearly 10,000 shared workspaces today. The co-working, co-living lifestyles are informing spaces and how we go about our day. Near-future lease laws will change how leases are carried on the books and impact the permanence of leased space. Books, such as Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by General Stanley McChrystal, further denounce the current organizational hierarchies to a more team-aligned way of solving problems, failing faster, rapid prototyping and extreme agility on the battlefield and on main street.
What does this translate into? Organizations will need to closely evaluate the balance of dedicated personal and shared space. We are seeing customers finish 80% of their space and leaving the other 20% as the “what’s next”, so they have some flexibility in the next 2-3 years of occupancy. This allows for a company to always have what seems to be a fresh, new space within their floorplan. Look for “rooms within a room” where furniture plays the roles of walls. With potentially shorter leases, open floor plates may remain just that and millwork, well-executed furniture collections, and mobility will be at the core of outfitting a space.
In a recent interview with Brian Graham, interior and industrial designer, he sums it up best in how to take all these trends and layers, collate them and provide the optimal outcome to organizations and their employees. Graham stated, “I think the key is that you still need a designer who synthesizes everything together. It’s not unlike an orchestra…you have all these musicians with these disparate instruments, and at some point somebody has to grab the baton and wield it into a symphony and make the music. Designers are more challenged today than ever before, and they’ve never been more essential to every aspect of a business.”
Create destinations for people to work, learn, interact and be social! They will be sought out, so make sure their favorite ones are in your building!
Wesley Edmonds serves as an OFS Brands District Sales Manager in Georgia. She earned her degree in Interior Design at the University of Georgia and began her career as a commercial interior designer for a local Atlanta design firm. Her interest in the sales portion of each project and love of building relationships eventually led her into the sales side of the industry with a passion for the contract furniture world. Wesley is able to use her understanding of the design process, in addition to her NCIDQ certification, to assist the community’s architects and designers on a daily basis. Wesley is an active member of ASID and currently serves on the ASID Board.
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