Tech’s Influence on the Workplace

It’s tempting to generalize workplaces in the tech sector as amenity-rich, open-plan spaces filled with Millennials collaborating. Although there are plenty of workplaces that support this generalization, tech workplaces offer numerous lessons that can benefit other sectors. Beyond space and programmatic considerations, four tenets highlight today’s tech workplaces: strength of story, design empathy, technology presence, and hackerspace.

Strength of story = quality of experience

Purposeful connection to a memorable workplace can no longer be quantified by offering perks through amenities.  The experience of first impression, a surprise/”wow” factor, and how the story unfolds with meaningful spaces are ultimately the lasting experience that differentiate a place where people want to thrive from a typical workplace.  This goes beyond the company’s brand, and is of utmost importance given the strong market pressures on recruitment and retention.  We ask WHAT stories a company wants to share, whether it’s for new recruits, clients/customers, partners, colleagues, or even friends and family.  Spaces need to be designed to be interwoven with these stories.

Every company has examples.  There’s always lore about how the company is founded, defined or strengthened.  From the founders coming from Wall Street to Main Street with a cause, or an idea budding out of helping others, or a team retreat at the zoo, or a night of bar-hopping ending with a mutual phrase and bond, these stories are passed down from each generation of staff. Often times these stories are told through casual tours, and broadcasted through social networks.  A quick Tweet or Instagram announcement leads to even broader exchanges that feed into the pride and uniqueness of place.  These authentic stories connect us and inform the cultural pulse and soul of the inhabited space.

Design empathy – building a meaningful experience of place counts!

We hear more and more from tech companies that employees are seeking positions that go beyond compensation and benefits.  Alignment of core values and purpose between the individual and the company are paramount given the increasingly blurred line between our personal and professional selves. With clients seeking designs that are empathetic to their staff, we’re seeing more personalized workplaces that go beyond functionality and efficiency.

Best practices include:

  • Focus on basic convenience needs like access to electrical power wherever you need it – not when.
  • Design for the senses by enhancing lighting, aroma, and audio. This includes introducing lighting conditions that are space-specific, controllable, and that contribute to character of space.
  • Introduce non-invasive creative breaks, such as visual interest features at various distances that allow eyes to look away from screen, relax, and re-focus.
  • Appropriately scaled places to stretch out so the body is not locked and stationary.
  • Pet-friendly environment that encourages social interaction and stress relief.
  • Calming areas for recharge such as nap rooms, meditation rooms, and outdoor space, as well as services like massage programs.
  • Creating spaces that go beyond work activities and are inclusive of flexible social uses. This can include spaces for both large industry events and intimate team gatherings, or individual sanctuaries that allow a person to escape the assigned workstation.  These multi-functional spaces are fluid and programmed to adapt with changing needs throughout a given day.

Technology omnipresence

Individual mobility has now been established and well defined in this sector. Laptops and smartphones are default tools, so certain work functions and interaction can ideally be anywhere and anytime.  Within the workplace, the drive now is for the environment to be automated, to understand individual and group needs, whether for a presentation, training, or collaboration.  This is an extension of the Internet of Things, where data can be collected to improve and anticipate future needs. Think the Quantified Self – but for workplace. For now this is most relevant to facility and workplace planners, where having solid data to right-size the environment directly saves cost on maintenance and construction.  The next step is for the same data set to influence the flexibility of space and environment.  For instance, understanding the best design solutions to address inherent conflicts in an open office – the introvert/extrovert dialog, visual/acoustical disruptions, tailoring the plethora of collaboration solutions to fit the users, and finding adaptable methods within construction and furniture solutions that define workspace. Though this trend is more commonplace in the tech industry, it is making its way into all workplaces as companies seek to better inform their decisions about space.

Hackerspace

The pressure of tech spaces to perform and evolve parallels the speed of change in the tech sector.  Shorter leases and subleases are frequently signed to address the low vacancy rate in a booming market, the unpredictability of growth and the uncertainty of the business model.  Three-year leases or subleases from past tenants that have outgrown the space are common.

We see an increase in designing spaces with the expectation they will change within a year or two of moving in.  In most cases, it’s not a symptom of poor planning, but rather, the speed gap between the tech evolution versus our own design, manufacturing and construction industry.  Decisions made eight months ago during programming and design may not be applicable at first day of business.

With these pressure points, the need for spaces to be inherently hackable are both desired and often required—and with the pace of business speeding up in all industries, this situation isn’t relegated to the tech world.  How can design adapt and be customized to an individual, group, or organization’s needs?  And address it in a way that’s fast, invisible and intuitive?  These ephemeral parameters lead to solutions that are hacked from multiple disparate resources, such as residential retailers, bespoke shops, and local makers.

So what’s next?

We are frequently asked to forecast and pick a handful of trends as prescriptive solutions.  Often these prescriptions discount design value and objectify design to commodities that can be bought off the shelf.  We see companies associated with the tech sector trying to do this.  For instance, furniture manufacturers are strategically changing their marketing from products supporting work functions (i.e. workstations and collaboration solutions) to inclusive built environments that support individual and group dynamics (i.e. designs addressing introvert/extrovert).  The increased emphasis on ancillary furniture are examples of this, too; it’s an extension of creating workplaces that evoke home and hospitality.

That the tech sector catalyzes workplace trends is a testament to its anthropologic tendency to create responsive, empathetic designs.  Because of the multiple convergences of culture and demographics, coupled by the speed of evolution and risky business model of constantly seeking out unrealized solutions, design solutions cannot be quantified.  Our design solutions are increasingly qualitative – calling on our creative talents to understand our clients beyond their brand, and adapting our processes to create an environment that offers them purpose and value.

The story originally appeared on the Perkins + Will website.

 

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

 

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Global Burgers

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Nine Office Design Tips To Help Boost Creativity

Design isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about creating a space that functions beautifully and inspires those in it. Pioneering modernist architect Le Corbusier said a house should be “a machine for living”. Similarly, an office should be a machine for productivity. Key to that is nurturing creativity.

And it doesn’t matter what industry you work in – designing your office space so that ideas can flow freely can have a huge positive impact on overall output. So here are nine ways to use design to boost creativity in your work environment.

  1. Communal Areas: Collaborating is a great way of generating ideas. To let that happen, you have to provide a space where groups are able to think more openly. Comfortable couches allow for relaxed, non-judgmental teamwork, which is where the best ideas can be generated and shaped. A great example is Pixar Studios, designed by the late Apple chief Steve Jobs, which has a traffic flow that encourages impromptu meetings and (one would hope) the natural birth of ideas.
  1. Be Organized: Giving employees the space and order that they need to function is essential for nurturing creativity. Studies have shown clutter can increase stress and impact on performance. Provide modular storage space to reduce clutter and make it easier for staff to stay focused.
  1. Shhh: Create a space where people can spend time doing concentrated work. With the buzz and chatter of an office, a desk is sometimes not the best place for getting through heavy workloads. By creating quiet spaces you give people a chance to get on with the graft. And when people just want to get away from it all – even work – it helps to have dedicated relaxation areas too. London based agency Essence Digital fully embraced the importance of dedicated calm areas, including a relaxing open space for employees to focus or just chill out.
  1. Feels like home: Creating an office where your employees feel comfortable will allow them to come up with their best ideas. Encourage personalized mugs, photos of family or treasured mementos – those small things can make a huge difference (as long as it doesn’t spill over into clutter – see point 2). Providing a shower so staff can cycle to work or exercise during their lunch break can give people their own space, be it physical or mental, to come up with ideas and think outside the office walls.
  1. Make a stand: Movement encourages physical and mental wellbeing. As well as traditional office areas, introduce ways for people to work in different ways, including standing up. Café-height tables for individual work and meetings can make people more energetic, allowing them to generate ideas. Denmark is taking a lead in this area and has just made it mandatory for employers to offer their staff sit-stand desks, and numerous UK companies are also now following suit. We recently designed a dedicated stand up meeting space for the team at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, with the aim of making meetings more energetic and day-to-day tasks more efficient.
  1. Color me happy: Offices don’t have to be plain and grey, especially since different colors have been shown to stimulate different parts of the mind. According to color psychologists, blue helps productivity while yellow can help increase creativity. Consider adding splashes of color in areas relevant to specific work – for example, if you have an existing break-out space, add a splash of bold buttercup to get those creative juices flowing.
  1. Let the light in: Natural light has also been proven to have fantastic benefits, helping to boost creativity and energy levels. According to a paper by Franta and Anstead in 1994, natural lighting mitigates ailments such as eye-strain, Seasonal Affective Disorder and headaches, while enhancing productivity.
  1. Clear branding: By aligning creativity with a clear goal you encourage it to be focused in the right direction. Clear, consistent and simple branding will bring purpose to ideas. Gently reinforce your logo and company colors throughout your building to make sure your people consistently come up with things that work. Coca-Cola’s London headquarters is a great example of this: the impressive office includes a wall of 5,000 recycled drink bottles and vintage Coke memorabilia.
  1. Engage your team: Comfort is a matter of preference, especially when it comes to small details. So probably the most important thing when designing office is to talk to the people who are going to be working in it to figure out what will be best for them. If you’re redesigning an office, speak with your employees about any proposed changes – it’s crucial they feel involved so they stay engaged with your company. That way they’re more likely to align their creativity with your long-term vision.

The story originally appeared on the Management Today website.

 

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

 

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Fourth of July 2015

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Making the Most of Every Square Foot of Office Space

Facilities managers who occupy real estate inside high-rise buildings must make the most of every square foot of interior office space. Office buildings are like budgets – just as financial managers look to squeeze value out of every single dollar, facilities managers must similarly look to extract utility from all available space on their floors.

When occupying a high-rise office space, most businesses are in the position of rental tenant, which means premium costs per square foot. Wasted space is, in effect, wasted money, which can be a company’s undoing.

Luckily, there are technological tools that can help managers make decisions about how to best optimize interior space. By using software to analyze space allocation, you can visualize how rooms are being utilized and make important decisions regarding floor-plan reconfiguration.

Reevaluating Utilization Plans

When a company or a department first moves into an office space, it typically begins with a specific plan: which department will use which floor, who will sit where, and the location of company assets. Over time, companies tend to deviate from these plans and find themselves using their space in ways they may not have anticipated – ways that are less-than-optimal uses of the space.

By using software tools to manage space, you can compare planned space utilization strategies with their actual usage, identifying how perception differs from reality and how wasted space can be reallocated within the building. Below are a few examples of how space management solutions provide insight into space utilization for facilities managers.

  • Identifying Underused Spaces: According to IWMS News, companies typically leave 45 percent of office space vacant at any given time. This can occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps the company planned poorly for the initial amount of space needed, or perhaps needs have changed as goals were met.
  • Management may have anticipated housing a larger number of employees in the office, but downsizing or out-of-office working conditions may have dropped that figure. Whatever the case, this is an alarming amount of empty space being wasted – yet companies consistently spend money to rent this unused space, as well as pay utilities and insurance.
  • For maximized efficiency, interior space use must be monitored more closely and with greater fidelity. There are a number of methods to track pre-assigned spaces, but tracking actual, real-time usage is becoming just as important:

    Interface with Security: Tracking office usage can be accomplished simply by tracking who is physically in the building at any given time. Security badge systems, which are scanned upon entry and exit, can monitor the staff onsite and provide data showing minor and major activity periods, and long-term trends for average usage per day, week, and month
    Interface with Phone or Computer Systems: Another method involves the use of phone or computer systems to determine office space usage. When an employee logs in on an office computer and/or phone system, FMs are alerted to the employee’s presence and the amount of time they are actually using the space.
    Seat Detection: An even more exact monitoring system utilizes monitors in seating. This data collection method will give detailed data relating to the numbers of employees and total time spent in the office. The main advantage of this system type is its ability to track space occupation even if an employee isn’t using phone or computer systems, or has requested use of a space. These intangibles of spatial use can all be tracked and assessed to provide the most complete picture of the overall usage.
    Floorplan Monitoring: Space management systems should be able to view usage on floorplan models for past gathered data, as well as real-time activity, and allow current and future monitoring systems to easily interface with your existing facility management tools.

Streamline the Moving Process

Once your organization has gained a clear understanding as to how real estate is currently being used, you can consider tracking various metrics to make predictions regarding the future of the workspace, and begin coordinating any moves that might be necessary.

Such a process, particularly when occupying a high-rise, is both costly and time-consuming. Management must coordinate movers, vendors, and elevator and docking usage, as well as consider any union roadblocks that may arise.

Couple that with lost productivity due to employee downtime, and you have an incredibly expensive process. Careful planning and attention to detail is critical if facilities management wishes to realize significant return on company investments. Facility management software solutions, such as space management and move management tools, make it easier for companies to coordinate moves and streamline processes.

Working Toward Larger Business Goals

By using facilities management software solutions to ensure the efficiency of your office space, you improve the performance of the entire organization. Less time and money is spent on moving offices around, allowing companies to allocate resources on their overarching business goals. For companies who are looking to become more efficient, cost-effective, mobile, and eco-friendly, investing in the right tools is essential in realizing these goals.

While corporate real estate costs comprise a significant portion of the annual budget, no company wants to be bogged down by the details of office space concerns. Space management software offers high-rise occupants increased visibility into how their space is actually being used, location of employees and assets, and total cost per square foot.

Such awareness ensures greater efficiency and higher productivity, allowing the entire team to focus on supporting the company in achieving long-term goals.

The story originally appeared on the High Rise Facilities website.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

 

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Can These Five Office Design Strategies Make Employees Happier?

If I told you that a software engineer and salesperson need the exact same skills and tools to accomplish their job, you would call me crazy. Yet, when we take a software engineer and salesperson, stick them in the exact same office environment and expect them to thrive, why are we surprised when both are disgruntled and disengaged?

Like an antibiotic prescribed too indiscriminately, many office design concepts have been implemented so widely and dogmatically that their intended benefits backfire. Researchers are discovering that using one uniform office design to serve very different departments and individuals is at best idealistic, and at worst, extremely detrimental to productivity and wellbeing.

The “open office” concept, with one space and shared tables for everyone, is a great example. Originally conceived as a way to increase collaboration, transparency, and equality in the office, the open concept creates the opposite effect when it’s applied with broad brushstrokes. As the design firm Gensler concluded from a survey of over 90,000 workers, when an open office sacrifices focus to collaboration, both suffer. People who are constantly distracted from their core work grow deeply frustrated and therefore less likely to socialize and collaborate with their coworkers.

The prevalence and impact of poor office is design is astounding. In an international IPSOS survey commissioned by office supplier Steelcase, 84% of workers reported that their work environment did not allow them to concentrate easily, express ideas freely, work in teams without interruption, or choose where to work based on the task at hand. They found a lack of privacy to be one of the most sinister office issues, though they cautioned that a wholesale shift to private offices is no solution—it’s all about striking a balance.

Like the devices and software that power information businesses, office design must be viewed as a tool that we can leverage in the pursuit of productivity, well-being and engagement. Instead of having one office environment, we need a collage of environments, each tailored to the needs the departments and individuals that will actually use them. At my company engage:BDR, we planned our office in West Hollywood with that exact mission in mind. Our space was designed according to five principles that could benefit many other companies:

  1. CUSTOMIZE EACH SPACE TO THE DEPARTMENT AND ITS MEMBERS

Above all else, how people work is what should drive office design. At engage:BDR, our engineers need to be in constant communication, so they have a separate space, closed off by a door, where they can collaborate without distracting other departments. In finance, people who deal with sensitive materials and conversations work in personal offices, while more collaborative groups like accounts payable work in the open with their desks clustered. Salespeople are placed in offices if their role requires lots of phone calls, and creatives overwhelmingly prefer privacy and complete quiet.

When an employee can’t work effectively, we try to adapt the space to the person rather than the person to the space. Design around each job function, not some ideology about how an office should be.

  1. USE LOTS OF GLASS

With the power to welcome natural light, unobstructed views, and unclutteredness, glass is the single most important material we use at our office. In a real and metaphorical sense, it helps create a clear space for free thinking. From a biological perspective, the light helps with happiness, energy, and morale.

  1. OPEN SPACE ALONG THE WINDOWS

Most companies place individual offices on the exterior and “bullpens” on the interior. While corner offices may be enviable, they block exterior light from reaching most employees.

That’s why we placed bullpens and clusters along the exterior and offices in the interior. The offices are designed so that they can still overlook the Los Angeles skyline and catch plenty of that precious light.

  1. PROVIDE MULTIPLE COMMUNAL AREAS

The researchers at Gensler concluded that “the threshold for effective collaboration space is relatively low; people collaborate in a wide variety of space types and find those spaces by and large effective.” However, they found the opposite is true of focus spaces—people need uninterrupted privacy and quiet to stay engaged.

To address this conflict, we built multiple collaboration spaces where no one would expect privacy anyway. For example, the kitchen and the sitting area in our lobby have comfy couches where people from different departments socialize, brainstorm, and often come up with awesome ideas. Of course, we have conference rooms for more formal meetings, too.

  1. MAKE YOUR WALLS INTERACTIVE

Every single wall and window in our office can be written on. We have three different materials—glass, chalkboard, and whiteboard, all of which have special, erasable writing utensils. If you’re in a meeting and need to flesh out an idea, the wall’s right there. For note taking, virtually every employee is arm’s length from a wall.

This has two interesting benefits. First, ideas become contagious—walking around the office, you constantly see and absorb ideas from co-workers who work in other departments. Everyone feeds on this continuous brainstorm session. Second, we have a tendency to be more visual. We draw out relationships and connections in ways we wouldn’t if we were stuck on paper or limited writing surfaces.

FROM FUNCTION TO FASHION

If you redesign your office, let function inspire fashion. We went with a modern aesthetic, but you get equally good results with traditional, industrial, southwestern, rustic, zen, or any other design theme. Personal taste, office culture and the community surrounding your office will all influence your style. In the process, ask employees about the office environment—find out what helps or inhibits their work before you assume that you have the answers.

You wouldn’t withhold computers from your software engineers or ban phones from your sales desk. So don’t withhold the environments that are essential to your employees and the quality work they strive to accomplish. It’s time to think of your office design as an essential tool and a competitive edge.

The story originally appeared on the Fast Company website.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

 

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The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift Guide 2015

 

 

 

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at

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