Creating Hybrid Workspaces

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

How do we design a functional and productive workplace that actively supports the hybrid model?

A Strong Technological Backbone

An emphasis on technology will serve as a touchstone for the modern hybrid workplace in order to bring both remote and office employees together. When it comes to conference rooms and workstations, each one will need to be equipped with the technology to support virtual meetings. But an emphasis on technology also means each employee is provided with the proper equipment to do their jobs remotely. To enable this, team members may require new equipment ranging from upgraded laptops to noise-canceling audio equipment.

Accessibility is Vital

Sometimes, it’s the unscheduled conversation in the office kitchen that’s the most productive. That’s why every aspect of the hybrid office will need to be accessible to each team member. Offices will need to be designed to provide the same capabilities to everyone. This means everything from conference rooms and solo spaces to community kitchens and restrooms be easily accessible.

Customization is Key

Each workplace will need to demonstrate a strong sense of flexibility going forward. This means every meeting should include the option to join virtually, since it’s likely that team members will be logging in from everywhere ranging from the physical office to their dining room table. But no matter their location, each employee wants to feel personally connected to their colleagues. Office “neighborhoods” will support team members by building community in a layout that is individually tailored to each group. Experts suggest utilizing interactive elements that reinforce a sense of belonging through unique features like photo collage walls and extracurricular activity bulletin boards.

Untraditional Workspaces

One unique aspect of a post-pandemic workplace will be the departure from traditionally permanent workstations. Instead, those spaces can be repurposed to create shared collaborative spaces that serve multiple functions, whether it’s supporting individual work or converting into social spaces. Ultimately, this may be an important component to how much each company spends on its real estate, since reducing the square footage of traditional workstations may affect how much money each organization needs to allocate for their space. Still, companies need to plan for the days where occupancy in the office is at a maximum, and the space must be able to accommodate that.

Emphasis on Health and Wellness

From yoga classes to group meditation, the need to have healthy employees is even more essential than before the pandemic. After all, we all know that when team members care for their minds and bodies, they’re better employees. As vaccines roll out and people transition back to the office, the physical space where employees come together will also undergo changes. Going forward, offices will be less about driving productivity, and more focused on cultivating a space that nurtures collaboration, community, and wellness. All team members deserve to feel safe in the workplace, and this can be recognized by equipping offices with everything from improved HVAC systems to technology-centric meeting spaces. There will also be a push to emphasize outdoor space, as well as indoor spaces that utilize plenty of natural light.

This article originally appeared on the Cresa 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.

The People Behind Inventions We Couldn’t Live Without

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.

How To Brand Your Workplace on a Budget

Here are some tips on how to embrace a new space and create an environment that reflects your organization in the best light. 

The Space Case

Whether you’re moving into a short-term sublease situation or settling in somewhere for good, the first step should be to consider all of the elements you’re working with. In addition to assessing the space, features, and amenities that you have, you need to consider the logistics of filling it. Will you need to furnish it yourself, or will the furniture be included, which is often the case in many sublease situations. You’ll want to perform a concrete analysis of the area and its features beforehand, so you can move forward knowing exactly what you need.

Solidify your Message

An office tells a story, and you want your workspace to reflect your brand in a positive manner. This means presenting a space that embodies the vision of your company, from the color of the decor to the company logo and signage on the wall. Consider what kind of atmosphere you want to represent your organization’s message. Since signage and branding are likely the first thing clients and employees see when they walk into your space, you want that first impression to be a positive one. It’s a good time to consider whether you want to continue using your current branding or see this as an opportunity for a brand refresh. It’s always better to determine this sooner rather than later in order to save your organization both time and money in the long run.

Cultivate an Atmosphere

While your clients are obviously a vital component of your business, it’s the workforce that spend their days in the office (even if they are on a modified WFH schedule!) That’s why it’s so important that your workplace is one that’s conducive to bringing the best out of your employees. You want your team members to be able to thrive in a place that fosters both community and productivity. This means furniture, equipment and amenities that are welcoming and comfortable, while also professional. Envision the type of reception area you want to serve as the “first look” into your company’s universe. Is the aesthetic best represented through digital signage and AV applications, or through vinyl wall graphics? It’s likely you’ll want to apply other branding elements and signage in other parts of the office, like conference rooms and workstations, so be sure to perform a full evaluation of your options before settling on one choice.

Time to Accessorize

When it’s time to inject the company’s unique viewpoint into the space, furniture colors and fabrics go a long way. Whether it’s panel fabrics and seat cushions or ancillary decor, this type of furniture is easy and inexpensive to customize, especially if your moving into a space where furniture is included. Unique finishes speak volumes as well. Will you embrace a colorful accent wall or untraditional wall coverings? Is hardwood flooring suitable for a busy organization, and do you need ceiling tiles to absorb the sound of constant conversation? Each of these components need to be taken into consideration.

The Financials

While creating your space is an expression of your organization, it’s often outside experts who understand the best methods to find good deals. Don’t hesitate to consult the experts who understand the supply chain and demand. Often, they’re the people who understand what it takes to find the essentials you need that fit into your budget. Also, they have the partnerships and experience to help find the best deals, which is always an asset. 

Branding your workplace can feel like a significant undertaking, but it’s one that strongly solidifies your office’s culture.

This article originally appeared on the Cresa 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.

Have A Mindful Evening Without Technology

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.

Workplace Strategy: The Purpose of Place and The Power of People

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Uncertainty has a way of welcoming conjecture and myths. The last year, of course, has been nothing if not uncertain. The pandemic has brought health concerns, economic difficulties, limitations on activities, and a restructuring of how and where office workers spend their days. The narratives have grown; big cities are dying, no one wants to be in the city center and there is no future for the office. All three of these are untrue (or at best, premature).

The office isn’t going to disappear; however, it is certainly going to change. The corporate office will become one part of a workplace ecosystem that provides greater flexibility to agile workforces through access to core office spaces as well as home offices and third places (such as, coffee shops, community hubs, on-demand event spaces, and/or flexible office / coworking locations). This reality is borne out in recent data which indicates a huge shift in workplace strategy towards hybrid models (with a mix of in-office and remote work), but no change from pre- to post-COVID related to workplace strategies that are “remote first.” Said another way, 100 percent virtual is not likely to be a common office solution.

However, if the office is going to continue to be the primary place where knowledge economy and creative class work gets done then what does the core office need to look and feel like? The place to begin is with the purpose of the office. The office needs to drive business objectives and it needs to provide organizations, teams and individuals with those things they cannot access when they are working remotely. When the pandemic winds down, companies will have an opportunity to deeply explore not just how their people return but also why they return to the office. Three of the primary long-term drivers of the usage of the office as a workplace will be connection, collaboration and career.

Connection: During the pandemic-induced work-from-home experiment, half of employees have indicated they do not feel connected to their organization’s culture. While team interaction has remained high with the broad implementation of video conferencing technology, the emotional connection between individuals and the sense of belonging at work have taken a hit. This has real business consequences since belonging can improve job performance by 56 percent and decrease turnover risk by 50 percent.

Collaboration: Research has shown that remote working can improve product development performance and the speed with which new innovations occur. However, the findings came with an important caveat, as noted by the authors, businesses “cannot do without a sufficient level of face-to-face contact.” Pure virtual offices would likely stymie innovation. This is confirmed by two studies that suggest that the optimal outcome of remote work exists when it is done only on a part-time basis, which can reduce isolation of employees and increase their knowledge interaction.

Career: In the short-term 100 percent remote work makes it difficult for employees (especially younger ones) to engage in informal learning and development or receive mentoring from more experienced colleagues. A third of employees–regardless of age—do not believe they are learning while working primarily remotely. What does this portend for the long-term impacts on individuals’ careers and on organizations’ business performance?

Space layouts matter…

During the decade following the Great Financial Crisis, cost consciousness and the rise of “coffee house” work culture led to the tightening of office densities. Between Q3 2019 and the end of 2019, the average square footage per U.S. office employee decreased from 212 to just under 193 square feet per employee (-9.2 percent). And, there are certainly examples of occupiers (and flex office / coworking providers) hitting densities under 125 square feet per employee. Even prior to the pandemic, employees were indicating that open plans with dense seating charts were negatively impacting their ability to focus, renew and work with their team.

It is no surprise then that the employees whose experience scores in those three areas have improved the most during pandemic-induced remote work are those that were coming out of highly dense, open seating plans. Employees in flexible space with a strong mix of personal workspace, enclosed conference areas and open collaborative space are the ones who miss their offices this most.

People, not just place…

Workplace strategy and design must be human-centric, and organizations must pay specific attention to the needs and wants of its various employee personas as well as the work and interaction patterns of different types of teams. This requires strong partnership between corporate real estate departments and business / strategy leaders, finance, human resources and change management.

The location, design and quality of workspace is even more important with an increasingly agile workforce, not less. Office environments will be curated to increase flexibility of function, to provide inspiration, to support learning and mentoring, to reinforce purpose, to embody corporate culture and to accommodate meaningful experiences for employees. All of this will need to keep in mind both the employees in the building on any given day and the workers connecting in digitally at any given moment.

This article originally appeared on the Work Design Magazine 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.

No, the Office Space Isn’t Dead

Photo by Marc Mueller on Pexels.com

There’s been a lot of ink spilled over how the coronavirus pandemic spells the end for the traditional office. With Manhattan office occupancy hovering around 11 percent, some speculate that work as we know it is gone forever. People seem to like the flexibility of working from home over a daily commute and a desk. Are they going to feel that way forever?

Working from home has plenty of benefits. Cutting out commutes opens up more time for family, sleep, or mid-morning trips to the grocery store. There is something to be said for flexibility when technology allows it. Some people are more productive outside the typical 9-to-5 work structure. Some find long, midday walks get their creative juices flowing. Others need to be home when school lets out, or on laundry day, or when the heat is on the fritz in mid-December and, for some reason, the super can only come by at 3:07 p.m.

But flexibility cuts both ways. Studies show that office workers toiling from home during the pandemic are more likely to put in more work hours, not fewer. There is no “quitting time,” train to catch, or an emptying office to signal the end of the workday. People are more likely to send or answer emails at all hours, even on weekends.  

In the long run, this is wearing. A recent Gallup survey found that fully remote workers are now experiencing more burnout than those on site, with 29 percent of employees who work fully remotely saying they felt burned out at work “very often” or “always.”

There is a benefit to separating your work life from your home life. A short commute serves as a transition from one world to the other. And even though we love our families dearly, it can be a challenge to spend all of our time together. If you are single and already frustrated with your roommate for leaving his dishes in the sink, you don’t need to add their workday pen-clicking habit into the mix.

Most importantly, humans are wired for connection. We are not built for solitude and loneliness.  We are a social species and need the collaboration and companionship of an office. It’s hard to be mentored, have serendipitous conversations, or even Monday morning water cooler chats when the office is a Zoom room. It’s hard to be creative when you can’t just pop by a colleague’s desk to brainstorm. Real life camaraderie and face-to-face conversation can’t be replaced by virtual contact. In the main Downtown Alliance office, when given the option, many of our non-essential staff of 50 have chosen to come in a few days a week and reconnect. That’s been true for me, too. 

COVID has forced us to be socially distant and masked for now. I don’t think we will ever return to a pre-pandemic 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. lifestyle. What’s more, the technological advances that have permitted us to work from home this past year will continue to facilitate more flexibility and freedom. But there is a real benefit to having a central workspace, a desk of your own that’s far from the kids and the roommates and the construction down the street. And our office workers are central to the vibrancy of the surrounding neighborhoods, including our local restaurants and shops.

Working from home is a benefit because it’s an option, but the office is a critical one, too. Employers and employees know this. When the vaccine is here for most, the offices will be, too.

The office isn’t dead. It’s resting.

 This article originally appeared on the Commercial Observer 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.

How is Generation Alpha Using Technology?

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.

How Building Owners Can Capitalize on the Digital Transformation of Work

Photo by Flo Dahm on Pexels.com

Multiple studies on the state of business over the last year show that the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a rapid accelerant for the ongoing digital transformation of work. To both landlords and business owners, there is existential urgency in this. Companies do not yet know what the pressure on their office space will be post-pandemic. 

To alleviate this this uncertainty, building owners must help businesses overcome the challenges of legacy systems in real estate that are untenable currently. If not, they will not be a part of the new post-pandemic workplace, a revolution — not evolution — the global economy is speeding toward.

We see three ways building owners can support tenants seeking to capitalize on the digitization of post-pandemic work: reimagine the building as an active partner to the workplace of each and every tenant; reinforce that a building’s job is to deliver the experience of a better day at work to its community; and cultivate a greater urban campus of work.

With an increasing share of the workforce fully able to do its work outside the office, the headquarters must draw back occupiers and offer the things they can’t receive at home.

Businesses must focus their real estate on advancing their company’s culture through collaborative, community-enhancing social spaces and transition away from redundant rows of workstations. 

For building owners to be an active partner in this transition, they must begin to offer tenants spaces for the moments in between and around this collaborative core. Tenants will not want an office that is too empty or too overpopulated. These amenity spaces can control for that uncertainty.

Building owners must also ensure their assets offer the experience of a better day at work post-pandemic. A building can no longer be a simple commodity, it needs to be more like a work hotel and deliver great experiences to users as part of its brand.

At A+I (Architecture Plus Information), we’ve helped clients reposition buildings with this approach in mind. By integrating work-forward food service into the social heart of Chicago’s iconic 4 million-square-foot Merchandise Mart, the building has benefited from increased recognition as a brand (reintroduced to Chicago as “theMART”) and as an 18-hour restaurant/workplace/lobby/lounge hybrid experience beneficial to all tenants. 

We are taking a similar but customized tack with Nuveen on their property at 780 Third Avenue in Manhattan, creating a new building brand (The Gardens at 780) built around amenities that support the entire community of tenants, even extending out into the broader neighborhood. These building upgrades offer tenants a workplace community experience that cannot be digitized.

Finally, building owners must address the profoundly broken relationship between creative-thinking companies and traditional office spaces. Highly sought-after creative services and knowledge economy employees enter the workforce straight out of great universities featuring rich landscapes of libraries, student unions, greens and quiet corners where they can engage with different energies, people and ideas. The ability to move between these places helps individuals find the space that suits their thinking and provides renewed energy to accomplish the task at-hand.

Building owners must embrace a different understanding of what already exists around them and offer workspaces that form around the contexts of the neighborhoods in which they are located. They must partner with properties and their like-minded tenants to offer a fluid network of spaces that presents a greater urban campus for the future of work — not a desk amongst fields of desks. 

Take a cue from the most successful corporations of our age: the Apples, Googles, and Amazons, who have already built grand campuses for their employees with variety and flexibility suiting a diversity of work styles.

Hudson Square Properties tapped A+I to pursue this approach with their 12 buildings within its namesake neighborhood. The buildings hold TAMI (technology, advertising, media, information) tenants, who have flocked to the area as they build out custom headquarters that support their individual work cultures, inspired to be within a campus at-large of amenitized spaces devoted to a more fluid understanding of how and where we can work together. This includes properties with amenities like spacious rooftop terraces and hospitality-infused lobbies seamlessly merged with enticing food and beverage offerings.

The challenge to optimizing the digitized revolution of work is that we’ve built systems, industries, expectations and value for real estate from a pre-COVID status quo. While some have a reason to resist this imminent change, the future will be determined by tenants’ access to information and to each other. Landlords and building owners should support this flexibility to ensure a vibrant future for our cities.

 This article originally appeared on the Commercial Observer 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.

Strategies To Build Trust On Your Team

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.

Four Ways Your Company Can Have Great Success

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

If 2021 is going to be your company’s year, you have to make it so. Here’s how to do it:

1. Tailor Your Expressions of Appreciation

This past year has been just as tough on your team as it’s been on you. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of your customers. 

Learn what makes each employee feel valued. If you don’t know, start with four of the five love languages: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and — the one you should skip — physical touch. Not just for romantic love, these describe the ways in which different people prefer to show and receive appreciation in general.

Nearly eight in ten people leave jobs because they feel underappreciated. After a year of rolling with the punches, your team needs to know you genuinely value them.

Ask employees what makes them feel appreciated and reflect it back to them. If a third of your team says, “quality time,” your next move should be to set up a happy hour. Make a point of giving an authentic compliment each day to people who respond with “words of affirmation.”

2. Seize New Trends

After all the pivots and business closures of 2020, 2021 will be a year of change. Keep your eyes peeled for new trends that are relevant to your line of work.

Take remote work. If your competitors all let their office leases lapse, maintaining those overhead costs puts you at a competitive disadvantage. 

Another is contactless pickup and delivery. Although hiring drivers will add to your labor costs, your alternative is to give up customers who insist on hands-free retail experiences. Never give up market share if you can help it. 

Beyond those big-picture trends, microtrends are there if you’re paying attention. If you’re a gym, cater to at-home exercisers by moving fitness classes online. If you’re a lawn care company, you might predict fewer landscaping clients due to the decline in brick-and-mortar shopping. 

3. Build Resilience Into the Budget

The economy may be recovering, but uncertainty remains. Overspending will be risky until the pandemic is over.

First, look at your projected revenue. Use consumer spending shifts to forecast sales in uncertain times. 

Next, reserve enough funds for necessary expenses, such as your payroll, office rent and maintenance payments on any loans you may have. 

What remains is your discretionary budget. If you don’t have six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund, pump up your savings. If you do, think about which technologies you’ll need to offer products or services related to those new trends.

What else would protect your downside in 2021? Build one or two of those things into your budget. If you suspect sales will get harder to come by, then you might invest in your referral network.

4. Ask “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”

While everyone has high hopes for 2021, nothing is guaranteed. New Covid-19 mutations are popping up. Social and political turmoil is everywhere. Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity.

I’m not trying to scare you. What I am trying to do is to help you imagine worst-case scenarios that could affect your business. 

Operating a business in Florida without flood insurance is walking on thin ice. So is wading unnecessarily into political issues or chucking out the face masks in your supply closet because your city ended its mask mandate. 

You’ll never regret being cautious. Even if none of those terrible things materialize, your team will operate more confidently with a plan in place. You’ll help everyone learn what risk management means for their role — something that will benefit them well beyond 2021. 

Better times are on the horizon. They aren’t here yet, however, and they may never be unless you usher them in.

 This article originally appeared on the Forbes 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.