The cubicle-congested workplace is all but a distant memory. As technology allows businesses to operate with more flexibility, employers are looking for ways to accommodate their human capital.
Traveling for business, working from home and flexible office hours are becoming the norm in today’s work force, and along with these new factors comes a new way of thinking: workplace strategies.
HBA is diving into the world of workplace strategies and finding ways to ensure that our clients have a space that allows them to achieve various employee and real estate benefits.
What is it?
Designing for a project involving workplace strategies requires a design plan for functionality rather than hierarchy. In some cases, this could mean implementing more snack bars, closed meeting rooms, printing stations or other specific elements.
“Workplace strategies refer to the strategies used, both from a facilities and design standpoint, to create a more efficient workplace,” says interior designer, Reenie McCormick. “This includes providing the right tools for employees to make efficient use of their time. It also requires planning the space more efficiently to save real estate costs for the company.”
The design plan is tailored to fit the needs of employees at a specific office. An existing space is altered to make collaboration, accessibility and productivity a top priority. Corporate client Gallup, for instance, may desire very different elements from another client like John Deere. Individualized needs within a client office serve as a starting point in developing design ideas.
“Rather than provide a one-size-fits-all approach of perimeter offices, cubicles, or completely open office, we are now providing a variety of spaces designed to fit the activity rather than the individual position,” explains Reenie.
Components such as private call rooms, small and large meeting rooms, individual work spaces and employee amenities are all elements to be considered.
How do we plan?
Reenie is currently on a project for John Deere where she is implementing workplace strategies. “We begin by gaining information on how each department in the company currently operates day-to-day.” Observation studies, pre-occupancy surveys and department interviews are performed. From these studies, space and furniture needs can be clearly identified.
Senior Partner Curt Witzenburg finds visioning boards to be an efficient tool in this process. He notes that, “Designing a space for an organization can be an overwhelming experience. It requires a significant investment of time and expertise. A critical element in this process is the need for a unified vision of desired outcomes.”
Visioning boards help the HBA team establish quick and easy-to-understand dialogue from employees on what they like and do not like about their current workplace.
Curt adds that, “A project vision is the ‘big picture’ that defines and provides direction for a client’s design, from start to finish. The vision identifies and provides a baseline for defining organizational goals on how the building design reflects the corporate brand and how the occupants experience the space.”
Various other diagrams and data measuring tools are used by the HBA team to develop a design plan. In some cases, only Furniture Fixtures & Equipment (FF&E) changes are made. But in other cases, renovation and demolition also need to occur.
Workplace Strategies at HBA
The HBA office utilizes workplace strategies by providing collaborative work spaces, an open space break room with mobile tables, utilization of Skype for meetings and VR with clients, as well as a technology check out center for all staff.
Additionally, the partners at HBA are spread throughout the office. The organization is decentralized and all experience levels work side-by-side. This fosters positive team dynamics and allows for agile and efficient communication.
“By incorporating workplace strategies, an end-user can capitalize on their efficiency while maintaining a collaborative, open work environment,” explains HBA Partner, Kurt Cisar.
Some industries are inherently more flexible than others, and allow for better implementation of these workplace strategies. In the architectural and interior design field, a “home base” desk is almost necessary for the storage of specific plans, material samples and other work files. However, as the work environment changes, we continue to evolve so that we can better serve our clients.
Written by: Reenie McCormick, Assoc. IIDA and A.J. Meyer, Administrative & Marketing Assistant