Thursday, July 30, 2015

Robert Propst's 1968 office vision: what's changed?

Spacelab’s Rosie Haslem wonders what’s changed since Robert Propst proposed a new office in 1968

I recently attended a seminar at Herman Miller that made me wonder how far workplace design has really progressed in the last 50 years.

The seminar focused on the 1968 book The Office: A Facility Based on Change, by then-president of Herman Miller’s Research Corp, Robert Propst. He was drawn to the challenge of rethinking office life, which he saw as sedentary and unproductive, and ultimately unsuited to the diverse needs of workers.

Propst noted that although “office work has undergone a revolution; the physical environment lags behind”, observing that workers had multiple responsibilities, but these were not being supported by multiple work stations.

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Article written by Miranda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sitting OR Standing at Work: Why a Good Chair Matters Either Way

Herman Miller is working on ways to naturally encourage and remind you to get up out of your chair and move around throughout the office. It turns out that being fidgety at work has some important health benefits.

Hey, wait a second. Aren't you that guy who wrote that article on "Sitting is the New Smoking"? And now you're talking about why a good chair matters? Yes, and yes. Because I wanted the opportunity to clarify an important point that I'm seeing and ensure we're all saying the right thing here.

It's true that our sedentary lifestyle is a big contributor to the obesity crisis we now face. We definitely are sitting too much at work which is why I wrote that article. But it's simply not practical for everyone to ditch their chairs and work 12 hour days standing up 100% of the time.

When thinking about this conundrum, I tapped my friend Michael Dura, who is the Small and Medium Business Area Sales Manager (East) for Herman Miller. We had a great conversation about what Herman Miller is doing to bring balance to the workplace--specifically, what the future of a furniture design company can do to help combat (rather than contribute) to our typical sedentary lifestyle.

"The problem, as I see it," Michael Dura told me, "is that companies are using the whole sitting is the new smoking movement to invest in really crappy chairs. Their logic being that, if companies invest in cheap, uncomfortable chairs, then people will be inclined to sit less."

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

5 Ways To Make An Office A Nice Place To Work, Not A Soul-Sucking Pit Of Despair

You probably don't go to work every day in a place that improves your well-being—but you could.

While there are numerous opinions on how office environments should be designed and organized, there’s no denying workplace well-being should be a priority for every organization. New ideas and creative design approaches continue to emerge that empower companies of all scale and business focus to take steps that will enrich the lives of their employees.

At its core, this growing focus on workplace well-being harkens back to some of the core principles for human health we’ve always understood: the importance of exercise and movement, access to daylight, clean air, and healthy food. Being able to integrate these elements thoughtfully into our daily work environments will enrich our full lives, beyond what we do outside of work.

Organizations that embrace workplace well-being will benefit from healthier and happier employees capable of increased productivity and innovation. Here are five ideas every organization should consider to strengthen its approach:

Continue reading on FastCompany

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rejecting the Cubicle for an Expanse of Space

Some companies are turning to “superwide” offices, the horizontal equivalent of a Manhattan high rise, to make employees more productive.

In the era of the coffee-shop office, where a bit of countertop can be enough room from which to run a business, some tenants in New York are clamoring for a very different kind of workplace: one that spans a cavernous 100,000 square feet or more.

Call them “superwides,” the horizontal equivalent of the supertall high-rises sprouting across Manhattan. Spreading out on a single story and usually having minimal walls, these offices are luring ad agencies, financial firms and magazine publishers, who say that employees are more productive when they intermingle on the same floor.

But because block-length buildings that can offer this kind of volume are rare, and since new skyscrapers tend to be narrower, the market for superwides has become ultratight, according to brokers, tenants and landlords.

Continue reading on The New York Times

Friday, July 24, 2015

5 things you should consider as you plan your new office space

Congratulations. Your company is ready to graduate from the incubator or that humble office space on the other side of town. You’re ready to create an office space that stimulates collaboration, reflects your culture and maximizes work flow. But before you set your sights on space, take our advice: The entire process, from the real estate search to construction, can be challenging if you lack a plan or fail to engage the right people from the start. We’ve seen many growing companies make great decisions and take major missteps. Here’s some advice on what to avoid and how to have a successful and less stressful project.

Do know the future of your business, and don’t assume until you do your research.

When it comes to creating a new office space, your intuition is not enough to drive an effective plan. One of the most helpful tools that will drive your success is a business plan. Why? A business plan will force you to think about your company’s potential in quantitative terms and will discourage you from making assumptions or emotional decisions. Think about your business model, consider your culture and don’t be afraid to make some revenue projections. You might come to realize that you need more private meeting areas and collaborative space; or less open space and shorter lease terms than you originally thought.

It’s smart to engage others early.

Finding, designing and constructing a great new office space that considers your culture and operational processes is hard work, especially when you have a conservative budget. When you’re engaging partners, look for real estate professionals who have a high-level understanding of the process who can negotiate contract terms on your behalf. Aim to hire a design and construction team early, and look for chemistry and commitment. A good team will leave egos at the door and focus on value. Creating a new creative and budget-conscious workplace doesn’t just happen—it takes heavy collaboration, lots of cost estimating, multiple tradeoffs and many late nights.

Brace yourself for change.

Contrary to what some might think, the planning, design and construction process is not linear. That’s why communication, collaboration and flexibility will ultimately make or break your project. It’s probable that your project team will need to accommodate a scope change even during construction. Remember that change in the construction industry can cost you, so make sure your general contractor has a process for communicating time lines and informing you of when the last responsible moment for making decisions is throughout construction. A savvy and proactive general contractor will be ready for change—and they’ll work with the architect and suppliers to give you flexibility without impacting your budget.

Know that hard wires are not always obsolete.

A wired telephone system seems nearly obsolete these days, as many incubators and startups are solely relying on wireless. Unless your new building is equipped with a digital antennae system and holds a contract with multiple service providers, you can expect your employees to spend their valuable time asking “Can you hear me now?” instead of executing their work. Nothing is more frustrating than bad reception. Your new building should also have the infrastructure to support fast, reliable Wi-Fi. If it doesn’t, you might need to look elsewhere.

Don’t leave money on the table.

If you’re not vigilant, it’s easy to leave money on the table. You could choose to convert an old warehouse into an office space and not consider the cost of code upgrades. You might forego investigating existing conditions before you remove carpet in favor of concrete flooring, and uncover asbestos. You might be inspired by the raw look of concrete floors and exposed ceilings, but you might not consider the importance of acoustics. All of these choices have the potential to greatly impact your bottom line. Great project partners will walk you through your options and care about your bottom line.

Some final thoughts.

Remember, if you plan and engage project partners early, you’ll create more value. Giving yourself a little more time will allow you to explore multiple options and budget iterations. Having a limited budget does not have to stifle creativity, it can actually inspire creativity among your team.

By Andrew MacGregor and Clayton Edwards, Skender Construction 
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Office of the future: It's all about you

Photo credit: Thomas Heylen via Flickr

The office of the future caters to the worker who needs a quiet place to focus. Or a lively place to socialize.

Who wants to work standing. Or sitting. At a shared desk. Or in a private cubicle. With colleagues. Or alone. Outside among greenery. Or inside in a cafe.

The office of the future does not center on open layouts or unassigned desks or the jettisoning of the office altogether in favor of finding an outlet and Internet connection just about anywhere.

Rather, it revolves around choice, both for employees seeking environments where they work best and for employers adapting to shifting needs, with the goal of getting talent in the door and enjoying the comforts of the workplace so much that they want to stay awhile.