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Advent of the New Office
And How Work Spaces Are Changing to Reflect Company Brand and Foster Creativity

 by Walter Brown, SIOR

After working in commercial property for more than 20 years I’ve noticed recently that more than ever people are realizing how much we are affected by our work environment. Traditionally, office spaces were structured for efficiency, but not necessarily to foster creativity and quality work. Ten years ago, when I worked with a business we talked in terms of square footage, location, parking, etc. And, while we still talk about those specifics today, more and more businesses are looking at how they can brand the space, and provide a more collaborative work environment.

How offices are being designed has become an important brand differentiator and a feature for attracting and retaining quality employees. Well designed, workplace interiors can inspire creativity, boost productivity and set a tone for a company’s future.

One trend in new office designs is the inclusion of work areas that drive collaboration among the staff. Typically, they are free-to-use spaces where employees can gather for impromptu meetings or simply a place to eat or work on a laptop. Some companies have installed a small cafe’ or even a recreation area with options for table tennis, video games, flat screen TV’s along with lounge chairs and couches. These shared workspaces provide a place where clients and employees can meet, mingle and interact with the ultimate goal of creating a forum to enhance creativity and productivity.

An added functionality of these areas allows for large company gatherings for celebrations, company awards, etc. In addition, networking events can be supported by these spaces thereby bolstering the company’s brand image in the marketplace and community. It’s a way for clients to connect with the company as well as network with others.

Historical methods for achieving operational excellence efficiencies and taking a more global strategy, are shifting to organizations that are problem solvers through creatively inspired cultures. This new age of office spaces is playing a major role in this shift. As our world becomes more global with new complex challenges, new and more creative solutions are forming.

Vision and Space Programming

An essential component to achieving the desired workplace environment is through the understanding of your business needs and having a vision for your company culture and how that translates within a new office, regardless if it is a new location or a modification of your existing space.

Before making a real estate decision, it is critical to discuss and develop your overall vision for your space and the desired company culture. Engaging an architectural firm or space planner to assist in this process is recommended. They are experienced in working with companies in developing the most efficient floorplans thereby, maximizing square footage yet still achieving the work environment the business is striving to accomplish, a process known as space programming.

There is no more valuable time invested by a company when approaching a real estate change than engaging in this process. By not overlooking this vital step you can ensure achieving the proper amount of space needed currently and for the future. Simultaneously, it will provide a work space that will instill excitement and enthusiasm among the staff and hopefully set the stage for a business culture that reflects creativity with enhanced productivity, a re-energized company.

Walter Brown, SIOR, is the vice president of the Graham & Company Office Group. He represents purchasers, sellers, landlords and tenants guiding them through a variety of office space procurement transactions.