Less "Me" Space, More "We" Space | Re-Utilizing Real Estate to Increase the Use of your Office
Updated: Oct 11, 2022
LESS "ME" SPACE, MORE "WE" SPACE:
RE-UTILIZING REAL ESTATE TO
INCREASE THE USE OF YOUR OFFICE
An understanding of how reworking the footprint of personal, dedicated spaces
to include more shared spaces can increase the use of the office and boost productivity.
TRANSFORMING A TRADITIONAL OFFICE
INTO A POST-PANDEMIC OFFICE
For a large portion of us, the workplace has changed greatly in the last few years in the out coming of the pandemic. Whether it be a change in your work schedule or your work style, most of us have faced an alteration in our work life. At the brink of the pandemic, companies held tight in anticipation to see what was to come as an effect of COVID, and pondered on how to bring people back into the office. If this is still you, you're starting to get behind. As many people can't anticipate how much more change is coming, one thing is for sure: the amount of people working from home is greater than pre-pandemic. It is critical to evaluate how your office has been utilized over the past 3 years to determine if you are getting the best use of your office. So how is that accomplished? Employers are beginning to look at their physical real estate and trying to determine how they can reutilize the space to make time spent in the office as productive and useful as possible.
Traditionally when we think of a corporate office, we think of closed offices and cubicles. Private offices can contain large desks, meeting tables, large amounts of storage, printers, and more. Considering people are spending less time in the office, how can we avoid valuable square footage sitting vacant while the employee isn't in the office? How can we take the space in one person's office and place it somewhere that can benefit more employees? We are going to walk through some of these ideas and how they can benefit the company as a whole.
FROM PERSONAL WHITEBOARD
TO THINK TANK ROOMS
Whiteboards don't take up a ton of space, but they are utilized in offices leaving those in cubicles without the ability to brain storm. "Think tanks" are low-tech huddle rooms built for collaboration and connecting with others. These spaces should be placed away from quiet, heads-down workers, but could also be sprinkled throughout the office when constructed as a closed-door space.
FROM MEETING TABLE
TO HUDDLE ROOM
The hybrid-office model shifts the focus of the workplace to become more of a collaborative environment. Now that more employees are working from home, they use that time to do more of their focus, heads-down work. When employees come into the office, they come to collaborate. Having multiple huddle rooms available to all of the employees makes finding a space to meet much easier and eliminates the overbooked conference room.
TO RESOURCE LIBRARY
Bookshelves are common within private offices to house an employee's books and binders. Since many people will be utilizing a home office as well as the company office, their personal items and books can be left as at home, while the workplace provides a resource library with information for all employees to access. As it is understandable that some employees may have resources that are specific to them, we have a solution for that as well - keep reading!
FROM PERSONAL STORAGE
TO EMPLOYEE LOCKERS
With the change from "Me" spaces to "We" spaces, one might wonder what happens to all of their personal items. While most of the nicknacks will remain at home, individual resources and work material can be stored in a locker. Much like personal filing, storage can take up a good portion of a private office.
Offering employee-dedicated lockers throughout the office eliminates the need for large cabinets and overheads in the office, and can provide a small space for day to day belongings. This idea of having a locker assigned to employees - whether its a permanent locker or one that is checked out from day to day - is to provide employees with a convenient space to store their belongings which includes bags, coats, umbrellas, books, or electronics. In turn, this helps keep shared spaces and hoteling or unassigned working spaces tidy and clutter-free.
FROM PRIVATE OFFICE FILES
TO A SHARED FILE CENTER
Many private office users have some type of filing within their personal office. Some employees are paper-heavy and have multiple files, while others are digital file keepers and may only utilize a small pedestal.
Many companies are progressing towards an all-electronic documentation system, but there are some companies and departments that need paper files on-hand. In removing these real-estate hogging furniture items, companies can gain floor space for other more frequently used spaces. Filing islands can be created for a multi-use space that multiple employees can use and access. Extending a common top surface that cantilevers from a bank of files creates a space for quick, impromptu meetings as well as for collating and organizing prints and files.
Consolidating all of the office’s files into one file room creates a central hub for file organization, and allows for individual private offices to decrease in size, expanding the opportunity for more of the types of spaces employees need and utilize.
FROM DESK TOP PRINTER
TO SHARED PRINT STATIONS
The same concept for filing goes for printing. Personal printers within private offices take up valuable worksurface space that can instead be reclaimed for papers and other work materials.
By creating communal print stations the need for personal printers becomes unnecessary and consolidates printing and production to a central area. Options for confidentiality in a shared printing environment, such as password-protected print settings, help assure employees that their prints will get into the right hands.
FROM PERSONAL TV OR SCREEN
TO TEAMS ROOMS AND PHONE BOOTHS
Tv screens and wall hung monitors have grown in popularity over the years due to the increase in videoconferencing. However, when downsizing private office footprints, it doesn’t leave much room for one.
Creating communal “teams” rooms brings employees together and fosters in-person collaboration. Team members who are working together can meet here, whether they are hosting a video meeting, or screen sharing project information, to collaborate and productively carry out their work.
IT'S TIME TO RETHINK
THE WAY WE WORK.
So this leaves us with an office with a desk. As discussed, most employees are coming into the office to see other employees and collaborate, and doing “desk work” at home. Reducing the private office footprint to focus the use of desk-only work allows companies to reutilize the gained real estate into areas that are now more frequently used by employees. In doing this, it not only gives people a reason to come into the office but boosts productivity and positivity.
“As many organizations allow people to work remotely at least some of the time, it’s worth remembering that distributed collaboration has a long history. What that history and our contemporary experience show is that supportive infrastructure, technologies, and organizational processes are necessary but not sufficient for productive collaboration. People still need in-person touchpoints that provide opportunities to clarify and align expectations, to refresh rules and work practices, and to build or revive trust. In a world that enables and leverages work from home at scale, it is all the more important to bring people back together in offices to deliver on those human needs.” - Harvard Business Review.
By reducing the private office footprint we open up real-estate for these supplementary spaces that aid in employee productivity and collaboration. If employees work both from home and at the office they should be provided with the resources available to work both efficiently and effectively.
DESIGN IS NOT
A ONE WAY STREET.
It's also important to realize that office design is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one company may not work for another.
So if you're looking for an office change, but not sure what to do or where to start, reach out to us! We would love the opportunity to work together to create a better utilized office space for your company. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form here.