Changing Work Habits Call for Changing Workspaces

  May 23, 2011

This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip is to take a look at how work habits are changing when designing or redesigning an office.

Taking a new look at workspaces can help companies improve their work environments.

Changes in how we work and how we use technology mean that the traditional cubicle farm isn't as effective as it once was. As collaboration has become more important, workspaces that allow for better communication and more efficient sharing of ideas have become more important.

To reinvent your office, challenge the assumption that everyone needs a dedicated workspace. Instead, start from the perspective that the office should accommodate the needs of the work to be done, rather than assuming that everyone needs to own an individual workspace. This is not so daunting a task when you realize that most individual workspaces are actively in use only around 35 to 40 percent of the typical working day.

As a result of the changes in how we work, there are several new demands for an effective office design. Here are some of the things to look out for and plan with:

Design for a range and diversity of settings for individual and collaborative work, quiet versus noisy areas, and "owned" versus "shared" spaces.

Emphasize the office as a hub for collaboration; ensure that the office is a highly utilized center for interaction and face-to-face collaboration.

Make the office a place for using higher value technologies for communication, recognizing that work patterns will involve both face-to-face interaction and technology to integrate remote participants.

Thorough user research with those moving into the new office is important if facility managers are to understand and plan for their needs. Measuring the impact of the new workplace on business performance and user satisfaction is essential to making the business case for larger scale implementation.


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