Scott Colson and Diane Chilanwa HGA Share how you utilize your own space as a test case for defining the right size office.
Over the past three years, business leaders and office designers alike have navigated the opportunities and challenges posed by the pandemic. The pandemic has been a global tipping point that has simultaneously cemented the work-from-home experience and forced a holistic assessment of traditional office spaces. Forward-thinking companies will take advantage of the opportunity to be at the forefront of a new vision of the workplace and gain competitive advantages such as strategic positioning of real estate, developing a forward-looking corporate vision and establishing a new corporate culture. . Attract and retain top talent.
As corporate philosophies around hybrid work continue to evolve, companies are now adopting different approaches. The pendulum swings from strict return obligations to possibly full remote work within the same organization. The concept of ‘right size’ plays a central role here as companies scrutinize real estate footprints in light of changes in office use as workplace strategies become more fluid.
Do you have enough of the right kind of space?
At first glance, proper sizing seems to answer a simple question: is the office space too big or too small for the companies that use it? But we ask both our clients and ourselves deeper questions such as: the right kind in space? ‘ And then, ‘Are we having too much of what we don’t have? need? ”
Achieving the right workplace strategy for your company requires a step-by-step process. If applied successfully, it should be rooted in research and continue through to company-wide implementation.
We followed a six-step process to design a “right-sized” office for our employees.
- to design
ask the right questions
Right sizing, by definition, means that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all office solution. Fundamental elements of such efforts include meetings with organizational leaders to set the desired outcome and how it will be measured upon completion.
The first step in the right sizing design effort is to ask questions that lead to the best results, such as:
- What is the purpose of physical offices for our organization?
- What experiences are better supported by an office environment? What experiences are best suited for a virtual office or home office?
- Do our offices reflect and effectively promote the desired proportion of work activity and office culture (collaboration, connection, culture, productivity, etc.) taking place there?
- What amenities and experiences are unique to our organization that provide value and attract employees to the office?
To answer these questions, it’s important to reflect on whether and why employees enjoyed the office they left. What they lacked after the pandemic, can you take back and rekindle?
The research phase often provides the best information about employees’ experiences and preferences for office space. Discovery includes key research applications such as data collection, surveys, interviews, internal observations, journey mapping, and sensors, and should focus on methodologies that lead to the right data to support the company’s vision.
In our own research, we explored these questions through a company-wide survey, as well as various office-specific remote work surveys, project-based focus groups, and design challets. This process has yielded insightful design criteria that team members use to create the workspaces they care about most. This includes:
- It focuses on collaboration and supports a collaborative studio-like work environment.
- It is highly integrated and organizes spaces to showcase work and foster initiative, leadership and sociability.
- It offers space for individual work and flexibility and versatility for working head down.and
- It maintains its design appeal and provides an aesthetically appealing environment that reflects HGA’s core values.
Defining appropriately sized spaces
Once the organizational needs, goals, and value of the in-person experience are established, the definition phase leverages that data to develop meaningful insights and help identify potential challenges. From there, we address these challenges in the design phase and create forward-looking solutions that are backed by the information gathered in previous phases. In some cases, these design solutions may require a smaller office footprint, but in many cases, a thoughtful reconfiguration of the existing space to get it “right sized” is required. I understand.
For example, we recently completed a two-story renovation of our Minneapolis office using data from our internal research team. Research shows that about 82% of Minneapolis employees are drawn to the office for collaboration and face-to-face meetings, and about 64% enjoy the social aspect of the office. The redesigned space therefore offers a variety of working environments with a focus on daylighting and collaboration. Balanced by more private space and fewer desks. All seats throughout the office are unassigned, increasing the variety of seating options and providing dedicated spaces for focused work and Zoom meetings. While the number of “standard” individual spaces has decreased, the actual number of all seating options has increased. The space has gone from 60% individual seating to 60% collaboration options and 40% individual desks. Backed by research, the design has been so successful that it has been rolled out to other floors with small but meaningful adjustments based on their unique needs.
Designed for flexibility
Another common consideration during the definition and design phase is whether offices and workstations are shared or dedicated. Sharing can reduce desk space, leaving the remaining space for other office needs. For example, since 2020, HGA’s Los Angeles has grown by over 50%, and the team has officially surpassed his LA open studio his space dedicated workstations. The smaller footprint of our LA office required a different approach than our Minneapolis office, and we are now increasing overall footprint and staff density through shared desks.
A flexible approach to work experience, opening up some desks for hotel accommodation, adding new types of workspaces to support activity-based work, and choosing spaces to support technology-enabled work throughout the office. was able to increase Same square feet.
The LA office also renovated the mezzanine space originally intended for assigned workstations and lounge areas. It now consists of a variety of enclosed and semi-private spaces, including co-working spaces, booths, open meeting spaces with Zoom-enabled technology, mobile screens and cameras, and functional casual collaboration areas. The new design increased capacity from the planned 12 dedicated desks to his 30+ seats, adding more and more diverse options to better support activity-based work.
Designing for the Right Scale for the Future
It is also important to consider future needs when designing an appropriately sized office. We encourage our clients to consider their short- and long-term strategic outlook, assess their current real estate model, and consider other options, such as hub-and-spoke models, that work more effectively to meet their goals. is recommended. We have done this for offices across the country.
For its Washington, DC operations, HGA transitioned to a two-office model in the metropolitan area to meet the local needs of its existing clients and staff and increase opportunities to expand its services in the Washington, DC market. Our 4,000-square-foot office in Alexandria, Virginia is designed to best serve the needs of teams working with local, state, and federal clients. With essential teaming and client interface space types, staff can be redeployed by project team to provide a hoteling solution for hybrid work environments. A smaller footprint space in the city center follows the same hybrid work philosophy with a variety of desk solutions, but includes more amenities and meeting space for other types of customers, designed to tell the story of the project. and provide more places to share.
Other evidence-based solutions we’ve considered across the office include:
- An AV system that supports hybrid collaboration, allowing everyone to have a say and be at the table
- Focus on connecting with nature and physical and mental health
- Community considerations such as walkability to public transportation and ample parking
Prototyping and coaching for long-term success
Any major, right-sized change will inevitably cause some disruption to workplace norms, policies, and practices. This is why the prototyping stage is important. Using mockups to test new design ideas before rolling them out across your real estate portfolio can help reduce confusion. We’ve also created a way to visualize data and “play” with different scenarios, creating a valuable tool to model the required footprint based on headcount and desired occupancy.
After all, a properly sized project should focus on the entire employee experience, not just physical space and technology. The process should end with a coaching phase that captures what has been learned, documents a roadmap for the entire workplace, and provides employees with guidelines and tools to grow in their new location. This includes hosting culture-building events that support learning and development, teaching, socializing, wellness, and joy throughout the office.
Guidance for the culture-changing office includes using design to show what a quiet and focused space is, or a vibrant and noisy space, and that working wherever you want is culturally “enjoyable.” It includes emphasizing ‘OK’ and encouraging employees to think carefully about the work they should do. Finding the best place to do it.
Not all companies are ready or able to support a well-scaled reset across the workplace. It’s the perfect time to experiment. Testing ideas with a small number of ambitious departments or teams is a safe way to find meaningful and practical solutions to make a difference in your organization.