Written by Harrell Hunter Scarcello, guest blogger for the Business Relocation Resource Center.
In many industries the workplace has been as hierarchical as the royal court of Louis XIV. Throughout the 20th century, offices would become grander and more posh as the occupant ascended the corporate ladder. In 2014 we can finally say that many companies have a much flatter organizational chart and the egalitarian workspaces to prove it. Now the resources that the worker needs to do his or her job determine the size and accoutrements of their work area. For example, some HR or legal workers need lots of filing, storage, worksurface and privacy from surrounding coworkers. Some C-suite execs prefer a more minimal workstation right with their team.
An insistence on procedures and process has given way to a focus on agility and responsiveness. The workplace needs to be flexible and reconfigurable to support a more collaborative way of working. For example, space needs to be woven into the fabric of the office for teams that coalesce around a project and then disburse.
Generic suburban corporate office parks are now less valued than a downtown address. The urban vibe of diversity and variety and the ready accessibility of technology, restaurants and shopping seem to appeal to all ages. Plus there is now an accepted sustainability rationale for reuse of existing buildings rather than supporting a relentless push into green-field spaces far from infrastructure and mass transit.
Many companies that recently had a regional or national presence are now global. Like the big boys, they too must do business 24/7. Office spaces in the US have a 50% or less utilization rate. The cost to own real estate and to operate facilities that are not fully used is unnecessary in many ways. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about research on the use of employees’ smart phones to detect when they are not in their workspaces and then power down lighting and HVAC accordingly.
The trend of allocating unassigned space that can be booked when a mobile worker is in the office continues. Many firms are upgrading the onsite experience with enhanced amenities and support staff to enable mobile workers and guests to work efficiently. For all workers remote or onsite, a variety of spaces that complement the open office are essential. These usually include meeting and conference rooms, private enclaves and informal gathering areas.
The Herman Miller Design Yard features a variety of spaces that visiting employees and guests select according to the work they need to do. Instead of a receptionist, a concierge greets you and offers a menu of services that enable you to experience a productive day. Skilled baristas make delicious custom coffee to your request and a tech guru is on call too.
We’ve come a long way from the Sun King’s gilded palace!
For information on last year’s trends, visit Scarcello’s 13 Work and Workplace Trends for 2013.
Harrell Hunter Scarcello , ASID, LEED AP is principal and founder of Scarcello Associates, an interior design firm dedicated to helping clients analyze their space needs and plan physical space to support corporate strategies and ensure a productive, innovative workplace.