Design of the New Workplace

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Design of the New Workplace

With roots extending back to a two-person partnership formed in 1898, Page is one of the most prolific and enduring architecture and engineering design practices. Page architects, engineers, interior designers, planners, strategic analysts and technical specialists provide services throughout the United States and abroad. Our diverse, international portfolio includes projects in the healthcare, academic, government and science and technology sectors, as well as civic, corporate and urban housing projects. The Page portfolio consists largely of complex projects that benefit from our integrated disciplines and that make a significant impact on the communities they serve. We are guided by the three core values of creativity, collaboration, and commitment, and through the force of these ideals, we live up to our promise of design that makes lives better.

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Design of the New Workplace

Today’s workplace should be flexible, open ended and agile. It should be designed to the company’s culture and image. It should be a center for collaboration and innovation. And, it should integrate people, process, and technology. The following pages describe the current trends in the workplace that influence the design of the new workplace.

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“Performance and profitability is tied directly to the ability to recruit and retain people, particularly those with potential for management and innovation.”

The “War for Talent” The performance and profitability index of many highly successful companies is tied directly to their ability to recruit and retain people, particularly those with potential for management and innovation. In the United States, this “war for talent” is more pervasive as the population of workers coming into the workforce post babyboomer era is significantly lower. Most organizations, like Apple or ExxonMobil or MD Anderson, want to stay at the top of their markets and their ability to attract new talent is becoming more important as more knowledgeable, more experienced senior staff starts to retire. According to a study done by McKinsey, while an attractive compensation package is important, two other factors weigh in more when it comes to providing an overall value proposition to potential hires. One factor of course, has to do with aspects of the job itself – growth opportunities, autonomy, and challenges. The other factor has to do with the association one has with a company brand – its mission, its culture, camaraderie among workers and perception of the company as a strong performer and industry leader. It is with regard to the latter that facility managers and corporate leaders have found a correlation between the ability to foster a company’s brand and culture with the design of its workplace. The work settings provided by leading companies are designed to promote culture on a functional and aspirational level. Physical space matters. It’s easier for people to be engaged, to be productive, creative and happy at work in a dynamic, organic, comfortable environment than in a grey, linear, boring one. In addition, today’s workplace is transforming and evolving constantly in response to technology, economic drivers, cultural shifts and emerging values specifically related to principles of environmental sustainability. Emerging trends in office design have arisen to respond to these drivers giving way to a “new normal” for many companies.

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Design of the New Workplace

New Technologies, New Work-styles Lead to More Collaboration, More Innovation Companies are experiencing a change in how people work. Office workers spend less time working individually. Instead, they are generating most of their ideas when they are collaborating, learning and bumping into their coworkers within and outside of their office or workstation. In the past, laboratory and manufacturing space was planned separately and apart from office space. Today, there is a trend to co-locate them in a single building. It is when various pools of knowledge are brought together and allowed to interact that true innovation happens. Studies show that collaborative events are relatively short and a lot of it does occur at the individual workspace. In this regard, attention is given to the layout of desks to allow a quick chat via a layout area or through the sharing of content on a flexible computer monitor. Tall work surfaces are also employed to allow for short brainstorming sessions to occur around shared large format documents. For a little more privacy and as a courtesy to neighboring coworkers, people seek informal teaming areas that are ubiquitously located throughout the office. These rooms take the form of lounges, breakout spaces and cafes. They are used for spontaneous collaboration events and accommodate small groups of three to six people. These spaces are not usually booked formally but feature marker boards, tack boards and TV monitors. In many companies, the “Great Room” is conceived to hold multiple functions: to accommodate the whole staff for monthly office-wide functions; or to serve as a central break room / play area; or to hold small team meetings; or to bring in a laptop for quiet work while enjoying a cup coffee. For meetings with larger groups and more structured collaboration, the formal meeting venue – the Conference Room – still holds a place in corporate offices. Specific audio-visual equipment, flexible furnishings, interactive walls and multiple room size configurations through the use of movable walls are utilized. The presence of technology in offices today encompasses all possible media for collaboration like smart boards, large format display equipment, telephone, video and web-based conferencing and 3D simulations for training. Along with the architectural impact that these systems place on an office layout, special attention needs to be given to the required electrical and cabling infrastructure to support them. Leading companies map out a long-term plan that is flexible enough to anticipate the future of technologies. For example, the office of the future will need to increasingly be able to respond technology that is driven by voice, handwriting, fingerprint and optical input. In addition, offices will be embedded with sensors that monitor and maintain the environment, including temperature, humidity and lighting

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Anticipating Growth, Providing Flexibility Growing companies worry about anticipating the needs of the future. It is not just about size and location. It is about merging the requirements of staff growth, access to technology, collaboration and amenities. How can an organization accurately anticipate the rapidly growing facilities needs of their staff and provide space ready to occupy before it is even requested? How can a company maximize its real estate strategy by accommodating both growth and contraction. Various design strategies can be employed to provide a flexible workplace that is “future-proof�. Creating a universal grid of office, lighting, HVAC and technology and the use of modular components like demountable walls and modular power allows many companies to convert space use quickly with minimum construction and interruption of operations. In addition, developing and adhering to space standards is key to providing the kind of flexibility that is needed in a continuously changing program.

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Design of the New Workplace

“It is not just about size and location. It is about merging the requirements of staff growth, access to technology, collaboration and amenities.�

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Design of the New Workplace

“The workplace is now home for up to four generations of workers.”

Diversity in the Workforce Unlike any other time in corporate America, the workplace is now home for up to four generations of workers, with a growing number of women and from diverse cultural backgrounds. Generational diversity is present due to the need for the more experienced staff members – the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers (born between 1928-1964) to stay on longer in order to provide leadership and mentor-ship to the young professionals – the Gen Xers and Millenials (born 1965-1991), who on the other hand, provide the agility and innovation in the era of rapid advances in technology. In a study by the Carroll Thatcher Planning Group, it was found that the attitudes and preferences with regard to the design of the workplace runs either side of the spectrum based on their generations. While Millenials crave for color variety and access to amenities, the Traditionalists place more importance to the corner office and ergonomics. Each of these groups works differently and yet each one needs the other. One group values the need for personal space while the other wants to break barriers and work openly. Some work independently while others work collaboratively.

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Design of the New Workplace

The Need for Amenities It is well known that successful companies like Google, HP or Frito Lay have tackled the challenge of staff recruitment and retainage through provision of amenities that contribute to a better quality of life at the workplace. With individual workspaces becoming smaller, shared amenity spaces have become more critical to being able to do your best work anywhere. A varied amenity offering allows for workers to get away from their primary work area and recharge. In general, these are places where people can engage in healthy life style activities without having to travel outside of the office campus. Fitness centers, nursing mothers’ lounges, daycares, dining venues, training centers, herb gardens – these are some of the amenities that are available to staff members of leading companies.

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Design of the New Workplace

Health and Sustainable Design The push for more energy-efficient and more environmentally-friendly offices is another trend of the “new normal.” This is not only fueled by increasing energy costs but also by a growing workforce that aspires for more sustainable business practices. According to Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist, President and CEO of The Herman Group in Greensboro, N.C., “Sustainability is very, very important, particularly for young people. Companies get major points for being green among the younger generations.” The merits of a more sustainable workspace go beyond energy efficiency and social awareness. It is proven that workspaces with sustainable design features such as visual connections to nature, proper day and artificial lighting, excellent indoor air quality and ergonomics, contribute to overall wellness in the workforce that has real effects to a company’s bottom line. Cleaner indoor air due to more advanced air-conditioning and eliminating low volatile organic content emitting materials prevents various respiratory ailments and allergies thereby reducing the incidences of people calling in sick. The implementation of a smooth work flow through strategic space planning, the use of ample lighting for specific tasks and use of ergonomic furniture are examples of sustainable design principles that promote employee engagement and that increase productivity.

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Design of the New Workplace

Design Supports the Brand The design teams at Page find genuine architectural inspiration in the regions and communities where we work. We believe that real design excellence comes, not only from strength of form and visual character, but also from an authentic creative response to the specific program, context and location. We are not a “style shop” producing a body of work with “signature” features and architectural character focused primarily on a stock vocabulary of forms and materials. We therefore design spaces that embody the goals and values of their users – to be appropriate to their place and purpose. The workplace is a business tool that must allow each employee to fulfill his or her job description in an efficient, effective, and satisfying manner. It also must reflect a company’s personality and brand. Finishes and materials that are aligned with the company’s image, goals, and objectives only add to the experience.



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Design of the New Workplace

Creativity/ Curiosity Innovation Imagination Optimism Collaboration / Sharing Community Camaraderie Civility Commitment / Integrity Respect Giving Discipline Page Southerland Page, Inc.


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