Why Change? Why Now?
Many businesses are experiencing change due to COVID, with new work patterns and more employees working remote. While change in business is not unusual, it seems to be coming more rapidly now and is causing many companies to rethink their physical space and how to best utilize it.
As we anticipate the “new normal,” companies have a great opportunity to step back and re-envision their workspaces! You may find you have too little space due to distancing requirements or growth, too much space as more employees work from home, or need to improve productivity, collaboration, and talent acquisition/retention.
Now is a good time to ask:
- What impact does our physical space have on our employees and business? Is it meeting our needs?
- Does our space enable the level of productivity and efficiency we need?
- What physical changes will give us a good ROI?
Identifying the Problem and Opportunities
SunMed, a local medical device manufacturer, experienced rapid growth as well as significant changes to their workplace due to COVID-19.
“Our company has grown considerably within 18 months. This growth brought about significant change to our operations and required that we re-evaluate our space. Originally, we considered building new, but struggled to find the right site. We looked into separating our corporate headquarters from warehousing, but our employees wanted to stay together. Accommodating almost twice the number of people within the same footprint is challenging, but First Companies stepped in with their expertise and partnerships and really showed us what was possible,” shared Suzanne Kaupa, VP, Human Resources, SunMed
Investing in a Solution
The reconfigured space features an open concept “main street” design where workspaces are aligned to the “main street” areas, and include booths, huddle rooms, and ‘hotel’ offices to meet a variety of needs and support the company’s open, collaborative culture.
“COVID was an oddly perfect time to reconstruct since the office was empty. Throughout the build, we evaluated our short and long-term needs and developed solutions for both. As a result, we’ve gained an efficient workspace that better accommodates our growth. We’ve reduced unnecessary furniture and incorporated open, collaborative workspaces that maximize our space. Using glass as barriers instead of walls, we achieved a more open, cohesive office without compromising the safety or productivity of our employees. Our office is now a space where our employees want to be, and it accurately reflects our company’s culture to new recruits.” Suzanne Kaupa, VP, Human Resources, SunMed
Taking Advantage of Underutilized Space
Platinum Edge Solutions is another example of a company who reconfigured space for the benefit of the business and team. At the turn of the year, they realized their storage room accounted for a sizeable portion of the office and was being underutilized. To help attract and retain valuable employees in a market with labor shortages, they chose to turn their excess storage space into a gym, complete with showers and laundry.
Ideas for maximizing your space:
- Open Concept: Walls take up more space than you think! Gain back precious square feet by turning private offices into open workstations.
- ‘Main Street’ Design: Workspaces that branch off a few “main streets” flowing through the building allow for easy access and space efficiency.
- Phone Booths & Huddle Rooms: Adding small booths and huddle rooms gives individuals places to take calls or collaborate uninterrupted without disturbing their neighbors – a great use of smaller spaces.
- Hotel Offices: Making shared workspaces available for employees with inconsistent in-office hours reduces underutilized space and is ideal for employees who primarily travel or work from home.
- Glass Walls: Floor-to-ceiling or partial glass walls help maintain an open feel while still offering privacy. Window treatments are available to increase privacy, including films, frosted applications, and smart-touch technology that lets users select frosted or transparent glass with a single touch. Glass carries natural light throughout a space and takes less room than traditional walls. It’s easy to sanitize and maintain, and provides a modern, high-end finish.
- Flex Space: Maximize efficiency by creating multi-use spaces, such as equipping large rooms with retractable dividers and moveable furniture.
- Streamlined Furniture: Furniture, like technology, is continually evolving to provide a more ergonomic, streamlined, and efficient work experience. By updating furniture, you can preserve space and invest in your employees’ health (i.e. sit-to-stand desks and property fitted chairs) while supporting team collaboration and productivity (i.e. pods designed for collaboration, sound barriers to ensure focused, heads-down time, etc.)