Enabled by wireless technology, laptopand handheld computing devices,and high-tech tools like Skype, GoTo Meeting, and WebEx, today’s knowl-edge workers can work rom anywhere,anytime. On any given day in a typicalofce environment, many workers areo site, their ofce workstations lyingempty. Employers are capitalizing onthis trend to trim ofce square ootageand real estate costs.Ken Patrick, president o Boston-based Environments At Work, aprovider/installer o ofce urnitureand interior eatures, relates his frm’sexperience relocating a local client.“We recently moved a biopharmacompany rom Cambridge to [subur-ban] Waltham, and they will save $200million in rent over fve years,” herecalls. While that atypically high sav-ings is due largely to moving to a moreavorable rental market, a signifcantreduction in gross square ootage alsocontributed to the savings.Even though technology makes it easy or ofce workers to stay in touch withcolleagues virtually, ace-to-ace interac-tion in the work setting is still prized. Many innovative ideas areborn and refned not only during scheduled meetings but also at im-promptu gatherings. So, while workstations are being slimmed downin number and size, space or meetings and inormal interactionis growing. New ofce ftouts provide attractively designed spaceso various sizes or in-person collaboration, including conerencerooms or small, medium, and large groups. Small caés, lounges,and nooks with comortable chairs encourage inormal interactions. The weak economy is responsible or a modest bump in ofceretroft work or design and construction companies, as employerslook or real estate bargains. Vacancy rates are high, and landlordsare doing what they can to keep occupancies up. “Tenants are ableto negotiate good rates with good concessions,” says Neil Schneider,executive vice president and principal with McCall & Almy, a Bos-ton-based commercial brokerage frm and real estate consultancy. Asleases expire, tenants are jumping to higher-quality space, or negoti-ating with their landlords to revamp their current spaces. Either way,the new ofce usually diers drastically rom the old one.
1. Make way for the incredible shrinking workstation.
Individual workstation square ootage is being slasheddramatically—in some cases, to less than hal the traditional size—in part to allow organizations to devote more space or meetingsand inormal interaction. “You need to get the workplace denserto aord more conerence and meeting space,” points out Gervais Tompkin, AIA, LEED AP, Gensler’s head o workplace consulting.“The workstation used to be eight eet by eight eet, or eight by 10, but it has shrunk to six by six,” says Nick Haritos, a regional vicepresident or ofce urniture and interiors manuacturer Haworth. Technology miniaturization has been a actor in this change, saysHaritos. Laptops with built-in at screens take up way less spacethan bulky desktop computers. Desktop phones are rapidly beingreplaced by cell phones. With digitization o many documents,techno-savvy organizations have been able to reduce, i not com-pletely eliminate, paper fles, catalogs, and other printed material.
2. Say goodbye to high partitions—hello, open ofﬁce.
Workstations are not only shrinking, they are becoming moreopen. Partitions are either being junked completely, or their heightis being lowered to oster greater employee interaction. Some or-ganizations are even getting rid o private ofces, or at least reduc-ing their number signifcantly. Exceptions to this trend: workspaces
COMMERCIAL OFFICE BUILDINGS
OCTOBER 2011 BUILDING DESIGN+CONSTRUCTION
Consulting ﬁrm Analysis Group’s ofﬁce in Menlo Park, Calif., designed by CBT Architects, provides collabora-tion space for client or staff meetings. Glass walls and daylit seating areas encourage creativity and openness.
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