Workplace Trends: #1 Making More Out of Smaller Spaces

While the idea of a smaller workstation may at first cause panic – Where will I find room for all my files and paperwork?  How will I be able to work with less surface area?  In reality none of that should change drastically – it’s more about making the best use of space, not taking anything away. Smaller spaces are more efficient and can create a big impact in your work environment.

  • Lower panels are environmentally responsible (LEED)
  • The office configuration supports increased collaboration
  • More workstations can fit into the same (or smaller) area, reducing precious real estate costs
  • Individuals have personal space but the focus is on the team and the company goals

Making more out of a smaller space is not a simple task.  When planning a new layout to reduce your office real estate, keep in mind the work function and tasks performed by the individual.  For example, the accounting team will need more privacy than the creative team.  Below are 4 steps to consider when creating smaller spaces:

  • Create a sense of personal space
  • Maximize the real estate: make use of every square inch
  • Provide sufficient worksurface and storage space
  • Maintain a feeling of spaciousness

Teknion District is a excellent example of a product that makes the most out of small spaces. Some design elements that enable District to create ample storage and surface area include the use of multi-functional components, maximizing the utilization of space within storage units and offering smaller scale versions of traditional storage. Credenzas, bookcases and storage towers support worksurfaces, reduce clutter and define space. Narrow, small-scale storage units stacked on credenzas also serve as space dividers. Large windows starting at worksurface height open up the workstation to allow light in and provide views. Overlapping surfaces and under-surface storage make even more efficient use of space.

Where in the world is Schroeder Solutions?: BUYSEASONS Chicago & Seattle

No matter the size of the project, the Schroeder Solutions team provides BUYSEASONS with the services they need to address facilities across the country. A recent project completion in a Class A office building in downtown Chicago allowed BUYSEASONS to create a more efficient work environment for this specific team. The new, smaller work environment offers six private offices, a conference room, and a reception area with lounge seating. Schroeder Solutions provided design and moving services as well the furniture for the space, including a Global Zira Desking solution. The team worked with the local union crew to complete the installation.

Across the country, in the Seattle area, Schroeder Solutions supported the design process (under the direction of JPC Architects) for a new 11,000-square-foot facility for the BUYSEASONS 22-member creative team in the Bothell Business Park. The Schroeder Solutions team specified and integrated multiple Teknion product lines, including District Storage, Leverage Panels, and Expansion Casegoods to support the desired open plan. Two lead installers from Schroeder Solutions traveled to manage the local installation team.

As BUYSEASONS continues to grow, Schroeder Solutions will help standardize their furniture program and provide the design and move management services needed for the company’s facilities from coast to coast.

Creating a Company Culture: Standards

Whether your company resides in one small office, a large corporate headquarters, or multiple offices across the country, developing a program of standard materials, finishes, and products sets the tone for your desired company culture. Creating standard office and workstation sizes for specific job roles, identifying appropriate adjacencies, and establishing a plan for purchasing new product are just a few ways a standards program can create a positive work environment that is financially responsible.

There are many challenges facing businesses today:

  • Economic turbulence
  • Fast paced expansion
  • Downsizing
  • Purchase/lease of multiple buildings in varying geographic locations
  • Maximizing real estate investments
  • Attracting and retaining employees
  • Diverse product inventory
  • Limited budget for new product

When it comes to Corporate Business Strategies, implementing interior furniture and finish standards can save a business time and money.

The key elements to a successful standards program

  • Meet with key executives to understand the company goals and strategic plan.
  • Work with the executive team to determine how the physical work environment will impact the goals/strategic plan.
  • Complete a thorough programming analysis to understand departmental and individual needs as well as to encourage buy-in from managers and employees.
  • Evaluate the existing floor plan or the possible real estate options being considered by the company.
  • Assess and record current product inventory.
  • Based on budget allowances address the ability to re-use existing product, refurbish existing product, or the purchase of new product.
  • Establish a furniture layout that meets the functional and aesthetic needs of the company based on the overall company goals and strategic plan.
  • Finds ways to allow for personalization in individual workspaces within the overall plan.

Services and products that support a successful standards program

  • Find resources that can address space planning, existing product inventory, and the selection of new products.
  • Consider a resource that can provide asset management, installation, and move coordination services as well as the capabilities to refurbish or clean existing product.
  • Look at the big picture with your resource so they can negotiate more aggressive discounting with the manufacturer when new product is needed.
  • When selecting a manufacturer look for product that has a lifetime warranty and integrated design capabilities.  For example: Teknion offers a variety of products that suit the needs of corporate spaces from the boardroom to the break room.  The finishes for these products provide consistency throughout a facility.  In addition, they guarantee non-obsolescence.  As the manufacturer creates new product and addresses new work trends, they guarantee to have the old product available or that the new product will be compatible with the older product.
  • Work with a resource that will develop a buying program to support your standards program after the initial project.  This may include a binder with photos, specifications, and product costs.  This helps to streamline the purchasing process in the future.

Buzzword: Collaboration – What is collaboration?

The word “collaboration” gets tossed around a lot these days – especially when it comes to how you work.  


"The Camel" - Featured in Teknion's CoCreate Literature

But what exactly is collaboration? 

Loosely defined, collaboration is the process of working with others to achieve a common goal.  It doesn’t happen in a meeting and it’s different than teamwork. 

The “camel” as described in Teknion’s CoCreate literature illustrates a common misconception about collaboration – that it is merely “design by committee,” where random input without unifying vision results in a poor solution.  Although the drawing is labeled “horse,” its parts clearly add up to a camel, a creature less graceful and swift.  While it is true that design by committee tends to yield either generic results or needless complexity, it is not the same thing as collaboration.  In a collaborative enterprise, each person enhances the creative capacity of others by sharing information, resources, and skills.

The goal of collaboration is innovation – whether it is to create a new product, craft a brand identity, define organizational systems or enhance operational initiatives.  Collaboration can occur between people from different departments or even from different organizations and can take multiple verbal, visual, and active forms: talking, showing, messaging, and co-creating. 

Collaboration is something that should be a part of the work day, but not what the day is made up of entirely. It must be balanced with “head’s down” and focused work. By creating an office environment that allows people to effectively work in both capacities, you are promoting a creative and productive work environment. Below are examples of layouts that will support collaboration and help create balance in your office.   

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