The Office Viewed as an Investment
Great ideas, breakthrough concepts, successful business strategies rarely originate in the mind of a single individual. It is something we create together – by exchanging information, inspirations and emotions with others. And it does not really matter whether we manage a small company or corporation. The true values arise from the cooperation and creativity of the team as well as the momentary self-focus. Therefore, creating the right atmosphere is crucial. And the atmosphere depends on the approach towards the organisation of a workplace. Interestingly, contemporary ideas presented by designers do not only base on sociological and psychological concepts which are difficult to grasp. Designers prove that complying with the new philosophy of the organisation of the office space can be a good business deal - it is a well-planned investment which is described by actual figures.
TAKING A WILD GUESS i.e. PLANNING NIGHTMARES
Arranging any office space is by no means easy. First of all, because future needs are highly unpredictable. Determining the area and specifying the functions of the office is only a start. Some problems appear while designing the space and deciding upon the furniture. We are unable to estimate the number of our employees or predict their needs. As a result, the optimal office design is simply impossible to achieve at this stage. We can only try to decrease the margin of error, but it may for example turn out that the occupancy rates for the desks are very low. It seems inefficient to correct the organisation of the workplace if it is a part of the office space designed in a rigid or inflexible way. On the other hand, the costs resulting from low work efficiency are high and in fact, tangible. Thus, the philosophy should be changed. Our lifestyle changes and so does our mentality. Creative specialists from contemporary companies with their habits and needs vary greatly if compared to the so-called white-collar workers of the 1980s. One of the most important world’s inspirers of the new trend in the organisation of the office space is Eric Veldhoen from Holland – the founder of Veldhoen & Company and the leader in Activity-Based Working methodology. The advisers from this Dutch company have been working for some significant corporate clients such as IKEA, Heineken, Australian ASB Bank, Volvo or Tetra Pak. Those advisers do not provide simple recipes or ready projects. Instead, they invite on an analytical tour which should lead, in a given situation, to an optimal solution.
START WITH ANSWERING A FEW QUESTIONS
Designing any office space should start with considering which type of work is predominant there. Shall individual work stations prevail or do we rather need some common space that will enable our employees to freely contact the others? The extreme cases to illustrate the point can be a law firm where every single employee performs some individual work or an advertising agency where brainstorming is the essence of its activities. At a first glance, it seems that combining those two working styles is impossible. Even best managers are not able to ensure that their employees have the most optimal conditions, since, at one point, those employees are expected to intensely interact with the other co-workers, and, after a moment, to be fully focused. But it can work. And it is not about the “hot desking” idea, which used to be popular some time ago. The designers that follow the Activity-Based Working methodology rightly assume that it is employees who know best what they really need at a given time. You should then, while following the general guidelines which are in accordance with the specifics of the organisation, provide your employees with the space that will give them freedom to design their own place as they wish.