How to Orchestrate an Office Redesign

Four tips to get the facelift right when you're redesigning your office.

Office redesign | BCBusiness

Four tips to get the facelift right when you’re redesigning your office.

Haven’t seen some of your employees in the past few weeks? They may be adrift somewhere out there in the vast sea of cubicles that lurks in the middle of your office. For some insights into modernizing your workspace, we consulted Sarah Nelles, senior associate at Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd.; Jim Toy, principal at False Creek Design Group; and Paola Gavilanez, instructor of interior design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and vice-president of education at the Interior Designers Institute of B.C.

One of the main reasons many businesses are redesigning their workspaces is a growing awareness of the impact employee wellbeing has on a company’s bottom line. “Businesses don’t realize how much more productivity they can get when absenteeism drops or job satisfaction levels go up because of even the slightest improvement in their work environment,” Toy notes.

Save window space for desks

Although sometimes it might feel like most of your day is spent in meetings, meeting space is actually occupied on average for only 15 per cent of the day, according to Toy. Instead of positioning meeting rooms on the outside of your office while the bulk of employees are huddled in the middle, reserve the prime window spots for frequently occupied workspace. “Put people to windows,” suggests Gavilanez, “and meeting rooms, copy rooms and lounges to the inside of the building.”

Have office hot spots

As many a smartphone user will boast, getting work done no longer requires being anchored to a desk. “There’s an ability to be much more nomadic,” explains Toy, “similar to what they would be doing with a laptop in their own home.” Gavilanez stresses the need to exploit mobile technology in the workplace, and believes the office of the future “has ‘hotelling’ stations, where people don’t sit at an assigned desk, but can go and plug in anywhere.”

Balance your spaces

What works for some may not work for all, particularly in a multi-generational office. “Different generations have different levels of comfort and ability to collaborate,” says Nelles, “and a savvy manager can pair their message with the degree of formality or informality of the space.” This demands variety, adds Toy: “It’s all about being that much more agile in the workplace, striking a balance between enclosed and open spaces.” 

Reinvent the cubicle

Given the direction modern workspace design is heading, is the cubicle dead? No, says Nelles, “just morphed.” Components have become more dynamic and evolved to allow a greater degree of control, she notes, and “there is enough flexibility out there that you can dial up or dial down the image of a cubicle.” Where companies take it from there, though, comes down to corporate culture. “What appeals to a technology business,” explains Nelles, “doesn’t necessarily appeal to a civic or institutional organization.”