How to Promote – and Incorporate – a Healthier Workplace for Your Employees

Gone are the days of beige cubicles, metal desks, and lightly padded chairs – and for good reason.

Studies have shown that the effects of workplace design (including ergonomics, eye strain, and Repetitive Stress Injuries) have a significant impact on not just employee wellness, but their productivity and overall mood. In fact, 93% of workers in the technology sector have said they would stay longer at a company that provides workplace benefits like wellness rooms, fitness benefits, healthier food options nearby or on-site, and ergonomic solutions like standing desks and adjustable seating. 

Whether you’re looking to improve your workspace or spec a build-out for a new office, take the following tips and statistics into account before making an investment in new wellness and ergonomic initiatives.

Design and Environment Makes a Huge Difference

There’s always been a goal of a so-called “corner office” in the business world, but in the era of open-air office concepts, sunlight, access to windows, spacious common areas, balconies, and even plants can have a bigger impact than you might expect. 

Brighter colors, adjustable lighting, and access to fresh air help diversify a work environment, allowing for more sensory stimulation while avoiding boredom and ho-hum spaces that plague so many companies. 

Furthermore, having an HVAC system that produces higher quality air has shown to dramatically improve performance and productivity. Be sure your system has been tested and calibrated to prevent volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and biological contaminants from entering your workspace. 

Ergonomic Options Helps with Overall Health

Standing desks have become increasingly popular in the last decade and the results are clear. In addition to offsetting the dangerous effects of prolonged sitting, the use of standing desks provide increased focus, reduced stress, and higher cognitive function

In addition to installing standing desks at your company, providing wrist support for keyboards and mice (or, alternatively, using touchpads rather than mice) can help reduce RSI and their related side effects. 

Proper posture has always been a major issue for workers, adding to muscle aches, back pain, and foot and leg issues, and while it’s up to the individual to take note of their posture and make adjustments, companies should know that incorporating greater degrees of ergonomic options reduces sick leave

Opportunities for Exercise and Fresh Air Help with Focus

Not every company can afford an exercise or yoga facility, but anyone can implement walking meetings, encourage stretching or mindfulness breaks, and create jogging or walking groups throughout the work day. 

That said, it’s been demonstrated that companies who provide access to discounted gym memberships, on-site exercise facilities, or even dedicated yoga/meditation rooms see exceptional advances in productivity and overall employee happiness. 

Try implementing group activities like lunches in the park, outdoor meetings, and walking groups to help change the pace of the day and provide an opportunity for some fresh air and sunshine. 

Staggered and Flexible Schedules Have Shown Results

Microsoft Japan recently made headlines by publishing the results of a month-long trial of a 4 day work week and, as you might expect, workers were thrilled. But for a company’s bottom line, the results were surprising. Not only did productivity improve by nearly 40% during the trial run, but employees took 25% fewer days off, the office space used 23% less electricity, and printed almost 60% less paper during the month of August 2019. 

While this initiative might not work for every company, the importance of work/life balance throughout the work week has shown dividends for forward-thinking companies. Those with sales teams, of course, probably can’t afford to send everyone home at 5 PM on Thursday, so staggered schedules have been an alternative, allowing some employees to work Tuesday-Friday and others Monday-Thursday to accommodate business priorities. 

No matter how you choose to tackle your company’s wellness programs, know this – talented candidates will always be more attracted to your company if you demonstrate an interest in their health, wellbeing, and overall satisfaction at work. 

John is the VP of Sales at OfficeSpace.com where he leads broker relations and sales. Prior to being VP of Sales, he was the Regional  Director for the company. John has over 25 years of experience working in the commercial real estate industry. Before OfficeSpace.com, John was a commercial real estate broker for the Norman Company in Seattle, WA.

Listings Spotlight: 7 Spaces That Will Give You Serious Office Envy

Thousands of listings get added to OfficeSpace.com daily, and we get the pleasure of seeing cool office space photos from all over the country. So naturally we thought: why not spread the office envy? This week’s round up features industrial columns, exposed brick walls, bright red accent walls and so much more! Whether you’re in the market for a new space or simply looking for some workplace design tips, these offices are bound to spur inspiration.

Continue reading “Listings Spotlight: 7 Spaces That Will Give You Serious Office Envy”

The Most Viable West Coast Cities for Startups

The idea that Silicon Valley is the proverbial bread basket of business innovation and disruption is finally, thankfully, squarely in the rear view mirror.

According to the 2017 Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship, startup growth is exploding nationwide – and well away from the Bay Area. That’s good news for business owners seeking affordable commercial real estate without sacrificing a chance at a potent and experienced talent pool.

However, the west coast continues to dominate the startup scene, with cities like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and even San Diego (yes, San Diego) coming online and competing with Silicon Valley for the latest and greatest business ideas and innovations. There are plenty of reasons to consider each of the following cities when considering an expansion or setting up shop for your latest business endeavor, but it’s ultimately up to you to make it a reality no matter where you end up.

Continue reading “The Most Viable West Coast Cities for Startups”

John is the VP of Sales at OfficeSpace.com where he leads broker relations and sales. Prior to being VP of Sales, he was the Regional  Director for the company. John has over 25 years of experience working in the commercial real estate industry. Before OfficeSpace.com, John was a commercial real estate broker for the Norman Company in Seattle, WA.

Life in Austin: How Commercial Real Estate Influences this Texas Powerhouse

Despite the ever-advancing wave of globalization in this connected world, no two cities are the same. While many share similar economic and development trends to cater to new and burgeoning industries, their location, culture, and specializations tend to affect the shape of a city’s future more than any other factor – save one.

Continue reading “Life in Austin: How Commercial Real Estate Influences this Texas Powerhouse”

John is the VP of Sales at OfficeSpace.com where he leads broker relations and sales. Prior to being VP of Sales, he was the Regional  Director for the company. John has over 25 years of experience working in the commercial real estate industry. Before OfficeSpace.com, John was a commercial real estate broker for the Norman Company in Seattle, WA.

Effective Strategies for Marketing Your Office in the Collaborative Workspace Genre

The way the workforce, particularly millennials, want to work is pressuring more companies to harbor office space that speaks to a more collaborative setting. The traditional cubicle life is no more and well-designed spaces are stepping in to take its place. Even if your current office space is not collaborative, there are effective strategies that you can implement to market your space to the collaborative workforce.

Understand a Younger Design Aesthetic

Office environments need to combine open floor plans with many gathering spaces and specialty spots, such as sound-proof conference rooms and spaces that employees can move freely between throughout the day. Even if your office has a traditional layout, you can still enforce collaboration by encouraging employees to operate out of some of your current meeting spaces. The greater face-to-face interaction, the more likely you will see an increase in collaboration.

Have a Start-Up Mindset

Maybe your office space isn’t a true collaborative layout, but that does not mean that collaboration isn’t possible. By using a fresh approach to promote a workspace that emphasizes a solutions-first mindset and innovation, you can implement cutting-edge technology that helps build flexibility and can change the spaces you occupy. Technology can help to connect all of your employees together, even if the layout of your office doesn’t allow for that. Tech like Zoom conferencing, Slack and many others can help to keep the office cohesive.

Tear Down the Walls

Opting for low walls and clusters of workstations that are smaller can encourage collaboration and utilize space more efficiently. Small conference rooms and huddle rooms can also help bring employees together for meetings, etc. An open concept floor plan is easy to accomplish when you tear down walls and join employees together. You don’t need to completely alter the look of your interior, but you do need to open the floorplan up to increase the flow of the office space.

Keep Things Flexible

Remote technology can enable employees to work and collaborate remotely. Google Hangouts, Google Docs, Dropbox and Evernote can all help encourage collaboration even in a traditional workspace. These products can also allow for employees to work from home and have greater flexibility. You can try to implement greater flexible technology to help increase collaboration within the workspace.

Amenities that Wow

Attracting a collaborative workforce is easy when you have a lobby and space that both welcomes and impresses. A closed-in office with dark furniture will deter any kind of collaborative group. These groups need amenities such as on-site gyms, on-site cafes and work spaces that are large enough for groups to gather and work together. Even in a non-collaborative office property, you can help encourage collaboration just by being creative with amenities and the overall design of the space.

John is the VP of Sales at OfficeSpace.com where he leads broker relations and sales. Prior to being VP of Sales, he was the Regional  Director for the company. John has over 25 years of experience working in the commercial real estate industry. Before OfficeSpace.com, John was a commercial real estate broker for the Norman Company in Seattle, WA.

Eco-friendly office space: Modern Ways to Make Your Office Greener

Contemporary office culture has come a long way since people first started talking about green solutions. Here are a few things to consider when you’re taking steps toward creating more sustainable office practices.

Don’t Forget Your Tech

In today’s office world, suggestions like “recycle your paper” are swiftly becoming much less relevant than energy saving tips involving technology. Although, of course, it’s still important to recycle waste paper, or choose recycled paper in the first place, in increasingly paperless offices it pays to consider the energy use of your electronics. If every person in your office is using a computer, imagine the impact of a company-wide policy governing their energy usage.

Program all computers to enter sleep mode after ten minutes of inactivity, and shut down your computer completely at the end of each day rather than allowing it to enter sleep mode. And if you’re still using screen savers, skip it—screen savers are a vestige of the early days of computers, when the image of your desktop would eventually be burned into your screen if left on too long. A static image—or better yet, black—requires much less energy to run than a moving screen saver. Or better yet, if you’re walking away for a few minutes, just turn your monitor off completely. It won’t affect your computer’s memory, performance, or state in any way, but saves energy just like turning off a light switch.

Choose Energy-Saving Appliances

There are many upgrades you can make in your appliances that will go a long way toward saving power, many of which are already becoming the new standard. Just as energy efficient light bulbs are the new norm, LCD monitors have been swiftly replacing the CRT monitors of the past, and if you haven’t made the change yet you should as soon as possible—not only are they three times as efficient, but the upgrade is inevitable. It’s also worth it in both the long and short run to invest in efficient hardware—when buying your computer processors and accessories, look at Energy Star 4.0 ratings or high EPEAT marks.

There are many things offices don’t even think about that can be made more efficient with upgrades—for example, using virtualization technology to consolidate your servers, reducing your need for multiple physical servers (which are huge energy suckers).

Consider Green or Alternative Buildings

The amount of resources used for brick-and-mortar buildings and traditional methods of construction are often overlooked. The Construction Materials Recycling Association estimates that the construction and demolition industries account for 250 million tons of waste each year (which doesn’t include roads or bridges), and these C&D materials make up approximately 35 percent of all waste generated annually. Luckily, there are greener modes of construction for office space. LEED-certified buildings are increasingly becoming a popular trend in CRE. Through LEED, developers and owners are provided with measurable solutions for creating more sustainable buildings. There are also alternative options, especially if you’re feeling a bit more creative, such as such as PVC fabric buildings, which require a fraction of the construction materials or transport, allow greater amounts of natural light to enter, and are made of entirely recyclable materials.

Incorporate Telecommuting

Telecommuting is more feasible in the workplace now than ever before. With dozens of ways of instantly communicating through video, audio, and computer screen shares, the necessity of in-person meetings has been largely reduced. If your employees or partners can work from home, they save a bundle in terms of the energy that would otherwise be spent on commuting. If you have meetings with clients or partners that would usually require someone driving for miles, consider having digital meetings whenever possible. You might want to allow employees to work from home a day or two out of the week. You’ll save money on your office resources while also saving some gas. 44 million Americans currently telecommute full-time, and that number is growing daily because it offers so many practical and environmental advantages.

In this constantly evolving modern workplace, the ways we think about going green need to keep evolving as well. What are some other things you implement to make your office greener? Let us know in the comments below!

Creating Productive Office Space in 5 Easy Steps

Let the Sunshine In! – Adjusting Light and Temperature

These may seem like basic necessities for any office space, but the benefits of maximizing their potential are often overlooked. While people are naturally more enthusiastic when they’re comfortable in their environment, as no employee wants to be stuck in a sweltering, dark space, recent studies have shown that fine tuning these two factors can actually have a direct impact on a person’s levels of motivation and fatigue – two key elements of workplace productivity.

For example, one study tested subjects with both daylight and artificial light throughout the course of several days. From that, they found that those who had daylight exposure had significantly better performance than those with artificial light exposure by  the second day. Additionally, another study from Cornell showed results indicating that office productivity actually improves as room temperatures approach a predicted thermal comfort zone.

When considering your space, it is important to learn the details of how the HVAC system works so that temperatures can be adjusted according the day and season (as opposed to leaving the settings at a fixed point, as found in many workplaces). Additionally, employees should be situated near spaces with as much natural lighting as possible, particularly if their work quality is heavily reliant on productivity markers. As the cold reign of noisy, blinkering fluorescent lighting comes to an end, many innovative new lighting options have appeared, including those that serve emulate sunlight itself – which are often useful options to invest in if your work space lacks access to natural lighting.

Turn Down For What? Better Office Productivity!

While it’s true that some of us are more sensitive to noise than others, it’s generally agreed upon that excessive noise is a distraction to most people while trying to work. Unsurprisingly, studies have been performed where up to 99% of those sampled reported that their concentration was negatively affected by various office noises, such as incessantly ringing telephones and constant background chatter.

In addition to being a general annoyance, workplace noise is a serious threat to overall productivity, and is an issue that requires attention now more than ever as offices frequently choose to adopt an open floor plan – less walls does equal more opportunity for noise to travel. Luckily, there are practical ways to control sound in the work space, in order to create a more peaceful and productive environment for employees.

Regardless of your floor plan, it’s always a good idea to create areas of refuge within work spaces where workers can go to focus their concentration, such as a privacy room, a quiet section in a corner outside of all the usual busy distractions, or a sound-proofed conference room – solutions that can usually be enacted without a great deal of time or cost. Other noise reduction options include everything from larger scale projects like sound-masking systems, to smaller solutions such as communal play lists comprised of music that employees can all agree to. At the end of the day, even taking the first step of simply being mindful of the noise levels and looking for solutions can be a great first step towards improving the workplace environment.

The Benefits of A Thoughtful Floor Plan

The debate about the superiority of open floor plans vs closed ones is ongoing, and remains as heated as ever. However, there are certainly ways to make improvements to productivity that work under both options. In it’s most fundamental sense, this comes down to striking the right balance for your space, and being attentive and thoughtful in regards to creating a layout that serves to help employees in achieving their specific work goals.

If you’re in an open space, as mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to create spaces where workers can go to concentrate away from the high-traffic areas. Conversely, if your main work space is primarily closed, having open collaborative areas where workers can get together to brainstorm, discuss, and interact with each other in a personal manner can be a boon as well. Optimally, the goal should be to foster an environment that allows for both privacy and collaboration, as each is needed.

In addition to these conceptual tips, there are also more practical things that can be done, such as organizing the work pace so that people don’t have to constantly walk across the entire room (and thus distract others) in order to access a commonly used area or piece of equipment. A little bit of observation and consideration can go a long way when planning an office layout.

Love Your Body – Ergonomics and Workplace Flexibility

While this ‘tip’ might be commonly known, it’s still important not to underestimate just what good posture and functional desk space can do for productivity levels. Ensuring that your office is equipped with appropriate equipment (chairs, desks, the right technology, etc.) is always a worthwhile investment. Taking this a step further, many companies of late have been giving the option for workers to choose from a variety of different setups – from standing up with an adjustable desk, to sitting on a medicine ball, as well as all the more conventional options in between.

Sometimes we all need a change in scenery to get our brains going, or a chance to get up and stretch, and in this regard workplace flexibility can be a significant step toward providing better overall productivity. Many companies even allow for telecommuting, which is great when possible, but improving workplace flexibility can be something as simple as creating a space where workers can move around and refresh their minds and bodies if needed.

In the most basic terms, efforts to make the office space an enjoyable, comfortable, and efficient place to work can do wonders for performance and productivity. So whether you’re searching for your next office space on OfficeSpace.com or simply looking to spruce up your current office, taking the time to give proper attention to some of the factors discussed above can be a great first step towards improving any type of working environment.

 

A Successful Startup Story – Founder’s Instinct, Go Direct.

As I discussed on my last article, The #1 Mistake Many Startups Make When Managing Growth-Remember the Garage?, I wanted to share with you an anecdote from a well established web company in Seattle, that will remain anonymous, let’s call them Dot.com.

Looking Good, Billy Ray! Feeling Good, Louis!

The year is 2010, and Dot.com has done extremely well for themselves. The founder’s acquired the domain name and other assets for under $5,000 and proceeded to build it into a top 100 most visited websites in the US, over a span of 7 years.

They have gone through a couple of office moves. Each move they upgraded and eventually ended up in some Class A space in the heart of Seattle, which  has a fairly competitive office market.

Shortly after they move into their space, they are already needing additional space. They had a couple hockey sticks in their growth chart! The founder heard that the neighboring tenant was looking to sublease some space, exactly what Dot.com was looking for.

Let’s Make a Deal

The founder calls his trusted commercial broker who found them their current digs and instructs them to place an offer of $15/sf on a short-term lease on the neighbor’s space. The broker informs him that they didn’t even get as much as a response to our offer from the landlord’s brokers. The founder assumes that maybe the offer was insultingly low.

The next week, the founder just happens to run into the neighbor and decided to ask about the space, nothing to lose since they already rejected the offer.  It was clear at this point that the neighbor never even saw the offer. Much to the founder’s surprise, the neighboring tenant seemed remarkably eager for Dot.com to pick up their space. They shook hands and came to an agreement for $3.60/sf on the spot.

This is just one example where the broker channel was ineffective and this isn’t necessarily a knock on brokers but more a reflection of the commission based compensation model that brokers live in, a you get what you pay for mantra.

Bravo to the founder for going direct and cutting out the middleman; probably another reason why Dot.com is still so successful.