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 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.


Broker Banter Q&A – Part II (The Denver Chapter)


This week we have the pleasure of sharing another Q&A for our Broker Banter series, featuring Denver Broker Jason Bollhoefner.  Similar to our previous conversation with Portland broker Kristi Ricker, we connected with Jason to get more insight into some key things that tenants should know before touring potential sites, selecting a space, and negotiating a lease.

OfficeSpace: What are some things that tenants typically overlook when looking for new space that they should be paying attention to?

Jason:  Commercial leasing is a complex process, fraught with significant potential risks and liabilities, and should only be handled by a representative that has both the necessary experience and your best interests in place.  I have found tenants tend to overlook the importance of their creditworthiness and the time required to bring a commercial lease transaction to close.  Leasing commercial space is very comparable to getting a loan from a bank.  Tenants should be prepared to share financial statements and to appropriately collateralize the lease transaction.

Commercial real estate transactions, even for a seemingly “simple” deal, may take a considerable amount of time to successfully complete.  Having adequate time to identify, tour, design, price, negotiate terms on, construct or improve, and move into suitable commercial space helps to shift negotiating leverage to the tenant’s benefit.  Start the process 4-8 months before you need to occupy your new space.

OfficeSpace: What are the best practices to selecting the best space?

Jason: The best space is the space which meets unique criteria that vary by industry, property type, the nature of the user’s business and their business plan, and location.  I ensure a successful process by taking the time to understand the intricacies of my clients and their businesses up-front so the real estate supports these needs and requirements.

OfficeSpace: What are the best practices in negotiating my lease?

Jason: The best practices in negotiating a lease are summarized into 4 critical path items as follows:

  1. Start your needs analysis and discussion well before the need is estimated to commence.
  2. Engage an expert commercial real estate broker with proven experience and leverage their knowledge; we are here to help you starting with the needs analysis and continuing from occupancy throughout your lease term.
  3. Always have a solid back-up option at hand, especially in an improving real estate market. Being prepared to walk away is a very powerful aspect of successful negotiation.
  4. Engage a real estate attorney to provide counsel and revise the lease document.

OfficeSpace: What are the hidden costs in a lease?

Jason: Your real estate broker should be well versed and provide assistance in mitigating latent/hidden costs within the lease agreement.  The primary area of hidden costs arise from Operating Expenses or Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges and maintenance obligations.  Other potential pitfalls include Tenant Restoration requirements, Tenant Alteration processes, landlord administrative markups, and property management fees. My experience  negotiating thousands of lease agreements is invaluable to my clients in these areas.

OfficeSpace: What’s the best way to compare offers?

Jason: The best way to compare offers is on a Net Present Value (NPV) basis and $/RSF basis with a matrix for a side by side comparison.  This analysis should also take into account intangibles such as building image, proximity to employees and clients, ease of ingress/egress, and the true cost of occupancy including any tenant contributions to build-out and relocation costs.

Jason Bollhoefner joined Corum Real Estate Group as a Leasing Agent in January 2001 and was promoted to Senior Leasing Agent in 2007 and to his current position as Assistant Vice President in 2008.

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