Office Design – Modern Scriptoria?

Many hundreds of years ago monasteries dotted Europe and the British Isles. Times were bad. In many cases young men joined became monks because there was no other work available.

There were no printing presses. The only way to publish and preserve books was to hand copy from one text to another. Monks whose handwriting was sure and elegant were tasked to do this copy work.

They sat on stools in large rooms called scriptoria (places for writing). Each monk was assigned a piece of text to copy. Thus they labored day in and day out, slowly and doggedly copying the Word for the benefit of generations to come. They maintained strict silence.

There was no need to collaborate. Each monk had an assignment. He either completed it or did not. If he completed his assignment, he got another. If he did not, he was punished. The performance metric was simple: how much scripture did we produce this month?

Scriptoria were among Western Civilizations first offices. They were factory-like operations with simple production goals and little if any competition.

Until recently modern offices followed a similar production model.

I just visited a prospective client who is looking for an office redesign. Currently the business functions along a long corridor, barely wide enough for two people to pass one another without bumping shoulders. Tiny offices line both sides of the corridor. They all have doors. The business is a consulting firm that caters to a special niche industry.

What the owners want to explore is an open space office. Through my input and through reading and visiting other businesses, they have caught on to the fact that open offices encourage communications among employees. Communication engenders ideas and faster solutions.

Yet, just as important, people need to have quiet space where they can write, or program or crunch numbers. So it’s a balancing act.

Landlords are becoming more and more amenable to switching from the enclosed boxy model to the open model. Depending on your local leasing market, you may be able to get some development funds from your new landlord or at the very least, a few months of free rent to help make the transition. Check with a good tenant rep to find out what’s happening in your local market.

Is modern office design reverting to the scriptorium model?

Here are some fun office spaces courtesy of Forbes to get your creative juices flowing.

Box.com office

Box.com

 

Microsoft office.

Microsoft

 

Google Office

Google

 

 

Office Quirks

Moving offices or even renovating them always gives everyone in your business a fresh perspective about their job.

With the shrinkage in office space taking place in every sector, designers and owners need to be creative in the ways in imagining and implementing creative new office features.

Your first step is to figure out how to pay. In that pursuit consult with your tenant broker and let him be your contact with the landlord, who is your best source of funding.

If it’s a tenant’s market, the landlord may grant you a reasonable build-out at his expense. At the very least she may finance it with several months of free rent.

Here are some trending ideas in new offices.

Frosted Glass Partitions
One of the problems with a small office is the, ahem, it’s small! It’s small, but you don’t want it to look small. A great solution is frosted glass partitions. These have the advantage of offering the open and airy feeling of glass with a measure of privacy from the frosting.

This conference room in Google’s New York office is open, yet the frosted glass keeps its occupants from being ogle bait.

Collaboration Space with Writing Facility
The white board has recently giving up prestige to the old fashion blackboard, but you should follow whatever pleases you and your associates.

 

As you can see, the folks at Lumosity chose white.

 

blackboard-traditional-home-office
Whereas this executive chose black for her think and reminder board. The black does tend to compress the space.

Paint Colors
Which leads us to the obvious. Small spaces need lighter shades to appear bigger. When asked, I would add lighter neutral shades.

This is a very small office, but remains spacious because of the muted grays and black highlights.

Amenities Room
We have all heard about the creative playrooms at Google and other high tech offices. These companies place a high value on creativity.

Those of us with far less money to spend must be even more creative if we are going to offer a space luxury like an amenities room.

If napping is an important value in your operation (many researchers are increasingly touting the value of napping), then a small space with a sleeping recliner might be the solution. Just figure out who gets to nap when!

Napping recliner

Courtesy: http://www.courtneyprice.com/google-offices/

http://www.courtneyprice.com/google-offices/

Ergonomic Office Seating – and Standing

Modern ergonomic furniture is changing the look (and feel!) of the modern office. With current thinking warning that too much sitting is as harmful as obesity, furniture makers have stepped up with standing desks as well as some unusual and mega-comfortable seating.

 

twiterOfficeChair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Knoll Generation office chair purports to move with the posture of the sitter, whether in intense spreadsheet analysis or just napping. You can read more about it here.

 

 

ergonomic-office-furniture-from-okamura-1

Japanese office furniture manufacturer, Okumura, markets these ergonomic work stations. Purportedly, function dominates form, as the assemblage looks like a cross between the Star Ship Enterprise and a dentist office. This is an office designer’s challenge. An area rug or two here along with some plants might be a good start to soften things up. I would love to see this in situ, if anyone as a picture. From Freshome.

 

 

HMillerStanding

You know the standing desk craze has caught on when Herman Miller steps up, literally. The company is renowned for chic, stylish office furniture. This model is adjustable to any height, from standing right back down to a standard sitting desk. More here

 

 

ergodesktop.jpg.644x0_q100_crop-smart

This desktop model might be the way to go for the ergonomically conscience, but budgetarily constrained. It sits on the top of a regular desk and is adjustable to any height, including sitting. It’s called a Kangaroo. From Treehuger.

 

 

 

 

LED Desk Lamps Are Thoroughly Modern and Practical

Real estate writers have a lot to say about the declining need for office space. They site less storage requirements because of digital storage and the ability of employees to work from home, as two primary reasons.

Another small but important factor in the downsizing trend is LED lighting. LED lamps use a fraction of the amount of power as conventional lighting and put out a fraction of the heat. All the while they generate a healthy, off-white light that’s kind to the eyes.

The office not only saves space, but also money with lower electrical electrical bills.

And LED lights are chic. They express on contact a modern and with-it vibe that bolsters employee esprit de corps and customer confidence.

3 LED lamps in 3 colors

LED lamps come in a variety of colors.

contemporary-table-lamps

They also come in a huge variety of shapes. This configuration suggests the old goose neck desk lamp, but it’s only a faint reminder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

two-led-desk-lamp-by-victor-vetterlein1

The light-producing innards of an LED lamp give it a huge range of possible designs. The lamp becomes sculpture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

desk-lamps-contemporary-led-9606-4656555

This model looks like it’s an extension of the desk. It perhaps runs the risk of being too institutional. You can imagine a row of these looking something like the visitors’ room in a prison.

Executive Summary

LED lamps:

1. save space
2. generate a lot less heat
3. cheap
4. longer lifetime
5. save power

Office Moving Checklist

Moving to a new offModern Officeice? Moving your home-based business to genuine commercial space for the first time?

You are going to need a checklist. What I’m suggesting here are the essentials, but it’s just the beginning.

At the top of your list put two key personnel that you will need and who will save you lots of money and frustration when you move to your new office.

The first is a tenant representative or tenant rep or tenant broker. Call her what you will; each term refers to the same specialty. A tenant broker can help you with every aspect of your relocation, from offering a list of locations to check out based on your needs to negotiating with your potential new landlord. She will add lots to the list I’m about to offer.

The second is an architect or interior designer who is experienced with style and functionality of office space.

If either of these people do not add lots to what I’m about to suggest, find another and start over.

There are many changes taking place in the design of commercial offices. For example law offices are undergoing modifications for the first time in centuries. Professionals can bring you up to date on the latest trends and save you money on gains in productivity

The List – Moving to a New Office?

  1. Make a budget. Setting up a new office should not be an investment that eats into your reserves unless you evaluate that it’s worth it. Making a budget will help you analize the benefits of a new office.
  2. Research well on the kind of location best suited for your business. The little secret in the office leasing business is that most locations are decided by how convenient it is for number one, the boss, and secondarily the key employees. Talk to your tenant broker.
  3. When you are looking for an office space for a fast growing business, you will usually want to rent or lease. Growth opportunities can be created along with your landlord and your tenant rep. They can be conceptualized by your designer.
  4. Too obvious, but often tragically overlooked: make sure the office space matches up to the city’s building standards. Contact your local building department or have your tenant broker do it.
  5. Do you need to have clients over? Make sure the rooms are airy and comfortable. The whole building should be decent and appealing.
  6. What about parking for you and your clients?
  7. You are going to need convenient power outlets, phone jacks.
  8. Check out the restrooms. They can tell you a lot about the landlord.
  9. Entrance and egress: elevators, fire escapes, stairs.
  10. Do you need a local network server so that you and your employees can share, disseminate and store information and data. Maybe the wiring is in place. Maybe not.
  11. Make sure you have plenty of latitude in laying out the space. You need to work with your interior designer to get the best workflow and best look you can for you and your employees. You all are going to spend an awful lot of time her. Make sure it’s pleasant and productive.
  12. Your own work area should be accessible to your employees and yet have privacy. Needless to say a tasteful pleasant décor will benefit you and your clients.
  13. Is there room to expand? Here again, your designer can help you down to the last square foot.
  14. Rent or buy your office equipment and furniture frugally. You can give your office a decent look, comfort and productivity without breaking the bank.
  15. If you have a battery of sales personnel who are out on fieldwork most of the time, do not plan expansive spaces for their work stations. A long extended table along a wall can do fine.

As I said before, this list should grow, especially after you discuss your plans with your employees, perhaps your customers, your tenant broker, and your interior designer.

Enjoy your new office!