At the Christmas season, it may be hard to believe that malls are becoming scarcer, but it’s a trend that has been going on for the better part of a decade. A combination of overbuilding, online shopping, and demographic shifts has led to the demise of nearly 1/3 of America’s malls.
But there’s a silver (or green) lining in the retail cloud. Rather than let these massive malls stand empty, owners are following the green re-purposing movement and transforming old malls into new housing, new offices, and new types of retail. Retailers are downsizing their storefronts as they change from their traditional ways of doing business, opening up space in the malls that can be reconfigured into new forms: healthcare facilities, off-campus university learning centers, government offices, libraries, and housing ranging from low-income apartments to chic upscale condos.
Transformation is part of today’s design vocabulary. Warehouses become lofts, malls become community centers, and even the furnishings in offices, like the popular Swiftspace workstations, are reconfigured into whatever form suits the needs of the user at that particular time. Designing and planning for transformation adds longevity to an investment in almost anything: buildings, furnishings, even people. How is your business incorporating transformation into its long-range plan?
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Moving is listed among the top 5 most stressful events in life. It’s hard enough moving from one home to another, but when you’re managing an office move involving hundreds of employees and thousands of equipment items, furnishings, and documents, it can be worse than herding cats.
British business management blogger Morris Barris recommends this checklist to help you organize your move into manageable steps:
- Set up a moving timeline – Know what is happening and when, and start your planning months ahead of time. The longer you wait, the higher the costs and the higher the stress.
- Get well-acquainted with the new space – Learn everything about the space, including how many power outlets there are and the quickest way to the fire exit. Plan your new office layout to avoid any problems you had in the old space.
- Communicate with your colleagues – Hold meetings and send frequent memos to keep everyone up to date and encourage two-way communication. Let supervisors know they are accountable for their staff’s office packing, equipment, and files.
- Bring your moving vendor on board – Start early to find a vendor who will work as a consultant, not just a furniture-pusher. A reliable, experienced vendor will offer advice to simplify the move, often saving you money in the process.
- Assign tasks – Make sure each staffer or team knows what they are responsible for. Publish a master plan so everyone is aware of their responsibilities.
- Alert your clients – A move is a great opportunity to stay in touch with clients. Let them know about the wonderful new space and how it will help you serve them better.
A successful office move really boils down to good planning, good communication, and good vendor support. With those three things in place, your office move will be a walk in the park.
Photo © Peshkova – Fotolia
When you’re running a small business, every minute is precious, and you have a dozen ways to use that minute. Before you succumb to sleep deprivation, adopt some creative productivity habits to bring a little more balance to the work-life equation. Business Insider recommends these 11 tips designed particularly for small business owners, including:
- Keep one day a week meeting-free.
- Take one day a month to think about the long-term future.
- Learn to delegate.
- Create a comfortable workspace. (Something we heartily endorse!)
Revising your work habits requires a measure of self-discipline and adaptation, but as a small business owner, you already know how to do that. As business leader Joseph Wirthlin said, “To manage the minute is the secret of success.”
Photo aleksicze © Fotolia
Toronto’s Sun Life Financial received an up-front return on investment when they installed their new office furniture – mobile workstations that could be set up in a fraction of the usual installation time. A time lapse video shows how the savings were achieved; watch the timer in the upper right to see the actual elapsed time.
Every manager knows time is money, and as a financial services company, Sun Life was particularly motivated to make a sound investment decision in their selection of office workstations. The company opted for Swiftspace workstations, anticipating long-term ROI based on the products’ reputation for durability. As it turned out, the workstations’ easy set-up allowed Sun Life to realize an additional immediate return on its investment when the new workstations were installed: an 82% savings in installation costs when compared to conventional workstation installations. The complete details of the installation and the cost comparisons are included in this post from Swiftspace; get even more information at our Swiftspace page.
In the “Mad Men” heyday of the 1960’s, designer Robert Probst developed a modular, reconfigurable workstation – the now-despised office cubicle. Probst’s early cubicles were created as a system of adjustable wall panels, modular storage, and desk surfaces. They were intended to give workers the freedom to customize their space as they desired, with panels that could be angled outward for collaboration, or angled inward for semi-privacy. So why did Probst’s creation become isolating, dehumanizing “cubicle farms?” As explained in Business Insider, companies’ cost-cutting measures forced Probst’s flexible design into rigid homogeneous layouts. The visionary inventor came to loathe the corruption of his original intent, calling cubicles “rat-mazes.”
Probst died in 2000, but if he were alive today, he’d be astonished by the reimagined workspaces that have recently blossomed from his early idea: mobile, modular workspaces that can be quickly switched between private and collaborative space. Such companies as SwiftSpace, with their “Power of One” program for individualizing workplaces, are at the leading edge of this second wave of Probst’s vision. He’d be proud to know he was just a little ahead of his time.
Photo by T. Beyer
When Americans are making buying decisions, 80% say they consider a company’s sustainability track record, according to a Harris Interactive survey. Many businesses look to high-profile programs – green-fuel fleets or waste recycling – to improve their green rating. A less obvious way to boost your sustainability quotient: green workstations and desks from MAS-certified manufacturers.
One such manufacturer, Swiftspace, has been working steadily to reduce VOC emissions from its furniture products. (VOCs – volatile organic compounds – are commonly found in paint and wood products, and the gases can cause health problems in enclosed spaces.) In April 2015 Swiftspace received its MAS certification for healthier indoor environments. CEO Rob Way also pointed out Swiftspace’s green-conscious policies of low-waste design and shipping materials, as well as the furniture’s simple, no-tools setup which eliminates the fuel footprint of on-site installation travel.
And the benefit of sourcing green furnishings for your office? In addition to LEED tax incentives and rebate programs in some locales, the positive publicity can attract the attention – and the dollars – of the 80% of the buying public that prefer to do business with an environmentally conscious company.
Photo © lenets_tan – Fotolia
Location, location, location still counts, but in the new era of the digital office, change is a constant. The race goes to the most nimble, and businesses that can adapt their office environments on the fly have the advantage when it comes to keeping overhead in check. Inc. Magazine’s review of office design trends highlights the moves toward flexibility that forward-thinking businesses are making.
- Storage is visible and stylish. (See our earlier post on this topic)
- Workspaces are unassigned.
- Cubicles are out; mobile dividers are in. (More on this here)
These three trends in particular can have a positive effect on your bottom line, providing efficiencies in space utilization that save on real estate, furnishings, and build-out. Inc. Magazine also listed a few trends that tie directly to the employee experience:
- staff lounges that are truly lounge-able
- bringing the outdoors indoors
- turning visible vents and conduits into a design feature
Collectively, all these design trends make for a office space that functions well on every level: physically, visually, psychologically, and financially – and those are rules we can all live with!
Photo © inarik– Fotolia