In 2008, the threat of flooding forced the staff of Flynn Wright, a Des Moines-based ad agency out of their Riverppoint office and into its new temporary home—a call center. Employees were now forced to work in a space which had low walls, and people were sitting next to one another in close quarters.

“We ended up being almost on top of each other, and it just turned out to be a really neat experience for us,” said Andy Flynn, president and CEO of the company.

When the staff moved back to their old building’a setting heavily defined by private offices—life was no longer the same. A few employees decided to take the doors off their offices to create an ‘island’ of doors laid on a shipping crate, which then served as an impromptu working and meeting space. The message was clear: People wanted to work differently in an open environment that promoted collaboration.

The agency hired Proxymity, LLC to find and design a new space—one that now had an open environment, more natural light, fewer offices and more space for employees to work together without having to retreat to a conference room.

Proxymity helps businesses think about how their physical property fits into their overall vision for the company. One of the mantras of the four-person company is that businesses should think in terms of property, not real estate. So, instead of looking at real estate as a space that happens to house the business, company owners should think about what they want their organization to accomplish, and how its property will help achieve that goal.

Nowadays, functionality and collaboration is a large component of this strategic workspace thinking, and more businesses are thinking about how their office space affects the bottom line.

That does not mean the cubicle is dead entirely. Some companies still favor the focused, nose-to-the-grindstone work style, which requires minimal interruption. But in some organizations, the days of a private office as a status symbol are gone.

Here are some common themes that Proximity urges their clients to think about:

Front-end research: The team at Proximity is adamant about the front-end work that should go into designing a new space. They recommend taking at least two years to strategize, rather than waiting until a lease is up.

Flexibility for the future: Businesses need to be able to adjust for the future and should plan for contingencies. That includes setting up physical walls and furniture in a way that they can easily be moved around if need be.

Bottom line: Ultimately think of how much money you as a business can save by re-forming your office spaces—this includes attracting and retaining talent with what your current workspace.

Source:  Kyle Oppenhuizen | Is your office design going extinct? | March 22, 2013 | Business Record

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