View the latest in Crain’s Chicago Real Estate Daily.
Harvard Business Review recently published a captivating article by
Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones regarding the careful thought firms such as Arup and Waitrose have taken to create an amazing workspace culture.
From their article: ”We call this “the organization of your dreams.” In a nutshell, it’s a company where individual differences are nurtured; information is not suppressed or spun; the company adds value to employees, rather than merely extracting it from them; the organization stands for something meaningful; the work itself is intrinsically rewarding; and there are no stupid rules.”
As we look to find our own work/life balance issues, we understand as well that Gen Y is willing to take a smaller paycheck in order to have more flexibility.
We’ll continue to share interesting findings in workspace evolution.
Please join Wendy Spreenberg and Gary Miciunas for NeoCon 2013, June 10-12!
Pre-Register Today Pre-register by June 3rd to gain FREE access to the show expo! On-site show registration is $25.
Coworking: Scaling business models from B2C to B2BThe advent of Coworking was originally focused on startups, freelancers, entrepreneurs. Corporations are getting into the use of Coworking spaces for their own teams to help create dynamic work environments and attract talent. What are their unique requirements in operations, function and design of this new workspace? How will it function once you choose to build it? We will identify the fundamental patterns and the technology necessary to serve corporate users who are reinventing their obsolete office environments by incorporating coworking .
admin April 9th, 2013
We co-authored with Gary Micunas of Nelson architectural firm.
admin September 18th, 2012
Read on for the August Revved Results newsletter written by Wendy Spreenberg, President of SITE REsolutions. (Thanks Lisa O. and Lisa E.!)
Now that we can say the mobile worker is a mainstream reality, what is appearing on the Workspace-as-a-Service landscape?
There are some unusual and new solutions as we evolve from an office-building-centric workplace to the “work wherever” opportunity. This article showcases just five examples of the recent wave of options.
Building Share/Colocation – firms agree to share a floor or a building as co-tenants as a means of creating synergies or more vibrant communities for their companies or for specific corporate divisions (i.e., creative, engineers, marketing, technologists). Examples of this type of space include Grid70 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Battery 621 in Denver, Colorado, http://battery621.com/. Part of the objective is to keep talented team members and spur innovation via the potential interactions by the members of the building community. It is also a means of controlling overhead on a large space when a firm wants to take on a small portion of that large space.
Maker’s Spaces – these are set up to allow users to actually make prototypes of products. They are also called hackerspaces based on getting groups of people together who want to dismantle and reconfigure everything from tangible objects to software programs. They are equipped in specific ways depending upon the community they wish to create: 3D printers, woodworking equipment, machining, LED’s, welding equipment, recording equipment, kitchens, sewing machines and looms for example. Prime examples of what makers’ spaces can be are Milwaukee Makerspace http://milwaukeemakerspace.org/ and Pumping Station One in Chicago. Many are non-profits linked to higher education and seek public grants and private donations. Others operate with user memberships, similar to what we know about Coworking spaces. In fact, the Maker’s community is a very dedicated set of practitioners with a directory and, in some cases, maker events, such as the Inaugural Evanston (IL) Mini Maker Faire that was held August 4/5, 2012, http://www.makerfaireevanston.com/.
Corporate Innovation Centers – major corporations are developing their own Coworking environments as a means of driving innovation in an open culture designed to foster creativity and 1+1=3 collaboration. These spaces are by invitation or via an interview or vetting process to ensure the fit and focus are optimized for both the corporation and the user. AT&T has developed two spaces in the US (Plano, TX and Palo Alto, CA) and one in Israel under “AT&T Foundry”. The mission, taken directly from the website is “The AT&T Foundry facilitates innovation development through a diverse, collaborative community supported by a network of strategic technology companies. This open environment enables a range of innovation that includes Applications, Devices, Cloud Services, Enabling Technologies, and Operational Support.” So clearly the focus is very technology driven toward application development specifically for use within AT&T and perhaps takes off globally.
We acknowledge that both internet cafes and hotels with wi-fi lobbies satisfy a significant percentage of mobile workers. However, the perception is truly that work is conducted on a very short-term basis, an hour or two, such as in between appointments or as a way of breaking up the workday.
Non-Branded Corporate Coworking Space – Some companies are going so far as to “non-brand” themselves as a way to gain access directly to potential individual consumers rather than attracting business-to-business clientele. For example, State Farm Insurance has opened a pilot location in Chicago, named “Next Door” with very little State Farm associated branding:
https://www.nextdoorchi.com/ . It is set up as “a creative community space and café where anyone can ask questions about finances and insurance stuff and find answers. No pressure. No sales pitch. No kidding!” There are classes, coaching, coffee and access to wi-fi. The cost to use the space? You pay for the coffee and snacks. The objective is to gain access to younger consumers who may not know about the range of financial services products, in addition to insurance, offered by the company. A low key and friendly approach to the ad-averse Millennial generation.
Government Telework spaces – teleworking was originally approved, on a limited basis, by the Federal Government in 2000. In December of 2010, it was expanded to allow government employees to telework for a portion of their workweek. This included the opportunity to work outside of a government office building and outside of the home environment, in a pre-approved setting for a specific period of time (usually less than 6 months). Government employees must “first successfully complete an interactive telework training program” before being able to work off site from a government facility. Employees must ensure that whichever alternative workspace chosen has a secure Internet connection and that they are not working in an open environment. The GSA has worked with various business centers, allowing them to provide, under contract, IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) services to various government agencies requiring flexible workspace solutions that may be conducted in an offsite location. The government may even consider transforming some of their own space to a flex-work environment based on budget constraints and the amount of unproductive real estate held by the Federal Government.
To be sure, there are other workspace ideas percolating as we examine how to create more efficient use of commercial office space. We will witness several new iterations of workspace unfold over the next 5 years as we all look to create something of a custom fit for a not-yet-defined type of worker of the 21st Century.
To help you understand more about new workspace configurations and how you may incorporate some of these ideas into your new or existing location, contact Wendy Spreenberg at 312-372-6050 or via email at
It has finally gotten the attention of major media. Is it soon to be more mainstream?
The April 18, 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal, “Warming Up to the Officeless Office” showcases American Express, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Glaxo-SmithKline as being at the forefront of this shift of their real estate utilization.
The Benefits of bringing down the “Walls”
The explanation can be summed up as the convergence of a desired increase by Corporate America of economy, efficiency and collaboration. What eminated from a focus on saving millions in rent and energy overhead has translated into increased community and accelerated creativity among “members” as the term designated to the transient professionals in the firms. The unanticipated effects include less emailing, more face-to-face interaction in informal, spontaneous meetings resulting in more immediate decision-making and project efficiencies. When you bring down the literal walls, you also remove the symolic walls and barriers to communication and results. Things get done!
Response to trends
Many of us in the Workspace-as-a-Service industry have been observing the trend to more open work environments since at least 2007. The explosion of Coworking worldwide between 2011 and 2012 alone is nearly double, from 1,130 locations in 2011 to 2,150 as of February 2012 thanks to deskmag’s continuous industry research.
Further in the article by Rachel Emma Silverman and Robin Sidel, American Express is siting “studies” regarding average space utilization rate at 50%. We’ve heard statistics in the past 15 months siting anywhere from 60% to 70% average utilization. Contributing factors include offsite work at clients’ locations, teleworking, sick and vacation times. Calculating a loss of anywhere from 30% to 50% of productive real estate is a serious drag on any bottom line.
Accenture has embraced this model for several years. Google and Facebook specifically designed their work environments to be open, although desks are designated for the most ”permanent” or on-premise employees.
What was not acknowledged was that this is a workspace configuration preferred by Millennials, the next-generation of global workers, expecting to work whenever from wherever. So while the corporations mentioned in the article are working with existing conditions, they clearly have their eye on the horizon, which is getting closer with each college graduating class.
Coworking Going Mainstream?
More articles and information come out each month, so perhaps it is becoming less a fascination point and more mainstream. As corporations shift to more Coworking models and as hotels now get in on the act to replace the noisy cafe experience, there is a morphing of The Third Space across multiple formats. Working in isolation is out, working in community is in!
I especially appreciated the point that while our workplaces and schools are increasingly breaking down walls so people work in teams, there is definite value in working in solitude. In fact, deep in the article is mentioned the value of focused practice without teammates or colleagues in tow. K. Anders Ericsson, psychologist at Florida State University indicates that this type of solo work is instrumental in “achieving transcendental skill”.
Think of not just athletes and artists, but programmers, analysts, e-traders, researchers – the list can go on.
Solitude and the preference for it by introverts (not the agorophobic but the more reserved of us in the population) encourages deep thought as well.
We all benefit from being working solo, in a quiet environment, ocassionally unplugged, where we can achieve flow – that unique space where we are firing on all engines.
Balance, moderation – just a thought to encourage you not to take down all the walls in the workplace.
(note – you must be a subscriber to TIME to read beyond the exerpt below)