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Making Informed Decisions About Workplace Renovations

Space planning is a challenge, make informed decisions by working with an expert before committing to major renovations, reorganization, or redesigns.

Dr. Chesley Black
Vice President & Head of Workplace Management, Americas

Designing commercial office space can be a challenging endeavor. Individuals, teams, and organizations all have different needs to support comfort and productivity. Deciding the right environment for each department is a complex process often filled with trial and error, rarely reaching an ideal state as teams and tasks ebb and flow with shifting business goals.

To reach higher levels of productivity, commercial owners or occupiers may decide to renovate their spaces, which requires high-quality builders and designers to ensure renovations are completed properly and affordably. However, a workplace space planner can act as a bridge between the organization and their contractors to design places that work, think, and give to maximize their potential. 

Defining Your Workplace Goals

The first step in making informed decisions about a redesign is to define your organizations goals. What do you hope to accomplish by changing your workspace? More productivity? Better creativity? It’s also important to consider who the space is for. What do your employees value? What is the generational makeup of your workforce? 

A space planner can work with the workplace experience manager to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how employees use the space. 

“Space planning for the workplace can be a complex issue with many variables in terms of necessity, affordability, function, and productivity,” says Sarah Harrington, an ISS space planner for a global key account. She says that her role revolves around understanding how the space will be used, how it improves the quality of work, and whether it is worth the investment.

As a space planner, it is my job to help the client navigate those questions and offer solutions,” she says. I think getting input from employees, whether through interaction or surveys or even observing how they use spaces can be beneficial to employers and stakeholders before making decisions on large scale renovations or reconfigurations.

Offering a variety of spaces that can boost productivity, enhance creativity, and create a sense of belonging is important to the overall workplace culture.

Sarah Harrington, ISS Space Planner

Design That Supports Workplace Strategies 


Once an organization understands their goals, the workplace can be designed to accommodate them based on what teams want to achieve. The workplace has been laid out in many ways—from individual offices and cubicles to open floorplans and coworking spaces. Workspace planners use a combination of these layouts along with team-specific strategies to meet the needs of modern workers.


Neighborhood-Based Choice Environments


Neighborhood-based Choice Environments (NCEs) are becoming more popular in workplace design to help drive collaboration and a sense of belonging. While NCEs still utilize common space, they also group teams in one area where they can collaborate, catch up, and brainstorm. This style of space design allows teams to connect in their own space and fosters a sense of belonging. Some organizations use different flooring materials or arrangements to provide a visual differentiation between “neighborhoods.” 


Instead of using hot-desk seating arrangements or assigned desks, NCEs give teams the space they need without feeling far away from their colleagues, fostering a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. As employees move through the office to collaborate with others, they don’t walk the same paths to an assigned desk but still have a “home” to go back to, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity. This solution can boost creativity and help keep team members engaged. 


Building NCEs for Client Workspaces


At ISS, we divide space into three categories to achieve functional NCEs: me, we, and us. With modular office setups, organizations can also restructure their layout for events or activities.


Me Space


The Me Space configuration supports single stations for individual work. When workspaces don’t require as much collaboration and are focused on individual contributors, this solution can be a great way to provide the privacy and focus necessary to be productive. This configuration can still utilize the NCE framework and put teams together while also keeping areas designed for focus. The Me Space design uses enclosed meeting areas to maintain collaboration without disturbing anyone


We Space


The We Space setup is adaptable with a modular system and supports team-based workplaces. When contributors need to be engaged and creative with others, the We Space configuration provides collaborative spaces and focus areas as needed. 


Us Space


The Us Space easy to set up for events and large-group collaboration. Fewer workstations encourage less individual work and enclosed meeting spaces promote creativity among large work groups. The modular library makes it easy to host small events, while the central plaza supports larger events like workshops and team sessions. 


Creating Places People Want to Visit


It’s important to design places where people want to be. Things like amenities and experiences can change employee perceptions and features like biophilic design can entice workers to the office. Needs will vary depending on your workforce and should be carefully considered before any renovation decisions are made


Designing your workplace to support whole person health can help create space for everyone. The nature of work has changed in the last few decades. Creativity and productivity are often correlated with the health and well-being of your workforce. By incorporating high-quality food programs, mindful spaces, and movement opportunities, workplaces can help people feel empowered to better themselves. 


The Benefits of Space Planning


Many elements go into thoughtful space planning. Understanding your workforce and their needs is essential to ensure you achieve business goals. By working with an expert in space planning and design, you’ll be able to make informed decisions that move the needle—you don’t have to do it on your own. 


Dr. Chesley Black

Vice President & Head of Workplace Management, Americas Region

Degrees: Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, MS in IT, BS in Business Administration

Contact Chesleymailto:chesley.black@us.issworld.com?subject=Inquiry