How Workplace Design Helps Business Agility

By | 2016-12-01T19:13:48+00:00 October 20th, 2015|Productivity, Startup Culture, Workplace Design|

When I think of agility, I think of entrepreneurs responding quickly and deftly to marketplace conditions. I think of entrepreneurs bringing new products to market or modifying existing ones. I think about entrepreneurs targeting new markets, expanding geographically and changing pricing or distribution strategies. I didn’t think about the space in which a business is located until I spoke with Jeff Simon, Jeffrey Simon, Architecture  & Design.

Simon made me realize that workspace is a component of business agility. It also impacts productivity and comfort. He should know. Simon has worked with big name brands, small businesses and nonprofits doing just about every kind of architectural and interior design work, including offices, clubs, restaurants, stores and lobbies.

Understanding and responding to marketplace conditions is a critical component of business agility. Economic, industry, technology and demographic trends all have an impact. For a workspace, three factors have an impact, Simon believes.

  • Quantitative information, such as the number of people who will be working in the office, how much space each worker needs to do his or her job, what space is needed by support functions and how much common space is needed for things like conference rooms.
  • Qualitative information or how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. From a practical stand point, some functional areas need to be located near each other in order to get the job done. Other functional areas need to be far away from each other. Perhaps one group makes a lot of noise doing its job and another group needs quiet to perform its role.What office design style, such as modern or traditional, does the entrepreneur want?
  • Spiritual element includes the the esprit de corps that you want the space to convey.

Whether you are starting up, moving or re-designing an existing space, Simon recommends keeping five other considerations in mind.

  • Design: It can shape the quantity and quality of the work output and the culture of the organization. Do workers need privacy for concentration, open office space for collaboration or a blend of both?
  • Budget: How much money do you have to spend on the move, buildout and furniture?
  • Schedule: Many things can affect the timing. When does your lease expire? Which season is busy for your company? If you’re an accounting firm, you don’t want to be packing and moving around tax season.
  • Politics: What are the factors important to key decision makers? These considerations are given more weight in decision making. Who gets the corner office or preferential view? Who needs to be near or far away from each other?
  • Philosophy: The workspace is a reflection of the brand. What attributes of your brand do you want the workspace to convey to your employees and your visitors? If you’re an ad agency, do you want to project creativity? If you’re a financial services company, you may want to convey professionalism and success.

Planning and preparation can ensure that your workspace is as agile as your business model and as the people who work for the company.

Office design and business agility

Geri Stengel is president of Ventureneer, a marketing research company targeting small business. Geri is a regular Forbes contributor, consultant, Kauffman facilitator and the author of Forget the Glass Ceiling: Building Your Business Without One.