FROM THE EDITOR
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A Publication of Stamats Buildings Media
VP, Group Publisher Tony Dellamaria
Chief Content Director Chris Olson
Senior Editor Janelle Penny
Senior Editor Jennie Morton
E-Content Editor Pete Campie
Art Director Elisa Geneser
Graphic Designer Evan Brownfield
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Christopher K. Ahoy President/CEO,
Performance Management Consulting
Steven R. Colvin Senior Vice President of
Property Management, Boston Properties LP
Michael Delev General Property Manager, Hines
Steve Fugarazzo Manager, Facilities Engineering,
Rod Stevens Principal Consultant,
Eric A. Woodroof Founder,
Is Your Office Ready
for Alternative Spaces?
As the Roman poet said, one person’s meat is another person’s poison. There are plentiful supplies of both in the office workspace. Consider these conundrums:
■ Many office employees say that time spent in interactions with colleagues is among
the most productive parts of their day; many also say that interruptions by colleagues
are among the greatest obstacles.
■ Many people like a place where they can see what other people are doing; many
people also want to hide from others.
■ Many people consider nearly any noise to be a distraction; many also enjoy the hum
of activity in a Starbucks or an informal collaborative area as a backdrop for their
■ Some distractions or interruptions are restorative; others dent productivity. The time
it takes for an employee to recover from the latter can be longer than the time of the
■ Some work requires head-down concentration, which for me would include writing
this column. On the other hand, some tasks, like routine replies to emails, can be
pushed along with some friendly distractions because they require less concentration.
Such behavioral opposites are confounding enough without considering this truism: on
any given day – or hour – people can migrate from one extreme to the other.
While these paradoxes of human behavior seem like irreconcilable differences, office
designers focus intently on solutions to them because employees who are satisfied with
their surroundings are more productive. This fact has enormous potential for the bottom
line because employees are the most expensive resource of most organizations, so a small
improvement can have centrifugal force. And only 11% are highly satisfied with their workspace, according to one Steelcase study.
So what solutions are available to enhance productivity, particularly when firms are
intensely aware of their real estate costs and the average space per office employee has
been dwindling for decades? Many firms are trying flexible alternative spaces that give
employees choices on where to work on various tasks through the day – like cafés and
lobbies that are also working spaces, more quiet spaces and fewer private offices, smaller but
more numerous conference rooms, and recreation components.
This issue focuses on ideas (beginning on page 24) that blur the boundaries of traditional
office space. Is your organization ready to experiment?
Chief Content Director