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5 Ways to Find Balance Between Private and Open Workspace

By Star Hughes-Gorup

Coworking, open concept, design aesthetic, amenitization, technology integration and…density? While the modern office space certainly incorporates these first five crucial components, the trend over the last decade is—without question—the shrinking footprint of office floorplans. Density matters!

According to the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP), in the aftermath of the Great Recession, office size per team member declined from 197 square feet to 180 square feet. This shift in spatial mentality isn’t only a cost containment strategy, it’s also a productivity, demographic and a talent attraction and retention strategy as well.

According to Pew Research, millennials now represent the largest percentage of the workforce, and that means this demographic is a main driver of the changing complexion of the office environment. Business owners understand that an engaging workplace is an absolute necessity for recruiting top-talent and retaining valuable team members. The modern desirable workspace is collaborative, creative, invigorative and full of amenities including workout facilities, food and beverage options, and access to stores, restaurants and refreshing outdoor spaces. The question then becomes how do companies do more for their team members with less space?

Finding the right balance between private, shared, meeting and break room space is challenging, particularly in a reduced size floorplan. Here are five approaches to creating a functional, flexible and vibrant office space that your team will love!

1. Downsize, But Upgrade, Your Furniture Solutions

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Smaller workstations often come equipped with huge upgrades, like stand-up/sit-stand desks, encouraging a healthy lifestyle by allowing team members the option to stand while they work. At Hughes Marino, many of our team members love this feature of their desks! For those who work on highly confidential projects within an open floorplan, by utilizing privacy panels, companies can keep information as private as needed without having to build out private offices. Investing in high-end, ergonomic chairs, larger computer monitors and high-quality desk furniture in exchange for shrinking the size of the workspace can also improves team members’ happiness and comfortability!

2. Invest in Collaborative Common Areas

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Companies can supplement the smaller workstations with larger common areas such as game areas, expansive kitchens with plenty of seating options and outdoor space to connect and collaborate while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. At each of our offices, you’ll find game rooms complete with pool, shuffleboard and vintage Pac-Man machines! Game rooms and kitchens are incredible ways to foster a familial company culture!

3. Build out Phone Rooms for Private Conversations

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Phone rooms add the perfect balance of privacy to the public, open office floorplans, providing team members with private space to make phone calls without distracting their neighbors. Add glass to let light into the phone rooms, and don’t be afraid to get creative with décor! We aim to inspire by placing playful, colorful art and trinkets at every corner of our Hughes Marino offices!

4. Invest in Noise Cancelling Headphones for All Team Members

Open workspaces, while more efficient and collaborative, can still be less productive due to noise issues. Investing in noise cancelling headphones for your team and designing your space to be more sound absorbent can help alleviate this issue. We love a space that fosters collaboration, but when it’s time to focus, noise cancelling headphones can do wonders to help teams stay in the zone!

5. Consider an Urban Office Location

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Urban office locations provide an abundance of great off-site amenities, including premier restaurants, parks, shops and outdoor space. While your teams may work in a smaller space, an urban office’s proximity to these mentioned amenities definitely can provide balance and increase. Plus, it provides opportunities for fun team field trips and lunch outings, like we regularly plan at our offices, which is great for maintaining a close-knit company culture and creating fun memories and traditions!

Hughes Marino New York

Density in the office space is here to stay. By implementing these suggestions, we truly believe any company can help their team members be more productive, energized, happy and motivated!

Star Hughes-Gorup is executive vice president and director at Hughes Marino, a global corporate real estate advisory firm that exclusively represents tenants and buyers. Star is a key member of Hughes Marino’s brokerage team, where she specializes in tenant representation and building purchases. Star also makes frequent media appearances to speak on business issues from a millennial perspective, and regularly writes for Hughes Marino’s “Spaces We Love” blog. Contact Star at 1-844-662-6635, or star@hughesmarino.com.

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