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Your Corporate Office Says A Lot About Your Company – 5 Things To Keep In Mind When Designing Yours

“It’s not your parents’ workplace anymore” actually understates the recent (and ongoing) office design revolution. “It’s not your older sibling’s workplace anymore” is more accurate.

The office has changed a lot since the days of Office Space — barely 20 years ago. Many of those changes are rightly seen as improvements by line employees and bosses alike. And the pace of change has been rapid enough that even traditionalists discomfited by open floorplans and huddle rooms recognize the need to keep up. In a tight labor market, where talent very often flows to the most employee-friendly employers, the slow-to-adapt may well find themselves left behind.

If you’re in the early stages of conceptualizing your redesigned workspace, or looking to start fresh with a custom-build headquarters or new long-term lease, you know that what comes next will be immensely consequential. Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you design a workspace fit for the new generation of workers — or until the next workplace design fad takes root, at least.   

1. Efficiency Is the Name of the Game.

“Efficiency” means different things to different folks. Every corporate decisionmaker, for instance, is obligated to do right by their firm’s bottom line with cost-effective office design elements that keep things on budget.

Long-term efficiency is no less important. It may well be worthwhile to spend a bit more upfront to capture out-year overhead savings. Today’s new construction office buildings are far more efficient than those built even 10 or 15 years ago, thanks to newly feasible technologies like passive climate control and solar water heating. You don’t have to jump through LEED certification hoops to realize these benefits, either.

2. Your HQ Is an Extension of Your Corporate Identity.

Efficient or not, remember that your corporate headquarters is an extension of your company’s identity and values — and, by extension, its decisionmakers’ identities and values. Once you see the possibility in this simple proposition, you can’t un-see it. Majestic Steel CEO Todd Leebow told Sotheby’s, for instance, that he saw his company’s new headquarters as a golden opportunity for “world-class artists and designers to innovate with steel like no one has before.” Powerful, indeed.

3. Build Local, Hire Local.

One near-universal corporate value is the power of buying and hiring local. Make sure your new corporate office does right by its community by using local construction labor and materials wherever possible. This is your opportunity to tout your local bona fides, a sure hit with customers.

4. You Might Not Need All That Space…

U.S. office space per employee has steadily trended downward since a multi-decade peak at the nadir of the Great Recession, when the national office vacancy rate was far higher, according to NAIOP. While this is bad news for commercial property owners, it’s very good news indeed for users looking at smaller leases and cheaper build-outs.

5. …But You Might Want to Build for Growth, Too.

On the other hand, there’s something to be said for claiming and designing more space than you actually need — for growing into a pad over the course of a long-term lease.

Ready for Your Reinvention?

Is your company’s workspace ready for its reinvention? For better or worse, the clock is ticking. Wait too long to seize this opportunity and you may find yourself at the mercy of a whole new set of considerations — new design trends, new employee preferences, new economic realities.

Here’s to a new workplace that does right by your company’s values without cutting corners. Your team — present and future — is counting on you.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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