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New faces for office spaces

From glass walls to technology hubs, offices across Northeast Florida embrace the latest design trends

By Keith Tickell

The average American spends more than 2,200 hours at work during a typical year—that’s more time than they spend watching TV, enjoying their families and engaging in leisurely activities. Given the time that is dedicated to a profession, it’s no wonder that many employers want to make the workspace the most collaborative, comfortable and productive environment possible.

Latest and greatest

As technologies continue to change and employees seek an increasing work-life balance, many companies are embracing new office design trends that engage and entice their teams to perform better and more efficiently.

Some of the latest and greatest office design trends to hit the market in recent years include collaboration, open-air offices and floor plans, tech-savvy spaces, going green, and creating custom office spaces.

Collaboration. Gone are the days of the cubicle jungle, where employees are roped off from their co-workers and secluded to their own 7 foot-by-7 foot cube. Today’s employers want their teams to engage with one another in collaborative, open workspaces that allow for constant interaction and brainstorming. It’s the same principle as a classroom or group meeting where everyone is asked to sit in a circle and share thoughts, opinions and ideas.

The best way to create a collaborative work environment in an office is to form team workspaces where desks are grouped together in a pod or common area. This allows co-workers to speak freely, solve problems together and transform ideas into innovative products. Another option is to create low-profile workstations with nice finishes that give the feeling of a private desk but still allow interaction among employees.

Open-air offices and floor plans. Open-air offices are the visual equivalent of the open-door policy employers like to communicate to their team. By creating executive offices with all glass fronts and no doors, team members feel as though they can openly communicate with their leaders. This type of office environment creates a perfect balance of quiet workspace and the ability for employees to feel comfortable interacting openly with their bosses.

Similar to open-air offices, an open office floor plan naturally creates connectivity, energy and the open flow of ideas in an office. This concept also creates a community atmosphere among employees and team leaders.

Tech-savvy spaces. Today’s workplace is drastically different than it was 20 years ago. Laptops, wireless printers and Internet, scanners and smart phones have changed the way we work and the spaces we do it in. Workers need less space to conduct business, but more adaptable spaces that will allow new technologies to be seamlessly integrated.

This means providing spaces that allow for easy WiFi connections and wireless technologies, aflexible information technology structure, collaborative workstations and any additional technology needs specific to the company occupying the space.

Green is good. After waning for a few years during the economic downturn, companies have once again turned their focus toward sustainable efforts. While there are varying degrees of green an office can accommodate, any move toward creating a more sustainable work environment is ultimately better for a company’s bottom line and its employees.

Most companies today have sustainability programs in place. These programs can be wide-ranging, from the types of office supplies they purchase to products used in maintaining their facilities to ultimately creating a LEED-certified office space.

Creating a custom office space. One goal we have is to pair companies with office spaces that fit their corporate culture and technology needs. Most businesses today are looking to promote cooperation and team problem solving, and creating an open environment is a key component to that goal.

The new corporate office for the Flagler team here in Jacksonville was recently retrofitted to incorporate the newest and most requested office features, including open floor plans, glass walls and workstations with low profiles to promote employee collaboration.

Vastly different needs

As the economy continues to improve, more companies are relocating, retrofitting or redesigning their office space. It is important to note that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” office design for every company.

Each business has vastly different needs for its employees, from technology requirements and desk space to gyms and social areas. When it comes time to redesign or relocate your office, it is necessary to communicate your needs with the building’s owner or your designer to ensure the new space fits the needs of your corporate culture.

Keith Tickell is executive vice president of Flagler, one of Florida’s oldest and largest commercial real estate companies. He oversees the company’s portfolio of 12 million square feet of Class-A office and industrial space statewide. Tickell is active in NAIOP and serves on the Board of Directors of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. Tickell can be reached through www.flaglerdev.com.


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