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The Office Of The Future Is About More Than Workspace | September 5, 2013

by Jennifer LeClaire

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There's a lot of talk about the office of the future. While there are as many opinions as there are noses it's fascinating to hear them all as we move toward a more technologically advanced society where a mobile workforce is gaining momentum even as alternative workspace has become mainstream. 

"Employee engagement is not simply motivation at work. It emerges as a result of fundamental relationships," Jonathan Webb, vice president of Business Markets at Wisconsin-based KI Furniture, told us. "We believe that creating a great place to work where people feel capable and committed doesn't just make for organizational effectiveness - it leads to outstanding performance." 

Webb has a few tips up his sleeve to help business centers - and their tenants - make a smooth transition to the office of the future. 

1. Escalate training in the workplace. 
"There is an increased emphasis on experiential learning in today's work environments to complement formal training processes," Webb says. "By providing an environment that encourages the free flow of knowledge and ideas, organizations can enhance engagement, content retention and make knowledge and information readily available to their employees." 

As I see it, your business center can - and maybe should - have lunch-and-learns or special workshops to facilitate knowledge transfer in your community. Many of the largest business center brands are already doing this. And there's a good reason for it. If you aren't inviting in guest experts to help build a community around knowledge, you could be missing out on a growth opportunity. 

2. Design with college in mind. 
"Ever wondered why many organizations refer to their place of work as a 'campus?' In most cases, individual places of work, collaboration and training don't come close to mimicking the environments where recent graduates have spent the past four to six years of their lives," Webb says. 

"With the increased importance of attracting and retaining good talent, corporate entities should address today's work styles by taking design and workplace planning cues from institutes of higher education because of the importance that learning environments have on the new graduating workforce." 

What does this mean for your business center? Do you have strategic training rooms that are up to par with the latest technology? Do you have communal areas that promote collaboration among tenants? How does your business center address today's workstyles? Don't take the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset. Think about the future. 

3. Reinforce devotion through branding. 
"When companies take the time to understand and clearly communicate their culture, they have the ability to attract and retain the right employees - and repel the ones that just won't fit," Webb says. 

The same thing goes for your business center. What is your culture? Being able to communicate that culture will help you attract and retain the right tenants - tenants that are a good fit for your business center and who you are more likely to retain in the long-haul. 

4. Sit and stand. All day. 
"When you factor in an entire day of commuting, working and other sedentary behaviors, the average American spends 55 percent of their waking time sitting," Webber says. "Sit/stand worksurfaces can promote better posture, improve blood flow and boost energy levels by merely using the product as part of the workday routine. Recent buying behaviors have confirmed several reasons why the sit/stand table is no longer a 'want to have,' but a 'need to have' tool for the workplace." 

These sit/stand work desks aren't cheap, but I believe they are part of the office of the future. Consider how this furniture strategy might work in your business center. Perhaps do a survey and see if your tenants are craving this sort of solution. When it's time to upgrade desks, you may consider one of these newfangled desk designs that promote the various health benefits Webb described.

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