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Active Design Addresses Shrinking Office Space

October 31, 2016
  • Workplace

The office as we know it is shrinking. Square footage allotment per employee has been on a steady decline year after year. With this comes smaller worksurfaces, employees working in closer proximity and a trend towards more open plan office environments. Needless to say, a reduction in square footage has a number of implications for employees and their work environments. 1.) Employee privacy is reduced 2.) Individual workstation square footage decreases 3.) Personal storage is limited 4.) Noise levels increase and 5.) Some may argue productivity suffers as a result of these affects.

There’s no indication that this trend will reverse itself anytime soon so organizations must get creative when planning environments for employees that align with space limitations but also accommodate their employees’ work styles. At KI, we believe Active Design not only addresses these issues but also encourages healthy, productive activity throughout the work day.

Work Space Differentiation

Turning sedentary office environments into spaces that promote movement is the central idea behind Active Design. You can learn about the 9 principles identified by KI here. One tenet of Active Design is the practice of creating a variety of work spaces for employees outside of the traditional desk. Organizations are able to provide the same number of seats for employees but in different formats. This could include casual meeting rooms, formal conference rooms and third spaces such as cafes and lounges.

If an employee is having issues with noise levels at their dedicated workstation, they can opt for a more private meeting room to focus individually. If a large group is congregating to collaborate they can use a conference room or gather in a cafe setting. Giving employees a choice as to what environment will allow them to be most productive will combat the negative impact of square footage reduction. Here are a few other strategies when planning a variety of work spaces in the office.

  • Increase collaborative spaces in a more casual environment to encourage impromptu meetings.
  • Place collaborative work areas among individual workstation areas to encourage movement throughout the workplace.
  • Provide easily accessible power sources where technology can be tethered and shared and access to WI-FI is shared throughout the office.
  • Provide a number of touch down spaces that can be reserved for ad hoc meetings, as well as several that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To find out the other eight principles of Active Design, click to download KI’s eBook, “Understanding Active Design: The Rise of Human Sustainability”.

by Jonathan Webb  Director of Workplace & Healthcare Markets

Jonathan Webb leads KI’s strategic business units for workplace/private sector and healthcare. Jonathan studies workplace and healthcare trends, uncovers product gaps, and develops solutions with the KI team. Jonathan takes part in advanced workplace and corporate training strategies and documents his findings through white papers, articles, and other publications. His recent publications, Understanding Active Design: The Rise of Human Sustainability and Collegiate Design: The New Driver for Workplace Design, have put Jonathan in the media spotlight. Partnering with thought leaders like AECOM, his publications cover diverse subjects including sit/stand benefits, designing training environments, and defining work styles. Jonathan holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh School of Business and is a LEED-accredited professional.


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