How To Tighten Your Workplace Security

How To Tighten Your Workplace Security

Our client, Tradeshift, takes company security seriously throughout their office and in the reception area with cameras.

Four strategies to keep your facility safe from theft

How confident are you that the security measures you have in place today will prevent your company from becoming the victim of a devastating theft?

Nobody enjoys planning for the worst case scenario. Security should be a key consideration during the planning phase of any office design or relocation project. The good news is that deterring theft doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

If your approach to workplace security so far has been remembering to lock the doors and saying a quick prayer before bed, it’s time to step up your game. Here’s four tips you can use to improve security at your business.

Place Cameras Strategically

Consider what you’re trying to capture before mounting cameras. Are you trying to catch footage of a potential suspect entering or exiting the building? Do you want to know where they go if they get inside? What about a shot of the type of vehicle they’re driving?

We recommend that clients begin by placing cameras in the following locations:

  • Entry points
  • Areas where someone may be injured
  • MDF and/or server rooms

Your local police department may be able to provide specific recommendations about the type of footage that is helpful for identifying criminals.

Secure Points of Entry

Card readers or keypads are the two top options for most business owners today; with keys, you have the expense of changing the locks every time an employee leaves. Many of our clients opt for card readers so employees don’t have the burden of remembering a code (and potentially sharing that code with outsiders). Card readers also produce a record of who entered and when so you can review in the event of an incident.

We recommend placing card readers on exterior doors, IDF rooms, and possibly storerooms, depending on what you have inside. Depending on the type of building, consider using a latch plate to prevent would-be thieves from using a crowbar to gain entry.

Use Burglar Deterrents

Since most offices are uninhabited at night, alarms are extremely useful to tip off potential thieves that their presence on your property has not gone unnoticed.  60% of burglars said they look for an alarm system before robbing a home— and if they find one, they move along to another target.

You can install alarms that are monitored by a security service, or simply use the alarm itself as a deterrent.

Review Company Protocol

When we think about theft, many of us imagine criminals dressed in black sneaking into your facility in the dead of night. But today, many thefts occur during broad daylight, perhaps when your receptionist has stepped away for lunch or many of your employees are in a meeting or attending an off-site.

If you don’t receive a lot of visitors, consider keeping your front door locked at all times and buzzing guests in as needed. If you do frequently have guests, taking turns at the reception desk is a good way to make sure there are always eyes on the door.

Finally, make sure all of your employees are aware of the possibility of theft. Help them feel comfortable coming to your security/facility team or management with any concerns, or if they see someone who doesn’t belong.

For general information by the USDA, Office of Procurement and Property Management for use in addressing security in the workplace issues, click here.

Looking to make office security a priority in 2019? Contact us for a consultation.

 


Workplace Wellness Office Design Strategies — part II

Workplace Wellness Office
Design Strategies
— part II

 

workplace and workspace wellness rooms and spaces
Photo: Kelly Robinson + Wundr Studio

Why physical activity and exposure to nature is key for employee happiness

As you probably already know from part one of our series on designing for employee health, office design can have a significant impact on your employee’s wellbeing and productivity. Whether you’re moving into a new office or constructing your first corporate campus, your entire team should be thinking about how your employees will inhabit every space— and, in turn, the impact that these spaces will have on their mental and physical health.

In collaboration with our partner Two Furnish, we came up with four approaches we’ve deployed to help our clients design locations that help employees stay fit while they’re at work.

Think Critically About Services Placement

staircase in the midddle of office floorplanFor example, one of our tech clients in Los Angeles placed a staircase in the middle of the floorplan instead of on the perimeter. When staircases are accessible and centrally located, employees are more likely to take the stairs instead of an elevator.

As you work with an architect to design the floor plan of your new office, pause to think about how employees will travel through the space. How can you organize services (such as bathrooms, kitchens, and elevators) in a way that will encourage employees to move?

Take Advantage Of The Outdoors

Walking meetings are all the rage today— they help employees gain more energy and reap all the benefits of increased physical activity, like lower healthcare costs and a reduced number of sick days.

incorporating nature in workplace design
Photo: Microsoft

Creating outdoor spaces like gardens, a track, or hiking trails will give your employees a big push to take their meetings outdoors when the weather permits. Offering umbrellas that anyone can take when they head out for a walk is another way to encourage them to think of the outdoors as another workspace.

Microsoft’s campus in Seattle, which is pedestrian friendly includes walking paths just for recreation, does an excellent job of creating space for outdoor work and leisure. Nearby forest trails provide additional options for employees wanting to get away from their desks and enjoy some fresh air.

In 2017, the technology company created a treehouse outfitted with power outlets and wifi for use as a meeting space or outdoor workstation. Their intention was to foster a greater connection between their employees and the outdoors, which has been shown to boost creativity and wellbeing.

If building your own outdoor paradise isn’t in the budget, consider looking for an office adjacent to a public park, beach, or recreation site. If you’re seeking space in the financial district where outdoor space may be limited, consider a building with a public open space such as a rooftop garden.

Incorporate Ergonomic Furniture

70% of all full-time workers in the U.S. hate sitting, but they’re often stuck glued to their task chairs day in and day out. Long periods at a desk combined with poor posture can also lead to back pain, which can contribute to increased rates of absenteeism.

sit to stand desks
Photo: Two Furnish + Matthew Millman Photography

Offer your staff a variety of ways they can work outside of the standard office chair. This could be sit-to-stand desks, modular furniture, foam mats to make standing more comfortable, configurable tables with casters, or yoga balls. By giving employees the gift of choice, they’ll be encouraged to move into whatever position is most comfortable for them throughout the day.

“Nearly 85% of the offices we’re actively engaged on consider height adjustable resident desks,” said Brian Buhl, Partner at Two Furnish. “It goes beyond being fad; it’s a tool amongst the extensive list of amenities and incentives that companies are advocating for. These desks in addition to a diverse mix of ancillary vignettes inspire a degree of user-based autonomy leaving it up employees to determine which posture and environment is seemingly most productive to work in on-demand.”

Create Rooms / Spaces Dedicated to Wellness

Finally, give employees space they can use to move their body and relax their mind. The workout they get from a game of ping pong, a brief yoga session, or a workout in an on-site gym can provide quick stress relief.

health, physical, relieve stress workspaces
Photos: Two Furnish + Matthew Millman Photography

And don’t be afraid to think outside the box: not all fitness is physical. Two Furnish worked with Kelly Robinson who co-designed medication pods with Headspace, creating a place where employees could step away for a moment of calm as our main featured photo. The “Lookout” also serves as a communal space adjacent to a large café and auditorium integrating a multipurpose room for a few minutes of repose.

Photo: Kelly Robinson + Wundr Studio

These are just a few of the many ways you can use design to help your employees feel better both during their time at the office and when they get home at the end of the day. When you’re ready to think about how your office space contributes to employee health, we’re here to help. Reach out to us for a free consultation.

 

Special thanks to our contributor: Brian Buhl, Partner at Two Furnish


JOANY makes use of potted plants in a creative huddle space with natural light.

Workplace Wellness Office Design Strategies - part I

Workplace Wellness
Office Design Strategies - part I

JOANY makes use of potted plants in a creative huddle space with natural light.
Two Furnish's client, JOANY, makes use of potted plants in a creative spherical garden space. Designer: Kelly Robinson and Photographer: Wundr Studio

 

Keep your employees healthy and productive with these four approaches

As the cost of healthcare expenses rises and employers grow more concerned with absenteeism, designing for workplace wellness has become a necessity for companies. Providing employees with opportunities to exercise, such as walking paths and standing desks, have become standard client requests.

But helping employees with their mental health is a trickier proposition. We know 40% of U.S. workers experience office stress, but the causes are as diverse as the people experiencing it.

Typically, improving workplace mental health has been the task of HR departments and employee assistance programs. But an increasing number of companies, including Uber and Amazon, are turning to design to provide employees with stress relief. Here are 4 approaches you can use on your next project to create spaces that foster productivity and relaxation.

Incorporate Natural Light

Sunlight was once viewed as the enemy of indoor spaces, as it penetrates through glass, heating up rooms and disrupting climate-controlled environments. But a lack of exposure to natural light at work has been shown to contribute to poor sleep and depressive symptoms — something no employer wants their workforce to experience.

Client: JOANY, Designer: Kelly Robinson, Photographer: Terrence Williams

Having natural light plus a keen awareness of materials which reflect and absorb is essential. “Having exposure to natural elements impacts your staff. Being inside all day can be uninspiring or impact your mental health – if it’s inevitable, which for many of us it is, employers have the option to adopt philosophies such as biophilic design or WELL that are proven to positively impact productivity,” said Brian Buhl, partner at San Francisco-based furniture dealer Two Furnish.

Uber Technologies’ new office in Mission Bay sought to foster connections between employees and the great outdoors. By placing all services such as elevators and restrooms at the building’s core, every employee can have a workstation within 20--30 feet of a window.

If you can’t give every employee a bit of natural light at their desk, consider placing gathering spaces around the building’s shell. They can be used for meetings, one-on-ones, or space for employees to have a moment of respite while enjoying a little bit of light and a novel view.

Furthermore, simply spending time outside has been shown to improve happiness and even give our memory a boost. Think outside the office when you design meeting rooms and gathering places. If you make spaces for outdoor interactions available, people will use them — sometimes rain or shine.

 

Bring the Outside In With Biophilic Design

Spherical garden designed by Kelly Robinson for TwoFurnish's client, JOANY

What’s the next best thing to providing space for employees to experience the great outdoors firsthand? Bringing the outside in using features like living walls in common spaces.

The biophilic design movement, which promotes exposure to natural environments through the use of indoor plants and patterns found in nature, is taking off in the tech community. One point/element of the movement is the fact that homo sapiens have spent most of their history outdoors, not in sealed office buildings. Adherents assert that incorporating these elements into workspaces will improve productivity and employee well being.

One example of this approach is Amazon’s new greenhouse located in downtown Seattle. With more than 400 species of plant life, The Spheres provide employees with a variety of unique spaces to work or unwind, including many spots that mimic natural environments like bird nests.

Most companies aren’t able to build their own private rainforest, but there are small ways to bring nature to your client’s employees. A living wall or adding space for potted plants can help decrease stress and reduce the amount of sick days.

 

Add Colors and Artwork

The Bridge Group LLC, San Francisco, commercial project construction management, real estate services, facilities consulting, owner’s representativeIf real plants aren’t an option, what about adding pops of color and art pieces that reflect the outside world?

Art can have a positive impact on our emotions and our productivity— one study found
employees working in spaces enriched with color, art, plants, or other design elements
were 17% more productive than employees working in bare, undecorated environments.

Our recent project for a tech company in Los Angeles took studies like these into consideration.
We facilitated the creation of a mural and a hanging art piece that spans multiple floors,
which adds visual interest to employee’s days every time they walk past.

Create Private Spaces

The Bridge Group LLC, San Francisco, commercial project construction management, real estate services, facilities consulting, owner’s representative

As many companies shift towards adopting open office layouts, spaces for employees to speak privately or enjoy a respite moment to themselves are becoming more important.

Consider adding phone booths in open office environments to provide privacy for a phone call. San Francisco coworking space, RocketSpace achieved this with The Bridge Group in collaboration with the design team.

Although design isn’t a panacea for depression, there are many different approaches designers can take to help workers reduce office stress. They can be as simple as adding plants to a break area, or building an outdoor patio— the benefits for an employee’s state of mind makes it worthwhile.

What design approaches does your office use to help employees to maintain with workspace wellbeing? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

 

Special thanks to our blog contributor: Brian Buhl, Two Furnish

 


Strategies to Control Costs On Your Construction Project

3 Simple Ways to Control Costs On Your Next Construction Project

Construction costs spiraling out of control? Here’s how to handle it.

As project managers, it’s our job to make sure our client’s office build-out is completed on time and within budget. We frequently partner with startups and companies who are growing rapidly and have a strict budget with little room for the costly overruns that can become an insidious part of the construction process. As a result, we’ve fine-tuned our ability to get our clients the best value for their money.

Here are three strategies Construction Managers, Facility Managers and Operations Teams can employ to keep costs low while ensuring that your new space meets your needs.

1. Bring in a contractor early

By hiring a general contractor early in the project, you can price the plans at various stages during the design process. Then, your team can conduct value engineering exercises as they design and prevent costly surprises once the construction documents are complete.

2. Find opportunities to cut costs

A general contractor can also identify where the costs are coming in high and make suggestions for places you can cut back. Ideally, your project management firm will work closely with the design team and general contractor at this stage to ensure sure they’re reducing costs without sacrificing quality.

3. Utilize cost comparisons

Skyline Construction created a tool called the Bay Area Cost Comparison to help guide you towards a less expensive project. This white paper will give you an idea of what an average project might cost in your area, what factors drive escalation, and what cost saving measures to look for.

We brought all these strategies together during our recent work for RocketSpace, a San Francisco based co-working space. Our team partnered with Skyline Construction, while we were still finalizing the fit plan so they were contracted and ready to price at the end of the schematic design phase. We conducted a second round of pricing after the design development phase and then, of course, at the end of construction documentation.

Our partnership with Skyline Construction helped us discover several ways to save on construction project costs. Project savings included; re-working the mechanical design, selecting less expensive light fixtures, re-thinking the door selection to each office space and finding a less expensive finish for the millwork. It would have been disastrous if we had discovered these expenses after our construction documents were complete, since it would have delayed the project and led to change orders from our design team. As it was, our team was able to make these decisions while the plans were coming together, which resulted in construction costs meeting our budget and staying on track with our timeline.

We’re not afraid of a small construction project budget. Find out how we can help with your next project or discuss some costs savings alternatives. Contact us now for your free project consultation.


6 Tips to Transition Employees to an Open Office Layout

Six Tips to Transition Employees to an Open Office Layout

What do the offices of companies like Facebook, IBM, GE and Apple all have in common?

If you guessed that they all incorporate open office space into their design, you’d be correct. Open office layouts continue to gain popularity as many companies make the switch to encourage a more collaborative work environment.

Unsurprisingly, most of our recent projects involve at least some open concept space, although they aren’t without controversy. Many employees have complained that open workspaces have a negative effect on their productivity, make it easier for germs to spread, and dampen creativity.

I didn’t fully understand what it was like to work in an open office until I tried it for myself. Although it was difficult at first to maintain focus amid co-workers discussing their lunch plans or recent weekend trips, I eventually learned to drown out the noise and get my work done.

This foray into open seating helped me develop a deeper sense of empathy for clients making the difficult decision to move their employees out of cubicles or separate offices into one open plan layout. Along the way, I developed this list of five key actions you need to take in order to keep your employees happy and productive during this type of transition.

The Bridge Group LLC, San Francisco, commercial project construction management, real estate services, facilities consulting, owner’s representativeProvide phone rooms and meetings areas.  For distraction-free work and the need for private conversations, consider setting up a few hotel offices. Employees can reserve these offices for a couple of hours at a time and use them for private calls, confidential discussions, and projects that call for deep focus.

Give employees space for their personal items.  Think of the desk as your employee’s home away from home. By giving them license to personalize their space, you empower them to feel like they truly own the space. If you’re considering a hotel-seating model, which involves unassigned desks, make sure your employees have lockers where they can store personal items.

Consider acoustics. Don’t limit yourself by focusing only on how a space looks. Think about how sound travels through an area and how different personality types react to various sound environments.

Offer spaces for fun.  This includes incorporating areas where employees can take their work if they need to get away, including high-top tables or casual sitting areas. I’ve even seen clients provide hammocks, lego-building areas, or yoga space so employees can take a mini-retreat during the day.

Sell the positive. Make sure you focus on the upsides of the new space instead of the potential downsides. For instance, sitting alongside your manager may make them easier to approach with new ideas. There’s also more energy in the workplace when people aren’t hidden away in enclosed offices or cubicles.

Give them time to get used to it. No matter what your personality type, it still takes time to adjust to a new way of working. Try offering headphones to people who are having a difficult time tuning out the noise. After a while, you may notice they don’t need them.

Change of any kind can be difficult for employees to handle. The most important key to a smooth transition is listening to your employee’s concerns — don’t downplay them, and don’t imply that things will be the same as they were before. Rather, empathize with their worries and then consult with your designer or facility manager and see if there are any practical steps you can take to address them.

Is your company undergoing tenant improvements or moving? Can’t decide if an open office concept is suitable for your employees?

Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

 

 


How To Get Your Team On Board With Your Next Office Move

Managing Employee Expectations: How To Get Your Team On Board With Your Next Office Move

Since most of us will spend an average of almost nine hours at work each and every day, working in a space that reflects our styles and preferences is critical for workplace happiness. For many people, moving into a new office offers an exciting opportunity to re-imagine a space where you spend a large chunk of your time. But for others, moving offices can feel like an extra stressor on top of existing responsibilities.

Team leaders need to be prepared to manage employee expectations and guide them through the transition. Before you start planning your next move, study these approaches to helping your employees view the change in a positive light.

    1. Deliver Consistent Communication – It’s critical to start discussing the move with your employees early in the process. In particular, make sure you announce the new location, when the move will be happening, and how employees can prepare as soon as you can. It’s important to give them as much advance notice regarding these decisions as possible so they can get used to the idea. Make sure to highlight some of the upsides of the new space in your communications, such as easier commutes for employees or upgraded facilities.
    2. Get Employees Involved – Employees need to feel that their voice is being heard during the design process. Before you start, consider sending out a survey to understand your employees’ needs and ask department leads to confirm headcount numbers and growth plans. You should also consider inviting team leaders to be part of the design process during certain stages, including finalizing the fit plan and furniture selection. It’s important to convey deadlines to getting information to avoid having to make changes later which can be costly and add time to the project.
    3. Give Tours of the New Site – Seeing the space during construction can help foster excitement and ease potential negatives among employees who are reluctant to get on board. You’ll need to coordinate with your general contractor, but many can accommodate hosting tours in the late afternoon when the workers have left for the day. You’ll want to keep the groups small to ensure safety on site, so send out a signup list where people can reserve their spot on a first come, first serve basis.
      The Bridge Group LLC's office build-out in SOMA for San Francisco client.

      Be sure to warn people to wear pants and close-toed shoes and ask your contractor to have hard hats and safety vests available.

    4. Hold a Move Discussion – It’s important to reserve some time during company all hands meetings to discuss the move. You may want to put together a slide deck showing the look and feel of the new space, maps highlighting neighborhood amenities, and photographs of any upgrades that the employees might enjoy, like new sit-stand desks or improved AV/VC in meeting rooms.
    5. Make it Fun – Preparing for a move can be a lot of work, so you need to add an element of fun. For example, many of our clients typically hold a purge day to give everyone an opportunity to clean out their desks and storage areas. Sounds stressful, right? It doesn’t have to be. Bring in food, drink and create contests with prizes to make the process more enjoyable.

Although most people think of moving as painful, if you get employees excited about the new location, it’s easier for them to see the payoff behind all the hard work associated with an office move. Engaging your employees in the company relocation process with the tips outlined is a valuable strategy which will have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Has your organization experienced a recent move? We’d love to hear what other tips may have made your transition positive for everyone. Please comment below.