The myth of office shrinkage – part 3

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From Melisa Marcotte
Senior Manager
Jones Lang LaSalle

Architectural firms and consultants have moved beyond the space to offer “change management” services. Sometimes the message of the shrinking individual workspace is better received coming from a third party with a broader view of the world.

Change management is really communication. The message is somewhat softened, but the real driver is cost. Companies who understand how to deliver this message in a positive way are a welcome addition to the project team. Still, project managers bear a large part of the burden in delivering the message of change, given their intensely intricate involvement with the client population.

The level of openness and transparency creates a lot of life in the space. Companies are pushing the envelope and trying to see how much flexibility and openness is too much.” The new generation of workers tolerates a lot more openness and a wider variety of space. In fact, they embrace it. According to one of our clients: “I am typically in the office on somewhat untraditional hours, and at 11 PM I want to sit on a couch and work.” We believe that the variety of space available for work is inspirational.

Other behavioral changes are taking place. Some companies have found that they have to create and monitor behavior and “office etiquette” differently. Another JLL client found they had to remove the opaque film from office fronts because people were using them as “permanent” spaces instead of temporary huddle or team rooms. Some companies are handing out headsets in an effort to help distracted open office workers to focus on their tasks at hand. 

“ ‘We’ space may be great, but let’s not lose site of the importance of ‘me’ space as well. Some people and some tasks do require more concentration. While interaction is good, a decent percentage of time in the office is taken up with nonwork-related conversation and distractions.

And some firms are not following the trend. JLL sees their many law firm clients resisting. The dark wood is largely gone, and there are fewer secretaries to partners, but the private offices are still there. ‘Hard-core’ engineers are still in private offices – some as small as 6′ x 8′, but with walls and a door.

A lot falls on designers to create space with new parameters, changing expectations and multiple generations. Productivity, and non-productivity, can happen anywhere. It’s about a host of factors beyond square feet per person.


To see this entire article in Banker & Tradesman click here.


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