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Activity-based design takes precedence in new office projects

Office Buildings

Activity-based design takes precedence in new office projects

The latest report by Ted Moudis Associates also finds more space being allocated for amenities and wellness.


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | April 23, 2018

Open floor plans that encourage collaboration are becoming “best practices” for office designers. Image: Ted Moudis Associates

More evidence that companies are embracing open workplace environments comes from Ted Moudis Associates, a New York-based architectural and design firm, whose 2018 Workplace Report finds that offices are being designed to accommodate collaborative “activity-based” projects.

This report, the firm’s third in as many years, encompasses data from 31 projects in the U.S. with 3.1 million sf of rentable space, 2.5 million of usable space, and 15,546 workspaces. While the average usable square footage per seat remained consistent at 165 sf, 54% of the total seats were allocated for “alternative” (i.e., non-assigned), collaborative, or amenity seating.

Nearly one quarter of the employees in projects that Ted Moudis analyzed—especially those working for digital media and technology companies—participate in activity-based working, meaning that they roam the office on a daily basis. Activity-based work environments average 177 sf per seat last year (versus 163 sf/seat in 2016), 1.3 seats per employee, and 131 sf per person (vs. 124 sf the previous year). 

The study states that usable square footage per seat in activity-based working environments rose by 14 points to a total two-year gain of 18 points. “This suggests that we have reached the limits of office density,” the study concludes.

Here’s a breakdown by company type:

“This is a really exciting time to be in workplace,” notes Jamie Feuerborn, Director of Workplace Strategy at Ted Moudis Associates. “Executive leaders are competing [with] other organizations across all industries to recruit the best and brightest talent and have come to realize the value the physical workplace brings. As a result, we have seen a larger investment in workplace strategy and change management services to help create the right balance between their culture, productivity, and employee experience.”

 

See Also: A cost guide to office fit-outs provides comparisons for 59 markets

 

Progressive workplace concepts “have increasingly become best practices and virtually all organizations are implementing some, if not all, of them,” the study stated. The number of clients that are adopting benching increased by 7% over 2017, to where 75% of open workspaces are desking/benching.

Of the 54% of workspace seats that are alternative, 71% are being used within meeting spaces (the vast majority of which within an open floor design), 23% for amenity seats (such as cafés), and 6% are “focus” seats that are in enclosed areas free from auditory and visual distractions.

Enclosed spaces in offices are typically reserved for meetings and privacy. Image: Ted Moudis Associates

 

The study finds a strong inclination toward consolidating café space to include meeting areas. (Amenities are now viewed as “destinations,” the report stated) More often than not, offices are also being designed to support mental and physical opportunities for employees. Wellness space now includes prayer rooms, nap rooms, game rooms, and fitness centers.

The projects analyzed average one wellness space per 173 employees in 2017, vs. one per 198 employees the previous year. And as companies become more paperless, there’s less space allocated for equipment like copier machines, which average one for every 83 employees, vs. one for every 73 in 2016.

In the future Ted Moudis Associates will track its predictions that there will be an increase in semi-enclosed and small focus rooms, fewer executives suites, an increase activity-based seating, and an increase in amenity and wellness spaces.

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