The days of the traditional office space are more and more becoming a thing of the past. Workplaces are now ever-evolving with much consideration devoted to such factors including a multi-generational and mobile workforce and a myriad of technological devices.
Henriksen Butler is an office space design and furniture supplier that has been working to modify workspaces for the future.
Ian Anderson, president of Henriksen Butler’s Reno location, said some companies may have as many as five generations that could be working in an office at the same time from Baby Boomers to Gen-Xers and Millennials. He added that each age group might value something different in the workplace. Older generations may value more confined and private workspaces while younger employees value interaction, workplace flexibility and compatibility to technology.
Henriksen Butler, headquartered in Salt Lake City, moved its Reno office into the top floor of the historic Crider Building on the corner of West 1st Street and West Street in Reno. Anderson said the company added its own “living office” concepts to the space, with a mix of private and interactive spaces.
Henriksen Butler has local clients and regional clients, including several in the northern Nevada market.
Anderson said studies have shown that there is much more collaboration in the workplace environments today.
While it’s impossible please every employee, Anderson added, companies still need to communicate with employees on its expectations for the workplace.
“You can support all the generations, but you can’t be everything to everybody,” Anderson said. “You have to stick to the vision for your company.”
He described one Henriksen Butler client with a department that’s required to have little or no work interaction.
“We’re working with a company with very well paid computer programmers and the owners know how much it costs them every time they are distracted,” Anderson said. “So we’re trying to design a work space around no visual distraction for these people.”
Businesses are also paying more attention to employee comfort, which includes office furniture, acoustics, daylight and amenities.
A big trend that appears to be a permanent fixture is the sit-and-stand or height adjustable workstations.
Dan Kahl of KAHL Commercial Interiors, Inc., a veteran contract office furniture dealer in Reno, said the concept has become popular simply because it makes sense ergonomically. With the popularity, he adds companies can get them for relatively cheap.
“With the height adjustable table, there’s a huge demand,” Kahl said. “Coincidentally the price has gone way down, half of what it was five years ago.”
Another hot topic around office design is acoustics that still maintain an office that promotes interaction. Kahl said subtle changes in office furniture can have a big impact.
Kahl demonstrated a workstation at KAHL’s new office on E. Liberty Street in Reno that has a small wall separating two employee stations. He said it added an element of privacy and noise suppression while still allowing for interaction.
One of KAHL’s clients, Foundry, an advertising and marketing agency in Reno, has implemented their own employee amenities such as a large kitchen and dining area, along with a lounge area. The company even added a Shuffleboard table near the lobby for employees to use during breaks.
Wood Rodgers, a multidisciplinary engineering firm in Reno, designed their new 20,000-square-foot office in Southeast Reno with similar amenities. Like Foundry, the office maximized used of sunlight around the office.
Andy Durling and Steve Strickland from Wood Rodgers found that in the company’s old office in South Meadows area, pockets of employees worked in areas with no or minimal natural sunlight.
An increasing number of clients are preparing for a big shift in design plans to cater to the influx of younger workers.
“By 2025, about 35 percent of the workforce will be the Millennials, so they are not designing an office for those who works there now, but for the next generation of workers,” he said.
Kahl also noted three of KAHL’s local clients Jensen Precast in Sparks, Hamilton Companies in Reno and Click Bond in Carson City are primarily focused on reinventing the employee workspaces. He added the companies have implemented open workspace, with less division between employees.
“These companies, which are second- and third-generation family owned businesses, are looking to refresh for the next generation,” Kahl said. “We worked on projects where they have had expansion anyway, but they’ve completed refreshed their look.”
Much of the driving force behind the ever-changing workplace is attracting and retaining employees.
“If you get people out of their comfort zone they start looking for other jobs,” Anderson said.
Anderson and Kahl admitted companies sometimes are reluctant to update workplace environments, primarily because of cost, although Anderson said there are many cost effective solutions.
“Great design does not have to cost a lot of money,” he said.
Kahl also stressed companies interested in an office design consult with licensed interior design professionals such as architects and interior designers. He said KAHL gets approached for office projects, but collaborative effort with designers and architects, and possibly contractors and real estate professionals.
“The problem is sometimes clients don’t want to pay all those services, and just think ‘we’ll get the office furniture company do it,’” Kahl said. “Our best projects are when we get the architects and office designers involved in what we’re doing.”