Companies are examining their use of space more carefully to reduce occupancy costs. Misconceptions about the role of accommodation in organizations have led to costly inefficiencies in space planning and building use. Reducing square footage provides a company with a two-stage opportunity for improvement. First, space “right sizing” and redesign can lead to a better “fit” between work-space design and users’ tasks; employees’ work space can more effectively support work performance and improve productivity. Second, the process of making space cuts and changes is an opportunity for initiating broader-based corporate change in companies seeking to reduce overhead, empower employees, and reengineer work processes. The author offers examples that show how some companies have used work-space changes to transform their business and how CEOs can take full advantage of this opportunity.
1. For more detailed descriptions of corporate work-space innovation, see:
J.C. Vischer and W.C. Mees, “Organic Design in the Netherlands: Case Study of an Innovative Office Building,” in Design Intervention: Toward a More Humane Architecture, ed. W. Preiser, J.C. Vischer, and E.T. White (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991), pp. 285–300; and
F. Becker and F. Steele, Workplace by Design: Mapping the High Performance Workscape (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1994), chapter 3.
2. P. Senge, The Fifth Discipline (New York: Doubleday, 1990).
3. I. Perrie, personal communication, 25 October 1994.
4. C.I. Barnard, The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1964).
5. P. Drucker, “The Age of Social Transformation” Atlantic Monthly, November 1994, p. 53.
6. Plan Construction et Architecture, “Evaluation de l’environnement physique des espaces de travail” (Paris, France: final report, July 1991).
7. Buildings-In-Use, “Intelsat Headquarters Building-In-Use Assessment Final Report” (Wellesley, Massachusetts: technical report, July 1993).
8. J.C. Vischer, “The Psychology of Architecture,” Los Angeles Times, 28 March 1988, p. 4.
9. R. Bon, Building As an Economic Process (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1989).
10. For one approach to increasing awareness among both managers and employees of the effects of the physical environment on work performance, see:
J.C. Vischer, Environmental Quality in Offices (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989).
11. R. Semler, “Managing without Managers,” Harvard Business Review, September–October 1989, p. 48.
12. D.K. Carr et al., Break Point — Business Process Redesign (Arlington, Virginia: Coopers & Lybrand, 1992).
13. H. Sraeel, “Bank of Boston’s JIT Gives Eileen Harvard the FM Edge,” Facilities Design and Management, October 1992, p. 46.
14. Space Planning Organizations Research Group, “Bank of Boston’s Just-In-Time Workspace” (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT School of Architecture, unpublished case study, 1994).
15. M.J. Earl and D.F. Feeny, “Is Your CIO Adding Value?,” Sloan Management Review, Spring 1994, p. 11.
16. Ibid., p. 13.
17. M. Joroff, M. Louargand, S. Lambert, and F. Becker, “Strategic Management of the Fifth Resource: Corporate Real Estate” (Industrial Development Research Foundation, report of Phase One Corporate Real Estate 2000, 1993), pp. 50–52.
18. Earl and Feeny (1994), p. 19.
19. R. Groulx, “On the Move: Planning Offices of the Future,” Sygma-Ink, September–October 1994, p. 7.
20. The design team comprises the author, the architectural firm Dupuis Dubuc and Associates of Montreal, members of Bell Canada Realty Services, and Bell Sygma staff.
21. J.C. Vischer, “The Office of the Future: Innovation and Cost Savings for Today’s Office Buildings” (Montreal: Metropolitan Montreal Energy Forum Bulletin, Spring 1995), p. 4.
22. J.C. Vischer, Workspace Strategies: Environment As a Tool for Work (New York: Chapman and Hall, in press).