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Office Space by Shelley Williamson

Adrienne Sannachan

Sometimes boosting your bottom line comes down to the way you organize your office space, ensuring your employees are productive, and that they have all the tools they need so they don’t end up feeling like a number stuck in a windowless cubicle. Commerce News caught up with Leah Vocey, architectural and design liaison at Edmonton’s RGO Office Products, Edmonton Chamber members since 1998. She advises businesses about the latest in office trends that can help them make the most of their interiors, making for better workflow and happier staff. After all, who doesn’t want to hang onto their investment in human capital?

Trend 1: Multi-person spaces. “Enhancing collaboration, that’s the big tend we’ve seen int he last 10 year. Most people don’t work by th3emselves; they don’t work in a silo. It’s what we call dyadic work – most people work with at least one other person, so you have to look at how you accommodate that at a work station, comfortably. Whether that’s a monitor arm that you put on the desk that articulates so you can show somebody else your work, or whether that’s the tools that we have at our own showroom here where we create ideas.”

Trend 2: Multiple monitors. “We have something called ‘media;scape,’ which allows you to have a couple of monitors on. If you, for example, were doing research and you had a colleague that was putting together whatever article you were working on, on one side; you could both bring your laptop to that room and quickly connect, and up it goes on the screen. You have a laptop and they have a laptop and you’re not sitting trying to see over your laptops what the other has done. It’s very interactive and it’s quick.”

Trend 3: Multi-purpose Spaces. “Bistros and things like that are now becoming areas where you can meet with vendors or you can meet with clients, rather than in a meeting room. It also serves the purpose of a place to have lunch, for example.”

Trend 4: Get smart. Gen X and Gen Y are very technical; they’ve been [using technology] since they were two or three years old. You have to make sure in your workplace you are giving them the tools that they’re used to. Some of the universities and certainly the schools have Smart Boards and all sorts of other tech tools. If they are learning about the workplace, they should probably have the same tools. Or at least the tools that will attract and retain them. That’s one of the biggest issues i think a lot of companies have – how do you get the small pool of really good workers?”

Trend 5: Bring down the walls. “It’s not necessarily a private office; maybe it’s an open area. That’s part of the trend – the walls are coming down. You want to give people real options when they go and work. It doesn’t have to be a desk. It can be a lounge piece; it can be a cool bistro space.”

Trend 6: think outside the box. “Don’t box people in. I think that’s one of the biggest things that we are trying to encourage people to look at. It’s not for everybody; certainly there are people who do require privacy. But be careful when you take something away. For example, when you give people a smaller workstation, they might think you’re taking something away from them. You need to turn around an give them other spaces they can go to. Give them a room that’s nearby, for example, where they can go to make a private phone call or have a private conversation when they need to.”