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What exactly does a 21st Century Classroom look like?  As mentioned in Visualizing 21st Century Classroom Design, “Problem-based learning, makerspaces, flipped learning, student blogging — these are becoming perceived staples of 21st-century learning.”  Below we have applied 4 of these elements with KI Furniture’s Ruckus Collection.

Adapt to teaching and learning styles.

“Element #1: Zones.  Instead of requiring students to learn, work, and think in one place all day, consider how your space might become more flexible.”

KI Furniture’s Ruckus Collection includes everything from seating, to desks, to lockers, and more, and are available on casters for easy mobility.  Change your classroom at a moment’s notice depending on the lesson objectives for the day.  Are your students working on a team project?  Quickly arrange the desks and chairs for collaboration.  State testing taking place?  Place in more traditional rows.  Each day can be different, and each student’s learning style can be addressed with ease.  Sway Lounge Seating also provides a cozy spot for students.

Focus areas as well as lounge areas.

“Element #2: Accessibility.  To walk the talk of a real classroom community, we must ask ourselves if all of our resources are designed and arranged for the convenience of all learners.”  

Want to apply a tiered classroom concept?  The Ruckus Collection offers seating and desking in a variety of heights, ensuring all of your students can view and participate in the lesson for the day.

Tiered seating as an option.

“Element #3: Mobility.  We need to be sure that we’re not catering to just one type of learner. Be mindful of your introverts, extroverts, collaborators, solo thinkers, writers, dreamers, and fidgeters — and design a flexible environment that can meet everyone’s needs.”

Flexible and mobile desk and chairs.

“Element #4: Inspiration.  We often expect students to passively wait until we present opportunities to create, and then we expect them to turn on that creativity like a faucet. We should find ways to foster ongoing inspiration and creativity.”

No more rows. Get creative and inspire your students and teachers.

With maker-centered learning a hot new trend in education, KI Furniture’s Ruckus Collection can easily encourage students to explore ideas with Ruckus Work Tables.  Connection Zones Screens also give students the perfect mobile surface for brainstorming.

There is a roadmap available, we can help.
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Virtual reality for CRE: revolutionizing the buying, selling and consuming experience

Guest post by Buildout.com 

Commercial real estate professionals are embracing technology, putting a once slow-to-adapt industry at the forefront of innovation. One technology that CRE is adopting far faster than many other industries is virtual reality––a tool perfectly suited for CRE’s needs.
KI Backbone Media Center
After decades of unfulfilled promises, VR is finally moving into the mainstream. VR sales are predicted to reach $40.26 billion by 2020. In the five years following, that number will double, and Goldman Sachs believes VR will be an $80 billion dollar industry by 2025.
Let’s take a closer look at VR technology, its recent developments, how it’s already being used in CRE and how you’ll use it in the future in your brokerage and with your clients.
KI Project Roadmap
What virtual reality is and what it isn’t
Virtual reality is, at its essence, a computer trying to trick your brain into thinking you’re looking at something real. To make virtual experiences as realistic as possible, the creators of VR tools are aiming for total immersion. When visuals displayed through headsets or screens are combined with audio and other sensory cues, it enhances the VR experience. Multi-sensory immersion has the potential to make a user completely forget his or her actual physical surroundings, blurring the line between the real world and the virtual.
With the introduction of dozens of new games with virtual reality options, VR is already hot in the video game market. And it makes sense that the gaming industry would be the first to adopt VR, but you can do more with VR today than play video games.
Interior Avenue VR
Facebook was in the news in 2014 when they bought VR company Oculus, but industry pundits were left speculating for quite awhile about the social network’s intentions for the technology. This year, Facebook finally announced they’re using the Oculus platform to create a “social VR” experience: Facebook Spaces.
In Spaces, a user has their own avatar and can interact in a virtual space with others’ avatars. And in creating this platform, Facebook has taken VR tech away from purely presentation and toward actual participation for users.
The original Facebook gradually became a platform for businesses and advertising in addition to organic social interaction, so Spaces and other VR platforms have the potential to become tools for business as well.
Interior Avenue VR
While VR is still mostly in the entertainment domain, it can also be used for such utilitarian tasks as medical training, procedures and therapy. And as it gains traction for consumers, VR is also beginning to make waves in the CRE industry.

What’s already happening with VR in CRE

Major commercial real estate brokerages like JLL, CBREand Cushman & Wakefield as well as property developers like Lendlease and Capitaland in Asia are already using VR to show properties to potential buyers and tenants. And even more brokerages are in the process of investing in and implementing VR solutions because their brokers are seeking tools that give them a competitive edge.
Interior Avenue VR
There are a variety of VR tools on the market for CRE professionals, but some of the most popular include:
»
Matterport, which uses a 3-D camera to create lifelike digital renderings of spaces like dollhouse (3-D floor plan) views and walkthroughs.
»
Realvision, which creates interactive virtual tours and dimensioned floor plans of properties with a DSLR camera.
»
VirtualAPT, which employs robots to film and process realistic, full 360-degree walk-throughs of spaces in real-time.
»
Floored, which allows CRE professionals to explore and share products in an immersive, interactive web-based video game-like experience.
»
Virtual Xperience, which provides photo-realistic VR visualizations like traditional renderings, 360-degree videos and mobile walk-throughs.
But these tools are just the beginning for VR in the CRE industry.
What’s coming for VR in CRE
Right now, the biggest hurdle to the widespread use of VR in CRE is the cost, but as more companies are developing and introducing their versions of the technology, that cost will go down. Then, VR will be everywhere for CRE professionals, their clients and their clients’ tenants.
Interior Avenue VR
How you will use virtual reality
When you market properties, you won’t just show photos and videos. You’ll create a rendering of a finished space that is customized for your client’s wants and needs that your clients can truly experience. As we noted already, you’ll show more spaces in less time from your own office, your client’s office or home or totally virtually.
And once tools like Facebook Spaces are perfected and commercialized, you’ll be able to virtually meet with clients in a far more realistic manner than you can today with video conferencing tools, closing a divide between you and clients all over the world. An example of this could be a potential future integration of Facebook Spaces and a VR property tool like Matterport, wherein you could not only show a rendering of a space, but meet and discuss it like an in-person tour. Close, personal relationships and personalized tours will be possible with anyone, anywhere.
Interior Avenue VR
Beyond the world of CRE brokering and marketing, your clients and their tenants will take advantage of VR tools outside of the real estate buying process as well. It will be nearly as important for you to know how they’re using VR in their work and lives as it will be for you to understand how to use it in yours.
Interior Avenue VR

Ask us about our 3D renderings and how to paint the picture for your client. 

Need a little inspiration for your office design? Click here for some ideas.

For more information about the products featured or if you would like to partner with us, please contact us.

For technical assistance and information click here.

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DESIGNING FOR THE WAY WE WORK NOW

Guest post by Workplace Design,  STEVIE TOEPKE

The first time I ever understood my father’s professional success was when he dragged my brother and me to his office one weekend to grab some paperwork he had left behind. His desk sat in one of the few walled-off rooms with windows, clearly setting him apart. Over the years, his office morphed in ways that reflected increases in his responsibilities, title, and status: bigger, brighter, and even higher in altitude. I soon realized that an office could be a symbol of something greater: a person’s worth.

KI Lightline Walls

I started my own career in Detroit’s auto industry in the late nineties, the heyday for standardization and cubicles. Ford Motor Company, for example, still had specifications outlining the exact square footage, furnishings, windows and items a person was entitled to, according to his or her level. The more important you were, the better your space. That sentiment is perhaps why cubicles, which were originally designed to be flexible and promote collaboration, ultimately became the very embodiment of soulless corporate sameness, a visual representation of how easily employees could be replaced.

Today, of course, we see corporate America bucking this trend. Offices across the country are embracing the open office concept. No walls, no offices, no cubicles. Just expansive spaces designed to foster collaboration and communication. And yet, even this movement has its fair share of issues. (An open office is no doubt close to torture for the easily distracted or introverted among us.)

While it’s tempting to declare this evolutionary process a series of failed experiments, I believe it’s something more.

KI MyPlace

The way we work has changed drastically: laptops and smartphones have replaced the typewriters and Dictaphones of my father’s office. Today’s corporate workforce is made up of knowledge workers, whose capacity for creative thinking, problem solving, and analysis is critical to an organization. At the same time, organizations are flatter, yet more complex, operating with more demands and fewer resources. Employees are multi-tasking and working longer hours.

When The Frontier Project, the Richmond-based boutique consulting firm I currently work for, moved into our new studio last fall, we saw it as an opportunity to create a place that not only reflected our brand and ethos but also amplified the output and performance of our employees.

What we knew we needed above all else was flexibility. So we borrowed from the best of traditional office design as well as more creative office concepts to provide a variety of options, places, and configurations our employees could use as they see fit. We thought about the flow of the building in terms of work activity, then designated space accordingly so that we have six distinct functions: coworking, collaboration, concentration, social, private, and in-between (yes, that last one really is a designated space).

KI Hub Lounge and Aplply Chairs Coworking space

Walk through the front door of The Frontier Project, and you’ll see community tables instead of permanent desks. Employees claim a spot when they arrive and toggle between light chatter with colleagues and working on their laptops. Whoever arrives first chooses the music that plays over the speakers, which provides just the right level of ambient noise (70 decibels, according to researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign).

The coworking space in our studio is where habitual work that requires small to moderate levels of concentration happens: email, administrative tasks, and the more mundane but necessary aspects of our jobs. The mundane, we’ve found, is a little more fun in this communal setting. As a bonus, the convenience of sitting in close proximity to so many colleagues often means emails are ditched in favor of faster, more productive conversations.

KI Connection Zone Collaboration space

Most organizations value collaboration but give little thought to how space design actually helps or hinders this sought-after dynamic. In theory, open space like our community tables could serve as a place to collaborate; unfortunately, if there is too much talking in the designated coworking space, earbuds become standard equipment for anyone not participating in a meeting that needs to work. The value of the light chatter is lost.

Instead, we opted for comfortable, lounge-like vignettes for our collaboration areas. Visitors often comment that these living room-esqe spots are nicer than their own homes, which was a very intentional design goal. A study conducted by PWC in 2013 found that 64 percent of millennials want to work from home. Unfortunately, collaboration is contingent on having employees present. So we outfitted our collaboration spaces with furniture and accessories reminiscent of spaces we’d design for our homes (or better yet, our favorite coffee bars and hotel lobbies) in an effort to lure them from home and remote locations.

KI Connection Booth Concentration space

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research on flow highlights the importance (and difficulty) of accessing the portion of the brain that houses focus, executive function, reason, and higher thinking for knowledge workers. One key requirement to get into this state of mind is to remove distraction. Many organizations have built huddle rooms as a refuge from distraction for work that requires flow. However, for space-constrained offices, this can be a real-estate intensive option often resulting in employees camping out all day in these designated spaces. So we borrowed a page from an old book and created a library, complete with a rustic wood table lined with table lamps and neutrally-painted walls lined with bookshelves. The design choices were functional. Drawing on Charles Duhigg’s work outlined in The Power of Habit, we knew that a library would serve as an environmental cue that would kick the brain into old habits of quiet, concentrated study and thinking. The rules of the room are clear: no meetings or conversations of any kind, on the phone or in-person. We’re even free to shush someone in the library.

KI Doni Chairs and Athens Tables Social space

One of the key drivers of engagement as measured by Gallup’s Employee Engagement Survey is whether or not an employee has a best friend at work. The right space design can facilitate social encounters that give rise to these critical friendships. In our studio, we opted to forgo the ping pong table and design space around the existing social habits of our team. Frontier employees love their coffee and don’t mind cracking open a beer near the end of the day. With that in mind, we built a large, open kitchen boasting a bar that encourages and invites employees to stay and socialize instead of going off-site for food and drink.

Admittedly, there are benefits to social space beyond cultivating friendships that organizations would be well served to promote. In his book Where Good Ideas Come FromSteven Johnsonexplores the space where good ideas are birthed. In looking for patterns of behaviors among hotbeds of creativity across time and cultures, he celebrates the coffee house. Many of us credit caffeine as the fuel of genius; however, Johnson explains that the value of coffee houses lies not in the product they serve but the space it creates for great ideas to bump up against one another and multiply. (Take a look at his TED talk for some great visual illustrations of this concept.)

KI Evoke Wall, Hub Lounge, and Athens Tables Private space

Collaboration and coworking are great, but there are both personal and business-related discussions that require discretion. A small room designated as a “phone booth” allows our employees a measure of privacy for quiet conversations without the need to book an entire conference or huddle room, depriving multiple people of meeting space during that time. And while the phone booth is comfortable for a conversation, it is small enough that it doesn’t encourage all-day encampments.

Darran Thinking Quietly In-between space

The famed Building 20 on MIT’s campus is the stuff of innovation legends. In his book How Buildings LearnStewart Brand explains how the building’s rambling nature gave rise to so much innovation, crediting the constant accidental, daily run-ins people from different departments would have with one another. Brand referred to the by-product of these run-ins as “knowledge spillover.” Research conducted at MIT by Thomas Allen illustrates the importance of this physical proximity. The Allen Curve shows that the likelihood of weekly contact between team members drops precipitously when they are more than 10 meters (32.8 feet apart).

In-between spaces can be designed to facilitate these bump-ins. Purposely spacing work areas at distances so employees have to pass through certain corridors can help. Making the corridors functional and interesting can also be transformative. In Frontier’s space, we’ve created day storage where people keep and retrieve their space at the beginning and end of the day. We’ve put mailboxes in a space separate from the day storage. And we’ve partnered with a local museum to display a photo exhibit near our front-door entrance for added visual pops and intrigue.

The flexible workspace has been a boon to the culture and performance here at The Frontier Project. While stylish and hip, the intentional design goes beyond form and actually facilitates function. By borrowing from the best aspects throughout the evolution of workspace design — from the days of my father’s work to the days of cubicles — we’ve created a space that supports the needs of a changing workforce.

AMQ Kinex

Need a little inspiration for your office design? Click here for some ideas.

For more information about the products featured or if you would like to partner with us, please contact us.

For technical assistance and information click here.

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LET’S STOP WITH THE MILLENNIAL BASHING, ALREADY

Guest post by Workplace Design, Stephanie DouglassTeknion‘s director of workplace strategy

It’s the end of January, and for those of you who didn’t bother making a resolution for 2016 – or if yours has already failed – I’ve got one to suggest for you: No more millennial bashing.

KI Thinking Design

Seriously. I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve read, presentations I’ve heard, and corporate meetings I’ve been in during which millennials in the workforce are referenced as a foreign species who demand things like “flexibility” and “input” and will only work while wearing headphones and sitting on beanbags. Anytime I hear someone reference “the millennials”, two things pop into my head: one, if you’re using the term, then you’re not one (and likely not speaking to one), and two, haven’t we learned that putting large cohorts of people into stereotypical buckets generally doesn’t end well? Why do people assume it’s OK to do it based on age?

Millennials are loosely defined as being born between 1980 and the early aughts. Based on that, there are an estimated 83 million millennials in the U.S. alone. For reference, the preceding Generation X (born 1965 to 1980) is around 82 million people, and Baby Boomers (born 1944 to 1964) are an estimated 76.4 million. These are massive groups of people. Unsurprisingly, they share many, if not more, similarities as differences between them.

KI Thinking Design

I was born in December 1979, so I self-identify as a borderline millennial (the leading edge, if you will). And I’ve become something of a millennial apologist, since I’ve most often been in the position of being the youngest person in the meeting room and feel like I need to stick up for my cohort. Though they’re not in the minority: according to the most recent findings from the Pew Research Center, millennials now make up a majority of the labor force (by one percent, a number that will only increase in the next few years as more Baby Boomers retire).

I’ve become something of a millennial apologist, since I’ve most often been in the position of being the youngest person in the meeting room and feel like I need to stick up for my cohort.

To be clear, differences between generations are nothing new. Older generations and younger generations looking at each other in distrust is standard operating procedure. (If the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30” rings a bell, you know what I’m talking about.) Younger generations have always wanted to ambitiously change the world; older generations have always had more experience and life lessons that shape their views. There’s nothing new about the dynamic. What has changed are the tools – namely, technology – that make this generation and beyond less beholden to the traditional ways of doing things.

We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg here, particularly in terms of how it impacts the workforce. My husband and I have been together for 13 years. In that time we’ve moved 10 times as we both sought to establish our respective careers in our mid-20s to 30s. Between the two of us, grad schools, job opportunities, and post-docs moved us to eight different cities, two different time zones, and more moving vans than we care to remember.

What’s most interesting about our situation, though, is that it’s not all that unusual. As younger people are trying to establish careers, particularly as part of a couple, it will inevitably require more balance, and often times more flexibility. Opportunities to work remotely and companies that allow workers more flexibility will have a much wider talent pool to choose from. When we decided to move to our current locale, it was for my husband’s teaching position, which requires him to be physically present on campus. My knowledge work doesn’t require that sort of physical presence – working remotely, with a combination of the right technology tools and travel when necessary allow me to work for a company that doesn’t have any physical presence in this state. The company gets a resource that’s not limited by geography, and I get a role that is a better fit for my skill set than what’s available locally: a mutually beneficial scenario.

For an increasing number of millennials in the workplace, bean bags are only relevant if they’re in the childcare center that the company provides.

KI Thinking Design

We had a son last year. Mark Zuckerberg, symbol of the millennial generation with his hoodies and billion dollar startup, had a baby last month. We are now on the front edge of the wave of our generation having kids. That’s going to have big implications for work and work life balance. And if companies think that people will want less flexibility than they have now, guess again. Celebrated millennial-centric workplace perks like beer and ping-pong may evolve into things like childcare and new parent leave. Here’s hoping that our generation has enough pull to change the current business protocols, which are hopelessly outdated and based on a model that had the men working outside the home and women dedicated to childcare at home. We know that’s not how things work now, yet many of our system and policies don’t reflect current needs.  For an increasing number of millennials in the workplace, bean bags are only relevant if they’re in the childcare center that the company provides.

KI Thinking Design

And if we really want to think about the future of work, millennials aren’t it. I spoke to a group of students at Cornell this past fall and had two revelations. First, I trouble figuring out the classroom technology to present my visuals, and then, I heard myself using the phrase “back in my day”, un-ironically. It was an a ha moment for me – I’m used to being one of the younger people in a corporate setting, but to these students, I’m old. If we’re really focused on the future and designing for the next generation entering the workforce, this is who we need to focus on.

It’s time to move beyond the fiction of millennial stereotypes, and focus on designing work, and workplaces that celebrate the fact that our workforce today is more diverse than ever, in every category, and that everyone has something to contribute. Even millennials.

KI Thinking Design

Need a little inspiration for your office design? Click here for some ideas.

For more information about the products featured or if you would like to partner with us, please contact us.

For technical assistance and information click here.

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LEARNING FROM THE WORST WORKPLACES EVER

Guest post by Workplace Design, Marie PuybaraudJLL‘s global head of research

At one time or another in our professional lives, we have all found ourselves in a work environment that was so uninspiring that it taught us something. That corner office that was in such a poor state that you felt the uncontrollable urge to rearrange immediately, shifting around filing cabinets and desks to create some sense of community. It can actually be a fabulous and enriching exercise to learn from the bad.

AREA INTL Fairfax Mesh Chairs

Several examples come to mind:

  • Picture an underground R&D lab with no direct light where only the white board (a real innovation at the time) sparks with bright ideas. Introvert researchers emerge only occasionally in front of this shiny white surface to share their latest ideas, which remained on the board for weeks. The space was terrible, but sustained focus on that one spot in the space yielded lots of inspiration.
  • Imagine a suburban office filled with cherished archives and redundant dark furniture that blocks everyone’s line of sight and creates territories that will eventually have to come down to make more room. The fix? A team-building exercise that suddenly broke down visual barriers and created more cohesion among the teams, thus transforming territoriality into a therapeutic exercise on the value of shared space. Breaking down those visual barriers led to more open collaboration.
  • What about the media environment where creativity is at the core of the business’ success and failure to perform means the end of your career? The “open bar” budgetary approach of some departments creates major disruptions (and nightmares for the facilities manager), but it also empowers teams to create their own cocoons of inspiration, which in turn boosts performance and creativity because they can claim a space as their own. An open fit out budget lead to more freedom of expression.
AMQ ICON Series

There are some important lessons learned from the above examples:

  • Rigid work environments do not always support high levels of creativity
    Clinical environments impose discipline on your teams, which is not compatible with creativity. Always allow for some flexibility in your design.
  • Too much control over the environment restrains freedom of thinking
    Low-tech environments are often the best productive spaces – even in 2015. You should always have at least one available on demand.
  • Inspiration often comes down to a single element or product in your environment
    Resist the urge to change it, even if it looks appalling. Your employees may love it.
AMQ ICON Series

The issue lies between offering a working environment that is focused on performance and productivity without stifling creativity.

How can this balance, illustrated in the table above, be embraced and achieved in any workplace design? Here are three places to start:

  • User engagement
    Users must be involved at an early stage because they will be the ones spending the most time in the space. This allows for a maximum level of flexibility in the design so you can embrace disruptive ways of working.
  • Allow for flexibility
    Freedom is at the core of the success of a team: freedom of movements, thoughts, ideas and creativity.
  • People-centric design
    People and workplace are the foundations of success and need to be in harmony.
AMQ Icon Series

By considering these three aspects, you’ll be able to create a workplace that supports performance and productivity without killing a creativity.

Need a little inspiration for your office design? Click here for some ideas.

For more information about the products featured or if you would like to partner with us, please contact us.

For technical assistance and information click here.

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10 PREDICTIONS FOR COWORKING

Guest post by Workplace Design, Jamie Russo

You’ve probably heard of coworking by now. It’s not just a fad — it’s here to stay. Why? Because coworking brings with it a new chapter of opportunities and innovation.

Autex Etch Wallcovering

As the industry continues to grow, here are my top ten predictions for coworking in 2017.

1. Developers will be looking for operator partners to bring vibrancy to their new buildings

Developers are starting to put coworking spaces on the to-do checklist. In Arlington Heights, Ill., Mara Hauser, founder and CEO of 25N Coworking, is partnering with the developer of Arlington Downs to add coworking to the project. According to the city’s business development coordinator, “Arlington Downs will provide urban-style amenities to the suburbs, and this coworking concept is a perfect addition to the development.”

Granite Properties, a Texas-based developer, has put coworking in their notable 215,000 square foot Factory Six03 project in Dallas’ West End, and they are already looking for an operator for their Granite Park project in Plano. They believe the value of coworking in buildings includes:

  • Increased activity in building
  • The option for flex space with corporate users
  • The coworking space operator can manage other amenities like conference space and lounges
  • “Vibe”
  • Potentially increased value to the building
OFGO My Studio 2. Enterprise coworking will continue to trickle into spaces with scale and network

According to a recent article in Inc., “New research from cloud services firm West Unified Communications Services finds that more than 90 percent of all generations — including millennials, gen x-ers, and baby boomers — are taking advantage of their companies’ remote work policies. Of note, millennials (or those between the ages of 18 and 34) are more likely to use all of their available remote work time, and they’re increasingly using it up at co-working spaces. The study surveyed 300 full time U.S. workers.”

WeWork reports that about 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies already rent space in its locations, and firms with 15 or more people comprise its fastest growing customer base. Sixteen WeWork members have more than 100 desks, according to the company. WeWork has hired a head of enterprise sales to focus on this segment.

While the conversation about recruiting and retaining the millennial workforce continues to be a hot one, the shift to flexible work arrangements and stipends to work in coworking spaces is still trickling. I was surprised at the lack of coworking conversation at the Workplace Evolutionariesmeeting at the Nike campus in June, and then at the WORKTECH 16 West Coast event in October.

A potential challenge is the inability for real estate executives to evaluate the quality of coworking spaces, causing them to focus on the lone behemoth, WeWork, and the more corporate version, Regus. Both have global networks and a single point of billing.

OFGO MyStudio 3. The “combo space” will become the go-to design, especially in smaller markets

OK, the “combo space” is not for every workspace but it is a crowd pleaser. I think we’ll start to see a lot more of this, especially in smaller markets where shared workspace awareness is still growing and the P&L could use some revenue diversification.

The most recent example of the combo space that I’ve toured is COVO in San Francisco. On a busy but still slightly gritty street, a block from the Westfield mall, the lobby features a public coffee bar with coffee, tea, espresso drinks, and pastry items. Non-members can grab a coffee and stay and work for $3/hour in a beautifully designed, vibrant, “I feel like I’m in someone’s beautiful home but I can sit down and get comfy and focus” café area. My friend, Rebecca Pan, COVO’s CEO, was also the COO at NextSpace, which has nine coworking locations in the Bay Area.

My familiarity with the founding team aside, they’ve done an outstanding job of integrating the principles that have become at least theoretical standards for creative, collaborative workspaces. They partnered with West Elm on the project so much of the furniture is sourced from the West Elm Workspace line. They’ve hit a home run on the consumer affinity for “bringing home to work.” They’ve combined the stylish yet comfortable design of an apartment you’d see on Apartment Therapy with the tools and thoughtful integrations that you need to get good work done (power everywhere! phone booths galore!).

The first floor is public café space and meeting rooms. The lower floor is private offices and dedicated member areas (and free coffee for members). In the early evening, the bar opens for business and you can meet a business colleague or a friend or significant other for a drink. The café area flexes into a legitimate event space for up to 400 people after hours — a feature that brings in an event rental fee and a food and beverage minimum.

From a user experience perspective, the space captures the blurred lines of living and working. From a business model perspective, the coffee shop brings activity and awareness, and the event space also brings activity and prospective members. The latter also carries the added benefit of a meaningful revenue stream — so much so that COVO just hired a full time events manager. For many smaller shared workspaces, hosting events can be an exhausting, low-margin effort to drive member and external community engagement. The meeting rooms were at capacity on the day I was there, adding to the coffee bar’s vibe and revenue. The traffic on the café floor was just the right amount to add energy to the space and sustained that perfect noise level that is neither too distracting nor library-approved quiet. The entire space is carpeted. In some spaces, carpet would have negative effect, but here, with the high ceilings, coffee bean grinders, and busy foot traffic, it works extremely well and adds to the coziness of the space.

I believe businesses will continue to find that the combo approach will help shared workspaces in smaller markets find a sustainable business model and will be very appealing to today’s design/experience/amenity-sensitive shared workspace consumer.

In short: we’re going to see more of these in 2017.

OFGO MyStudio 4. Suburban coworking will continue to grow

Two of the examples mentioned above — Arlington Downs and Granite Park — speak to another 2017 trend on the move: suburban coworking.

People migrate to the suburbs for the school systems, not because they want to give up their urban amenities and experiences. Today’s suburban building owners want to provide “experience” and “vibe” in their buildings, and they are adding coworking as an amenity or as a contracted operation to achieve this goal.

Serviced offices have long since found homes in suburban marketplaces, but the new floor plans that integrate more open space and amenities associated with urban locations (such as café areas) are moving into the designs.

OFGO MyStudio 5. WeWork challengers will emerge

While the media loves to poke holes in the WeWork model, as in so many other industries, there are advantages to scale and 2017 will see new players in it to challenge WeWork’s singularity as the market’s “Starbucks.” I see a chicken/egg challenge with enterprise coworking and the current market. Larger players can enter the market with access to enterprise customers that fill spaces faster than individuals, freelancers, and small startup teams. On the flip side, large companies are looking for a network of qualified spaces with a single billing contact to simplify third space management.

One factor that we see stalling growth a bit is that investors are looking for early operators that have proven success across diverse markets. These are few and far between, so investors must take on more risk and, most likely, take longer evaluating investment candidates.

Along with “chain-like” brands with broad geographic coverage, I think we will also see the growth of networks such as Deskpass and LEXC, aiming to provide a curated list of spaces that are bookable through a single portal.

MooreCo Visionary Curve Board 6. The average shared workspace size will continue to increase

According to the annual Global Workspace Association Financial Study, serviced offices have long operated on footprints larger than 15,000 square feet. In 2015, 62 percent of respondents reported operating locations with greater than 15,000 square feet. According to the Financial Study results, larger revenue workspaces equal larger profits. Workspaces with revenue over $1 million in revenue showed a 12.7 percent profit, while workspaces with revenue under $500,000 averaged 9.8 percent profit.

Notable examples include Enterprise 5280 in Denver, which opened with 42,000 square feet this past June. There is also Hub Australia, which opened with 66,000 square feet this fall. Grind has taken it’s typical 10-13,000 square foot template to 18,000 at Broadway/30th. Cross Campusopened 33,000 square feet on Wilshire Boulevard in LA in April 2016.

According to the latest DeskMag survey, the average coworking space size has doubled in the last two years — from 4800 square feet to 9600. I think that trend will continue at a similar rate.

Generally, larger space equals more sustainable business model and superior user experience. The largest overhead expenses for coworking spaces are rent (variable), high speed Internet (fixed) and staff (fixed to a point). As spaces grow, they can accommodate more meeting rooms (revenue stream), events, corporate off-sites (training), revenue-generating amenities such as café, bars, fitness facilities, locker rooms, bike storage, etc. (see prediction number three). The user experience improves as spaces get larger because they allow for designs that support activity-based working. A smaller space will be dominated by private offices, coworking seats, and dedicated desks. A larger space will be anchored by those spaces but also include a larger variety of meeting rooms, phone booths, lounge areas, focus areas, collaboration areas, and community gathering areas.

AMQ Activ Electric Desks 7. Existing businesses are leveraged as coworking spaces

Leveraging an existing business not designed to be workspace brings a walk-in cooler’s worth of trade-offs, but the ability to leverage the space of another business during a non-peak time as workspace creates enough upside that I think we’ll see this approach grow in 2017.

Trade-offs:

  • Lack of power in appropriate locations
  • Lack of seating designed for sitting more than an hour or two
  • Lack of privacy for phone calls
  • Lack of diverse settings for different types of work needs
  • Probably no fiber internet

Upsides:

  • Can make coworking accessible to almost anyone, anywhere, and convenience will often trump a fancy task chair
  • The cost to use the space should be notably lower since someone else’s P&L was already covering the rent
  • The Internet can probably be configured to be “good enough” for the average office worker

Switch Cowork launched in Austin this year. Their website claims that they “turn well-designed bars and restaurants into coworking spaces during the day.” Monthly memberships are $99/month. Spacious kicked off its $95/month marketplace in NYC, promising you “access to a network of beautiful spaces with everything you need to meet, work and recharge.”

KI Stride Barstool 8. Asia continues to move ahead of the US on size and scale of coworking spaces

The coworking explosion in China will continue in 2017. Naked Hub just opened its sixth location in China. At 48,000 square feet, the space has wine tasting, a chess room, a suspended meditation room, and a multi-purpose fitness area, among other amenities. People Squared in Beijing and Shanghai has 15 locations, all 40,000-50,000 square feet in size. Collective Works has two high-end locations in Singapore, the second is 22,000 square feet. In 2015, UR Work has 15 locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Xi’an covering 215,000 square feet and in 2016 will have opened 35 projects covering 1.2 million square feet.

KI My Place 9. Retail vendors will move into coworking

In 2016 we saw West Elm, traditionally a home goods retailer, make a big move into work place furniture. We also saw brands like Yankee Candle introduce itself to the shared space market — they have a custom fragrance product that operates on an IoT platform. CoverWallet is partnering with coworking spaces to help small businesses and startups get business insurance. It’s exciting to see non-technology vendors commit to the space. We are looking forward to more creative entrants in 2017.

KI Connection Zone 10. I am with Steve on being bullish on the coworking industry!

Steve King released his 2016 Global Coworking Forecast in August predicting just under 15,000 coworking spaces in 2017, and 26,078 by 2020. That’s a 23.8 percent compound annual growth rate. We’re going all in with Steve on his growth projections.

Any trend looking to double its growth in only four years is going to make for an exciting ride, and coworking will be no exception. As investors, companies, and individuals continue to explore this idea over the next year as well as those following, the possibilities will continue to grow. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Happy coworking!

KI MyPlace

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LEARNING DIFFERENCES AND WHAT THEY MEAN FOR WORKPLACE STRATEGY

Guest post by Workplace Design, Arnold Levin , Smithgroup

In this first article, I’ll begin by framing the problem, exploring the context, issues, needs, and gaps around the areas of learning differences along with problems with current attitudes and thinking around learning differences and relationships to workplace strategies. We’ll explore how too much emphasis has been placed on using trends and benchmarking as substitutes for meaningful research, and how understanding and identifying the elusive productivity factor in workplace design can best be explained through the lens of articulating the relationship between learning styles and work styles, and how one’s learning styles actually inform ones work styles, resulting in an individual’s workplace performance.

Takeform Amplify

Developing workplace strategies around trends or benchmarking has always been of great concern to me. Many clients want to know what the latest trends in workplace design are, what others in their industry are doing. Workplace designers have been all too accommodating in providing this data and information, often at the expense of better research into how to quantify performance and uncovering more substantial information that better connects a particular workplace design strategy to an organization’s performance.

I have watched as our profession has used trends, best practices, and benchmarking as “research” rationalizations for guiding clients into making decisions on what form of workplace design strategy would be most appropriate for their organization. I believe it has been one of the greatest shortcomings of the design and workplace strategy profession and has resulted in the commodification of our profession, as well as missed opportunities in making substantial connections between these design strategies and a business case for adopting them. This concern led me to go back to graduate business school to search for a more substantive way to actually frame workplace strategies as a business case, free of trends and fads.

KI MyPlace

There’s a fundamental flaw in thinking around how individuals behave and are most effective in the workplace.

Yet in many ways, despite two graduate business degrees in design management and organizational design, I, like many of my colleagues, operated under a fundamental flaw in thinking around how individuals behave and are most effective in the workplace. Despite working with clients and organizations for over 45 years in developing workplace design strategies, up until a number of years ago I assumed that one’s ability to be collaborative, or how one engages in highly focused or concentrative work, was a matter of assuming certain attitudes and personal preferences towards where one engages in these work activities. Even with the discussions around introverts needing more private spaces for focus work, I was and remain somewhat skeptical that introverts might not be better served by encouraging participation in a more collaborative work environment in order to better draw them into team functions.

My teenage daughter changed my mindset, re-framed my thinking, and opened up an entirely new way of understanding an immensely overlooked notion around how we should be understanding how individuals work most effectively and therefore what types of work environments best support those individuals. In third grade she was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, two forms of learning differences that caused frustration, anxiety, and distress in her educational performance and school life.

After three years (from pre-school to second grade) of not understanding why she was not reading like her peers or adapting to memorizations of simple nursery rhymes and spelling, and despite a high IQ, my wife and I discovered the cause was learning differences or learning disabilities (LD).

KI MyPlace

After the diagnosis, my daughter was fortunate to have been accepted at The Lab School of Washington, a school specializing in innovative and creative ways of teaching children with similar learning differences, many of whom would be ignored in conventional schools with conventional learning environments. Yet, with the proper support systems, my daughter and her peers would be fully capable to function and thrive in higher education later in their learning career. (I will discuss more about The Lab School and what workplace can learn from it in my next article).

My daughter is now beginning her third year in college after having been accepted in all five of her top choice schools, despite the statistics of students with LD not going on to higher education, particularly college and university.

I attribute much of her success with what she learned while at The Lab School (along with her tenacity). As she grew and went from The Lab School to intermediary support schools, on to a mainstream high school, and now college, she maintained a support system that allowed her to make use of certain tools and work settings to enable her to compensate for her LD. The tools included sitting in front of the classroom to better focus on her teachers, being provided with written notes of class lectures to allow her to also focus on what her teachers were discussing, wearing headphones, and being allowed to take tests in a private room in order to mask distractions.

KI Sway and MyPlace Lounge

There is a relationship between learning styles and work styles which we have for the most part been ignoring in our assessment of organizations and work modes.

Most importantly, what The Lab School taught her in order to function in the mainstream world was to recognize how she learned: identifying what her learning style was and how to advocate for herself to obtain the tools and learning environment that would enable her to receive information according to her learning style. My breakthrough moment came a number of years ago when I realized that if my daughter were to seek out a career that would place her in any of the open work environments that we in this industry were advocating based on openness transparency and collaboration, she would have difficulty in being effective and productive. She would suffer the same frustrations that led her to be diagnosed with LD in the first place, unless these work environments provided her with similar options and opportunities that she had while in school.

By looking at work environments through my daughter’s eyes, I also began to recognize the importance of understanding learning styles as a means to better understand work styles and ultimately what types and forms of work environments best support these work styles. One of the primary things I learned is that there is a relationship between learning styles and work styles. We’ve, for the most part, been ignoring it in our assessment of organizations and work modes. We look at focus work, collaboration, and social interaction, and we make distinctions between introverts and extroverts, yet these over simplifications of work styles falls short of truly identifying the breadth of work styles that exist within individuals and in the workplace.

KI Hub Lounge and Doni Chairs

One of the important things my daughter learned at The Lab School was the need to recognize her learning style and seek out tools and environments that best support those learning styles. These learning styles include auditory, sensory, kinetic, and visual ways of learning. Depending on where one is within this spectrum will result in differing approaches to the environments and tools one needs.

How we learn evolves into how we work, yet once we leave school and enter the workforce these learning styles are for the most part ignored and not taken into consideration.

But it is not just individuals with LD who are influenced by learning styles. All of us have a learning style that can be categorized within those four frameworks and which will result in the work styles we adapt as adults. How we learn evolves into how we work, yet once we leave school and enter the workforce these learning styles are for the most part ignored and not taken into consideration. One is told where to collaborate and where to engage in focus work. We assume we all collaborate the same and do focus work the same. Yet, these work modes are different for each of us depending on our learning style. Why can some people do focus work in the middle of Starbucks with music, noise and activities in the background, while others find it impossible to do focus work even with minimal distractions? Collaboration is all about sharing ideas and information. It’s dependent on how we process information and interact with colleagues, yet we have ignored that learning styles and work styles are all about how we process this information differently as individuals.

KI MyPlace

My hypothesis is that we need to better understand the range of work styles that exist in an organization based on learning styles. We also need to be more cognizant and aware of the breadth of issues around learning differences, and how they impact productivity and effectiveness in work. We also must recognize how the workplace can truly be a driving force in mitigating this problem and ultimately resulting in that so called “high performance workplace”.

My awareness of this conflict resulted in my doing some research on the breadth of learning differences in our society and its impact in our workplaces. In a data driven world, here are some startling statistics that should inform our thinking around the design strategies of our workplace environments:

KI WorkUp Tables
  • One in five individuals has some form of learning difference, resulting in learning differences that — with the proper support systems — will allow individuals to fully function in mainstream organizations (U.S. Department of Education).
  • This affects some 10 to 15 million Americans alone (Washington Post). An incredible statistic. Yet most organizations do not recognize these differences as a source of effectiveness and productivity. This is partially due to ignorance on the subject, and partially due to the unfortunate fact that the majority of individuals with LD do not speak openly about it to their employers and colleagues for fear of not being hired, promoted, or given equal opportunities — despite the fact that LD falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • A study by the University of Connecticut followed 500 graduates, all of whom acknowledged having LD. One-hundred percent had disclosed these differences at university, but by the time they entered the workforce, only 55 percent disclosed their LD to employers. Of these, only 12 percent requested some form of accommodations. More incredibly, 20 percent of these individuals experienced some form of negative consequences as a result of this disclosure.

While most often diagnosed in childhood, LD is not outgrown in adulthood. More importantly, it is about processing issues: verbal, writing, assimilating information, and relaying information, all of which are critical components of a knowledge workforce being driven by a need to innovate more, break down siloes, and where collaboration is highly valued and is increasingly becoming mainstream as a perquisite for creativity and innovation. However, these very same processing attributes impact individuals without LD, as well. These attributes are equally impacted by everyone’s learning styles and, therefore, their work styles.

KI Apply Stool and Connection Zone Tables

How we develop workplace design strategies to take all of this into consideration should be where we as strategists and designers direct our focus, instead of relying on fads, trends, and benchmarking. Learning from LD (both from what is being creating in schools focusing on LD, as well as how individuals with LD best operate in the world), and recognizing that work styles are directly informed by learning styles will allow us in the design profession to begin a discourse with our clients to uncover how this impacts their organization and ultimately the design strategies we develop for them.

KI Apply Chairs and Connection Zone Tables

Need a little inspiration for your office design? Click here for some ideas.

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TRY THESE SPACE HACKS IN YOUR OFFICE guest post by Workplace Design

As humans, we often make modifications to the environments we inhabit to better serve our needs. In some spaces we have more freedom to make changes than others. In our own homes, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the way we customize our living spaces. But what happens when we enter the workplace? This is a space that has historically allowed for very little modification possibilities. Our human nature does not get left at the door when we walk into the office, rather we take our needs, personalities, and preferences into the workplace.

The changes we make to accommodate our needs may range from plastering pictures of one’s family on any open surface, creating makeshift barriers with stacks of paper, or only communicating with coworkers digitally because there are not appropriate spaces for collaboration. With an absence of supportive environments, workplaces can become cluttered and no longer work well as creative hubs and production centers.

Some workspaces have realized that they can account for these common workplace modifications by providing objects that are designed to be customized and have hacks built in! This can come in the form of height-adjustable desks, customized office lighting, and attractive workplace accessories.

KI Unite System

If you are experiencing a misalignment of space and people check out the tips below for ways to introduce space hacks.

1. Partitions and screens

In an open floor workplace some people find the need for more privacy and separation. This can have to do with different work styles or the need for less visual and auditory distraction. Others just need less socialization at work in order to be productive which might mean a little more physical separation is necessary. Thankfully partitions can provide some of this necessary workplace respite. This can be accomplished by purchasing partitions specifically designed for the workplace, having movable partitions on wheels, or using desktops computers that can double as makeshift partitions. Vitra offers a solution to this, appropriately called “hack“. This solution offers and mobile and re-configurable product that can work as a partition system when you need it to. So no need to hide behind those stacks of paper anymore!

AMQ Activ Electric Desk

2. Height adjustable desk

Sitting is the new smoking! Ever heard that? While we may not agree with this alarming statement there are reasons to offer height adjustable desks in the workplace. To account for desk sharing, storage needs, and personal preference, providing the option of standing height desks can help offer a quick solution. You can sit, you can stand, you can create a super secret fort beneath it with bean bag chairs. A company who has recognized this workplace need and risen to meet it is West Elm. At NeoCon 2016 they showed off their new adjustable height benching systems. Keep in mind Several of our PLASTARC studies show that unless standing height desks are deployed office-wide it is far less likely that one person will utilize a standing desk while everyone else around them is seated.

KI Hub Lounge

3. Collaborative zones

Within a work environment, you can create collaborative zones just by providing movable furniture like stools or chairs with handles, that employees can rearrange as needed. Spaces that serve both as heads down spaces and as collaborative spaces help to create a workplace that can serve more than one need. Knowing that the environment supports collaboration and meeting can encourage employees to seek information from one another. It is possible to have a collaborative and concentrative environment all in one, just so long as the right furniture and social cues are provided to encourage usage.

Takeform Branding

4. Personalization

No, this does not mean bringing in even more photos of your dog dressed in that cute Halloween costume. This means bringing plants, workplace objects, and accessories like desk lamps into the workplace. One company that has nearly perfected this practice is WeWork. WeWork curates the art and objects in each of its locations. If you work in the Times Square location, you are going to see books, neon signs, and wallpaper that all harken back to the neighborhood’s seedier past. In Brooklyn you may just find some wallpaper honoring famous Brooklyn born artists like Biggie. The goal of the workplace is to create a space that has personality but is not necessarily personal. This is the difference between having books that look like they could belong in someone’s home and having every employee bring in the dog-eared copy of their favorite childhood book.

KI MyPlace

Hopefully one of these four space hacks will help solve for some of your common workplace space issues. The workplace is where many American adults spend the majority of our waking hours. Work should not be a space that depletes energy and zaps creativity. But there is a risk of this happening when people make certain modifications that clutter and distract colleagues. Companies that are able to create a sense of ownership and engagement in the workplace through the use of space hacks encourage their employees to be active participants and modify their environment in efficient ways to meet their needs.

Need a little inspiration for your office design? Click here for some ideas.

For more information about the products featured or if you would like to partner with us, please contact us.

For technical assistance and information click here.

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Employee Turnover

Guest post by Nora St-Aubin, Officevibe.com

Employee turnover is something all companies should pay attention to, because the effects of turnover will be different for every organization.

Autex Acoustics Composition Wall covering

Some degree of turnover is unavoidable, and eliminating turnover altogether is unrealistic. That being said, it’s important to figure out the balance of departures and new hires that works best for your company.

We want to help you understand the types of turnover and their implications, and offer tips on reducing your turnover rate.

Definition Of Employee Turnover

A simple definition of employee turnover is how many people leave an organization and are then replaced by new employees in a given timeframe. Usually, turnover rates are calculated by a fiscal year. Employee turnover can have certain negative impacts on a company, which we’ll get into, but it isn’t necessarily all bad.

KI Hub Lounge Voluntary Vs. Involuntary Turnover

There’s a distinction to be made between voluntary and involuntaryemployee turnover. Voluntary turnover happens when employees are replaced after leaving by their own choice, and involuntary turnover happens when employees are replaced after termination.

Undesirable Vs. Desirable Turnover

Turnover is considered undesirable when a company loses high performing and otherwise valuable employees and replacement is difficult and expensive. On the other hand, turnover is considered desirable when a company loses underperforming employees and replaces them with employees who will improve output.

KI Sway and Lyra Lounge Is Employee Turnover Good Or Bad?

As you can see, there are a few factors to consider when assessing your organization’s turnover and whether it’s positive or negative.

Ultimately, it isn’t just about how many people leave, but who is leaving. Context is key to evaluating your company’s turnover rate.

Causes Of Employee Turnover

There are many causes of employee turnover, but an overarching factor is employee disengagement. Two areas that can have a big impact on turnover and retention are hiring practices and management.

Project Roadmap KI Hiring Practices

A big part of why employees might leave and need replacement is that they aren’t the right fit. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re hiring the best candidates not just for the position, but for the company.

Of course you want candidates to be qualified, but you should also consider things such as cultural fit and company alignment. Technical skills may be key to performance, but motivation and a sense of purpose are key to engagement.

KI Sway Lounge and Connection Zone Screens Management

Getting the right people into your organization is step one, but it’s also about keeping them there. You’ve probably heard it before, but most people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. In fact, 75% of employees who quit their jobs quit because of their manager.

Employees need support and guidance from their managers, which is why effective leadership is so important. This relates back to hiring, because it’s important to make sure that the right people are being hired or promoted into management positions. Being a manager is about more than being an expert or star performer, it’s about having the emotional intelligencenecessary for people management.

Proper training and coaching are essential to successful leadership, and making employees feel empowered and supported. Managers should be given resources to improve in their roles and encouraged to seek growth and development opportunities both inside and outside of the company.

KI Evolve walls and Sway Lounge Employee Turnover Statistics

Now that you have a more nuanced understanding of employee turnover, let’s take a look at the current state of employee turnover and retention in the workforce.

According to Bonusly:

More than ¼ of employees are in a high-retention-risk category, and many of them are top performers with critical skills.

44% of employees say they would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% or less.

More than 70% of high-retention-risk employees say to advance their careers they need to leave their company.

Employees who are “highly engaged and thriving” are 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next year.

In our own real-time report on the international State Of Employee Engagement, data reveals that:

15% of employees do not see themselves working at their company one year from now.

What’s more, according to Gallup:

51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs.

Employees feel that they have to leave their companies in order to grow. This is a shame, because the longer an employee stays in your organization, the more of an asset they become. Opportunities to evolve within a company are essential to employee retention.

Takeform Amplify Employee Turnover Rate Calculation

Looking at the types of turnover and the underlying causes of it gives context to your company’s turnover rate and helps you to understand its implications. That being said, it’s important to look at the numbers to get an idea of where you stand.

To calculate employee turnover in your organization, you’ll need three numbers:

  1. The number of employees that left (voluntarily and involuntarily) in a year,
  2. The number of employees that you started the year with, and
  3. The number of employees that you ended the year with.
AMQ Zilo

Start by adding the number of employees that you started the year with and the number of employees that you ended the year with, and divide that total by 2. Then, divide the number of employees that left in the year by the outcome from that first equation. Multiply your final outcome by 100.

Not a math person? We’ve broken it down for you with an example. Suppose you start the year with 200 employees, and 30 of them leave throughout the year. During the same year, you hire 25 new employees to fill in the gaps, leaving you with 195 employees at the end of the year. Your turnover rate would be 15%.

According to Gallup, 10% would be the ideal rate, but of course this will vary from company to company. The best thing to do is look at your own organization’s rate over time to get a sense of your average, and do research on average turnover rates in your industry.

Employee Turnover Costs & Impacts

Every time you have to replace or hire a new employee, it costs your organization money.

This graph by Josh Bersin demonstrates it well:

Essentially, keeping a high performing and engaged employee is more cost effective than bringing on someone new.

Beyond the financial implications of employee turnover, though, there are impacts on the company and your other employees. Losing an employee can decrease morale among the remaining employees.

When an employee is terminated, it can cause anxiety among the rest of the team if they fear that their positions may be at risk, too. On the other hand, when an employee leaves by choice it can sometimes cause a domino effect if the underlying causes for them leaving are impacting other team members.

This is why it’s essential that transparency and open communication between employees and managers is encouraged, especially in relation to employee turnover.

KI Hub and MyPlace How To Reduce Employee Turnover

As the saying goes, prevention is the first solution. Focusing on employee retention by increasing engagement and growth opportunities will help you to reduce your organization’s turnover rate.

So how do you reduce employee turnover in your company? We have some ideas…

  1. Improve The Hiring Process

    The hiring process is where it all begins, so it’s important to get it right. Ask questions about who your candidates are as people in your interviews, not just their technical experience, and have them perform a “work sample” test with a few members of the team to see how their skills and personality integrate. Having a more thorough hiring process will benefit you in the long run.

  2. Improve The Onboarding Process

    As much as 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days, and a big part of that is due to an improper onboarding. Be sure to set proper expectations, make them feel welcome, collect feedback and touch base with them often with weekly check-ins. Try having a team lunch within the first week of onboarding a new employee so they can get to know everyone.

  3. Set Clear Goals And Expectations

    If employees don’t have a clear vision of their role, it can lead to disengagement and underperformance. Making sure that each employee has a mutual understanding with their manager of their roles and responsibilities is crucial to keeping them on track, and keeping them around.

  4. Train Managers

    Of the new managers we recently surveyed, 66% said that they did not receive any training or coaching before starting out as a manager. Offering training for managers is one of the best ways to ensure that they are a successful team lead. Some people may be born leaders, but there’s always room for learning and development.

  5. Give Opportunity For Growth

    What employees really want, as made famous by Dan Pink, is autonomy, mastery, and purpose. You can provide these things for your employees by empowering them to take charge of their own work and offering skill development and training. Having a clear company mission and company values will help employees feel that they are a part of something bigger, giving them a sense of purpose.

  6. Recognize Employees

    Recognizing employees is such a simple way of boosting their motivation and engagement, and making them feel valued. Employees also want to receive recognition from their coworkers, so setting up a platform for kudos is a great initiative to boost morale.

  7. Promote Work-Life Balance

    Work-life balance is one of the most important parts of keeping your employees happy, healthy, and productive. Be flexible with employees working remotely and ask new hires what the most important thing in their personal life is and how you can accomodate them best.

  8. Collect Frequent Feedback

    Employees want to feel listened to and have validation that their opinion matters. Checking in and seeking feedback on a regular basis allows managers to detect problems early and implement solutions.

  9. Use your workplace as a recruiting magnet.

    It is about moving away from short-term perks and benefits traditionally found in ‘engagement programmes’ and towards longer-term sustainable initiatives that are focused on three environments that every single organisation can control: culture, technology and the physical space.

KI MyPlace

Need a little inspiration for your office design? Click here for some ideas.

For more information about the products featured or if you would like to partner with us, please contact us.

For technical assistance and information click here.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Telecommuting

Guest post by Jacob Morgan, HuffPo

The debates around open vs. closed office spaces are continuing to heat up and I still think these debates are absolutely pointless. As I’ve said many times, the debate shouldn’t be around cubicle or open space, it should instead be all about workplace flexibility. That is giving the employees the option to work how they want to work and not how your organization tells them they should work. A part of this workplace flexibility includes telework that is working from places other than the office; Dell, Aetna, and Xerox are among some of the most forwarding thinking and progressive companies when it comes to offering telecommuting options. Thanks to Kathy Gardner and the folks over at Flexjobs.com, I was able to speak with business leaders at all three of these companies to better understand how and why these programs were implemented.

Autex Frontier Ceiling Fins

From Xerox I spoke with: Travis Pierce, Xerox Virtual Office Program Director, and William Castle, Xerox Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President, HR Business Process Effectiveness. From Dell I spoke with Dane Parker, VP of Global Facilities and EHS (environment, health, and safety). From Aetna I spoke with Susan Williams, Director, HR Policy & Employment Law Compliance.

First some background information. Xerox employs over 180,000 employees in 180 countries around the world —  70,000 of these employees are based in the U.S. and 11% (8,000 employees) of them work remotely 100% of the time. Many thousands of other employees have telecommuting options on an “as needed” basis. Aetna employs 48,000 people and 43% of them telecommute (in some form). Dell employs around 100,000 people and around 20% of their workforce telecommutes.

Here’s what I learned from speaking with all three of these companies.

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Telecommuting is a business strategy not a perk

Talent is no longer within a 5 or 10 mile radius of where your organization is based, some of the smartest people that your organization can hire may be hundreds of thousands of miles away. Telecommuting allows you to work with top talent regardless of where they are or what time zone they might be in. Not only that, but offering telecommuting options is also a great way to retain top talent by giving them more flexibility. Xerox has been offering telecommuting options since the 1970’s when employees would literally take home their key punch clocks to finish their work. Dell and Aetna both echoed the strategic importance of telework, and Aetna has also been practicing telecommuting since they first launched their program around 20 years ago. None of the people I spoke with reference flexible work or telecommuting as a “nice to have,” all of these companies view it as a business imperative that is required to stay competitive in the modern workforce.

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Telework isn’t for every employee

At Xerox before telework is considered, an employee takes a self-assessment to determine if telework is a realistic option. A manager then takes a similar assessment about the employee and the two discuss options together. Aetna evaluates telework options based on three things: individual (does the employee have the right capabilities and competencies), job function (can the work be performed at home), and home environment (must meet security standards). All three companies acknowledge that telework isn’t possible for every single employee, for example people that work in a manufacturing facility.

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Education and training is a must

It’s important to make sure that managers know how to communicate and collaborate with virtual employees and vice versa. This means not only understanding the soft skills, but also understanding how to use the right technologies to facilitate the desired interaction. Virtual employees also need to receive their own type of training. At Dell, for example, employees are able to take training courses that teach them how to manage their career and how to progress through the company as a virtual employee.

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HR and IT must work together

Although the business justification for telecommuting seems to mainly come from HR teams or specific lines of business, the technology framework required to enable telework always comes from the IT teams. This means that HR and IT teams must form a close working relationship. IT must understand the business requirements that employees are asking for around telework and HR teams must work to understand the technical needs, resources, and limitations of technology to enable telework. For example, at Dell telework is led by HR and facilities teams, but they work very closely with IT to understand security and feature requirements from technology solutions.

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The benefits of telework are massive, both for the company and the employees

Dell has seen the highest engagement and satisfaction levels from employees that are given telecommuting options. However, it’s interesting to note that these are employees that sometimes come into an office. They are not 100% full-time telecommuters. Aetna has saved between 15-25% on their real estate costs and in 2014 alone has reduced their carbon footprint by preventing employees from driving 127 million miles, which saved 5.3 million gallons of gas and reduced CO2 emissions by 46,700 metric tons. At Xerox annually, teleworkers drive 92 million fewer miles, which saves 4.6 million gallons of gas a year which and translates into a savings of over $10 million. Dell’s flexible work program impacts around 20,000 employees or 20% of their total workforce. Out of the three companies mention in this article Dell’s efforts are the newest, but are already having a huge impact. In 2014 Dell saved $12 million and cut 6,700 metric tons of greenhouse gases. All three organizations also tell me that employees who are given telework options appear to be more engaged, productive, and happy at work.
Going forward it’s hard to imagine flexible work (including telecommuting) not being a core strategy for organizations seeking to attract and retain top talent. In fact, I wrote about this two years ago in a post called 8 Indisputable Reasons For Why We Don’t Need Offices. Does your company offer telecommuting options?

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