April 1, 2008

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An Office Space Redux Can Revamp Your Company's Image

Carolyn Campbell

April 1, 2008

To attract the best clients or solid employees, it’s no longer good enough to have a workspace that merely houses your company. If your office isn’t enhancing your company’s image or bottom line, it’s time to think about redecorating. Signs of the Time “When it’s ugly, when it’s outdated, when it no longer reflects the type of business you are or the image you are trying to project to people — or if you are losing business because of the way your space works — it’s time to redesign or redecorate,” advises Kurt McGrew, associate vice president at national architecture and design firm GouldEvans. “First impressions last,” McGrew adds. “[If you visit] a doctor’s office that hasn’t been touched in 30 years, that is old or beaten up, your immediate reaction is that’s the kind of treatment you’re going to receive from that doctor. Your clients expect a certain level of ‘this is who I am.’ It’s time to remodel or redecorate if you’re not accomplishing that.” But where do you begin? McGrew says the first rule is to make the design specific to the needs of business and the people that work there. Increasing Productivity If you are looking to increase productivity, your furniture is a good starting point. Gone are the days of buying everyone in the office matching desks from Staples. The easiest way to increase efficiency in the workplace is to make sure that employees have the furniture they need to do the tasks specific to their jobs. Equally important is understanding how your employees work with each other and with outside clients. “When we design a new office or a do a renovation, we interview employees to see what types of tasks they do and how they work with everyone else, including outside clients,” McGrew says. “If you just take a little bit of time to look at how the different people on your staff work, the functions they do and how they work together, you will know how you need to arrange your office.” Dollars and Common Sense If you carpet isn’t worn out or your paint isn’t peeling, how do you justify putting money into remodeling? Clients are more business savvy than they were 20 or 30 years ago, McGrew says. “People expect bigger and better more than they used to. Your space should tell your clients who you are, what you do, and it should make them feel secure and excited to work with you when they first walk in. If the clients walks in and walks back out because they don’t feel that way, you just lost a client.” Fortunately, some improvements can be made without a remodeling budget. “If people are really strapped and there is no budget, I would say go after your finishes — new floor coverings, wall coverings, art work and furniture will give you the biggest bang for your buck.” Cultivating Creativity Crowell Advertising took its brand to the next level when it left the stodgy Walker Center in downtown Salt Lake City to renovate the second floor of the Union Pacific Building. “It’s hard to describe [our space] because there’s nothing common about it. Nothing is not unusual,” says President Tracy Crowell. With 17-foot ceilings, giant cement columns, curved walls, crooked glass windows and a full-sized basketball hoop, the space is definitely unique. “The space isn’t a typical office and we are not a typical advertising agency,” says Crowell. “Our clients feel very comfortable coming here. Even though we’re in a very stressful business, they like the relaxed informality of our space. It feels like it should — creative and comfortable. It feels like home.” The open space, wide hallways and spacious lunchroom area also lend to the social, family atmosphere. “Rather than have a space that says ‘we want to make sure everyone socializes,’ we have taken the social desires of our agency and enhanced it,” Crowell says. “Your environment needs to reflect who you are. Our space is part of our brand, our culture, our belief system.”
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