The High Performance Workplace – The Series

August 2013 | by admin

Workplace Innovation—the art and science of higher performance. At T3 we passionately believe that space matters simply because people matter most.

Since salaries and benefits can cost 1000% more than leased space on a per square foot basis, space is fundamentally just a means to an end. Beyond rental rates and square footages, beyond a place where butts go in seats, high performance workplaces (HPW) integrate proven best practices in design and indoor environmental quality science while embracing the evolving ways in which we live, learn, work and play.

When done well, HPWs can dramatically enhance recruitment, retention, performance, productivity and, ultimately, enterprise competitiveness and profitability.

The business case is strong:

  • Productivity: increased up to 40%
  • Sick leave and absenteeism: reduced by as much as 60%
  • Space-use efficiencies: improved 30% – 50%
  • Build-out costs: decreased 10% – 50%
  • Profitability & Growth: Companies who score high are on Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index are also the fastest growing and most profitable.

toma-HPW-firstpost1-092313Although the concepts and practices that underpin HPWs are not entirely new, they have traditionally been adopted—often with eye-popping success—by leading global companies like Google, SAP, Facebook and by others whose very business (and survival) depends on continual innovation.

And thus, a common refrain:  “this workplace stuff is really only for big companies.” Or, my favorite, “we’re not Google, damnit!”   Really? Do employees at smaller companies not also collaborate, commute, get sick, get distracted? Do they not equally enjoy life / work balance, clean air and can they not equally benefit from winning cultures and from environments in which they are healthy, can concentrate, create, learn and achieve?

As a former consulting client, the VP of Real Estate and Workplace for a 7,000 person gaming / entertainment company, once said to me, “my job is to create environments where our people enjoy coming to, never want to leave, and where they produce their best work and love doing it.”

My gut tells me that most executives, regardless of whether their company is 10 people, 100 or 10,000, want exactly that type of environment to call home for their talent.

What is a high performance workplace? Think Gestalt. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

A HPW integrates technical factors (lighting, air quality, acoustics, ergonomics) with social design (flexibility: collaboration + mobility) in a tailored fashion that is at once practical and aspirational.

toma-HPW-firstpost2-092313First off: the actual building in which a space is located can matter big time because the materials that comprise, and the systems that operate buildings physiologically impact people, sometimes substantially. Not all buildings are created and maintained equally and knowing what to look and negotiate for is key.

Creating an HPW begins with observation. Why does this organization exist? How does this organization operate? How does work flow (or not) through and across individuals and teams? How do its people currently interact, and how might they better? How can its culture be created, amplified, and / or enhanced?

While no two buildings and companies are alike and therefore the respective site selection and workplace strategies needs to be customized, there are proven techniques, strategies and programs that deliver results across the board.

For the purpose of this blog series, we’ll break down the components of HPWs into three main categories for further discussion: indoor environmental quality; flexibility; design.

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