ESP’s lease with the 701 building is up next year, and this time around it means we’re moving. While there is some excitement about a new location, we’ll be sad to leave this home of over 20 years. As we’ve started the process of looking for a new downtown location and space planning for those locations, we’ve become aware of a number of office space trends and begun some careful thinking on which trends we want to follow and which we want to ignore.
White Noise: One of the first concerns is how to soundproof for noise in a new space. Although, noise can be a problem in any work place, it is a particular concern for ESP as we spend a lot time on the phone with our clients, consultants, and candidates. This can obviously be distracting. One proposed solution is white noise machines. White noise can block out the sound of typing and other small annoying sounds when things are quiet, and dull the impact of conversations/phone calls. But is it just replacing one distraction with another? Some studies have shown white noise machines to be a distraction in itself—stop that incessant buzzing!—and even to cause stress and have negative effects on the brain. Do white noise machines really increase productivity?
Standing while you work: Individual work spaces introduce other health considerations. Recent studies have claimed that sitting at a desk all day could kill you… or at least cause some health problems. Standing-height desks have grown in popularity as an alternative to sitting all day. Studies claim standing decreases the risk of heart attack and may lessen back problems. But as I recall my days of working retail, standing all day can put a strain on your body as well. The truth is, doing anything all day every day can have negative health effects. Whether you have a sitting or standing desk, it is important to vary your routine and posture. The ideal is a height adjustable desk that will allow employees to stand for a few hours, then sit for a while, and then possibly stand again. But unless this can be done quickly and easily, how many of us would take the time to adjust our desk height during the course of the day, or the week?
Taking it one step further are treadmill desks. These would most often be used as a shared work station, rather than as an individual desk setup. Walking while working, especially at mid-day or during the afternoon slump, would likely increase productivity but these workstations are not cheap.
Touch Down Stations: Another consideration as we plan our new space is the increased mobility cloud technology provides. We’re completely cloud based—our files, email, CRM and phone system—which makes working outside the office easier than ever. In the coming years it is possible we’ll have employees who work almost entirely from home. But suppose they need to come into the office for the day, or would like to work in office one day a week? What should we provide for these employees? The solution seems to be hoteling/touch-down stations. These stations are set up for a laptop to just plugin and let the employee work. As we plan our space, setting aside some space for touch-downs seems like a no-brainer.
What do you think? What would you like you in your work space? Do you like white noise machines? Are they effective or annoying? Would you use a standing desk? Would you switch back and forth if you had the option? If you work outside the office, would you want a space to touch down in if you decided to work in the office once in a while or would you feel like you were visiting in someone else’s space?