Workplace Guide: How To Maximize Spaces In Your Office

By: Kat Sarayba – Assistant Design Manager

The new normal workplace is constantly evolving. This is why upgrading or revamping your office becomes pivotal in your business adapting to the changing times. Before designing a space, it is important to determine the overall goal, purpose assigned to respective areas, and the occupants’ workflow. Whether it is a renovation, relocation or downsizing, maximizing your space will help make your business operations more efficient and keep workers productive.

Here are some important considerations to remember:

  • Migrate to a virtual/remote workspace.

One thing this pandemic has taught us is the importance of virtual databases and digital communication platforms. Initiatives pre-pandemic on going paperless and being open to having employees working remotely greatly helped some companies in adapting to on-and-off lockdowns and office restrictions.

Converting paper files to computer file formats and uploading them all to the Cloud. Using web-based programs such as GSuite or Office 365 allow all employees ease of access to company files as well as collaborate on one file together without needing to be physically in the same space.

  • Maximize what you already have.

Save costs and the environment by reusing existing office furniture, material finishes that are still intact, and lighting fixtures. Reupholstering wearing accent chairs and sofas, repainting/re-application of laminate for tables, and even repurposing finishes, can maximize existing items already available in the office.

Get creative with design professionals to help think of ways to make your office look modern while using existing furniture. Having a collaborative session will definitely shell out a fresh look for the space.

  • Consider open concept layouts with some enclosed multi-purpose rooms.

The open office layout is the latest office design trend for its flexiblility and how easy it is to create double or multi-purpose spaces in offices in this design. The traditional cubicle has been replaced with hot desks/shared desks, personal computers exchanged for portable devices like laptops.

Going virtual eases file-sharing and transfer of information while also allowing for flexible work arrangements. This reduces the need for a designated space for every employee, and allows your business to operate no matter the circumstances.

  • Prioritize utilities and storage spaces.

Auxiliary spaces, such as, utility rooms, data centers/IT rooms and storage space are often overlooked and is one of the major changes needed in the office. Data centers are essentially the backbones of a workplace as they contain the most critical assets of a company Movable furniture, using operable walls to subdivide large rooms, and breakout spaces for large gatherings are becoming the norm in several newly renovated offices. Open spaces like these allow for essentially smaller offices and could also help adjust to changes in employees’ work shifts if need be.

However, it is important to be mindful of noise levels in this kind of layout as it might impede concentration and productivity. Apart from adding acoustic fixtures on high noise level areas, a hybrid model that pairs open layouts with some enclosed focus rooms and meeting rooms can make your workspace foster high performance and productivity.

An appropriately designed workplace does not happen overnight. It takes collaboration, clearly set out goals, and trusted experts that will ensure that you have a cost-effective, beautiful, and functional space to occupy.

Interested to refresh your space? Contact us Lana Kier at lana.kier@kmcmaggroup.com or call us at 0917-860-6400 for a consultation.

Katrina Sarayba is one of T1’s creative minds. As an assistant design manager, she is at the helm of creating spaces that embody the culture and identity of each client.

Office Fit Out 101: Terms you need to know

Having an office fit out may be overwhelming for many, especially to those who are doing it for the first time. Business owners are often encouraged consider office fit outs as an investment in their company’s growth and success. According to a recent study, 88% of companies believe that office fit outs had a positive impact on employees. Hence, you can say that a successful office fit out can boost the productivity of your employees and improve business.

While many people confuse it with renovation, office fit out refers to the process of making an interior space ready for occupation and use. As a common practice in commercial establishments and real estate, the spaces inside a building are left bare for the occupants to be able to modify it according to their needs and requirements. In essence, office fit outs involve taking an empty space and transforming it to a usable office set up depending on a company’s preference and goals.

Fit out Inclusions

Office fit outs usually include putting up architectural features like different kinds of partitions, window placements, door fittings, plumbing, and ventilation. In contrast to renovation which commonly focuses on the design aspect and revamping the space for aesthetics, fit outs highlight the changes and customization of the space for functionality. Generally, an office fit out takes longer than a simple renovation process.

Different Types of Fit Outs:

Similar with other improvement projects, there are also two types of fit outs depending on its inclusions.

Category A – Functional

Category A is the basic fit out and includes all the processes like electrical and mechanical installations. It also covers suspended ceilings, fire systems and alarms, lighting systems, and air conditioning systems. This produces is a basic functional unit with some utilities such as electrical wirings and plumbing fixtures already in place. This type of fit out also covers internal surface finishes, fitted lights, and blinds.

Usually, a Category A fit out will involve installing features such as:

  • Electrical and Data
  • Raised access floors
  • HVAC systems
  • Fire protection systems
  • Toilets

Category B – Aesthetic

Category B covers the final changes and the modifications to help an office transform into a company’s preferred look and design. This type of fit out involves installing features and other systems that were not covered in Category A fit out. Essentially, Category B fit outs cover the aesthetic design fit out phase where the space is made to be more specific to the business’ branding and style.

This phase may involve window treatment, adding furniture, installing the lighting, adding some flooring, partitioning, painting, and branding. Category B fit out highlights the individuality and identity of businesses. Processes in this category should be derived from the company’s culture, work ethics, and team size with the goal of creating a compelling brand image.

Category B fit outs also modify the space further by adding and modifying spaces into private workspaces, reception areas, common rooms, pantry, and meeting rooms. Floor finishes, door installations, and adding of furniture is also included in a category B fit out.

Turnkey Office Fit Out

A turnkey office fit out sometimes also referred to as a design and build fit out is where the developer or tenant of the workspace makes sure that the current build is ready to be occupied. This involves a full and integrated line of service by a contractor to deliver a space from being bare to fully completed. A turnkey office fit out project involves the contractors from the design conceptualization to construction and finally turning over the space to the client ready for use.

Some clients prefer a turnkey office fit out for them to coordinate with a single point person, making the process more concise, efficient, and smoother. This is especially appealing for clients who may not be knowledgeable about the construction process.

Need assistance in your first office fit out? Contact us today and let us discuss your options. T1 is one of the leading project services providers in the Philippines. It specializes in office, hospitality, and commercial projects that deliver nothing but excellent results.

Reach out to Lana Kier at lana.kier@kmcmaggroup.com or call us at (+63) 2-7971-0238.

Turning Offices Into Smart Workplaces After COVID-19

Despite the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the return to the office is still inevitable. In the Philippines, more businesses and developers are realizing the importance of ensuring that the workplace is safer and prioritizes the welfare of its occupants.

According to WeForum.org, remote working will not completely obliterate what the traditional office can offer: Colleagues, Collaboration, and Culture. Therefore, transforming the space in terms of design, location, and allocation should be considered. As an additional precautionary measure, the shift to a smarter workplace proves to be more beneficial and resilient in the long term.

Leveraging on existing innovation and technology is not only a value add but guarantees a safer space that reduces the risk of contracting the virus. Increased demand for spaces that adopt technologies that smoothen remote working and support companies’ environmental, sustainability, health, and wellness will be observed.

In a recent webinar, T1 General Manager John Almosara presented a three-point roadmap in securing the future of the workplace in the new normal. In his presentation, the paradigm of the office should undergo three changes – physical change, technical change, and smart change.

Shift to Smart Workplace

Technological integration is key in successfully transitioning your office into smart workplaces. Sensors around the spaces can provide useful insight on how to right-size your workplace. This will enable businesses to match the change in workforce reporting to their physical space, and how to better cater to their needs.

Protection of occupant wellness and safety is also an aspect contactless or touchless technology can cover. Thermal cameras or scanners can monitor the temperature of employees or visitors going in and out of the building. When integrated into an Internet of Things (IoT) platform or database, property or facility management teams can easily assign different working zones to avoid contamination.

John also noted the importance of safeguarding common spaces in an office building as well, such as the lobby, elevators, meeting rooms, pantries, and lounge areas.

Similarly, occupants will require frequent access to crucial information such as air quality and hot zones around the building. This is where mobile apps or public-facing dashboards can be useful for the convenience of sharing and receiving updates on both ends.

Common areas will also change dramatically as it is tagged as a high contact point in most workplaces. Smart restrooms will be prioritized by employing door contact sensors, anti-bacterial additives in hand washing and drying fixtures, and an app-based alert system for sanitation or disinfection reminders.

John reiterated that companies should consider their office’s movement, physical distancing, and sanitation for developing systems into the new normal.

Truly, the pandemic has long-lasting impacts on the conduct of business as we know it. Given that the need for physical space is here to stay, maximizing technology is an easy solution to invest in, and utilize to ensure safer reentry to the office without compromising the wellness or safety of its occupant.

Looking for a smart workplace design consultation? Reach out to Lana Kier at lana.kier@kmcmaggroup.com.

How can your office design affect your employees’ wellbeing

While office trends may be dynamic, its impact on the health and well-being of the employees should always be one of the priorities of its design. A healthy workplace is an ideal place to work in. According to some research on employee behavior, one of the top three factors that employees look for in a job is a company’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of its employees. This is given more emphasis as the world transitions to the new normal, giving a deeper definition of what a healthy workplace should look like.

The physical space where employees spend the majority of their time daily has a very significant impact on the overall physical and mental well-being of people. An ideal and ‘healthy’ workplace is a space that leads to a less stressful and more productive atmosphere. Companies can provide a healthy workplace by ensuring that the physical work environment is set to the highest industry standards and criteria. An ideal physical work environment ensures that the design and layout of the workplace are optimal for the comfort, productivity, and motivation of its employees.

The design of an office can greatly influence the overall health of its occupants. Architects, engineers, and designers should consider many factors when building a healthy workplace such as:

  • Materials used from construction – green materials should be considered to avoid the hazardous gasses (VOCs) that most carpet, paint, and other materials emit years after construction is complete
  • Furniture selection – correct ergonomics in furniture that promote good posture will allow your employees to work more effectively
  • Indoor air quality – a good air filtration system prevents viruses from being passed from one employee to another
  • Light quality – work areas should well distributed general lighting with little to no glare for an ideal work environment
  • Reverb control – the ideal sound level in an office is around 55 decibels. This is can be achieved by installing sound regulating materials in the walls, ceilings, or floors of your office
  • Integration of speech privacy detailing – provide areas for your employees to have private conversations such as phonebooths and huddle rooms

Workplace design should also prioritize the psychosocial health of the employees. A healthy workplace should go beyond physical modifications and provide greater support to employees to their social needs in the office. The open office layout that supports collaboration and fosters communication within teams inside the workplace is found to be more ideal for employees. The

workplace design should center on versatility, spatial choreography, effective detailing, and design ingenuity. According to experts in workplace design and strategy, to support this well-being aspect, spaces should be experiential for employees.

Emphasizing the importance of promoting health and wellness has never been more important. As the globe continues to battle the pandemic, office buildings and workplaces have been implementing stricter measures to ensure their occupiers’ safety and security. Offices are even identified as one of the locations where viruses spread quickly in a matter of hours given the amount of time employees spend inside these shared spaces.

Designing a ‘healthy’ workplace should not only focus on disease prevention but should also upgrade the lifestyle and general wellness of its employees—facing a pandemic or not.