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Feeling Poorly? Maybe It’s Your Efficient Space Plan

Feeling Poorly? Maybe It’s Your Efficient Space Plan

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it may not be the healthiest way to go. Australian insurance company Medibank constructed an office building that is, in many ways, spatially inefficient – all for the good of its employees.

Medibank and architecture firm Hassell theorized that inefficient spaces would force employees into physical movement. In the new building, a meandering office plan wrapped around an atrium, and in the atrium was a spiderweb of linked staircases. To have face-to-face interactions or retrieve documents, employees had to take many more steps than they would have in a typical office – a FitBit user’s dream.

A flexible mix of collaborative areas and private workspaces promotes mental well-being, another important aspect of the balanced healthy design. Hassell’s principal designer Rob Backhouse says they sought balance throughout the design, recognizing that there are certain efficiencies that are vital for the smooth operation of any business. And adding inefficiencies to space plans doesn’t have to mean higher real estate costs. Super-efficient high-density storage can actually reduce the overall footprint, making an inefficient space plan easier on the budget in every way.

After two years of being design guinea pigs, Medibank’s employees were surveyed, and the results were encouraging: 79 per cent said their new building made them feel more collaborative, 70 per cent felt healthier and 66 per cent felt more productive. Balancing efficiency and inefficiency turns out to be a surprisingly beneficial design choice. Learn more in this video:


Photo © michaeljung / Fotolia

The Non-Hospital: Healthcare Design Goes Retail

The Non-Hospital: Healthcare Design Goes Retail

A century ago, “the customer is always right” became the motto for success in the high competitive retail market. In today’s similarly competitive healthcare environment, providers are adopting that same customer-centric approach, according to Rob Chartier in Health Facilities Management. Many hospitals and clinics are redesigning themselves to create a total customer experience, in the same way retailers do.

Other healthcare providers have opted to find a place in existing retail settings. Sarah Bader analyzes how consumers can be encouraged to utilize healthcare services in non-tradition settings. She recommends a number of retail design techniques which healthcare providers can use:

  1. Be accessible – Walgreen’s, a pioneer in retail health care, creates an inviting environment with large, bright windows and doorways, and encourages pharmacists to mingle with shoppers.
  2. Be specific – Retail is not a one-size-fits-all business. With market-specific services and designs, health care facilities can attract niche buyers.
  3. Be clear – Spaces that encourage communication result in better health care outcomes, just as they result in happier retail customers.
  4. Be nimble and flexible – Retailers are constantly adjusting store layouts to meet changes in consumer tastes. Health care designers, too, can incorporate flexibility into treatment facilities.
  5. Be virtual – Consumers are shopping at their favorite retailers’ online stores. Health care providers can leverage their online presence in the same way retailers do.
  6. Be visible – Brand identity is vital. Retail stores like Target and Nike are unmistakable because their brand identity is carried throughout the stores’ design. Likewise, retail health care can make use of signage and spatial design to establish a brand look-and-feel.

This new approach to healthcare delivery requires designers to rethink the entire healthcare environment, particularly secure storage of patient records and prescription drugs. Retail settings encourage free access, but healthcare demands patient privacy and safety. It’s the kind of design challenge that calls for a top-tier storage consultant.


Photo © nd3000/

The Adaptive Office: Remember The Humans

The Adaptive Office: Remember The Humans

Business owners and facilities managers are embracing the benefits of new flexible workspaces – maximized space utilization, minimized build-out costs – but for many workers, changing the old office environment may be an unwelcome update. Without an enthusiastic majority eager for change, facilities professionals will find it hard to implement any meaningful transformation. How can you get your fellow employees to buy in?

We humans are notoriously resistant to change. We fear the unknown. Facilities managers will find it much easier to allay people’s fears and reap the benefits of the adaptive office if they adopt these three management roles recommended by John T. Anderson:

  • The Business Strategist – “What is our overall business strategy, both outward facing (clients and recruitment) and inward facing (productivity, continuous improvement, and retention)? How do our people support the business, and how does the facility support our people?”
  • The Information Specialist – “What does the data show about the way people work together? How do we position people and departments so they interact smoothly and efficiently?”
  • The Marketing Communicator – “What is the best way to communicate with my target market – the employees – and how do I make sure they feel their voices are heard and their needs are addressed?”

Facilities professionals are accustomed to managing the built environment, and may not always think in terms of managing people. But when change is on the horizon, a personnel-management perspective will make the transition a successful one. Reach out to a designer who specializes in the adaptive workplace to get more information on making your change a positive one.


Photo © duncanandison/

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Gun Storage

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Gun Storage

The Supreme Court recently upheld a federal law requiring the confiscation of guns in cases of domestic violence. This ruling created a perplexing question for police departments across the country: Where to store all the confiscated guns?

In some states – California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, for example – guns are confiscated at the time of arrest, long before a case ever goes to court. They must all be held in the property room pending the outcome of the trial. Under North Carolina law, seized guns are only destroyed if they are non-working or missing a serial number; they may be sold, but selling them has proven to be an unpopular option, and the accumulation of unclaimed guns has only added to the burden of property room supervisors.

Unlike other forms of property held by the police, confiscated guns represent a significant risk to the public and to law enforcement if not stored with complete security. Even if a property room has the space, just adding shelves and bins is not an adequate storage solution. As storage consultants know, guns must be stored in specialized secure lockers in order to keep them out of the hands of unauthorized individuals.

Good intentions sometimes have unintended consequences, and police departments are learning what those consequences mean for their property rooms. If you’re managing a property room, talk to a storage pro about additional gun lockers.


Photo © aijohn784/