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Room for Everything: The Shape of Hybrid Office Interiors

Room for Everything: The Shape of Hybrid Office Interiors

Two years into the pandemic aftermath, the hybrid workplace continues to shape the way businesses operate. And businesses, in turn, are shaping their offices to fit the new hybrid workplace. Return to the office (RTO) is surging, but employees are pushing back against full-time RTO. What’s clear is there is value in in-person work, and there’s equal value in remote work, and offices are being re-shaped to accommodate both workstyles.

As reported in FastCompany.com, business-social media company LinkedIn is one of the many businesses adapting their office interiors for hybrid work. Their architects, NBBJ, created a “postures matrix” that guides furniture and layout choices. Design decisions are made based upon the time spent in a particular space, the type of work done there, and the associated ergonomic needs.

The postures matrix showed that the most social places are close to doorways and entries. As people move deeper into the space, work areas become increasingly quieter. Options for heads-down focused work, living room-style conference rooms, and “buzzy” co-working areas provide something for everyone, depending on their needs on any given day.

Like LinkedIn, other businesses may be trying to re-shape their existing offices to make them more hybrid-friendly. Some are concerned that they will need to expand their office footprint, and their budgets are not prepared for additional real estate costs. Luckily, there are design strategies that can support a hybrid redesign without the need for additional space:

  • Convert paper documents to digital documents via imaging, and reduce your document storage area. Imaged documents are productivity boosters, whether staffers are in the office or working remotely. And many of the imaged documents do not need to be retained as paper, freeing up room for interior re-design.
  • Exchange traditional filing cabinets for a high-density filing system, and save as much as 50% of your storage floor area. While imaging will reduce the need for much document storage, some paper docs need to be retained. Keep them in a high-density filing system and save even more space.
  • Add touchless smart lockers that guide in-office traffic while enhancing design aesthetics. Employees without dedicated workspaces need secure storage for personal items in the office. Touchless smart lockers’ customizable finishes make them a design feature, and they can be set up in work areas to provide sound separation and guide traffic. No extra space required.

For many companies, the traditional office is fading away and the hybrid workplace is taking its place. Office interiors will need to be revised to support hybrid work, but these smart moves help keep the costs manageable. Talk to a storage expert to find out how to do a space-saving cost-saving redesign.

 

Photo © NABCREATIVITY / AdobeStock

A Reason to Return: Office Amenities Help Bring Employees Back

A Reason to Return: Office Amenities Help Bring Employees Back

Workplace amenities used to be associated with tech start-ups – meals, game rooms, and bring-your-dog-to-work were some of the popular perks that kept tech workers in the office. Why go home when everything you want is there? Today’s newer office buildings are taking a page from the tech world, offering an array of amenities like gyms, concierge services, and lounges.

It’s all part of tenants’ commitment to hybrid offices, a staffing retain-and-return game plan for many companies. Survey after survey shows the same results: Employees do not want to go back to full-time in-office operations. And employers are discovering that the hybrid workstyle has benefits that they don’t want to give up, including greater productivity, lower real estate costs, and happy employees.

Employees are willing to trade space for the hybrid workstyle. More than half of law firm employees recently surveyed said they would trade assigned seating/offices for greater flexibility. That’s good news for employers, who can reduce their office footprint when they don’t have to find space for all their staff each and every day.

The amenities offered by first-class office buildings aren’t free, of course, and a prudent practice manager or facilities manager will try to balance that extra cost by reducing the amount of space in a new lease. The same law firm survey showed the average square feet per attorney has decreased from 760 s.f. to 625 s.f., and other industry sectors are making similar reductions.

But reducing personnel space can only go so far. For many professional practices, paper documents take up an outsize proportion of the office footprint. High density storage systems help reduce the space needed for document storage. Digitization goes even further.

Just one filing cabinet takes up 9 square feet, at an average real estate cost of $540 per year (and that’s before factoring in the higher price of amenity-rich buildings). Document conversion eliminates the need for that space, and the cost associated with it.

Digitization lets you have your cake (or gym or lounge) and eat it too. When employers can offer appealing amenities to encourage staff to return to the office, without increasing their real estate costs, it’s a win for everyone.

 

Photo © Iriana Shiyan / AdobeStock

Three Ways to Shape a Safe Office Without Expanding Your Space

Three Ways to Shape a Safe Office Without Expanding Your Space

The ways we were accustomed to work were blown up by Covid-19 and the ensuing economic disruption. The 9-to-5 forty-hour work week now is the self-scheduled WFH get-the-job-done week. Surprisingly, productivity and employee satisfaction have risen dramatically in response.

However, corporate culture may be suffering. Businesses in which mentorship and hands-on training are particularly affected. From construction trades to consulting and sales organization, corporate culture relies on in-person interactions. Executives are announcing return to the office policies effective in the near future.

Still, concerns about surging Covid variants are making staffers reluctant to spend much, if any, time in the office. Facilities managers are asking if there’s a way to protect employees in the office setting without adding costly space to accommodate health protocols.

Here are three ways to help keep in-office teams safe without expanding the office footprint:

  1. Convert paper documents to digital documents via imaging, and reduce your document storage area. Imaged documents are productivity boosters, whether staffers are in the office or working remotely. And many of the imaged documents do not need to be retained as paper, freeing up room for social distancing and proximity barriers.
  2. Exchange traditional filing cabinets for a high-density filing system, and save as much as 50% of your storage floor area. While imaging will reduce the need for much document storage, some paper docs need to be retained. Keep them in a high-density filing system and save even more space.
  3. Add touchless smart lockers that guide in-office traffic while enhancing design aesthetics. Employees need secure storage for personal items in the office, and smart lockers provide touchless operation. Their customizable finishes make them a design feature, and they can be set up in work areas to provide separation and guide traffic without requiring additional space.

Security experts Kastle Systems report fewer than 28% of employees in the office in the first week of January 2022, in 10 major U.S. markets. Morning Consult’s survey shows 55% of employees being unwilling to return to the office if they felt unsafe. With the above ways to provide worker safety, your business can encourage a return to work without the added overhead of increased real estate costs.

 

Photo © Seventyfour / AdobeStock

Sec. 179: The Gold at the End of the Tax Deduction Rainbow

Sec. 179: The Gold at the End of the Tax Deduction Rainbow

It’s the business tax incentive pot of gold that keeps on giving. Section 179 of the IRS tax code pays your business to invest in itself. In 2021 the deduction limit is higher than ever: $1,050,000. The full purchase price of equipment bought and put in service by December 31 can be deducted under Sec. 179. Moreover, businesses can take advantage of a 100% depreciation bonus on both new and used equipment, if costs exceed $1,050,000 but are less than $2,620,000.

This generous deduction covers a broad range of equipment, including:

  • Computers, hardware peripherals, and software, including RFID systems
  • Machinery
  • Office furnishings, including file storage systems and lockers
  • Office equipment
  • Tangible personal property used in business
  • Property attached to your building that is not part of your building, such as a warehouse rack system

And there’s more good news. If you lease or finance the equipment, the full price is deductible immediately. You may stretch payments over several years, but you get the deduction in Year 1.

Take a look at this example:

Sec 179 example

Source: Section179.org

There are a few restrictions under Sec. 179. Real estate does not qualify, nor does equipment acquired by gift or from a relative. And the equipment, whether new or used, must be new to you.

Most important: The equipment must be put in service, not just purchased, by December 31.

If you have been considering an equipment purchase, now is the time to act. Vendors with a quick-ship program (like NOS) can deliver and set up new equipment in time for you to put your new purchase into use ahead of the deadline. Grab the Sec. 179 gold and enjoy the tax deduction as well as the benefits of the new equipment. 

Photo © Syda Productions / AdobeStock

Pediatric Office Washington DC | Digital Imaging – High Density

Pediatric Office Washington DC | Digital Imaging – High Density

New Offices, Less Storage – Condensing Files with Document Imaging and High Density Storage

For 25 years, a top-rated Washington, DC, pediatric office had served its patients 365 days a year. The practice generated numerous multi-page paper forms and reports for each patient. Patient files were retained in a 300-s.f. storage area, but when the practice moved to new offices, the storage area was reduced to just 160 s.f. Twenty-five years of medical records simply would not fit into the smaller space, and the practice administrators were facing the prospect of storing files offsite – inconvenient, error-prone, and insecure.

The Challenge
Every pediatric patient record had to be maintained and accessible for at least 25 years, whether a child was a local long-term patient or a transitory patient from one of the nearby embassies. The new storage space – nearly 50% smaller than previously – dictated that many patient records would need to be converted to digital format. Others would need to be retained as paper. Determining which documents to image, and which documents to keep as paper, was quite a dilemma. And once the decisions were made, personnel would have to be pulled from their normal tasks to execute the imaging.

The Solution
Working with the doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, the NOS team established parameters to decide which records to image, and which to maintain as paper. The needs analysis found that certain parts of each patient’s file – vaccine records, for example – should be digitally imaged, regardless of the age of the file. The digital records could then be quickly retrieved, reviewed, and shared electronically. Other parameters, such as the age of the file or the type of treatment, determined whether or not a file was to be imaged.

The remaining paper files needed to be readily available to staff. In the old office, the files were kept in top-tab folders in 45 traditional file cabinets. Professional Services Solutions, the NOS documents team, transferred the paper documents to color-coded side tab folders and organized them in a new high density storage system. The space-saving high density system easily fit all the necessary paper files, with room to grow into the future. It even allowed extra space for office supplies. Even better: the files are safe and secure, in compliance with HIPAA regulations.

Now the entire medical staff enjoys fast, easy retrieval of all patient records, whether they’re digital or paper. Instead of struggling with inadequate storage space and hard-to-find patient data, they can focus on delivering award-winning health care to their patients.

 

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Government Agency Washington DC  | High Density

Government Agency Washington DC | High Density

An Opportunity for Better Document Organization

Like many official documents, laws are printed on paper. One government agency plays a key role in the administration of laws, and this agency maintains paper copies of all the many laws it enforces. Quick retrieval of documents is an essential function of this agency, but insufficient storage space made document organization and retrieval difficult.

The Challenge

Paper is a bulky medium, and the agency’s storage space was chronically overcrowded. A relocation to new offices offered an opportunity to improve the agency’s document storage. But without a well-designed functional storage system, the extra space would be quickly overrun as new laws generated new documents.

The Solution

The new facilities allocated three spaces for storage: one for boxed items, one for documents in filing boxes, and one for law books in a library format with research stations.  The NOS team was brought in early in the design phase, working with the agency’s architects to analyze storage needs and spaces.

For each of the three spaces, high density storage proved to be the best solution. The high density storage systems eliminated fixed aisles, doubling the available storage capacity. With a wide assortment of adjustable shelves and bins, the high density system accommodated every shape and size of the agency’s stored items: paper documents, file boxes, and books.

Safe, space-saving storage was part of the solution, but NOS also found a way to assist researchers in efficient document retrieval. On the end panel of each shelving carriage, a shelf was added for a keyboard and monitor to give researchers access to their central database. Document search and retrieval became quick and easy.

The new high density storage system has prepared the agency for today and tomorrow. It can now fulfill its mission with improved speed and efficiency, and it’s ready to manage the flow of new legal documents in the future.

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