It’s never easy being an HR recruiter. Whether the job market is tight or wide open, the competition for top talent is ever-present. One of the proven strategies for attracting the very best recruits is a visible, well-integrated corporate value system.
Prospective employees want to see their own values reflected in the workplace, especially when it comes to corporate social responsibility. From millennials to Gen Z, recruits view sustainability as an expression of corporate social responsibility. They’re not going to be satisfied with a token paper-and-plastic recycling bin. They want to see sustainability infused throughout the company’s operations.
Your business storage systems may not be the first things that spring to mind when you’re looking for ways to increase sustainability. Nevertheless, there are storage solutions that give your enterprise a definite sustainability advantage. These include:
- Electronic records – When you reduce the quantity of paper business records stored in file cabinets, you reduce your storage footprint. Less storage space means less overall space and lower utility consumption. Further, converted documents become digitally accessible to everyone who needs to work with them, eliminating multiple redundant copies and thereby reducing paper consumption.
- Modular casework – Unlike traditional casework, the “building block” modules of high-quality casework can be reconfigured as operational needs change.Yesterday’s credenza is today’s wall cabinet. It’s recycling at its finest.
- High density shelving – These space-saving cabinets slide along floor-mounted tracks, eliminating aisles between shelving units and reducing your storage footprint by as much as 50%. In tandem with an electronic records conversion program, your paper document storage will take up far less space than previously, and you’ll reduce your overall space utilization.
There’s a bonus to these sustainability-friendly storage solutions: lower operating costs, including real estate costs, office supplies and utility expenses, and build-out costs.
When you choose storage systems like these, you’re telling recruits that your business takes sustainability seriously. Your corporate values increase employee loyalty and retention, which in turn improve productivity and profits. Further, customers prefer to do business with socially-responsible companies.
When you can both do good and do well, it’s a win for everyone, including your HR department. Sustainability is a really good look for your brand, and your storage systems are part of the picture.
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You’ve worked hard to make your offices attractive to millennials – open sight lines, “water cooler” collaborative centers, glass-box conference rooms, and hot-desking. Now Gen Z is about to move into the business world in large numbers. Will the wide-open constant-collaboration millennial style help to recruit and retain the top Gen Z employees?
Gen Z-ers are accustomed to living online – learning, socializing, shopping, communicating with parents. They are team players, but their teams rarely have face-to-face conversations. In BizNow.com, HOK’s Director of Workplace Practice Kay Sargent states that these new workers are overloaded with information. To function at their best, their work environment should be visually uncluttered and should be structured for working individually as well as collaboratively.
The shift toward balancing collaborative spaces with individual workspaces has already begun in some offices where staff were frustrated with the distractions of their open office plans. That’s good news for Gen Z, but bad news for business owners and facilities managers. Open office plans require less square footage per employee compared to traditional office designs, and increasing the number of individual workspaces also increases real estate costs. That’s not a welcome prospect.
However, there are several steps office and facilities managers can take now to prepare their workplace designs for the coming influx of Gen Z workers, and simultaneously keep their real estate costs stable.
- Use modular casework to increase spatial flexibility. These “building blocks” of high-quality cabinetry can be re-configured and re-used when open spaces are changed to enclosed spaces, lowering build-out costs while increasing sustainability ratings – something Gen Z appreciates.
- Add high-density mobile shelving systems for files, media, and inventory. These space-saving storage systems reduce storage area by 50%, creating the extra room needed for individual workspaces without expanding the existing footprint.
- Plan and execute a comprehensive document conversion program. Although we live in a digital age, paper documents still seem to accumulate in the workplace and take up valuable (and expensive) space. Creating digital versions of documents preserves the information and makes it accessible to tech-savvy Gen Z staff while freeing up useful work space.
Age diversity is standard now in the 21stcentury, with Baby Boomers to Gen Z-ers each bringing their unique perspectives to the workplace. Organizations stand to gain greatly from the combination of wise experience and youthful new ways of thinking, and the cost savings of efficient storage systems make it possible and practical to accommodate everyone.
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The open office plan isn’t everything we’d hoped it would be. Once touted as the magic bullet for productivity, creativity, and collaboration, the open office plan in reality is too noisy, too public, and too distracting for heads-down workers. Rather than collaborating, employees use every tool at their disposal to claw back a tiny bit of personal space, isolating themselves with headphones and using email and texts to communicate with co-workers who are mere feet away, often at the same workbench.
Like business owners, facilities managers were initially enamored of the open office plan. Requiring fewer square feet per employee, the open office plan kept the cost of rent low, and the lack of interior walls reduced the build-out costs.
Facilities managers were among the first to hear the negative feedback around the open office concept, as staffers began requesting enclosed meeting rooms and sound-reducing measures. In an effort to achieve a balance between open areas and enclosed areas, facilities managers and designers have begun turning to a ready-made solution: the “phone booth” office pod. As reported in Fast Company, these micro-offices are fully enclosed, sound-proof, ventilated, and come complete with plug-and-play power for electronic devices. Businesses can add a string of these prefabricated offices within their existing open office space at a cost of a few thousand dollars each, without the disruption of construction.
There’s a downside, however. Although they’re small, micro-offices take up a certain amount of floor space, putting the squeeze on work space and storage space alike. Employees who are already feeling crowded are not likely to react positively to more encroachment on their work areas.
Files and supplies, on the other hand, never complain about having their storage space reduced. High density mobile shelving, rotary file cabinets, and lateral sliding files condense storage space into half the space of traditional shelves and cabinets. Moreover, these compact storage systems offer greater accessibility than old-school storage systems; search-and-retrieval times are reduced and productivity is improved.
Space-efficient storage systems provide the floor space needed to achieve the balance of open work spaces and enclosed, heads-down work spaces, preserving the overall office footprint while making room for everyone to do their best work. Businesses are learning that this balance will deliver the improvements in creativity and productivity originally promised by the open office concept.
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The new year always feels like a clean slate, with opportunities for advancements of all kinds in the coming months. Now is the time to organize and make your business ready for those opportunities. But as you look around your office and analyze the various areas where organizational improvements are needed, there’s a fundamental question to ask: Do you have the necessary organizational tools?
Marie Kondo, the organizing expert and author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” counsels her clients to tackle organizational tasks by category rather than physical area. Paper, for example, is a major category for most offices. Financial documents, marketing materials, HR records, client orders, and so on – they seem to accumulate effortlessly while we are focused on other mission-related tasks.
Dividing a mass of paper into a “keep” pile and a “shred” pile seems straightforward, but in fact each document requires a deliberate decision regarding its future. In some cases, an electronic version (scan) of a document can be sufficient for future needs, and the original paper can then be shredded. Other documents should be saved in paper form even if they are also scanned. Office-supply retailer Staples offers a list of documents that businesses should retain, especially notarized documents or papers with original signatures.
The scanning and shredding process will reduce the volume of paper in your office, but even so, your enterprise must hold on to a formidable quantity of paper documents. This is where a high-density mobile shelving system really shines as an organizational tool. Not only do these systems keep papers safe from a variety of hazards, they can actually reduce your office storage footprint by eliminating the fixed aisles between file cabinets. Just by organizing your paper, you can gain extra space for extra productivity in the coming months.
And extra productivity is the reason you wanted to get organized in the first place. A high-density mobile shelving system is well worth a look if you’re looking at ways to get ready for what’s next.
When a newspaper erroneously reported his demise, Mark Twain famously said, “The report of my death is an exaggeration.” Paper documents could say the same. Paper is a remarkably persistent medium in this modern digital age, and it seems our brains are to blame.
Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), researchers at the U.K.’s Bangor University compared people’s responses to paper documents and digital documents. They found that tangible materials (i.e., paper) created a deeper emotional response in subjects’ brains, and the emotional response in turn made the information more memorable and created more positive associations. While subjects were able to understand and absorb text presented in a digital medium, they retained the information from paper documents better, and they made deeper connections to the information.
When the Paper and Packaging Board conducted a survey on paper usage among students, they found that 61% of middle school and high school students studied with flash cards, and 70% prepared for tests using handwritten notes. College students too used paper in their studies; 81% stated they always or often used paper tools to prep for exams.
Perhaps, after so many centuries of reading and writing on paper, our brains have become well-adapted to the medium. It may just take the human brain a few more generations to fully adapt to the digital world.
This is not to say that today’s digitally-delivered information is less valuable than paper-based information. Digital information has the great advantage of reach – it can be instantly available everywhere in the world. It also can convert information into formats that can communicate with people who have special needs. A Sec. 508-compliant “smart” document can be delivered as spoken text or as enhanced images for the visually impaired, for example. And lower paper consumption boosts a business’s green rating.
Digitally-converted documents have other advantages as well: They are a secure backup for paper documents (vulnerable to fire, insects, theft, and a host of other threats). Record retention can be monitored and managed automatically. And digital documents, unlike paper, take up almost no room. Paper is bulky; 250 filing cabinets take up 2,500 square feet of space. That space has a direct effect on overhead. When you factor in the near-instantaneous retrieval time of digital documents compared to the time needed to locate a paper document, the cost of paper really starts to add up.
Nevertheless, paper does seem to aid in the retention of information, and businesses and educational institutions are understandably reluctant to eliminate it all together. Each enterprise, and each department within it, must find a balance between paper and digital documents. Marketing departments may rely more heavily on paper, with its emotional appeal and message retention, while accounting departments may be nearly 100% digital. A top-to-bottom assessment of information workflow and archiving will help determine what part of your business will benefit from digital conversion, and what part will do well to keep using the old familiar medium of paper – stored in a space-saving high density shelving system, of course.
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As any museum director will tell you, deaccessioning is not quite as simple as cleaning out one’s closets and holding a yard sale. Museums as a whole have a mission to acquire, conserve, and exhibit collections for the benefit of their communities. Reducing the number of artworks or artifacts seems almost antithetical. The decision to sell some of the objects in a museum’s collection is a complex one; condition, authenticity, redundancy, and donor restrictions are just a few of the factors in deciding to deaccess, particularly when an object is one that ought to remain available to the public.
The pressure to downsize can sometimes stem from the impossibility of exhibiting the full scope of a museum’s collections. Michael O’Hare, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, estimates that as much as 90% of major museums’ collections are languishing in storage, never included in an exhibit seen by the public. He argues that unseen artworks have no real value. “Aside from maybe someday appearing in a scholarly article… just how are these works creating cultural value if no one is looking at them?” O’Hare asks.
Everyone agrees that museums exist, in large part, to exhibit their art and artifacts, but exhibit space is at a premium. Exhibits require sufficient space for each object to be appreciated on its own, and the size of any exhibit is limited by the museum’s footprint. Adding to the spatial challenge is the amount of space required for a museum’s storage. Sometimes a large percentage of a museum’s total area has to be devoted to the safe and secure storage of its unique collections.
And that storage space might in fact be the place where additional exhibit space can be found. Well-designed high density storage systems can condense a storage footprint by as much as 80%. Compact shelving and racking systems eliminate fixed aisles and adjust to accommodate the wide variety of shapes and sizes of collected objects. By clawing back some inefficiently-used storage space, museums can find themselves with room to expand their exhibits.
With the ability to display more of their collections, museums are better able to fulfill their mission. Deaccessioning, as defined by the Association of Art Museum Directors, will always be part of managing a museum’s collection. But with efficiently-used storage space, more works can be retained and displayed for the education and enjoyment of the public.
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