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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.

 

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Finding the Money for Today’s Higher Wages (Hint: It’s in Your Filing Cabinets)

Finding the Money for Today’s Higher Wages (Hint: It’s in Your Filing Cabinets)

The Great Resignation has sent wages climbing further and faster than we’ve seen in decades – up 5.7% in just one year. There are more job openings than there are unemployed people to fill the jobs. Help Wanted signs are everywhere. Employers’ budgets were based on old employment forecasts; now they are scrambling to find the funds for the higher salaries the marketplace demands. Profits are bracing for a hit.

But there’s a way to cover the higher salaries without increasing your budget. It involves reducing your real estate footprint – and the costs associated with it – in one simple way: Get rid of those acres of file cabinets and archived document boxes.

Every business holds on to more paper than it really needs. However, there are intangible productivity costs associated with paper, according to PriceWaterhouse:

  • 8 hours– the amount of time an employee spends managing paper documents each week
  • $122– the cost of finding a single lost document
  • 750– the number of lost paper documents per year, per mid-size business

Lost documents alone cost the average business a whopping $91,500 annually.

But beyond the productivity costs, there are the very tangible costs of the real estate needed to file all that unnecessary paper. A standard filing cabinet takes up 9 square feet of space. That single filing cabinet translates to $500 per year in rent, at the current rate of $54 to $60 per square foot in Washington, D.C.

Document conversion offers a solution. When you digitize all those stored documents, you first go through a triage process that identifies the documents that you absolutely must preserve as paper. The digitization (scanning) process then creates a document database of all your documents, secure and searchable.

To complete the process, all the less-the-necessary documents are shredded securely, in compliance with any applicable regulations. Your document storage needs are suddenly reduced. Your storage area goes from several hundred square feet down to the size of a single external hard drive.

And just like that, your budget can be re-aligned, covering the HR shortfall with the real estate savings.

Of course, there are other factors to consider, like the terms of your current lease, or a move to a hybrid work model (which also benefits from digitization, as we have discussed elsewhere). But no matter your circumstances, digitization will create appealing cost savings which could very possibly balance your budget.

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

Hackable: How Return-to-the-Office Makes Paper a Security Issue

Hackable: How Return-to-the-Office Makes Paper a Security Issue

We usually think of electronic files as the only medium to be targeted by hackers. Paper seems invulnerable to hacks. If the bad actors don’t have the paper documents, they don’t have the data. But is that really true?

Cyber attacks have been common occurrences. Many times, however, such hacks were preventable: Passwords were not protected, download and upload protocols were not observed, file-sharing rules weren’t enforced.

You may think paper-based data isn’t hackable. But if we define “hacking” as the theft of information, no matter the medium, paper documents have been hacked repeatedly, for many, many years. (Pentagon Papers, anyone?)

Now that employees are returning to the workplace, paper documents are once again reappearing on desks, in copiers, and in file folders. Those supposedly safe documents can be hacked in a number of ways. A few examples:

  • A confidential document left in a copier tray
  • A sensitive document tossed in the trash
  • A password written on a sticky note and pasted to a computer
  • A private report left in a conference room after a presentation

In each case, the information can easily make its way into the hands of people who shouldn’t have this sensitive data.

One way to make paper documents less hackable is to digitize them. Digitization converts a paper document’s information into electronic format, bringing it into the cyber world where new technology can keep it more secure. Digitization gives bad actors one less way to access information.

Document conversion simplifies data security because there is only one primary medium to secure. Security advocates recommend bringing paper documents into the purview of Chief Information Officers, who have traditionally focused on securing only electronic data. Digitizing paper documents makes them more manageable for CIO’s. With the reduction of paper-based information, there is only one door for criminals to get at sensitive information. And CIO’s can enforce strict data hygiene to protect that single door, and keep information safe.

Return-to-the-office, whether full time or hybrid, gives businesses an opportunity to reassess their information security. Now is the time to institute a digitization program and eliminate a significant security vulnerability.

Photo © Andrey Popov / AdobeStock

Labs: No Two Alike, Except for These Three Things

Labs: No Two Alike, Except for These Three Things

“There is no one-size-fits-all,” says Gensler Research, regarding lab design and adaptive reuse. Like people, each lab has its own unique purpose and form. A lab, unlike typical office space, may have to take into account ventilation, vibration, volatile chemicals, greater-than-usual utilities requirements, or dangers to workers and the general public, to name just a few of their special challenges.

But no matter what type of lab yours may be, from analytics and QC to biohazard or R&D, these three operational elements help any lab fulfill its mission.

Storage cabinets and casework – Cluttered labs are unsafe labs. Whatever the science specialty, whatever the experimental design, every lab needs to protect items from contamination, damage, loss, or degradation:

  • Equipment
  • Chemicals
  • Documents
  • Electronics
  • Test and experimental supplies
  • Researchers’ personal items

Your current lab storage may be perfect for your processes today. But once a research phase comes to an end, the layout and type of storage may not fit the next phase. Labs outfitted with modular casework can reconfigure their storage to suit the new functions, rather than scrapping the existing storage – a benefit to the budget and the environment.

Data management – The essence of scientific investigation is the collection and management of data. Paper documents may be the only option in some labs, especially if electronics interfere with experimental processes. But data on paper takes time to access and analyze, and paper itself is a fragile medium. Document imaging converts paper-based data to electronic data for fast, easy use. Moreover, it preserves the data in a secure form, controlling accessibility and preventing the loss of invaluable information.

Equipment and materials management – Labs’ budgets can skyrocket when expensive equipment is lost. Time-dependent research can be wasted when materials can’t be located in inventory. And hand-written inventories are notoriously error-prone, not to mention an expensive use of researchers’ time. RFID asset management systems take the burden off researchers by automatically tracking quantities and whereabouts of these vital components. Equipment is easy to find, and there’s never a shortage of essential elements.

All three of these design and operations technologies contribute to safe and efficient lab functionality. Just as important, they have a positive effect on your lab’s bottom line, saving time and money. It’s not theoretical; it’s proven. Talk to a storage and organization consultant and review the options.

 

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RFID Keeps Retailers’ Storefronts in the Black

RFID Keeps Retailers’ Storefronts in the Black

Like every other economic sector, retailers have been forced to reshape their operations due to the covid pandemic. Although there has been an uptick in in-store buying, especially during the holidays, pandemic-induced modes of shopping are now part of the new normal, especially online shopping and curb-side pickup.

Consulting firm McKinsey reports that store-located pickups have been more profitable than delivery from a central distribution center. The cost of replenishing, picking, and staging are higher with store pickups, but that cost is outweighed by the expense of last-mile home deliveries.

Brick-and-mortar stores are now playing a major role in omnichannel shopping fulfillment in the new normal. Contrary to predictions (and contrary to the retail trends leading up to 2020), storefronts are far from dead.

But competition among retailers is stronger than ever, and savvy retailers are adopting or extending RFID technology to enhance the customer “buying journey:”

  • Inventory tracking – RFID automates replenishment planning and ordering, and tracks product locations through the supply and distribution chain.
  • Store operations – RFID automates notifications of restocking and picking, decreases shrinkage, and enables self-checkout.
  • Customer experience – Currently in limited deployment, RFID holds the potential for personalized shopping recommendations in-store and online.

According to McKinsey, when retailers commit to RFID they can expect to see profit-boosting benefits:

  • A 25% improvement in inventory accuracy, preventing over-buying and stockouts.
  • A 10-15% reduction in inventory labor costs.
  • A reduction of shrinkage and pilferage resulting in a 1.5% increase in revenues.

RFID isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition, however. To make sure you’re getting the best technology for your retail operation, talk to a storage solutions consultant with RFID expertise.

 

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