26 Alaska Business | March 2018 www.akbizmag.com
Image courtesy of
McCool Carlson Green/
© Keven G Smith
is a greater push to be more efficient, she explains. Technology use, employee retention,
and attraction of new employee talent are
also impacting workplace design.
“Me space is considered an employee’s
home base, their dedicated work area, and
square foot allocation has been greatly reduced for individual work space,” says Weiss,
as companies strive to reduce expenses and
free up floor space to lease to more tenants.
“When individual workspaces are reduced in
size, more We space, as an amenity, can be provided for employees,” she says, adding that We
spaces include work lounges, living rooms, coffee bars, phone booths, and collaboration areas.
“These areas are considered work area op-
tions for employees to have a choice when
considering how they need to accomplish
their tasks,” says Weiss, who notes that hav-
ing a choice in the workplace “allows people to
change their posture throughout the day and
encourages interaction with their peers to ex-
change knowledge or an impromptu meeting.”
That is enticing to the young workforce
generation—who want as much mobility in
their work environment as they have when it
comes to social connectivity.
Natasha Schmidt, principal at RIM Design
in Anchorage, is also seeing the transformation from Me to We, especially within companies where collaboration and knowledge
sharing are valuable assets.
“A deeper look is taken to determine the
needs for each space based on type of work
being done, type of space, and other factors,”
explains Schmidt, who serves as communications director for the Alaska Chapter of
American Society of Interior Designers.
“When individual workspaces are appropriately sized, shared spaces such as conference rooms, breakout or collaboration areas,
respite rooms, phone enclaves, [and] fitness
or lounge-style break areas can be added and
utilized by everyone. This approach maximizes the usable space, allowing for more
staff and a variety of amenities,” she says.
But Me to We space isn’t the only trend
taking place. Not only are companies opening up areas to save money and boost collaboration, they’re also taking advantage
of the decreasing need for paper and document space: there are fewer file cabinets and
less shelving and desk space needed, which
means workstations can be smaller.
According to Dana Nunn, interior design
director for Bettisworth North, “We also see
more benching solutions as telecommuting
becomes more common than ever before;
work zones are complemented with a variety
of space types to support the many ways folks
work alone, as well as in small or large teams,
and often only part-time in the office with the
balance on project sites or from home.”
Today’s office landscape is dotted with a
wide variety of work areas, from small meet-
ing rooms and semi-private alcoves to flex-
ible meeting rooms that support everything
from large staff meetings to technology tele-
conferences and training programs.
The workspaces are supporting several
generations of workers, notes Melissa Pribyl, an interior designer at McCool Carlson
Green in Anchorage. There are shifts in
workplace dynamics, she explains, such as
employee engagement playing a more critical role and employees having a greater say in
the workplace setup.
Immersive Planning Invites
These shifts, Pribyl says, are driving “
immersive planning” when it comes to interior design. Employees want privacy and to be free
from distractions when necessary yet have access to collaborative and community spaces.
“These changes are starting to define the
workspaces by individual’s actions rather
than their job function by providing immersive planning techniques that create spaces
that invite interaction, collaboration, and
private heads-down work,” Pribyl says.
Nunn says her firm is hearing requests
for amenities such as coffee bars, expanded
breakrooms, shower and dressing spaces,
storage areas for gear such as bicycles or cross
country skis, and more casual drop-in meeting areas. Pribyl notes there is a trend showcasing hospitality and residential influences.
“However, as Alaskans, we love our connection to nature and inviting, warm environments,” she says.
Weiss says clients want their space to relate to their brand or culture. “Companies
are asking their staff to not personalize their
own space. Companies want their work environment to reflect the company not the
individual. The result is a professional, less
cluttered work environment that reflects the
company mission and values,” she says.
A New Look for Private Office Spaces
Though the walled office is fast disappearing,
there remains a need for private and secured
spaces, says Pribyl. Providing privacy and security can be done in multiple ways, and one
approach is the private room.
“We often call these focus rooms, group
rooms, or writing rooms. While the main