One of the unique opportunities – and challenges – when moving your office location is the chance to redesign the layout. Where does everybody sit? Who is near the windows? Are there private offices or not? Our senior management has recently begun wrestling with this question while we narrow down our list of potential new homes. Paul, our space planner, recently gave a presentation and discussed the pros and cons of different design strategies to the senior management team. The discussion ranged from noise levels, privacy, cross-functional productivity, and how teams can collaborate together more effectively. A big issue that also emerged was that of corporate culture, and our staff’s capacity for change. Moving too far to the extremes of either option could simply be counterproductive.
From an energy efficiency perspective – the question has some interesting ramifications. If closed offices are on the perimeter, will daylighting be diminished? Access to daylight is a big issue for our staff. Can that be moderated by glass versus solid wall construction? Is there an energy penalty due to closed offices? What lighting strategies are deployed – task lights at each desk or standard ceiling illumination – or both? The choice between an open versus closed plan seems to be a major crossroads – once we choose a direction, some energy saving opportunities open up while others may close. It will be fascinating to work with Paul and his team to understand the implications of this decision, and how we can still get energy efficient space that meets our work style.