Butler joins modern office interiors discussion at IBR Breakfast Series event

Coffee Cup.From the Idaho Business Review:

Office design has changed quite a bit in the new millennium. We’ve moved away from straight lines and thick walls to more fluid, open spaces. New generations of workers are looking for more creative concepts in their workplaces. With skilled workers in short supply, companies need to offer the advantage of a healthy, enjoyable workspace if they are going to win the workers they want. On Oct. 6, the Idaho Business Review brought together local experts from different areas of the design world to discuss how to make an office an asset for any company.

Jason Butler, CTA Boise principal-in-charge and a leader of the firm’s Commercial team, was on the six-person panel that participated in IBR’s forum, which took place on the 17th floor of the Eighth and Main building in downtown Boise (nine floors up from the CTA Boise office). Butler’s topic responses during the event were as follows:

The design process starts with the company mission
One thing we’ve been selling, whether we’re involved with a project or not, is facilitation of programming, engagement — talking with each employee of a business, ideally, and getting them to prioritize and develop a checklist of wants and needs for the space. Something we learned in the design of our own space downstairs was we had a young architect, a young engineer, and our marketing director interview all our staff. We received feedback and prioritized what our employees wanted out of our company, and many of these ideas resonate in our space.

Space needs are evolving
Traditionally [the rule was] 250 to 300 [square feet per employee]. Ours downstairs is 195 square feet per person. It’s quite dense on the north, south, east, and west, and then very generous with some common space on the Eighth and Main corner. I think it breaks down by region, too. In our Austin office it’s very dense, around 140 per person; our Seattle office is in the 150 to 160 range. Denver is more in line with Boise. I think it’s just the maturity of the market, maybe, or the collaborative nature of the space and the market, what the space might lend itself to.

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Butler said biophilia (plants) in the work place can provide many benefits including healthier air quality and skin, while aiding with heating/cooling costs and acoustics — especially in an open office. An appropriate budget for biophilia is $1/sq. ft., he noted.

I think Scentsy is a great case study, with the six-story nature of their headquarters in Meridian. They have their legal, finance, and human resources on one whole floor, and they’re sitting on about 190 square feet per person. Their marketing development on the floor below is 180, and their call center is at 135 square feet per person out on the campus there. So it does vary by user and location. [SEE MORE ON SCENTSY’S FACILITIES.]

Anything humans do anymore is creative by nature. It’s collaborative, it’s all for one and one for all. I think one thing with an open office concept you really have to preserve is the individual. You need to celebrate the individual employee and still have aspects of the space that allows the employee to display something.

You do need to provide private space, a place to make a personal phone call or opportunities each day to find a corner to work in, or if you want to work at your desk — so fluidity and a dynamic workspace is what works.

Specific amenities that draw and retain tenants
Any business’s greatest expense is the individual employee. From a retention and recruiting standpoint, it’s kind of counter-intuitive, but creating a great break space, a great cafe/kitchen space [can help]. These are our homes away from home, and the whole concept of a residential-commercial, “resimercial,” bridge is if you give people a place to work and play together, they’ll stay longer at work. They’re going to extend work periods and work days, and they’re going to have a lot more fun. So we’re starting to see that trend of creating great break space.

CTA’s architectural and interiors teams have a deep background in designing unique, cutting edge office environments for a long list of clients; CTA Boise and Austin offices provide excellent examples of open floor plans and the use of creative furniture, color, and texture; and a mixture of work and “fun” space.


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