Applying Workplace Solutions to our own Offices

Reza Amirkhalili
Our new spaces use “agile working” principles. Like communities or neighborhoods, this layout promotes communication, boosts efficiency and speeds decision-making, while drastically reducing operating costs.

Our Workplace Solutions service

Agile working has been widely used in Europe, and has become more common in the U.S. as firms like GlaxoSmithKline look for ways to reduce their real estate footprints. In response, Faithful+Gould launched workplace solutions, to help clients develop more efficient, collaborative workplaces.

The service addresses the disconnect clients may experience between their operational needs and their built environment, often due to rapid growth or contraction. Our workplace strategists and asset management consultants assess strategic real estate needs and develop solutions that support organizations and are right-sized for their needs.

Supporting GlaxoSmithKline

Although workplace solutions is relatively new as a distinct service line, we have helped GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) transition to new working environments at locations across the globe for more than ten years, most recently on GSK’s move to a local headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Agile working at our own offices

We have followed suit within our own organization, adopting agile working in our Americas office locations. Our Philadelphia, Phoenix, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta offices are now benefiting from this workplace solution, with additional offices scheduled.

Two great new locations

In Chicago we reduced square footage from 5,500 square feet to 3,100 square feet, while still providing seating for 23-25 employees. Located within the Civic Opera House, this new office includes workstations, quiet booths, team collaboration space and conference area, as well as a shared fitness center, rooftop deck, conference center and retail outlets.

Our Washington, D.C. office moved to its new location in Alexandria, two blocks from the Eisenhower Metro, in July 2013. The new space includes 31 shared workstations with additional seating in "huddle rooms," lounge areas and in the kitchen. There are also quiet booths, team collaboration space and conference area, as well as shared amenities such as a conference room and fitness center.

Benefits of our agile working environments:

  • Reduced square footage. Eg. in Washington, D.C. we achieved more than 50% reduction.

  • Reduced operating expenses.

  • Improved staff communication, working practices and productivity.

  • Redistributed functional electronic equipment to other offices.

  • Donated surplus office furniture and equipment to needy causes. Eg. our Washington, D.C. office donated approximately 90% of the items from our former office to Alexandria Public Schools and Elizabeth Seton High School.

Challenges

The shift to a non-traditional office challenges companies to transform not only the physical environment but also the ways they conduct business. Our employees were initially skeptical and many did not want to lose their offices.

"The Chicago office has been in our new open plan office environment for about five months now. In that short time, there have been several noticeable benefits, one being the ease of access for our junior staff to our senior and executive staff."

Carmelo Torrisi, Faithful+Gould's Managing Director

Positive outcomes

After only a few months, positive outcomes were noticeable. Staff enjoy the flexibility and the ability to sit in teams according to the needs of their day. The open office layout has improved staff communication and accelerated decision-making.

Chicago’s Managing Director Carmelo Torrisi said, "The Chicago office has been in our new open plan office environment for about five months now. In that short time, there have been several noticeable benefits, one being the ease of access for our junior staff to our senior and executive staff."

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