Innovant Case Study: Pandora Media

imageTHE CHALLENGE

Pandora Internet Radio acquired a new, two-floor office space in Midtown Manhattan to serve as its NY Headquarters. Both the company’s culture and the “abstract, spatial experience” Pandora offers online were inspirations for the workplace design. From break out rooms, to casual gathering areas and heads-down workspaces, the design team involved in the project sought to incorporate cutting-edge technology, fine materials, and unique shapes throughout the open plan office. Thus, the design required a benching product that could integrate seamlessly into the environment, while remaining sensitive to the client’s desired aesthetics and holding up to daily use.

imageTHE INNOVANT SOLUTION

Delivering Pandora’s vision far better than any other manufacturer, Innovant’s FORm_office product was selected to furnish the 300-person office. A local partnership was easily established due to Innovant’s proximity to the client team, which helped the design and specification process. Innovant achieved Pandora’s custom aesthetic by incorporating an assortment of color accents into the bench configuration. From cushion-topped storage pedestals, to fabric-wrapped privacy panels, Innovant successfully delivered Pandora’s fun, playful aesthetic along with the superior technology management and performance benefits inherent in the FORm_office product.

THE RESULT

This Pandora office balances technically sophisticated products and materials with a modern, yet whimsical design aesthetic – all in within the confines of a classic 1920s New York City skyscraper. The project was featured in Interior Design’s May 2014 Technology Offices Roundup, “How Tomorrow Works: 5 Offices for Tech Companies.”

Check out other case studies on Innovant’s website.

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“Evolution of the Desk" is an initiative borne out of the Harvard Innovation Lab. The goal is to illustrate the impact that technology has had on our lives over the last 35 years. A cluttered desk, complete with a rolodex, a file cabinet, and a fax machine, transforms into a much cleaner, simpler surface consisting of only a laptop and a mobile phone. Of course, some things in life - like the sun - are everlasting, so the shades persist throughout the years.  All of the vintage items featured in this video are authentic. The Macintosh Classic, corded phone, fax machine, globe, corkboard, Polaroid camera, and rolodex were all purchased through individual sellers on Ebay. The radio was acquired from Goodwill, and the picture frame came from pictureframes.com. The rest of the items were found lying around in basements, storage units, and garage sales. And the sunglasses? Those were easy since we actually still own a pair.  How has your desktop changed over the years?        
Content and video via Best Reviews, image via Gizmodo.

Evolution of the Desk" is an initiative borne out of the Harvard Innovation Lab. The goal is to illustrate the impact that technology has had on our lives over the last 35 years. A cluttered desk, complete with a rolodex, a file cabinet, and a fax machine, transforms into a much cleaner, simpler surface consisting of only a laptop and a mobile phone. Of course, some things in life - like the sun - are everlasting, so the shades persist throughout the years.

All of the vintage items featured in this video are authentic. The Macintosh Classic, corded phone, fax machine, globe, corkboard, Polaroid camera, and rolodex were all purchased through individual sellers on Ebay. The radio was acquired from Goodwill, and the picture frame came from pictureframes.com. The rest of the items were found lying around in basements, storage units, and garage sales. And the sunglasses? Those were easy since we actually still own a pair.

How has your desktop changed over the years?        

Content and video via Best Reviews, image via Gizmodo.

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Innovant: Evolution via Innovation

By Mallory JindraimageThe ability to successfully transition into a new market in order to grow is perhaps the defining measure between maintaining a business and skyrocketing into a sphere of innovation inhabited only by the top talent. To say this is a ‘tricky’ venture is a gross understatement, but it’s what growing a business is all about, and it’s certainly attainable.

Innovant is a growing company taking smart, conscientious stops to evolve itself from an expert in one area, in this case the trading desks of the 1990s, to a viable competitor in the broader furniture manufacturing market. The company’s very name self-prophesizes its ability to do so, but only recently has it begun to branch out into new product categories. Now, in its 25th anniversary year, Innovant has 160 employees in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area, plus Chicago and San Francisco who are busy elevating the company to the next level with a broad product offering.

Innovant formed in 1990 (originally known as CBA) as a supplier of trading desks to the financial and energy companies. Its signature claim was introducing to the marketplace the concept of tailoring catalogued product without increasing cost or adversely affecting lead time. In 2008, after opening an office in London, England, Innovant recognized the workplace shift to benching products and decided it was ready to spring from trading out into commercial offices.

“Trading desk manufacturing has changed little in 10 years,” said Bruce Wells, Innovant Director of Marketing and Development, “and trading desk design innovation has plateaued. Trading often cannot take risks – it goes with guaranteed techniques. We knew that benching was going to be the future, and we made a decision to rebrand and expand our offerings.”

Once a company makes the decision to jump into something new, it must address a list of predicable but important questions. What does this new customer segment need? What have they always wanted, and what have they not experienced yet that we can provide? Do we have the knowledge to successfully execute? Or is it too far off the mark/too big a leap? In its leap to benching, Innovant found logical, intuitive answers to all of the important questions.

“A trading desk is similar to a benching workstation, but more sophisticated,” said Mr. Wells. “It has a similar footprint, but there’s about three to four times more technology than normal. And the end user is different. Traders are high-strung, high-demand alpha personalities. It’s easier to scale down a trading desk to suit a typical workstation’s needs than to scale up a typical workstation to a trading desk. In that sense, it was a natural progression.”imageFORm_office™, Innovant’s benching system, offers four types of benching/workstation solutions, all designed with Innovant’s “trading eye” expertise in integrating technology above, below and within the furniture: the full product overview reads, “The other side of the story is inside the bench, where superior cable management, technology accommodations, and rugged superstructure make FORm_office a benchmark of intelligent engineering and clean, contemporary design.” FORm_office Adjustable Height, which won Best of NeoCon Gold for Benching in 2012, utilizes sleek control switch options, and the system can be built with shelving in between workstations to minimize the oft-awkward feeling of not using the same height as the person in the spot next to you.

At NeoCon 2014, Innovant displayed the newest innovation to its benching solutions, FORm_office Standing Height, a fixed standing height open plan workstation that, when combined with stool-height task chairs, allows users to work in a seated or standing position without the cost of adjustable height mechanisms. The solution proposes to benefit “collaborative offices concerned with employee health and workplace aesthetic”, and the logic is there; why not just start with a fixed standing height option and then use a stool height chair to sit? And aesthetically speaking, who wants to sit at an adjustable height desk working lopsidedly three feet below your co-workers on either or both sides? Because the workspace is kept level, the solution is also much more conducive to teamwork and can double as a conference table.

Visiting Innovant’s showroom, one sees the full range of its expanded lines of conference and private office solutions, which it debuted in 2013 and continued to enhance at NeoCon 2014. Freed from the constraints of the concise, predictable trading desk aesthetic, Innovant has also put serious thought into how its product looks. Wells describes the brand as clean, sophisticated and robust, with a determined move to sidestep the Ping-Pong conference tables and beanbag chairs of so many playful workspaces existing today.

“We have a product that balances the drastically different aesthetics of both Silicon Valley and Wall Street.”

Wells cites the company’s strong history of offering affordable customization as an asset that has allowed it to accelerate its position. “The ability to tailor to the extent we can is exciting, and the quality of the full experience we’re offering our clients is so high that they find they can actually achieve much more than what they had expected and still stay within their budget. When they come to our showroom, they receive a tour of what’s possible, rather than just what’s available.”

Securing the fundamentals of excellent customer service and the design quality of product is certainly top of the docket when you’re in transition. And Wells notes that Innovant’s reach extends far past its regional tri-state home market (both its main office and factory are located in its home market) so that a large percentage of its business is now conducted on the west coast. But as Innovant moves past these initial years of expansion to more involved projects, we wonder, what’s next?

“We want to shape the team room. The true collaborative team space, which exists somewhere between the workstation and the conference room where employees can act as a team rather than simply co-workers, is a complicated one.” Innovant’s recent work with two notable technology giants has provided a window into what the needs and parameters of this type of space are.

“This type of space is becoming more and more important in the work environment, especially in light of the mobile nature of how people work and the fact that they very well might not have a personal cube to themselves anymore. We don’t think it’s been done justice yet, and we want to lead that effort.”

Innovant’s recent products demonstrate its ability to evolve through innovation. Its lineup is strong, and we’re paying attention.

Originally published in the Office Insight, August 25, 2014.

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Innovant Sales Position: Account Executive [New York, NY]

Innovant stands above conventional furniture manufacturers because of our people and our unique corporate culture. We foster excellence at every level of the organization and benefit from the input of everyone in the company. If you are ready to have your voice heard, please check our current openings for opportunities to become a part of our team.imageCompany Description:

Innovant is an award-winning furniture manufacturer of innovative, high quality office furniture products. We specialize in sophisticated open plan workstations, trading desks, private office and conference products. Innovant excels over major industry competitors due to our quality and ability to integrate adjustable height, accommodate cabling and technology, and incorporating designer/client esthetics. We are currently searching for a skilled entry-level Account Executive at our New York office. This is a salary and commission-based sales role supporting existing and new clients. Applicants should have 1 to 2 years of sales experience and/or a desire to work in sales for commercial furniture.

Job Description:

As an Account Executive, your core responsibility will be to provide product-based solutions to clients with requirements for open plan offices, trading applications and other workplace environments. Your goal will be to find and engage both prospective and current clients while communicating with their designers and project teams to select the right Innovant products that meet clients’ needs. You will also attend industry and networking events to help with job prospecting and building new contacts and referrals. You will work closely with experienced Account Executives and Directors to complete extensive training on all aspects of project fulfillment, including specification, quoting, managing project meetings, and providing “day 2” support.

Job requirements:

  • BA/BS in business, design or a related field
  • Experience working in sales is a major plus
  • Desire to grow and progress into a senior sales position
  • Ability to learn quickly, take direction and complete continued self-education on industry trends
  • Comfortable with prospecting and engaging new/existing clients to acquire new business
  • Team player contributing to company growth and both individual/team goals

Please send your cover letter and resume to rdriscoll@innovant.com with the subject: “Innovant Account Executive Application 2014”.

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I Think, Ergo I Stand

By Bara Vaida

imageEvery week, ergonomics expert July Landis walks into offices and observes workers slouching in their chairs and leaning over keyboards with hunched shoulders. Some are straining their necks to view too-high computer monitors and others are awkwardly twisting their bodies to grab their phone or read documents.

She sees recipes for pain.

“There are all kinds of ways that people, without realizing it, are doing things to injure themselves at work,” says Landis, president and CEO of Ergo Concepts, a suburban Germantown, Maryland ergonomics consulting firm hired by large and small companies to create pain-free office environments.

Every year, about 1 million people strain their necks, hurt their backs or sprain their wrists so badly that they need serious medical attention and can’t return to work for days, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That lost work time and the medical costs relating to treating disabling workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $20 billion in 2011, according to a 2013 report by Liberty Mutual Insurance, a Boston-based company that analyzes federal ergonomics data to create its national Workplace Safety Index.

Further, new research shows that the amount of time people spend sitting is causing injury to their health. Adults who sit for more than four hours a day, compared with those who sit for just two hours, have a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and a 125 percent increased risk of health problems related to cardiovascular disease, says James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

“Sitting is the new smoking,” says Landis.

Whiles some smaller companies and single-individual-run businesses may feel they don’t have the money or time for ergonomics, there are quantifiable savings, says Bruce Lyon, director of risk control at the Hays Companies, an employee-benefits brokerage firm based in Kansas City, Missouri. For every $1 that a company spends on workplace safety, its return on investment is about $4 to $6, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates.

“Employers and employees often don’t think of sitting as dangerous,” says Lyon. “But if you are static and sitting in an incorrect posture for an extended period, that constricts blood flow. Eventually, the restriction causes soft tissue damage, and for some it can be debilitating.”

To prevent injuries, Landis, a physical therapist by training, and her staff help companies purchase ergonomically correct office equipment and provide evaluation and training to employees. They teach how body positions and daily work activities can lead to the development of chronic pain.

“There is no one-size-fits-all method of pieces of equipment,” says Landis, whose company has consultants in 45 U.S. cities. “You have to evaluate each person’s height, weight and body type, whether they are right- or left-handed, the amount of time they are sitting in front of a computer, and then, through a collaborative discussion, tailor a solution to that person.”

Consistent themes do arise. For example, in a recent evaluation visit to the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C., Landis worked with Sohni Anand and Chris Graham. Anand suffered from chronic, tingling neck pain, while Graham had occasional lower back pain. After talking and watching while they worked, Landis spotted the problems: incorrectly positioned chairs, computer monitors, keyboards and feet. She gave both AIR employees lessons on using and positioning their equipment, and then offered advices on ways to stay active during the day.

A half hour after Landis had made the fixes, Anand said, “I already feel better.”

Originally published in the Costco Connection, August 2014.

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Time to Shift Gears: 5 Design Firms Reimagine Their Own Studios

In a recent Interior Design Magazine feature about design firms updating their own spaces, Innovant’s FORm_office product made an appearance. Among the five firms highlighted, TPG Architecture was noted for its “two-level layout emphasiz[ing] alternative and collaborative work areas.”imageFor heads down work, the firm deployed FORm_office benching in a stark black and white finish to complement the firm’s branding.

To view the full slideshow, please click the Interior Design link above.

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Innovant Proudly Enters its 25th Year of Business

July 31, 2014 marks the commencement of Innovant’s 25th year of business. On this anniversary, the company celebrates over two decades of clean, intelligent, and tailored workplace furnishings. imageInnovant proudly celebrates its 25 year milestone as one of the fastest growing office furniture manufacturers over the last five years. This growth is attributable to the success and expansion of Innovant’s open plan workstation product FORm_office™.

After opening an office in London in 2008, Innovant recognized that the open plan office strategy would soon take root in the US. This led the company to launch FORm_office™, which quickly became the top selling benching product in New York City, particularly for prestigious clients with complex technology requirements. Since its inception, FORm_office™ has been selected over competing products from major manufacturers because of its superior engineering, pleasing aesthetic and Innovant’s proven history intelligently integrating technology and cabling within its furniture.

In 2012, Innovant launched FORm_office™ Adjustable Height as an extension to the series and was immediately awarded Gold for Best in Benching at the prestigious NeoCon furniture tradeshow. Since then, Innovant has rapidly expanded its product offerings with the introduction of FORm_office™ Standing Height and the launch of both a private office line and a conference collection; this includes the FORm_AV video conferencing product on display at NeoCon 2014.

Innovant continues to win major benching projects for its high quality products and unparalleled tailoring capability. The company has also set itself apart by offering clients “The Innovant Experience,” a uniquely collaborative design and development process. To learn more about this collaborative experience and some of Innovant’s success stories, view the company’s case studies online.

For more information about Innovant or its office furniture products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

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Outside the Box: How the Office Opened Up

imageNikil Saval's Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, charts the rise of the modern open office plan. See a summary below.

1958: No More Walls
German brothers Wolfgang and Eberhard Schnelle come up with the Bürolandschaft (“office landscape”) concept. It replaces private offices with free-form, flexible desks, a communal break room, and a few mobile partitions.

1967: Opening Up
DuPont is the first American company to realize that a flexible office is a cheaper office. But the open plan doesn’t muffle telephone calls or typewriters, and “some crucial values for the performance of work were lost.”

1968: The First Cubicle
Robert Propst, a researcher at furniture company Herman Miller, creates the Action Office II. It has three movable, disposable walls at obtuse angles, sitting and standing desks, and pushpins to add décor.

1980s: Tiny Cubes
Workers are hemmed into cube farms, arranged in “six-packs.” By the 1990s, cubicles had shrunk as much as 50 percent; by 2006 the average size is 75 square feet. “One wonders to what extent the extravagant growth of the American bathroom  … is a reaction against the shrinking of cubicles.”

1993: Virtual Failure
Los Angeles ad agency Chiat/Day eliminates walls, desks, and cubicles. Instead, workers are handed a cell phone and laptop and told to work together in a conference room. The experiment backfires: Employees stop showing up.

2005: You’re Stuck Here
Google sets the Silicon Valley standard in Mountain View, Calif., where employees move among meeting rooms, quiet libraries, and tents. That flexibility, combined with food and amenities, discourages them from ever leaving.

2014: Office Goodbye Party
“Contingent laborers”—freelancers, temps, etc.—will soon comprise 40 percent of the workforce, according to one Intuit study. Saval says cubicles, corner offices, and white-collar jobs could shortly cease to exist.

Originally published on the Bloomberg Businessweek, July 10, 2014.

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You May Want to Take a Seat (or Not)

by Scott Spector

Approximately a decade ago, the first adjustable-height desks hit the market. These “sit/stand” alternatives to traditional office seating could be manually adjusted or, with the help of an electric motor and push of a button, shifted according to a worker’s needs and preferences. They were intriguing, but costly, as they were considered specialty items.

Over the past few years, and even as recently as the last few weeks, a number of studies have come out pointing to the health detriments of sitting too much, from back and neck pain to increased risk of organ damage and circulatory issues. Experts from the National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic and more began speaking out about the benefits of motion. Companies, in turn, are starting to listen.

How do I know? This summer alone I’ve encountered several clients who have asked about incorporating adjustable-height desks and other seating alternatives into their office design. Our firm recently completed a project where 20 percent of the office’s desks were adjustable. In addition to clients proactively approaching us, we’re also bringing adjustable-height desks up as part of the programming and workplace strategy reviews and it’s an option they are increasingly selecting. And it’s not just social media and tech firms that are buying into the trend. While not as widespread, some financial services and creative firms are embracing these alternatives and weaving them into the furniture choices they make.

As these options become more commonplace and readily available from office furniture manufacturers, they also become more cost-effective and better. Like any other technology–think of the iPhone or flat screen televisions–now that they’ve been on the market for some time, the price has gone down and the products themselves have vastly improved, thanks in part to user feedback and testing.

Solutions, however, are not limited to adjustable-height desks. There is a plethora of mobile desks on the market, which can allow the wireless worker to roll his laptop and workspace from one meeting area to the next, a model known as activity-based working. VaynerMedia, on Park Avenue South, has successfully used this option for a portion its office furniture plan. Mobile desks, hoteling and benching all allow for greater flexibility, particularly for firms whose workers travel several months out of the year for their jobs (think accountants who spend four months of the year auditing internally at a company before returning to their desks). Mobile and sit/stand desks better utilize space and square footage–a huge benefit for companies.

Whether it’s incorporating ergonomic workstations, placing stairs between two floors to encourage workers to get up, move around and interact, or other wellness measures such as spacious pantries and outdoor meeting areas for employees to get daylight and fresh air, it’s clear that healthy, flexible workplaces have made their way into the mainstream.

Originally published on the Commercial Observer, July 14, 2014.

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If Sitting Is The New Smoking Is Standing The New Patch?

by Fran Ferrone

Over the past 18 months, I’ve gained almost two inches (2 inches!) in a place I don’t need to, primarily because I changed jobs. My last job consisted of ten to twelve impossibly hectic and mobile travel days per month meeting with colleagues and clients, followed by several days working virtually at home. The travel was stressful and the workdays were long, but I was compensated by more flexible hours on my days at home that allowed me to catch a mid-day Vinyasa class a few times a week. While changing jobs afforded me the chance to move from one great company to another, it was also a drastic change in my work style. Now I’m in an office Monday through Friday, and although my work is varied and stimulating, I often feel the physical and psychological effects of being tethered to my desk; and I miss that Vinyasa class.

imageIncreased Concern for Health and Wellness

I’m not alone. Ever since the Wall Street Journal’s July, 2012 article, “Sitting for More Than Three Hours a Day Cuts Life Expectancy” appeared (to be endlessly echoed by myriad media sources) it’s been clear that health and wellness has become a serious business concern. Yet compared to sustainability, which came to prominence in the mid-2000’s, and took years to produce real bottom line proof statements, compelling health and wellness statistics have quickly emerged. Insurance giant, AON, reports that for every dollar invested in wellness programs, companies can expect a $3.00 to $6.00 return. And the cost of not doing anything is even more dramatic. The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism estimates that the indirect costs relating to poor health can be 2-3X direct medical costs. As a result, health and wellness has become the latest clarion call of the office landscape. This is a big topic that would take much more space than this writing allows. To give you an idea of scale, at one end of the spectrum developers are offering more life-style amenities in new and repositioned properties. At the other end of the spectrum, sit-to-stand furniture options have taken center stage.   

Solutions to Meet a Rising Need

Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing and Development for benching and trading desk manufacturer Innovant, reports that just in the past six months, 90% of his conversations with clients have centered on sit-to-stand options. Key motivators for concerned employers are the potential health benefits of standing (or more specifically, not sitting all day) and the opportunity to give something back after transitioning employees to smaller benching applications. In providing a choice, the sit-to-stand option offers workers some control over their immediate work environment.

Because this represents a significant workplace investment, there are factors to consider before committing to the sit stand option. First, “who gets it?” Providing everyone with standing desks avoids inequality but could strain the budget. Firms struggling with this might consider supplying them to workers - like traders, call center operators and receptionists - who are less mobile during the workday. Second, a thorough cost/benefit analysis of day one vs. retrofit day two installations is recommended for anyone considering a phased approach. Other considerations include power sources, wire management and monitor arms for retrofit applications; requests for foot rests and stools (vs. chairs); potential HVAC adjustments; and user safety and office etiquette protocols. Finally, at a cost of $1000 or more per unit, sit-to-stand desks are likely to be part of a holistic solution rather than the solution itself.

image“Inconvenient Planning Strategies”

On the aforementioned spectrum between the amenities being included in new construction and sit-to-stand desks, are some planning options designers have been employing for some time to get people up and out of their seats. Called “Inconvenient Planning Strategies” by my colleague, Ricardo Nabholz, these scenarios evolved over the past decade as companies sought to increase transparency, spontaneous interaction and collaboration throughout the workplace. Conveniently, these same planning tactics also get people moving. Placing staircases in prominent locations encourages people to take the stairs; making them wide enough allows them to stop and have a chat. Dispersing support functions means people have to travel to get to copy/print rooms, pantries, cafés and bathrooms. The proliferation of laptops and wireless technologies have called traditional departmental adjacencies into question, prompting some companies to adopt an unassigned seating policy and/or provide more informal work and collaborative settings – including fixed, standing height benches - that require workers to change locations during the day. More recently, we’ve seen reports of stand-up meetings (that also save time and get people more engaged), and featured in a recent TED talk, even walking meetings.

The Choice Is Ours

Ultimately, while the workplace can indeed support healthy habits, the onus cannot be on the workplace alone. Consider that before we had email and texting, people often had to get up and go find someone to get the answers they needed. And before computers, where it’s easy to gaze and graze, it was difficult to type and eat a sandwich at the same time, so people tended to leave their stations and join colleagues for lunch. Today, it’s up to us to choose options that break our routine, even if they are less convenient. I’m reminded of childhood summers when, before central air conditioning, I spent hot days in my cool basement reading a book while my mother implored me to “put that book down and go get some sun.” Appeasing Mom, I also knew that changing it up was good for me. If Mom were here now she’d say “leave the laptop and go take a walk, think, have a conversation.” With Mom’s voice in my ear, I’ve begun to find ways to take breaks much as I did when working at home. Happily, I’ve found that not only can I still get my work done, I’ve also begun to feel more in control. I now save my Vinyansa for the weekends, but I’m delighted to say that the little changes in my work routine have started to make a dent in those 2 inches.   

Originally published in The National Real Estate Investor, July 1, 2014.

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8 Secrets of the Modern Workplace

imageTaking down the cubicle walls isn’t enough anymore. Retaining talent now also requires quiet places, work-from-home-flexibility, and an eye on the bottom line, according to panelists at Bisnow’s NY Office of the Future event, held Thursday, June 12.

1) Employees Should Be as Happy as Pharrell Williams

WeWork is one of the office sector’s most innovative players, but co-founder Miguel KcKelvery says the company wasn’t founded to create futuristic office; it was founded for the here and now. The idea was to create a place for companies trying to start something new for the world, companies that could use a spark. Folks working nonstop like that, he says, need to be empowered by their workspace and feel happy when there.

2) Cult of Equality

By the end of the year, 9,000 of Credit Suisse’s 50,000 employees will be working in open workspaces, says Americas Head of Workplace Strategy Phil Kirschner. No exceptions will be made for managers at any level - if you want a corner office, you better bring a protractor and some tape.

CBRE Managing Director of Workplace Strategiy Lenny says companies spend 75% of their capital on people, so a good workplace can’t be about just efficiency; it has to consider the employees. CBRE’s own Workplace 360 program has already converted 18 of its offices, including its LA HQ, into open spaces with no assigned desks, even for the CEO. Ten years ago, Bloomberg took the bold step to put all employees on trading desks, says Global Head of Real Estate & Facilities Lauren Smith. It was a cultural strategy, she adds, not motivated by real estate.

Culture as a workplace factor is a simple concept but far from mainstream. Moderator, Macro Consultants’ Michael Glatt, did a recent change-management presentation for a 10M SF client that didn’t have an HR rep involved in the process.

3) Working from Home Is a Reality

Considering employees are required to work from anywhere at any time, remote working is a logistical necessity, says Lauren. But Bloomberg also believes it’s important for each employee to have his or her own space, a “home” to come back to. JetBlue Corporate Real Estate VP Richard Smyth says 95% of the company’s Salt Lake City call center employees work from home. The company’s LIC HQs (two-and-a-half years old) offers open, collaborative space with no exterior offices and few interior ones. For all that the company demands of its employees, giving them the ability to work from home makes sense, he notes.

4) Amenities Matter

For the young employees at Twitter, the workplace is their life, says the company’s Facilities Project Manager Rowen Ash. They don’t leave for lunch. Instead, they take their laptops somewhere else in the office to eat and work in a more social environment. For this younger generation, their coworkers are their friends, blending work life with social life. The workplace, then, is like an extension of the college dorms. Twitter takes pains to make the office a pleasant place to work and socialize.

5) Flexible Workplaces Are Long-Term Hedges

Recruitment plays a part in real estate decisions, but corporations do not know for certain what environment employees of the future will find most productive. Consider a company that signs a 10-year lease today. The entry-level employees it will be recruiting by the end of that term are in 8th grade right now. Flexibility means more than just open workspaces, Lenny says. Employees need a place to work solo when they need to concentrate. Without that option, workplace satisfaction drops. Bloomberg made the mistake of going too dense, Lauren says, with 100 SF per person. What she hears from new recruits is that they want the choice of both open and private spaces.

6) Change Is Inevitable

An office in a rectangular, steel building used to signal that a company had arrived, says Colliers Tri-State Region President Michael Cohen. Now, Sony is moving into an 80-year-old Flatiron property that was built for Rose & Rose Actuaries. He cautions that as conversions to office continue and SF per person ratios compress, landlords should be aware of their certificates of occupancy.

7) Experimentation Is the First Step

Sony is completely rethinking its workplace strategy in advance of its early 2016 relocation, says Facilities Project Manager Jennifer Fordham. That includes reducing space by half while increasing amenities and maintaining the same number of employees. GSA Planning & Design Quality Director Mina Wright, who works under tight budget scrutiny, advises those who want to try a new format should pilot-test it, even if on a small scale. Move into closer quarters, and have executives push their desks together. When the benefit is proven, it can be rolled out more broadly. Director of Workplace at Perkins+Will Rachel Casanova agrees, pointing out that design is an art, not a science. She add that designers should not be afraid to test and refine their work. Avison Young Tri-State Region President Arthur Mirante notes that most companies love turnkey office space nowadays for the blank slate it offers.

8) Neighborhood Is Key

RXR Realty’s Bill Elder says the right environment will guarantee a building is a winner, regardless of submarket. David points out that hip locations like RXR’s Starrett-Lehigh Building or others near the High Line often trump proximity to transit. Meanwhile, Philippe Visser of Related is counting on the combination of Hudson Yards’ retail (three times as much as at Time Warner Center) amid millions of SF of office to attract tenants.

Adapted from Bisnow, originally published June 16, 2014.

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See for yourself what all the buzz is about with Innovant’s FORm_AV product video. Developed in partnership with some of the world’s largest tech firms, Innovant’s suite of FORm_AV conference products is particularly suited for high growth, global companies with intense video conferencing requirements. 

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How to Help Counteract the Negative Effects of Sitting All Day

imageTo help track and engage in the daily activity that can limit the negative effects of sitting, start by finding your daily baseline with a pedometer. Whether with a pedometer, Fitbit, or even a phone app, take a 30-minute walk and see how many steps you take. This number will vary based on how quickly you walk and how large your steps are.

Next, you want to find a baseline of your daily activity. Start using the pedometer when you first wake up in the morning and keep it in your pocket, on your wrist, or running on your phone until you go to bed. This will give you an estimate of your regular daily activity. For some, this may be frighteningly low on the days without purposeful exercise.

To help meet your daily activity target, all it takes is a slight alteration to your behavior. Here are a few ideas for how to do it without really trying:

  • Park near the back of the parking lot.
  • Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair.
  • Walk over and talk to a coworker instead of emailing them.
  • Take the scenic route to the bathroom instead of the most direct.

Meeting your target activity level is just the first step. The second is much simpler and only requires you stand up now and again.

You can reduce the negative effects of sitting all day just by standing up for one or two minutes every hour. Technically, you don’t even have to move, the act of standing alone helps. Since this may be difficult to remember while focused on your work, so it helps to set an hourly reminder. For Mac users, click Settings > Date & Time > Announce the time. Windows users can set up a similar hourly reminder as a task by clicking Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler.

If the alarm isn’t enough, you can download dedicated software to remind you. Windows users can use free programs like, Workrave or Breaker to set up automated alerts. For Macs, Time Out seems the best free option. These programs will remind you to stand and dim the desktop to force you out of your chair.

It’s up to you how you use these micro-breaks. You don’t even have to move if you don’t want to, but if you want to squeeze in a little activity, here’s a quick way to do it without leaving your desk area:

  • Stand up.
  • March in place for twenty seconds.
  • Reach down and try to touch your toes for twenty seconds.
  • Wander around and pick up or reorganize for the last twenty seconds (eventually your desk area may even be clean).

Remember: stand up once an hour and get at least 30 minutes of purposeful activity in a day. Those two simple choices will help counteract the negative effects of sitting.

Originally published on Lifehacker, January 26, 2012.

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How Sitting All Day Is Damaging Your Body & How You Can Counteract It

If you sit in an office chair or on your couch for more than six hours a day, then here are some disturbing facts: Your risk of heart disease has increased by up to 64 percent. You’re shaving off seven years of quality life. You’re also more at risk for certain types of cancer. Simply put, sitting is killing you. That’s the bad news. The good news: It’s easy to counteract.

Our bodies were simply not meant to sit all day. Sitting for long periods of time, even with exercise, has a negative effect on our health. What’s worse, many of us sit up to 15 hours a day, which means that some of us spend the bulk of our waking moments on the couch, in an office chair, or in a car. Though sitting all day isn’t hard to counteract, you have to keep your eye on two details: your daily activity and the amount of time you sit.

It is difficult to get an accurate assessment of what sitting all day will do to a person because of the various factors (like diet) that affect health. However, based on a relatively healthy person (who does not drink in excess, smoke, and who isn’t overweight) the following estimates are reflective of what sitting for over six hours a day can do to the body.

1. Immediately after sitting the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute. This is about a third of what it does if you’re walking. If you sit for a full 24-hour period, you experience a 40 percent reduction in glucose uptake in insulin, which can eventually cause type 2 diabetes.

2. After a few days of sitting for more than six hours a day, your body increases plasma triglycerides (fatty molecules), LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), and insulin resistance. With a sedentary lifestyle, your muscles aren’t taking in fat and your blood sugar levels go up, putting you at risk for weight gain. After just two weeks your muscles start to atrophy and your maximum oxygen consumption drops. This makes stairs harder to climb and walks harder to take. Even if you were working out every day the deterioration starts the second you stop moving.

3. After one year of sitting more than six hours a day, the longer term effects of sitting can start to manifest subtly. According to this study by Nature, you might start to experience weight gain and high cholesterol. Studies in woman suggest you can lose up to 1 percent of bone mass a year by sitting for over six hours a day.

4. After 10-20 years of sitting more than six hours a day, you can cut away about seven quality adjusted life years (the kind you want). It increases your risk of dying of heart disease by 64 percent and your overall risk of prostate or breast cancer increases 30 percent.

Though this list looks incredibly grim, there are two simple actions which can be performed to counteract the negative effects of sitting for extended periods of time:

1. Remember to stand once an hour.
2. Get about 30 minutes of activity per day.

Whether you’re a couch potato watching hours of TV at a time, or an office worker sitting in front of a computer, an Australian study suggests short breaks from sitting once an hour can alleviate most of the problems described above. This isn’t about working out (which is positive, but doesn’t completely counteract the effects of long periods of sitting alone). It’s about creating pockets of moderate activity throughout the day and giving your body a respite from sitting. Moderate activity is equivalent to a brisk walk, which would include yard work or cleaning your house — anything that gets you moving counts. Whether taken in a single 30 minute chunk or broken up throughout the day (in the recommended 10 minute intervals), these bursts of activity can help build up endurance and alleviate the strain of sitting.

Please check back for specific tips to help track and engage in the daily activity that can curb the damage of sitting.

Content originally published on Lifehacker, January 26, 2012.

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