By: Tim Kay, Senior Vice President, Project and Development Services, Jones Lang LaSalle
In our previous article, Maximize Office Space With Modular Design, we introduced the concept, and explored the considerations for business leaders who are facing office renovations or relocation.
In this post, we seek to dig a bit deeper into some of the benefits we’ve seen for clients who have been early adopters of modular office design.
Modular (or architectural movable) systems offer layouts, workspaces, and features that can adjust to meet the changing dynamics of the office landscape.
In short, the core benefits of modular designs center on the ability to “future proof” your office from advancements in technologies, cultures and work styles.
The following are additional intrinsic benefits to these agile, functional and systems-based solutions.
1. Cost Savings
The efficiencies of these systems are what translate into cost savings for your organization.
As an alternative to the rigidity of conventional steel stud and drywall office construction, the materials in full height moveable walls are prefabricated in a controlled environment, which makes the installation process quicker and more efficient. They can be installed over a matter of days, or built-out in a phased approach, with each yielding shortened on-site labor requirements.
Though the wall system may initially be more expensive than traditional office wall construction, the ability to re-purpose, relocate and adapt the system may save money over the term of the lease and beyond.
The analyses we’ve done on cost-per-lineal-foot comparisons between stud and drywall and moveable walls show that the difference is highly dependent upon the design and use of class. Therefore, run the numbers early in the design and budget setting process to determine your best option.
Another key factor in looking at this cost delta is, similar to a furniture purchase, these wall systems can be depreciated as a capital cost over 7 years vs. 30 years with stud and drywall. There are lease options available from certain vendors that reduce the initial cost.
It also enables organizations to save on real estate costs in the long-term by reducing or maximizing the square footage needed for job performance.
As mentioned earlier, the speed of delivery, along with phased approach options, reduce the time needed for the new construction and pose minimal disruption to the office.
The modular elements are also quickly and easily reconfigurable to accommodate your evolving needs.
As shared in the Workspace Design Magazine article Building Modular: A Dynamic Element of Business Strategy, existing, older buildings can be renovated without having to change the infrastructure.
In addition, because the walls are pre-finished, pre-glazed and pre-wired, they can be installed in tandem with other building activities, significantly reducing construction schedules.
From creating “living” walls of plant life to improve air quality for employees, to earning points in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), modular design offers environmental benefits and sustainability.
For instance, modular wall systems introduce less initial material into the built environment, reducing waste from the beginning. Materials are reusable and recyclable. Installation and renovation is essentially dust-free, improving air quality. You can also incorporate environmentally friendly features directly in your space, including safer and natural building materials, and more energy-efficient operations overall.
The space itself is also a sustainable entity, composed of durable materials for longevity, and eliminating unneeded waste at each phase—from construction to reconfiguration.
4. Flexibility For The Future
Modular wall face panels are easily switched to accommodate new technology or to modify aesthetics of interior space. The system can be reconfigured to meet changing layouts or relocated and easily reconfigured to fit the new space.
As stated in Building Modular: A Dynamic Element of Business Strategy: “In terms of functionality, some agile walls offer accessible inner cavities, providing room for plug-and-play power, data, plumbing and technology integration.”
These cavities can be updated with technology components without disrupting the rest of the structure or space.
5. Culture, Productivity & Business Innovation
These flexible systems enable offices to meet the changing dynamics of the work environment, often driven by technology. Studies have shown that this translates into improved team productivity and employee retention and attraction.
They also allow the opportunity to allocate space based on function, beyond the traditional allocation of work position. According to research by Herman Miller, Inc., in 2010, 80 percent of an individual’s output depended on group collaboration.
It just makes business sense.
“Superior human capital management is a leading—rather than lagging indicator of improved financial success. Great leadership and a less hierarchical culture that encourages employee contribution combine to produce a Collegial, Flexible Workplace—and a 9 percent increase in shareholder value for any company making a significant advance in this area.”
Make no mistake, this discussion around furniture is all about supporting the business strategies while reducing occupancy costs. As I touched on in my previous post on modular design, it is the corporate culture that supports open and collaborative environments.
Today, information flows mostly horizontally, and modular office design systems products can, if the culture is ready, enable the rapid transfer of information between colleagues, making a company more nimble and competitive.
The holy grail of this strategy is innovation. The hope that rapid sharing information and piggybacking of ideas can bring the next big thing to market is the driver behind it all.
Instead of wasting private offices for associates or managers that don’t frequently use them, you could transform that space into areas of community and collaboration.
What are you doing to “future proof” your office space? How would your current office benefit from modular design elements?
Download JLL’s whitepaper featuring modular design to see if your corporate head office is “future proof.”
As senior vice president, Tim’s responsibilities include business and team development, resource management and accountability for Jones Lang LaSalle Project and Development Services. His team manages the design and construction of complex real estate projects across the Midwest. View Tim’s full bio to read up on his experience.