Maximize Office Space With Modular Design

0 CommentsBy

By: Tim Kay, Senior Vice President, Project and Development Services, Jones Lang LaSalle

modular design

Modular design within the JLL Chicago office.

Corporate office environments are in a state of perpetual “catch-up” when it comes to the changing demands of technology and employee work habits.

According to furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, across industries:

  • Employee workstations are vacant 60% of the time.
  • Private offices are unoccupied fully 77% of the time.
  • Conference room seating is rarely used to full capacity.

This is partially due to the organizational shift from conventional corporate structures to more collaborative models, but more so driven by technological advances that are changing office space dynamics.

Technology has enabled rapid growth in employee mobility, the use of tablets and laptops in place of desktop computers, and the general need for fewer filing cabinets or smaller onsite servers due to cloud-based storage.

People are on the move, collaborating often, and need their technology wherever the job is being done.

Enter Modular Design. This flexible system permits office layout adjustments to meet the changing dynamics of the work environment.

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.

Modular Design is Good For Business

According to the Workspace Design Magazine article Building Modular: A Dynamic Element of Business Strategy, “Today’s agile interiors boast benefits well beyond future flexibility, in turn lending themselves to function as an integral part of corporate business strategy.”

Modular (or architectural movable) systems are an alternative to the rigidity of conventional steel stud and drywall office construction. It makes the construction process quicker and more efficient, allowing phased construction and shortened on-site labor requirements.

However, the benefits of a modular office design go well beyond the structural elements:

  • Studies have shown that more collaborative and open spaces translate into improved team productivity and employee retention. Modular design has the flexibility to create fully functioning collaboration centers, in a variety of styles and sizes.
  • Nontraditional workplaces can help drive recruitment of employees from the millennial generation. Today’s young professionals are turned off by the high-walled cubicals satirized as “Dilbertville” by cartoonist Scott Adams, and have high expectations around technology and workplace esthetics that companies must pay attention to.
  • You can build spaces based on employee’s work needs and functions, and not by the traditional method of designing spaces by position.
  • The inner cavities of walls can enable plug-ins, plumbing, and wiring or wireless technology. The technology within these walls can be updated at anytime without significant disruption to the full office.
  • The efficiencies and advantages supported by these modular systems are by now well established, but many companies find themselves in varying levels of adoption of this open workstyle.
  • In addition, these systems offer several environmental benefits, including reusable and recyclable materials designed for long-term sustainability, and general agile concept that eliminates unneeded wasted from the start.

Rethink Your Office Space

Ask yourself:

  • Are you utilizing your office space to its full potential?
  • Will your current design configuration meet future growth or technology advances?
  • Could you create a more efficient and sustainable office with a smaller footprint?
  • Is your company’s culture ready for alternative workstyles and a more open and collaborative environment?

If you are considering a renovation, relocation, or simply seeking flexibility for the road ahead, we encourage you to think about all the possibilities, based on human and cultural factors involved.

Download JLL’s whitepaper featuring modular design to see if your corporate head office is “future proof.”

JLL WP download

Tim Kay


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.