Categories Design, Narrative

Pressed Suits in Your Office?

Leave it to The Economist to call squeezing office space “pressed suits.” Not only is office space becoming more open, it is becoming less personal. Mobile workers and the fact that 50% of all workers are not in the office at any given time, have led to no personal desk environments. In many offices, you show up and get assigned a desk for the day or morning. In at least one office in BBC London, there is a morning scramble to get a good desk. Like covered parking close to the building on an Arizona summer day, these spots are worth fighting for.  
I think this trend is starting to swing too far in that direction along the pendulum and Google might agree. In their new office, each person gets their own space.
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Pressed suits

Feeling a bit cramped? Blame management theory

The Economist

April 5, 2014

Pressed Suits

“PROJECT gold” and “Project Nexus” sound like plans for bank heists or military assaults. In reality, they are the names for KPMG’s ongoing attempt to squeeze its 6,700 London employees into ever smaller spaces. Since 2006 the professional-services firm has reduced the number of offices it uses in London from seven to two. By the spring of 2015 everybody will be crammed into one building in Canary Wharf.

According to data from the British Council for Offices (BCO), an industry club, the average office tenant now uses around 11 square metres per worker, 35% less than in 1997. A new building in Ludgate Hill, in London’s financial district, will allocate just eight square metres to each employee. In many offices, rows of “hot” desks have replaced individual offices and even cubicles. “Nowadays it’s almost frowned on to have your own office,” claims Nick Wentworth Stanley, of i2 Offices, a big serviced property firm.

Firms have long known that only about half of all desks are in use at any moment, as employees work odd hours or disappear to meetings, but it was difficult to fill the spares. Better IT systems now mean that people need not be tied to a particular desk. They need not even be in the office at all: as cloud computing and virtual offices take off, more people are working from home or from other places, further reducing the need for desks.

Aside from cheapness, there is a motive behind this squashing. Inspired by Silicon Valley, firms are trying to make their offices into “collaborative spaces”, where people bump into each other and chat usefully. KPMG’s redesigned Canary Wharf offices will include lots of “breakout spaces” where employees can relax, and quiet rooms where people can get away from hubbub, says Alastair Young, who is planning the move. He thinks this will both improve productivity and save money.

In this happy new world, offices are not just places to work but also a way of expressing corporate identity and a means of attracting and retaining staff. At the offices of Bain & Company, a management consultancy, inspirational quotes on walls help workers to identify with Bain’s brand, explains Sam Axtell, the company’s operations director. Games rooms and relaxing spaces help them “release alpha waves”.

This flummery has a practical consequence: it means more workers can be crammed into the middles of cities. Fewer firms now require suburban back offices, says Sandra Jones of Ramidus, a property consultancy. Between 2001 and 2012 the number of workers employed by large firms in Croydon, on the edge of London, declined by almost a quarter, to around 34,000. In Manchester and Birmingham, too, new office jobs have been created in rejuvenated city centres at the expense of suburbs. This may be one reason commutes are lengthening.

Not everyone is delighted by the rise of cramped hot desks. At Broadcasting House, the BBC’s new offices in London, a shortage of good desks has led to frantic morning scrambles. A manager at a financial firm in the City complains that since his firm redesigned its office, there are only enough phones for one between two. KPMG has seen crushes at lifts and in the canteen; the crowds have also put pressure on the air-conditioning system.

A modest backlash is under way, in an unexpected quarter. Google’s new offices in King’s Cross will have all sorts of collaborative space. But workers will still get their own private desks. Where that company leads, others tend to follow.

Categories Narrative

Commuter Science

Every now and then I see a cool graphic that I need to share. Below is one I pulled from National Geographic on commuting and how much time is spent per year in rush hour all over the world. My home of Phoenix is pretty low, but if you live in London, Stuttgart, Paris or Los Angeles—sorry.


P.S. We were fortunate to represent Dickinson Wright in their relocation to the Viad Tower at 1850 N. Central Avenue, Floors 12-14. To learn about our unique process and how we can help with your Commercial Real Estate needs give me a call or send me an e-mail. Thank you.

For the entire postcard, please click here.



Commuter Science

Categories Design, Narrative

World’s Coolest Offices 2014

Once a year I send out the coolest office spaces in the world. Below is the 2014 version. Take a look at some really off the wall, crazy and cool spaces. The article is so big, we had to put just a few of the photos below, but a link to the entire article is just a click away highlighted in yellow below.


This year I am adding some of the coolest spaces we closed as well…Here you go:

Forward Tilt:
IMG_4227  IMG_4354

20150202_133309  20150202_133243

Patrick Hayes Architecture:
20141120_180702  20141120_181311


 Click here for the entire article.

World’s Coolest Offices 2014
Meet the workplaces of your dreams. Sun-splashed atriums, sprawling outdoor verandas, and cozy, color-saturated nooks are some of the hallmarks of the most remarkable offices in the world.
By: Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
Welcome to the fourth annual Inc. World’s Coolest Offices. These are some of the most awe-inspiring, spectacular, and just straight-up useful office spaces in the world–and they’ve all been completed within the past three years.

While you’ll notice that a couple of the winners are massive company headquarters, with brilliantly–and subtly–integrated branding, elaborate fixtures, and sweeping views, you’ll also notice that several of the winners built out their stunning offices on a much more constrained budget. 

These are not the childlike offices (scooters, ball pits) of the early aughts. These are thoroughly sophisticated, thoughtfully designed spaces that glance toward the future. For more, you can check out this year’s runners up here and here. Now, without further ado, the coolest offices in the world…

Coke 1 2

Red Brand, Green Heart

While not glaring, Coke’s branding is evident throughout its offices. Not only is fire-engine red at play on every floor, but a custom-built, double-sided display wall has also been installed over three floors to showcase the brand’s heritage. Sustainability has been at the heart of the new office’s build-out. The building includes extensive LED lighting throughout and photovoltaic cells on the roof.
Location: London
Designed by: MoreySmith

Coolest Offices 2014 2

Fresh Look for Old Bones

Throughout the sprawling headquarters, bridges and added mezzanines connect different work zones and open-meeting areas. Hallways branch out from a central cafe era, leading to open, benched workstations and shared work spaces. While the brickwork is original to the building, Bestor Architecture strategically added wood accents to draw focus, provide texture, and warm up the concrete surroundings.
Location: Los Angeles
Designed by: Bestor ArchitecturePHOTO: NASTY GAL

Coolest Offices 2014 3

A Majestic New Headquarters for Wieden+Kennedy

When advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy was expanding from one floor to three, it wanted to ensure it wouldn’t fragment its workplace. So it sought design elements that would unite the entire company, and allow for both spontaneous interactions and informal meetings. This sweeping “coin” combines a staircase and stadium seating, visually connecting the floors.
Location: New York City
Architect: WorkAC
Coolest Offices 2014 4

Open Air, for Relaxation or Celebration

At first glance, this space looks like a simple patio. Not so much. Open up those massive garage doors to merge the outdoors with the interior area–which contains coordinating decor and a bar–and it’s an instant party. “We’ve been able to have big events, up to 700 people with live music,” McKelvey says. “We always have the beer kegs flowing in our bars, so it can be an informal get-together on a Thursday, or a serious party.”
Location: Washington, D.C., Wonder Bread location
Designed by: WeWork
Categories Narrative

Where Everyone in the World is Migrating – in One Gorgeous Chart

World migration is not a typical topic on my mind. However, the immigration from Mexico to the US is. You see, I was raised in a city less than 20 miles from the Mexican border. My parents still live in Sierra Vista, ground zero for the illegal immigrant movement and the border patrol. So immigration is a topic that catches my attention.
It turns out there is a really cool chart (which I’ve included below) that shows where the world is migrating. There are a few interesting nuggets that come from this graph and I have highlighted them below. One key item is that the migration from Mexico to the US is the number one migration. 
As a bonus, I have included another eye-opening chart at the bottom. If you scroll down you will see the number one country where legal migrants are from—state by state.


Where Everyone in the World Is Migrating—in One Gorgeous Chart


By: Nick Stockton
March 28, 2014


These flows represent 75% of human migration from 2005-2010. (NB only flows over 50,000 are displayed.) Circos/ Krzywinski, M. et al.
It’s no secret that the world’s population is on the move, but it’s rare to get a glimpse of where that flow is happening. In a study released in today’s Science, a team of geographers used data snapshots to create a broad analysis of global migrations over 20 years.
The study was conducted by three geographic researchers from the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital in Vienna. The researchers presented their data in five-year increments, from 1990 to 2010. Their research is unique, because it turned static census counts from over 150 countries into a dynamic flow of human traffic.
Migration data is counted in two ways: Stock and flow. “The stocks are the number of migrants living in a country,” says Nikola Sander, one of the study’s authors. Stock is relatively easy to get—you just count who is in the country at a given point of time. Flow is trickier. It’s the rate of human traffic over time.
Keeping accurate account of where people are moving has stymied the UN, and researchers and policy-makers in general, for a while. The European Union keeps good track of migrant flows, but elsewhere the data are sparse. Static measurements are plentiful, but it is hard to use them to get a picture of how people are moving on a broad scale, because each country has its own methodology for collecting census data.
Last year, however, the UN brought stock data from nearly 200 countries into harmony by erasing the methodological seams between them. To turn this stock data into five-year flow estimates, the researchers used statistical interpolations from stock data from the UN, taken mostly from 10-year country censuses, but supplemented with population registers and other national surveys.


It’s not the poorest who migrate the most

While the results of the migration study aren’t particularly groundbreaking, there are two interesting insights:
1) Adjusted for population growth, the global migration rate has stayed roughly the same since around  since 1995 (it was higher from 1990-1995).
2) It’s not the poorest countries sending people to the richest countries, it’s countries in transition—still poor, but with some education and mobility—that are the highest migratory contributors.
“One of the conclusions they make in the paper, is the idea as countries develop, they continue to send more migrants, and at some point they become migrant-receiving regions themselves,” says Fernando Riosmena, a geographer from the University of Colorado, who did not contribute to this research, but is collaborating with one of the authors on a future paper.
A few other noteworthy results:
1) The largest regional migration is from Southeast Asia to the Middle East. This is largely driven by the huge, oil-driven, construction booms happening on the Arabian Peninsula.
2) The biggest flow between individual countries is the steady stream from Mexico to the US. (In fact, the US is the largest single migrant destination)
3) There’s a huge circulation of migrants among sub-Saharan African countries. This migration dwarfs the number leaving Africa, but the media pay more attention the latter because of the austerity-driven immigration debates in Europe.

Explore the world of migration

The data aren’t perfect. Riosmena points out that in countries that especially dislike migrants, like the US and Europe, numbers are often underreported. Still, he says, the data are a very good indication of the general trends.
Also, amateur data sleuths be warned: Because these flow estimates are taken from 10-year static counts, they cannot be compared to the annual migrational flows that the UN publishes (which, as mentioned above, cannot be used to compare between countries).
Sander says she hopes her data will change the way other researchers approach migration. “Inside the discipline, we hope that it’s going to be the basis for subsequent analysis of the impact of migration on population, on economies, on aging.” Sander and her colleagues have lined their data up with global remittance flows, and are analyzing what kind of patterns they can find therein.
You can explore for yourself how regional flows have changed over the past 20 years with this awesome interactive, from Sander and her co-authors, Guy J. Abel & Ramon Bauer.



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