30 years of experience leads to one conclusion: flexibility

Canadian companies came out of the global recession relatively unscathed, but the continued economic uncertainty has reshaped the way companies do business. The best work comes from an adaptable, innovative and intelligent workplace and Mayhew, armed with 30 years of interior design and work space strategy development and extensive partner research, is creating the spaces for some of Canada’s most successful institutions.

“Good workspace design is paramount to success,” says Marcia Mayhew, president of the family run firm. “Intelligent design helps reduce real estate costs, helps define an organization’s culture, enables improved productivity and creativity, fosters morale and often acts as a perk attracting and engaging talented staff,” she says.

Mayhew is a Thornhill, Ontario-based design and consultancy firm focused on workplace strategy, with a team of over 40 designers, workplace strategists, architects, construction managers, and ergonomists. Their innovative and award-winning designs have physically shaped the way brands like CTV, GlaxoSmithKline and University of Windsor do business. Entering their fourth decade, Mayhew decided to put these new-business strategies to work in their own office space. Launching the newly redesigned and co-branded facility, the Mayhew flagship office brings the research of Steelcase, their exclusive furniture partner, to life in the 80,000 square foot work-showroom atmosphere in Thornhill.

“We focus on four key factors when designing any new clients’ space, including our own: Collaboration, Flexibility to accommodate various patterns of work, Space Optimization, and Wellness,” says Steve Cascone, Mayhew’s vice-president of Consulting Services.  “All of these elements are essential to creating an engaged, interconnected workplace, and we’ve put them to work in our own facility.”

Collaboration and Flexibility: the Yin and Yang of today’s workplace

Collaboration and teaming have become critical to enabling knowledge creation and ensuring business success. Recent statistics show that individual work represented 40 per cent of all work accomplished in 2000 with an estimated decrease to 20 per cent by 2010.  So it is not a surprise that almost 60 per cent of companies say they reconfigure individual space to accommodate team spaces.  Moreover, the attitudes and approach to work have shifted considerably in today’s multi-generational workforce.

In Steelcase’s research titled WorkSpace Futures, they discovered some significant differences in attitudes toward work and life across the multi-generational workforce.  Baby Boomers for instance have seen a distinct separation between work and life – life is what happens after you leave work, and work can be all consuming sometimes.  Generation X, who became a little more disenfranchised from the work world having seen their parents sacrifice for their employers only to see some of them downsized later, sought to achieve a reasonable balance between work and life. Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials) blurs the lines between work and life so it is difficult to tell where one leaves off and the other begins.

How this translates into workplace management is a shift in mentality: “Companies no longer look to Attract-and-Retain talented staff; the focus now is to Attract-and-Engage talented employees to get the most out of your team while they are with you,” says Mayhew. “The reality is more than one out of two workers are working for a company for whom they have worked less than five years, and employees rank quality of the work environment only second to salary when determining job satisfaction, followed by the flexibility to work outside of the office.”

Optimizing real estate reduces overhead costs

Mayhew allows you to work faster, smarter and more efficiently with solutions that empower employees to do more with less time and less space. When the economic shift began, companies were rocked by their expenses; this meant a shift in office space where floor plans became denser to save costs. While the economy has not fully recovered, companies are holding on to the do-more-with-less approach.

“Research indicates that companies allocate 15 to 20 per cent of overhead to workspace, including technology,” says Mayhew. “That is a very large investment and with the right solutions, businesses are now able to function more productively in an office environment with less overall real estate.”

Mayhew maximizes this investment by adding an exclusive buy-back program.  Smartspace workstation configurations come with a 50 per cent buy back within the first three years towards any Mayhew product or service. What this means is that a company that is starting to expand, contract or reshape their business, has the flexibility to invest in the furniture without financial risk should their organizational needs change.

Wellness works

“Happy, healthy employees produce better work and help maximize the staff investment,” says Cascone. “Cognitive office design that considers natural light and appropriate acoustical solutions contribute to productive work, and addresses the wellness of employees.”

Cascone outlines four key design trends that promote wellness in the workplace:

  • 1. Access to natural light for all staff;
  • 2. Individual climate control;
  • 3. Use of “green” interior construction materials (i.e. high level of recycled content, from local sources, low VOCs, Cradle-to-Cradle, etc.) and;
  • 4. An active work environment is stimulated by smaller, more open individual work settings, and an increase in alternate meeting/collaborative spaces with acoustic control, to encourage movement and creative interactions among employees.

Workplaces are taking wellness to new levels by integrating staff wellness weeks that get their teams physically moving, and even integrating new technology like Steelcase’s Walkstation. This wellness-centric technology is an adjustable workspace placed atop a slow moving (0.3-2Mi/h) treadmill to let employees walk comfortably, burn calories, feel healthier and more energized – all while accomplishing the work they would normally do while seated.