It’s a bit like moving into a new house. You might immediately carry out some major alterations but often what makes your new home truly liveable is the hundreds of micro changes you make over the next seven years (the average time that we occupy our houses).
Our workplaces are no different (including the seven year average). What does an occupier do after all the workplace specialists leave? Painstakingly they receive feedback on how their new workplace is being used and, after a time, make some micro changes to make the space more functional.
This isn’t necessarily a failure in planning, design or execution. It’s sometimes because project briefs are based on how people think they are going to use the space, rather than how they do in practice. Pre-occupation surveys can be overly influenced by people depicting ideal scenarios, or biased towards extroverts, missing as much as half a workforce who either don’t have a strong opinion or assume they will continue to work as they have always worked. People often assume that existing patterns will continue into the future. It can be comforting at a time of organisational change to assume life will continue much as it has in recent years.
For occupiers coping with changes in demand levels, disruptive competitors and big swings in the economy, forecasting how they will occupy a workspace over that seven year average is fraught with risk. Within a few years of occupation, occupiers can find themselves occupying a workplace much more densely than expected, or conversely, with reducing staff numbers and the need to sublet space.
Any of these scenarios can lead to the niggling realisation that a workplace needs tweaking, what we call micro changes. It doesn’t always require major interventions to make a workplace more liveable.
10 Most Common Micro Changes –
- Improving the efficiency of kitchens (uniting used tea-bags and bins is often an early micro change)
- Adding coat hooks to toilet doors
- Reconfiguring storage
- Reorganising part of a floor to incorporate more desks
- Balancing lighting and cooling levels
- Adding functionality to atriums or terraces
- Breaking larger meeting rooms into smaller rooms
- Improving acoustics for greater privacy or to improve the buzz factor
- Freshening up receptions and client areas
- Setting up pilot areas for changing working patterns, and moving people or departments for improved adjacencies
We have completed micro change projects based on every one of these aspects. Our philosophy is to support our clients and consultants on major fit and and refurbishments, but also to be here for the micro changes.