Editor's Letter

May 20, 2014

If You Could Change One Thing about Your Office . . .

You may have seen the Dilbert cartoon in which the character named Wally complains that he cannot work because his office has bad feng shui, the Chinese idea that the built environment's design should accommodate the forces that influence spiritual harmony. 

While we did not uncover that particular sentiment among respondents to a recent BUILDINGS survey – although we didn't ask about it either – we did find some others. The survey was emailed to a group of BUILDINGS subscribers, and more than 200 of you replied. 

Temperature and comfort often appear in lists about the inadequacies of office space, and that was true of this survey. Nevertheless, temperature did not take the uncoveted top spot, which was "dated look" and noted by 53% of respondents (see left). Inadequate meeting spaces, which were mentioned by 39% of respondents, elicited many comments in the survey's verbatim section from respondents who wished they had more of it. 

But in terms of office layout, there were many respondents desiring more open and collaborative workspace than larger meeting space. As one respondent said, "Office layout is old-school and constrains collaboration and flexibility!" 

The survey also found, as many observers have, that space per occupant is trending downward – in this case, for about 43% of respondents. However, only one respondent bemoaned that trend in the comments section. Insufficient daylight and excessive noise levels were far more likely to prompt comments than declining square feet per employee. Quality, not necessarily quantity, appears to be the priority. 

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