Alternative Work Styles

LAB2050: Imagining the Lab of the Half Century

Researchers Envision Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Advanced Technology, Unexpected Partnerships

Published 7-10-2019

Imagine a baby born today. She’s smart and science-minded. Through good luck and hard work, she earns her doctorate early, and by age 31, she is solidly embarked on a research career. What does her lab look like? That’s what two SmithGroup thought leaders—Adam Denmark, director of Laboratory Planning, and Steve Palumbo, Science and Technology Studio leader—sought to find out with their team members though a yearlong research initiative they called LAB2050. Collectively, the SmithGroup team and their client advisors defined six categories that they used to project current trends forward—technology, funding and partnerships, energy and the environment, collaboration, synergies, and planning and design—and to visualize the new ones that might emerge.

Facility Design as an Enterprise-Level Solution

Understanding the Link Between Culture and Organizational Strategies

Published 6-12-2019

Asking a company to define its culture often results in an ambiguous response, but answering that question is key to addressing business concerns with the most effective workplace and organizational design solutions. Organizational strategies reflect the structure of the business, can identify workflow and system inadequacies, and should support workplace design. Assessing a company’s business objectives, functional needs, space utilization, necessary workplace improvements, user requirements, and operating capabilities can be instrumental in making the best design decisions. This approach is built on a foundation of viewing design as an enterprise-level service capable of solving business problems, and not just real estate issues.

Academic Workplace Evolution: How Universities Are Rethinking Spaces for Faculty and Staff

Workplace Innovation is Not a “Space Problem”

Published 5-15-2019

Colleges and universities are rethinking their workplaces to align their space with how people work today and to use space to achieve their strategic goals. Beyond macro forces reshaping higher education in terms of access, accountability, and financial stability, there is a confluence of financial, environmental, technological, and cultural factors prompting this change, including increasing numbers of administrative staff and a growing disengagement among faculty and staff. But the most common mistake that institutions make when trying to change their workplace is assuming that they are trying to solve a space problem. Even if the impetus for a project is a space problem—you’re out of space and have no place to put the new faculty or staff member you just hired!—you won’t solve it by thinking about it that way. It’s more complex and nuanced than that. What you need first is a workplace strategy, a coherent statement that describes how your space will be used to help you achieve your larger strategic goals.

Lean Principles Transform Design and Operation of Animal Research Facilities

Approach Eliminates Waste, Lowers Costs, Enhances Efficiency, and Increases Flexibility

Published 3-27-2019

Using the Lean continuous improvement process to increase efficiency and productivity is seen frequently in the manufacturing and automotive sectors, but less often in animal research facilities. Those who have used Lean to overhaul animal facilities say there is a lack of understanding in the industry about how this methodology can drastically boost efficiency, lower operating costs, decrease waste, improve sustainability, enhance program flexibility, increase capacity, and lower space requirements.

Designing the Veterinary School of the Future

Texas A&M Builds in Flexibility and Prepares Faculty for Change

Published 3-13-2019

When Texas A&M created a new set of buildings for its veterinary school, it sought to provide spaces that would work for current methods of teaching sciences, but also flexibility to accommodate future change. Change, as we all know, can be difficult, so the process included not just demountable walls and flexible furnishings, but also a focus on change management among the faculty.

The Seven Steps of Innovation—and the Space Types that Facilitate the Process

Providing an Array of Settings to Match Individual Behaviors Is Key

Published 2-13-2019

Innovation has become the lifeblood of corporate and institutional longevity. Whether a disruptive breakthrough or a line extension, more often than not it is the result of an idea that follows an obscure networked path before evolving into a viable new product or business model. Facilities have a huge impact on the pace and outcome of the innovation process. A variety of spaces, each tailored to foster a specific type of activity, is essential to the innovative workplace. “At the end of the day, innovation is all about providing the right spaces to enable people to use their creative brains in the best manner to come up with new ideas,” says John Campbell, president and lead workplace strategist at the architecture firm FCA. “The design must address the human behaviors that drive the process.”

Managing Transformational Campus Renovation

Seven Steps to Workplace Innovation

Published 1-23-2019

University of Michigan transformed Weiser Hall—a 1960s brick tower with floor after floor of double-loaded, concrete block corridors—into a dynamic and flexible “center of centers” that brings together international and interdisciplinary institutes and centers so they can share space, services, and ideas. The provost’s charge was to renovate the building to create the “academic workplace of the future.” With the help of brightspot strategy and Diamond Schmitt architects, the team accomplished that mission with a seven-step formula that yielded impressive results, including an average overall productivity savings of 4.26 hours per person per week, the equivalent of every unit being able to grow its staff by 10 percent at no cost.

Designing Space for Nomadic Workers

New Workstyles Inspire a Move Toward Flexibility for Employers and Workers Alike

Published 1-16-2019

More and more, workers aren’t going to an office and sitting at the same desk Monday through Friday. Today’s architects, builders, institutions, and designers need to plan for a future in which workers are nomads—moving from one place to another within a building or campus, or showing up in the office just one or two days a week. These nomadic workers are often mobile by choice, taking advantage of the flexibility that technology has enabled for academic staff, knowledge workers, and even healthcare employees.