We had a team of 12 LMNOP volunteers from all - over the metropolitan area gather to help clean up trash around the beautiful Tarrytown Reserviors. Lots of smiles and then sore muscles the next day. Great Fun in a lovely setting with friends.
The mixer was a great success hosted by our friends at Kimball who went all out with the atmosphere and food.
Yukari Yamahiro, Planning & Strategy Consultant, Perkins + Will, lead our workshop with innovative ways to think outside the box and use new technics to keep your network growing and refining.
In December LMNOP hosted our annual holiday mixer. For the second year we held a holiday ornament competion where our guests brought along an ornament made from recycled materials. Karen Johnson, graciously accepted the donated ornaments from the evenings event on behalf of Bridge Inc. East Harlem House as well as handmade ornaments generously donated by Innovant.
Our winners of the Design Challenge were: Jim Maywalt who took home a chair donated by Knoll; Dan O'Connor who won a pair of tickets to the Museum of Modern Art, donated by SPK Lewis. And our lucky raffle winner, Natalie Chalker, was the recipient of a membership to the Cooper Hewitt Museum donate by Aerotek.
What does that mean, exactly?
No two words have caused more confusion and debate in the corporate world. Ask five people to define Business Development (also referred to as BD) and you will get some fairly similar responses. However, change the question slightly to “what does a Business Developer do?” and this is where things get pretty murky.
Depending on where one is in their professional life as a Business Developer, what type of firm they work for, and quite honestly, who they work for, the definition and expectation of this role can vary wildly. During the LMNOP program on the topic of Business Development, the idea was to discuss the Business Development role, the “who, why and how” of BD, and the measure of success in this capacity. This CEU accredited workshop also included a discussion of the key differences between Business Development, Marketing and Sales.
Who are the Business Developers?
During the 1-hour session, multiple people discussed their role at various firms, including architectural, engineering and furniture firms. The common thread was that the expectations of the BD role were all different, even if the companies offered the same services (i.e. architectural firms). Some people in the role were expected to be the “face of the firm” at networking events to meet new prospects, set up meetings and source new leads. They were expected to bring a firm partner, principal or senior staff member to the meeting to assist with taking the conversations to the next level.
Others in the group were expected to perform the duties above, as well as assisting in closing the deal. Orume Hays, Managing Director of Hays CPA commented, “As a CPA with numerous years of management consulting and strategic partnerships in the architectural and engineering industry, I can attest to the importance of networking both within and outside of one’s industry.” These expectations could include creating a pursuit strategy, assessing the opportunity and identifying the proper internal team members, as well as negotiating contracts and pricing.
The most intriguing part of the conversation happened when the Business Developers in the room were asked if they were also expected to perform duties that would generally fall under the “marketing” role. Many were expected to do both marketing and business development duties. With that, a discussion began examining the differences between Marketing, BD and Sales. This graphic is a simplified visual of how these three things have been differentiated:
“Why” and “How”
is Business Development a Value Added Skill?
There were also others in the room that were not dedicated to Business Development or Sales duties, but rather were “practitioners” such as architects, designers, project managers. These individuals were also expected by their employers to generate new business opportunities for the firm. We discussed the many reasons why this was a great idea and how these efforts can assist in professional, as well as personal, development. Engaging in BD activities as a practitioner allows you to have more control over the types of clients you want to work with and kinds of projects you want to work on. Most employers see these types of activities as critical to the growth of the company and will often times reward those who bring in new opportunities with bonuses, raises or firm promotions.
Still, one of the biggest challenges in Business Development is measuring success. Business Development is not a “one size fits all” role and each company will have different needs. So it’s of vital importance to clearly define the expectations of the role and the measurements of success. Just as important is the need to track your efforts and accomplishments. This makes annual reviews so much easier when you can clearly articulate and provide clear data pointing to your business development activities and successes.
LMNOP was honored to have Mindy Williams as the presenter for this workshop’s discussion and share her expertise on Business Development. Ms. Williams is well known in the community as a business development leader. Prior to joining L&K Partners as VP Client Services, Mindy worked with Workspaces, IA Interior Architects, TSC Design Associates and Knoll. She is also a Vice President for IFMA NY chapter and Chair of CoreNet Global NYC chapter since 2006.
The evening was graciously hosted by LMNOP Platinum Partner WB Wood, located at 225 Park Ave South. LMNOP received numerous requests from attendees and people who missed the evening to repeat this professional development program. Business development, a career building resource that is beneficial to be integrated into our daily practice, will be added to our rotating list of successful workshops. The next time LMNOP schedules this workshop topic, new points will be explored that will continue and expand this multi-faceted discussion.
Getting in Touch with Your Inner Maker
Contribution from Colette Taber
Creators and Makers in the A+D Industry
"I'm a better project manager because I worked on the manufacturers' side," said Michelle Hill, a founding member of LMNOP NYC. She, like many members of the architectural and design (A+D) industry, has discovered the value of collaborating with manufacturers and designers to craft solutions for client needs. Michelle’s words resonate with the LMNOP community’s shared commitment to forging strong bonds within a network of people with complementary strengths.
Her words feel particularly appropriate considering the idea behind LMNOP’s Annual Benefit this year: an opportunity to meet local artists and artisans with direct ties to the A+D industry. Jennifer Graham, President and founder of LMNOP NYC, described the nonconventional, wine-and-cheese event as about camaraderie, networking, and “experiencing craft and the creative process as seen through the eyes of the maker.”
Five “creators and makers” participated, displaying their creations and generously making themselves available to answer questions about their processes, materials, and artistic vision.
Technical Proficiency is Not Enough
On the Wednesday evening in early May, members of the LMNOP community and guests gathered together to celebrate the group’s eighth year in existence. A core mission of LMNOP is to equip the A+D community with the necessary tools for success. In 2017, this encompasses the skills to adapt and to innovate in response to fast evolving trends and volatile markets.
“Our goal from the beginning was to help each other,” said Stephanie Chiuminatto Wolfson, a LMNOP NYC co-founder. “In 2009, we had the immediate need of keeping talented individuals from leaving the industry, but the long-term objective [of forming LMNOP] was to create a strong network of people with complementary strengths. Networking was about sharing lessons learned and mentoring each other.”
Describing the A+D community, industry strategist Allan Lee said, “We've gotten really good at doing what we are trained to do." Allan has worked for many years with premier architectural firms. He now advises professional service firms on predesign and design strategies. "Technical proficiency is not enough for the next generation of architects. It is unlikely that employers will 'train' future architects in how to be innovative." They will need to already possess the ability to think critically to solve basic design problems. Success may ultimately be defined by one’s capacity to enhance product development.
It remains to be seen whether architectural and design fees will support the degree of experimentation required for professionals to grow and adapt to changing market conditions. However, we can learn from the artists among us, those who have made significant advancements within their trades by pushing the boundaries of how to create and make.
How to Innovate
At LMNOP’s Annual Benefit, I asked the participating artisans, craftspeople, and designers to describe to me how they are innovative. My objective, which was perhaps similar to that of the organizers of this year’s event—to encourage the A+D community to learn from and be inspired by many artisans' capacity to innovate and adapt to materials challenges, changing market conditions, and at times fickle client preferences.
When I posed the question “How do you innovate?” to the participating “creators and makers,” they responded with varied methodologies, philosophies, and coping techniques. I’ve included a sampling of their responses here.
Innovation begins and ends with a "solid understanding of the materials," according to Ashira Israel, owner of IN.SEK Design. Her company creates furniture, lighting, and objects for the home and office that are both functional and sculptural. Her team of fabricators, designers, and artists push the limits of what concrete, glass, steel, and wood can do. Built to last generations, the work is beautiful because it was made by an intentional hand.
Daniel Tillman owns C3 Design, a company that designs and fabricates bespoke textiles. He referred to the richly detailed, felt wall coverings that he creates as "sewing solutions." He collaborates with both individual designers and large practices, like the Rockwell Group, to solve problems inherent to "vertical source materials." At just 3 mm in width, his textiles function "just like wallpaper."
For many artisans, the practice of their trade has involved adapting conventional and even ancient crafts to evolving trends. Jimm Carroll is an expert in custom stained and leaded glass design and fabrication, but his original practice focused on architectural renderings. As digital technologies curbed some demand for hand-drawn drawings, his work with the medieval art form of stained glass was increasingly sought-after. He sees both trades as essentially about "communicative narratives." You "adapt and innovate" in response to changing circumstance, he said, but ultimately people appreciate art forms capable of "telling a story and inspiring by adding beauty."
Jill Malek, who creates lush, textured wall coverings, shared that "recurring events in nature" often serve as a "springboard" for inspiration but collaboration with materials companies results in innovative solutions. Her latest collection "Forces" was inspired by the natural patterns created by the movements of magnetic properties and particles. She partnered with Visual Magnetics, harnessing "the untapped potential" of workspace walls, including the ability to mount accessories using interlocking magnetic polarities.
Will Haude, Chief Creative Officer at 3D Brooklyn, spoke about a mini-revolution in personal creativity, the result of individuals accessing affordable manufacturing technology. A designer can "have the solution before having the problem, " he said, because 3D printing "tools" enable a person to "visualize, innovate, and iterate" in ways not previously possible through mass manufacturing processes.
Special Thanks to Our Host
We are grateful to our host Global Furniture Group, vertically integrated suppliers, manufacturers, marketers, and distributors. The generous support of our sponsors enables LMNOP to provide members of the architectural and design community with professional development, mentoring, CEU workshops, panel presentations, and networking activities and resources. For information about sponsoring similar events please visit our website.
Amanda Tedeschi, who helped identify guest artists and organize the event, works with Global's A+D Development group. She spoke about founder Saul Feldberg's impetus for starting his company, "He founded Global with his wife, Toby, in 1966. Because Saul wanted a better affordable chair, he felt that he needed to build it from scratch." Ted_eschi_added, "Tonight's focus on local artisans, on making...these ideas are very consistent with our mission, too."
Architects and interior designers
Contribution from Colette Taber
The next time that you are pursuing your “big fish,” maybe, just maybe, before submitting your proposal, have a lawyer look over your language. The right words could prevent some painful gutting later in the process.
"It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact.
Then when luck comes you are ready.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Be precise, be specific—two big talking points of the night when LMNOP NYC took on the subject of contracts for the January workshop hosted at the New York law offices of Duane Morris LLP. During the proposal stage, architects and interior designers often have to navigate the murky waters of an ill-defined scope or, at least, a nuanced project vision; they have a particularly troublesome obstacle to overcome: achieving buy-in for an environment that doesn’t actually exist (yet). Architects and designers trade in intangibles. Therefore, using precise language and defining deliverables (read: client expectations) in specific and complete terms may not come easily.
Why Learn Legalese?
The subject of contractual language is typical for LMNOP NYC. Founded in 2009, the mentoring, training, and networking organization addresses the “business of architecture,” which is how LMNOP President and founder Jennifer Graham describes an area often neglected by professional development groups for the architectural and design (A&D) industry.
“Contracts” is also a seasoned workshop, back by popular demand. This is its third run with Yao Fu Bailey leading the discussion. She is a partner at Duane Morris and a real estate lawyer skilled at representing A&D professionals. Colleague Nicole Woolard joined her. Woolard is a construction lawyer with significant experience negotiating construction, architect, and engineer agreements, as well as trade contracts/subcontracts and licenses.
Hosting the workshop and contributing experts to the discussion also align with the Duane Morris collegial and collaborative culture; the large practice has significant international reach but routinely makes outreach to local communities a priority. Bailey is part of Duane Morris' Real Estate Practice Group, which handles acquisitions and dispositions; leasing; financing; hospitality; multi-family/healthcare, student and military housing; national condemnation; and REITs and capital markets. Woolard is part of Duane Morris' Construction Practice Group, which tackles all aspects of construction and government contracting, from contract negotiation, formation, and performance to litigation and dispute resolution of construction claims. Consequently, Bailey and Woolard had a full 360-degree perspective on contract negotiations to offer the LMNOP community.
When you understand exactly what the other party wants and needs,
you are better positioned to negotiate your preferred arrangement.
The diverse audience of architects, designers, project managers, and furniture manufacturers—representatives from both full-service design practices and smaller shops—learned about contract language from a multitude of angles. Workshop education objectives included understanding the reasoning behind contract provisions and stipulations from both the owner and professional service provider’s perspectives.
Every Word Counts
Whether your typical proposal template is a letter agreement or looks more like a multi-chapter, weighty tome showcasing your firm’s design accomplishments, it is first and foremost one thing: a contract. Therefore, all words, regardless of context or location in your document, have the potential to be interpreted in legal terms. This means that every word is part of a written agreement that is intended to be enforceable by law. And, reasonably, a discussion about the merits of design excellence belongs in your marketing materials, not your agreement.
In response to their constituents’ needs, professional associations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), have developed industry standard contract templates and forms. The AIA’s B101 Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect (used in conjunction with the A201, General Conditions) is possibly the most well known of the standard agreements meant to protect the professional’s interests during all stages of building design and contract administration.
Are these standard forms enough? According to Bailey, no. The majority of design practices, big and small alike, tweak their standard terms and conditions in response to the specific requirements or “tone” of an approach or project. Furthermore, responsibilities (liability) differ according to the role of the design professional, whether or not the professional is functioning as Architect of Record, and the project phases included in the scope of services. Jack Weisberg, owner of a small design and planning firm described the inevitable “softening” of contract language, especially with smaller projects that presumably don’t need all the bells and whistles provided in a comprehensive standard agreement. “I incorporate the AIA [standard terms] into my own language.”
The contract should ultimately fit the project.
Therefore, additional review by legal counsel is always recommended.
Owners, with repeat clients by far the biggest culprits, also do their fair share of tweaking. In addition to her LMNOP responsibilities, Graham is a Senior Project Manager at the global architectural firm Perkins+Will. She described how owners will sometimes “not want to go through legal,” so they offer their own letter agreement and “reference the AIA.” Bailey was emphatic that this is “not enough!” You need to “specify the specifics.”
Woolard urged service professionals to ask the question, “Exactly why did the owner eliminate some provisions but decide to keep others?” The owner’s perspective on contractual language is typically affected by past experiences, but the various addendums, modifications, riders, and boilerplate tweaks can result in conflicting provisions. As the service provider, you want to know the “reason behind each tweak,” said Woolard, and correlate your response in favorable terms for your interests, too. Every word counts.
How to Specify the Specifics—and Grow Your Business
Ana Luchangco attended LMNOP’s January workshop and, after the event, shared some of her experiences as an interior designer having just recently formed her own practice. The “business of architecture” was on her mind. “Crafting the optimal contract language,” she said, “is essential for successful project outcomes. The right language can also help support lasting business relationships.”
Perhaps one of the most desirable of qualities in a creative personality is the capacity to apply past lessons learned to new situations. For Luchangco, lessons learned are applied to the operation of her startup. Previously, she worked with several innovative, small design practices, experiencing firsthand how creatives can differentiate and establish themselves in a market using best practices in business. “Experience is the best teacher,” she said. With Woolard, Luchangco and I talked about using the small business startup recipe as a model for building the necessary business tools to succeed: upfront investment, hard work, and the willingness to adapt.
Logic dictates that a good contract achieves
two seemingly contradictory objectives:
risk mitigation and maximizing gains.
The “upfront investment” phase involves building an effective and complete (as possible) standard terms and conditions document, which can serve as the basis for most if not all of your contractual relations. Both Bailey and Woolard advise working with an attorney on this, regardless of whether or not you plan to use language from a professional trade association’s standard contract template.
Your due diligence is about making sure that the terms are “both effective and enforceable,” said Bailey. Ideally with legal counsel, you want to identify language to establish parameters for conducting business. How many design options, revisions, meetings, site visits, shop drawing/submittal reviews, etc., can the owner expect as part of the basic scope of services? What items are considered reimbursable expenses? How will you and your team make yourselves available to the owner and the owner’s representatives? What is a reasonable amount of time before the original terms need to be renegotiated for a stalled project?
For that matter, how exactly do you want to define “available” and “reasonable”?
Part of the reasoning behind “getting it down in the beginning,” said Woolard, is managing client expectations, but part of it is also being proactive in identifying and preventing a potential impetus for the souring of client relations. Defining upfront (in detail) what constitutes “additional services,” for example, is a critical aspect of building effective terms and conditions. Revisions after approvals by the owner seem straightforward, but an often-overlooked additional service involves revisions due to changes in codes. Similarly, you would expect that a client would be amicable to compensating you for revisions due to changes in a project’s size, complexity, schedule, or budget, but what if the original scope called for an “interconnecting stair” and not a “multi-floor feature stair” connecting three levels? The difference can be calculated in hundreds of design hours.
Planning for this level of subtlety in language is where the “hard work” of developing effective contracts begins. To use our startup analogy again, successful businesses invest significant time and resources into knowing their customer base. Effective contract language must also reflect that same deep knowledge of building owners building in specific regions for specific markets. When negotiating compensation terms, this kind of deep industry knowledge is reflected in what workshop participant Michael Woods, AIA, Project Manager at Perkins+Will, described as “top-down budgeting.” Start with the high-level requirements necessary to meet client expectations and industry standards and, then, breakdown the corresponding services and deliverables into component parts within the budget. Language for the terms and conditions should follow suit, clearly and accurately communicating parameters for pricing from high-level objectives down to the minutiae of achieving those results.
Every project is different, of course, which leads us to the third ingredient for success: a willingness to adapt. But, remember, be willing to “define your project including the scope of basic services” with each new development, counseled Bailey. She offered this sage advice several times during the course of the evening’s workshop.
Final Thought: Protect Yourself
Ultimately, investing time and resources to develop a good contract is about mitigating risk. This can be about protecting your wallet, your people, your intellectual property, your practice, and even your reputation.
Bailey and Woolard described several types of documents that have the potential to harm your professional practice if you don’t get the language right. They discussed critical provisions for consultant contracts: accountability should “flow down,” said Woolard. They also addressed indemnification clauses, including the difference between consequential and direct damages, and how to protect one’s design (and practice) at the event of termination. (Designers are considered the “authors” of the design and can “license” the design to owners.)
The workshop also addressed in some detail dispute resolution, with Bailey explaining the advantages and disadvantages of arbitration versus litigation. Worth noting, “the clock starts ticking,” according to Woolard, “with the final performance of services or materials furnished,” so if you think filing a Mechanic’s Lien may be in your future, better put the lawyer on speed dial sooner, rather than later!
To access the workshop presentation, which includes sample forms and language, please visit the LMNOP website events page. For information about sponsoring similar events please review the various support options. Note: the generous support of our sponsors enables LMNOP to provide members of the A&D community with professional development mentoring, training, and networking activities and resources.
2016 Holiday Mixer Hosted by Nemo Tile
Nemo tile welcomed LMNOP into their Manhattan showroom located at 48 East 21st St. for the 2016 Holiday Mixer. The showroom was filled with members, friends, supporters and holiday celebrators eager to share successes experienced during the past year.
This year’s mixer featured a holiday ornament “Art-in-Balance-Challenge” providing a fun creative outlet to the A&D community. The competition challenged our community to use recycled and re-purposed materials to create ornaments. All the ornament submissions were donated to the Bowery Mission Women’s Center after this event, helping to spread some holiday cheer.
Office Resources generously donated prizes for the two favorite “People’s Choice” ornaments of the evening. Tickets to this year's NY Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show and a dual membership to MOMA were awarded to the two lucky winners.
As we look onward to 2017, LMNOP stays focused on their mission to offer relevant CEU accredited professional development workshops connected to the business aspects used in the daily practice within the A&D community. Please check our events page throughout the year for the next workshop.
Happy Holidays to everyone!
WORKING WITH A FURNITURE DEALER
It’s Time to Let Go of the Food Chain Mentality (Really!)
Contribution from Colette Taber
Sometimes the architecture and design (A&D) industry feels like it was designed to nurture adversarial relationships.
Grassroots networking organizations like LMNOP NYC exist in direct contrast to the spirit of many formalized systems for procuring services and products. In the name of competition, we create information silos between disciplines and team members, preventing efficiencies and thwarting best practices that have the potential to actually deliver on cost savings for the client. In the late 2000s, the handful of professionals that ultimately formed LMNOP were meeting to pool resources and to mitigate an increasingly alarming talent brain drain within the A&D industry, just one result of the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression. They recognized that, in a challenging market, sustaining key relationships and nurturing an inclusive support system typically yields more benefits over time than one-off transactions. By fostering a better understanding of each other’s value and potential contributions, the entire industry benefits.
As expected, LMNOP’s latest event on October 25th, a panel discussion featuring the full 360-degree perspective on working with furniture dealerships, was both inclusive and all-encompassing in meeting its educational objectives. Panelists representing key players—designer, project manager, manufacturer, dealer—discussed each party’s expectations and requirements. At what point in the design process should the designer engage with the furniture dealer? What is the relationship between the manufacturer and the dealership? In vivid, relatable terms, the panelists described the give-and-take, the push-and-pull of a design process that, when ideal, is about negotiations between professional peers: equals. How quickly the parties reach agreement correlates with the degree (depth?) of shared objectives and mutual understanding.
A collaborative approach among professional service providers and dealers/manufacturers may contribute more toward competitive pricing than a competitive environment. Practically speaking, has the time finally come to do away with the hierarchical “food chain” mentality in the design industry?
Walk a Mile in My Shoes
If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour, if we could find a way
To get inside each other's mind
They’re Joe South’s lyrics and music, but Elvis made the song “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” famous. Apropos considering our current political climate but these words also work when describing the professional backgrounds of LMNOP’s panelists. Indicative of the fluid nature of changing roles in the A&D industry, all individuals have experienced, at some time during their careers, working in the capacity of at least one of their fellow panelists.
Both the moderator of the evening event Alan Grandis, General Manager of Henricksen-NY, and his associate on the panel Dave Bryant, Director of Sales for the full-service, national furniture dealership, had previously worked at major furniture manufacturing companies. In addition, Bryant began his career as a workplace strategist working with global clients to support external branding strategies through change management and other workplace related options. And, representing furniture manufacturers on the panel, Larry Cohen, who is Regional Architecture and Design Manager at Allsteel, is an interior designer by trade, with almost a quarter of a century of design experience.
Representing design, Rebecca Dorris Steiger, Associate Partner at ZGF Architects LLP, and Charlotte Stanske, Project Manager at Perkins+Will, both have diversified experience in every phase of a project, from conception and planning through installation and occupation of a workplace. Both individuals are also familiar with many of the other contributing factors that can influence a project’s outcome; a design is rarely, if ever, realized in a vacuum. For example, Steiger has product design experience as a designer and fabricator of jewelry. Her expertise in communications helps her to understand a client’s concerns about customer-facing space. Similarly, Stanske is a furniture specialist and a project manager, expertise that includes working within the parameters set by both real estate advisors and end-users.
For purposes of the LMNOP discussion, it helped that the panelists had walked more than a few miles in each other’s shoes.
Role of the Furniture Dealer
At the start of the October workshop, Jennifer Graham, President and founder of LMNOP NYC, asked, “What is the role of the furniture dealer in the design process.” The panelists’ responses were surprisingly consistent: dealers are intrinsic to the successful execution of a project. They are “product application specialists,” said Grandis. Cohen concurred; why not avail oneself of the “sophisticated” insight into a project, including detailed knowledge of a regional market and a comprehensive understanding of technology’s impact? “[We all] benefit when the dealer addresses what the client demands.”
Stanske emphasized the “earlier the better” for the designer to engage with the furniture dealer. You’ve lost the opportunity to create a solid set of drawings by failing to coordinate furniture specifications. Steiger pointed out that clients often have relationships with specific manufacturers, which is an inducement for designers to bring dealers into the process as early as schematics or design development. It helps to have a product expert at your side when clients ask detailed questions; no client wants to hear, “I’ll get back to you with that information” a half dozen or more times during the course of a conversation.
Furthermore, furniture dealers (working in tandem with manufacturers) have impressive presentation tools at their disposal, from powerful visualizations to full-scale mock-ups. Most designers have discovered that one of the most effective paths to project concept buy-in involves giving a client an experiential experience during the visioning phase. Don't discredit the “coolness” factor, either, when winning over a client. A helpful dealer will equip the design team with an array of cutting-edge technologies, fabrics, and more, in addition to the latest research on workplace strategies, all in support of “wowing” the client.
Consequently, the idea that the furniture industry is akin to a commodity market is limiting. “It’s never just about a chair,” said Bryant. A furniture dealer is responsible for “all three ‘P’s: People and Process, in addition to Product,” said Grandis. Code compliance and construction phasing are just two project considerations that can benefit from a dealer’s experience working in a particular region with a particular client type. Emphasizing “process” and citing the range of procurement options, including leasing, Bryant stressed, “There are multiple ways to get to an end.”
Worth noting, the furniture industry has been active for some time now investing in research-driven initiatives to identify improvement opportunities, as evidenced by the quality independent analysis and studies funded each year by the Office Furniture Dealers Alliance (OFDA). The Solomon Coyle Education Offerings are another excellent source for professional development.
From the perspective of the designer, viewing the furniture components as a collective resource can be helpful. And, in truth, multiple LMNOP panelists referred to the dealer/manufacturer association as a “marriage.” With a better understanding of the relationship between the dealership and the manufacturing company, the designer is in a better position to capitalize on the inherent synergies between two partners that have different, yet complementary, roles and expertise. Bryant used relations between a hospital and specialists to illustrate this dynamic. You go to the hospital to access a spectrum of medical care, but for “anything beyond a text book case condition,” you want a specialist doctor and an “experienced specialist, at that,” said Bryant. “The intern fresh out of medical school is insufficient.”
In this context, the value proposition of the role of the dealer/manufacturer becomes self-evident: a designer’s chances of meeting and exceeding client expectations are exponentially improved with increased awareness about available options and access to an experienced installation expert. Site-specific and regional knowledge further seal the “deal” in furniture dealer.
More Options for Creativity,
More Value in Value Engineering
An overarching theme of the evening was letting go of the notion that working with a furniture dealer has to be an “either/or” proposition. A designer that is open to collaboration with a dealer/manufacturer opens himself or herself up to a multitude of options—choices that can result in significant cost savings and, ultimately, solutions that more closely align with the original design intent. Stanske observed that junior designers often focus on implementing a particular aesthetic or space planning. “They need to learn to ask the nitty-gritty questions.” Feedback from a dealer can lead to solutions for maintaining or even augmenting a design concept, which is obviously preferable to hitting a creative wall (forgive the furniture pun) when a particular product fails due to budgetary or space constraints.
When a furniture dealer moves beyond a traditionally passive role in the design process, she or he can more accurately calculate costs in real-time, including how a few adjustments in materials selection in one area can free-up funds for another potentially more desirable or impactful design component. According to Bryant, greater participation (a greater contribution) depends on understanding the “ultimate objective of a client.” Business or operational drivers can include a diverse range of factors affecting the efficiency or productivity of an organization: flexibility of workspace, talent retention, change management objectives. Understanding what these drivers are can lead to more options and more strategic options for the FF&E selection. For example, knowing whether a client sees a project as a solution for a high churn rate or a means to an end will affect which options a dealer will present.
However, increased transparency must be present on both sides. As Steiger stated, “Both parties [furniture and design] should be clear about voicing what applications work—or don’t work” for a site-specific installation. Part of being a “trusted advisor,” she said, is helping to ensure accurate and complete furniture specifications.
Most furniture dealers possess in-depth knowledge of multiple furniture lines, which designers can exploit to diversify offerings while still leveraging economies of scale. This approach can potentially yield further savings post-occupancy, if the design team taps into the dealer/manufacturer knowledge base of operational efficiencies resulting from the strategic pairing of products. It’s also very difficult to make “apples to apples” comparisons across manufacturer lines, which is why it is important to assess potential “Day 2” costs or impacts, such as adjusting panel heights and future-proofing products to accommodate tomorrow’s technologies. A product’s capacity for lasting non-obsolescence is also a driving factor for choosing it.
In summary, the installation of furniture encompasses so much more than the obvious “nuts and bolts” or aesthetic preferences. As projects become more complex and demand more specialization, designers will need collaborators who see product value in holistic terms, where value is derived from the benefits a component can produce over the lifetime of a project. The contributions of an adept furniture dealer extend far beyond unit savings and can be quantified in more expansive terms, including the potential to realize a project vision better, faster, and more economically than ever imagined. Such a change in mindset necessitates changing how the A&D industry defines what constitutes a project team. This means eliminating the disciplines’ segregated silos and shedding preconceptions about the value all individuals can potentially bring to a project.
Note: LMNOP would like to thank Allsteel and Henricksen for hosting the October 25th evening event at the Allsteel New York City showroom. The generous support of our sponsors enables LMNOP to provide members of the architectural and design (A&D) community with professional development, mentoring, CEU workshops, panel presentations, and networking activities and resources. For information about sponsoring similar events please visit our website.
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FEES
FOR ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS:
IN TOWN HALL-LIKE SETTING LMNOP PANEL TACKLES CRITICAL INDUSTRY TOPIC
Contribution from Joseph Auld, Think! Architecture and Design
The LMNOP NYC September 20th program turned into exactly the lively discussion I was hoping it would be. “Professional Services Fees for Architects and Designers” was hosted by the Global Furniture Group in their Manhattan showroom. Not only was the panel composed of esteemed experts talking about issues that our industry faces on a daily basis; the discussion evolved into a town hall type debate, where the audience participated, varied views were presented and argued—and some possible solutions were discussed.
A panel of professionals helped elevate the dialogue.
John Fontillas, Partner, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
Jennifer Meyer, Global Project Director, MetLife
Iris Montan, Project Manager, Prudential, Cushman & Wakefield
Terrence O'Neal, Principal, Terrence O'Neal Architect LLC
Ritu Saheb, Real Estate Developer/Architect, RS/RE Development
Jennifer Graham, President and a founder of LMNOP NYC, began the program by providing a framework for the evening’s discussion. She delivered an overview of the basics of fee structures and how the market can affect compensation, effectively establishing a common place for the audience and panelists to engage in a healthy conversation.
As the moderator, I had the honor of following her prudent introduction by presenting a number of hard-hitting questions to our panel. As a result, we highlighted several subjects that directly referenced the evening’s topic, including project management, global impacts, and questionable but common business practices in the building and design industry.
The Role of the Project Manager
Early in the evening, we discussed the role of project management firms, which are at times viewed as entities that can eat into a portion of professional fees. They were described as “somewhat taking responsibilities away” from architects. However, in recent years, especially as the industry becomes increasingly more complex, project managers are perceived as providing an important service, one that architects appreciate and find to be complementary to the project team. The panelists seemed comfortable with the architect/PM relationship, yet realized that it meant losing some control over the process.
Larger Factors in Play
Construction costs and the real estate market are additional factors that can have an effect on professional services fees, although it is difficult to control and prepare for these kinds of market forces. During the evening, panelists and audience members described scenarios where, for example, the volume of construction or the manufacturing of sheetrock in China had impacted sheetrock costs in America.
Such global impacts have the potential to eventually affect professional service fees. The panel concluded that there is little that an individual architect can do to change factors playing out at such a large scale.
Loss Leader, Good Practice or Not?
The audience was particularly excited about one subject: the concept of taking on work when the fees do not cover the cost—in the hope that this will result in future commissions. The business term for this practice is “loss leader.” I have personally witnessed this practiced many times in our industry. Unfortunately, participants in this night’s discussion could not answer just how successful loss leader is in generating additional income, nor how harmful it is overall to our profession.
Why Having a Background in Business Matters
Perhaps the most telling moment of the evening was when I asked the audience, “Who has had any business training?” Only a few audience members raised their hands. I found this troubling given that many senior staff members were in attendance in the audience and on the panel, including numerous principal level persons.
"Architecture is a business, and the professional aspects of a practice need to be treated like any other business."
I believe that if architects took courses in basic accounting, management, economics, human resources, and marketing, we would see a general increase in fees, salaries, and profitability. Our businesses would run more efficiently, and the architect’s share of fees in a project would increase. To increase “our share,” we have to educate ourselves in basic business practices. The result? Responses to RFPs would include “healthier” numbers. Similarly, our “per hour” fees would increase, ideally, in line with those of our engineering friends and specialty consultants.
Getting Outside Our Comfort Zone
In our industry, the topic of professional services has been a prominent issue for some time. It should be front and center for architects in the future, too. Furthermore, why are we only talking to our peers about this topic? We can look to other industries to learn how fees are calculated and compensation is distributed. Much can be learned from mining the knowledge of other professionals, instead of rehashing what architects already know.
Increasing our understanding of basic business practices has the benefit of increasing our comfort level with these issues. The objective is to reach the point where we are as comfortable discussing business reports as we are discussing the next Frank Lloyd Wright or Le Corbusier.
I want to thank John, Jennifer, Iris, Terrence, and Ritu for their contributions and insightful comments. My gratitude also to Global Furniture Group for hosting the event and to Jennifer Graham and LMNOP NYC for including this topic in their annual lecture cycle.
LMNOP 2016 ANNUAL BENEFIT
MEENA KRENEK'S CONVERSATION WITH MARK GOETZ
Contribution from Romana Mirza
Our Annual Benefit is LMNOP’s largest turnout of the year and our event on May 25th at the Milliken showroom was no exception.
LMNOP members who volunteer throughout the year to bring us relevant programming did not stop on this night as we saw familiar faces when we registered, ordered our drinks and enjoyed the wonderful food contributed by Global Furniture.
In addition to great socializing and networking this event also includes an honorary guest. This year we had the pleasure of getting to know Mark Goetz, Furniture Designer through an interview-format presentation hosted by Meena Krenek, Interiors Design Director, Associate Principal of the New York Perkins+Will office.
Mark Goetz, industrial designer, has designed collections for the Herman Miller Collection, Geiger, Bernhardt, Nucraft, among others. Meena began the conversation with aspirations. “As designers we are trying to leave a mark, what is your next aspiration?” she asked. Mark’s reply was as succinct and humble as he is. “To design in a way that somehow benefits the health of the human body." Mark went on to talk about the work he’s done, for over 20 years with Herman Miller’s R&D team where together they have explored new concepts that support how we work, all with the goal to achieve better, more health-positive work environments.
Career and Personal Branding
In speaking about starting his career as a designer Mark shared his story. He left a full-time job with a design firm to take on a $1500 project he was awarded. At the time he thought that was an indicator of a bright and illustrious future in design. Many in the room chuckled along with him knowing the journey can be more arduous than that amount of money can support.
When asked about his personal brand Mark was able to define it in one word: truth. He went on to say that he aims to achieve an element of truth in all his work. Recognizing that any given style can be very subjective, when he develops a solution to a given problem it’s like rehearsing for the final performance. It is done again and again until, what is shared with the audience has been honed and polished. When you get beyond style and trend and seek a true solution, then once in a while the world benefits from products that transcend time, like those developed by Charles and Ray Eames. “It is not something I regularly achieve; truth is more of my lifelong pursuit,” he added.
What we don’t know!
Mark has recently begun cooking! When he became discouraged by restaurant take-out food, it was either too salty or too mushy or too something else, he thought to himself I wonder if I can do a better job? After meticulously following recipes and a little practice he learned that he could make the perfect dish and the unexpected outcome of that, to share it as well!
The Purity of Sharing
Meena’s well-placed prompt to tell us something about himself that we don’t know segued beautifully into a discussion on sharing. Mark studied at Pratt Institute where he and his classmates were visited by Ray Eames, and lectured by George Nelson and Isamu Noguchi. These great designers all passed away within two years of his attending Pratt. What he learned from them has carried Mark throughout his career. For example, when asked what advice he would give to a design student, George Nelson said to the class, “stay humble; there is nothing more useless than an arrogant student.” As long as we are still learning, aren’t we students our whole life? Mark said this idea of humility stayed with him and enabled him to continue his love for learning.
To illustrate the point of the “purity of sharing” Mark shared with us a touching story. A highly respected art historian/professor from Russia was visiting America as a dignitary during the Cold War. He asked his host, the Director of the National Gallery in Washington, if he could travel to New York and share the fashion design sketches his sister had done in Moscow with a student currently studying Fashion Design in New York. Through some degrees of separation Mark, who was then a 20 year old Industrial design student, was asked to join the meeting.
Mark and his friend, the young fashion student sat quietly and attentively as the important dignitary thoughtfully explained each page of his sister’s portfolio to them. At the end of the presentation the young American fashion student said, “we thank you for this but I’m afraid there is nothing I can do to help you, I’m a mere student and have no connections.” The dignitary replied, “you have done exactly what I have asked you to do.” When Mark and the other student looked confused, the dignitary said, “My sister created these pieces and all she wanted was someone studying fashion design in New York to see them. That’s all.”
To conclude the story Mark said. “…at first, we are driven to create, then, to simply know, that someone will see it, and I’ve now shared that part of myself, is the essence of why I do what I do.”
After a brief Q&A session Mark invited anyone to reach him at email@example.com and the event’s socializing continued into the late evening.
We want to thank everyone at the Milliken showroom for being gracious hosts that evening, Global Furniture Group for their generous sponsorship that helped provide a wonderful selection of food enjoyed throughout the event, and Sarah Corcoran from Levine Calvano who organized the delivery of the “Mark 2” chairs used during our guest presentation.
WATCH OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION:
MEENA KRENEK'S CONVERSATION WITH MARK GOETZ
LMNOP April Workshop
NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS
for Architects, Designers, and other Professional Service Providers
Contribution from Colette Taber
“Never sell to a stranger,” is just one piece of sage advice from the “Father of Advertising” David Ogilvy. Another goodie: “Rigidity and salesmanship do not combine.” The famed advertising executive of the Mad Men era is credited with revolutionizing how to connect with a consumer in a memorable way. Gunlocke was the host location for the LMNOP April 21st workshop on networking, which was led by Peggy Kennedy, a leading expert in presentation skills for executives, focused a lot on how people interact and ultimately connect. The idea of preparing in advance and setting a positive tone for dialogue figures heavily in her approach. Kennedy, who has worked in the advertising world, including as a SVP for Ogilvy & Mather and for DraftFCB, as well as with creatives in the architectural and design industry, emphasized that often the key to becoming a better networker is learning how to make a memorable connection.
LMNOP NYC epitomizes this mindset, as an organization founded in 2009 by a small community of architecture and design professionals, during the doldrums of the recent economic downturn. In a challenging market, sustaining key relationships typically yields more benefits over time than one-off transactions. Successful networking becomes less about selling your company’s attributes and more about forging strong bonds within a community, which LMNOP NYC has always maintained is to the benefit of the entire A&D industry. “Our goal from the beginning was to help each other,” said Stephanie Chiuminatto Wolfson, a LMNOP NYC co-founder. “In 2009, we had the immediate need of keeping talented individuals from leaving the industry, but the long-term objective was to create a strong network of people with complementary strengths. Networking was about sharing lessons learned and mentoring each other.”
At the start of the April workshop, Jennifer Graham, President and founder of LMNOP NYC, said, “This is a close, comfortable environment, a place where one has the opportunity to practice and perfect networking skills within a safe space.” Graham served as moderator for the intimate, two-hour event, which featured much audience interaction, including networking “exercises.” Gunlocke’s newly renovated New York Showroom provided an exquisite backdrop for the event.
Networking, an “important component of a business plan”
Kennedy referenced her personal experience with the “three A’s.” She has worked as an actor, and she has worked in advertising and in the architectural business, equipping her with deep knowledge and empathy for people in workplaces that are “all about the work.” However, for networking to be successful, it needs to be an integral part of your plan for securing new work, which is similar to how other forms of communication, like advertising, PR, social media, digital marketing, etc., can (and should) be integrated into an overall business development strategy. Much thought should be given, in advance, to attendance at conferences, meetings, and industry events, including who is the best person to attend. Rather than thinking about networking as “nice to have,” see these time and resource investments as the “must have” necessities that they are; networking represents “important opportunities to directly interface with clients and prospects,” said Kennedy.
Number one on Kennedy’s list of things to do: be prepared. Know who will be attending a networking event and know something about their company, preferably, real world experience. (Visit the store, the campus, etc.) Similarly, develop an understanding of relevant industry issues. “You should be able to talk about what is pertinent to their business.” Note, this is where David Ogilvy’s advice comes in about never selling to a stranger, which Kennedy referenced in the context of setting a positive tone for networking. If possible, she advised, you want to contact key individuals about potentially meeting-up in advance of an event. At the very least, you want to position yourself “top of mind.”
And, like every good business plan, every good networking strategy is successfully implemented only after some practice. “Rehearse your elevator pitch,” Kennedy counsels. You should be ready with a short, informal, yet distinctive, explanation of who you are, what you do, and how you could benefit that person.
Polite Corporate Stalking and other Proven Networking Tactics
When describing LMNOP NYC’s early days, Wolfson often references the group’s goal of elevating the individual—increasing their professional skills, their knowledge base, their buying power—within an organization. The idea is that a community, a company, an industry is stronger for having invested in its components. This is achieved best when those components are working together in optimal ways to improve effectiveness and to increase innovation. “The talent drain in the A&D industry during the recession was very unnerving,” said Wolfson. Another long-time LMNOP NYC member Jack Weisberg agreed, “We needed the professional skills and the proven networking tactics and the forum to help individuals succeed, whether they were currently working for a company or not. Our community needed strengthening from the inside out. Still does.”
According to Kennedy, this is where “polite corporate stalking” comes into play. At the center of this strategy is the idea that (almost) every interaction has the potential for all involved to benefit from making a human connection. This necessitates a mindset and an approach that is non-threatening and polite, as well as inherently optimistic: sort of a glass-is-half-full approach to networking and business development. If I can demonstrate my value to you, help you grow your network, well, then, there’s potential for our devising a way to be successful together.
In Kennedy’s toolbox of tactics, she recommends arriving at a networking event early and making a friend. Breaking the seemingly impenetrable “circle” that is keeping you from engaging directly with a prospect can be as easy as introducing yourself to one person; most likely, this person will let you into the circle. You should also come with a few icebreaker conversational starters at the ready. Kennedy advises that your opener should be topical and, ideally, complimentary: “This looks like a dynamic group of people.”
“Polite corporate stalking” begins with the pleasantries but is sustained through demonstrating genuine interest and respect for what a prospect says and does. “Be strategic about where you plant yourself [at the table, within a group, etc.],” said Kennedy, “but nothing is off limits. I’ve had very successful meetings in elevator lobbies, at the airport, and even in the ladies room!” It helps, too, to bring someone with you to an event. That way, you have someone to talk with as you “hover” near a prospect. Wait for the inevitable lull in the conversation and then immediately jump in, but in a gracious manner, of course. A classic blocking and tackling maneuver.
Never Stop Networking
Back to our favorite soothsayer David Ogilvy. Rigidity and salesmanship do not combine, and one of the best ways to grease the wheels for more effective mixing is to lay a solid foundation for developing long-term relationships. “Never stop networking,” said Graham. “You have to remember to keep networking in the good times, too.”
Project Fee Structures For Architects, Designers, and other Professional Service Providers
Contribution from Colette Taber
“You have to understand your project fee structure within the context of all project costs. Whether you are an architect, designer—any kind of professional service provider—your fees are an integral part of overall costs,” said Jennifer Graham, President and Founder of LMNOP NYC, Inc. Ms. Graham served as moderator for the spirited, two-hour event, which featured much audience participation. Craig Thomas of VVA Project Managers & Consultants led the discussion. He focused on defining the relationship between consultancy fees and hard costs, like construction, as well as related expenses, such as FF&E, permits, moving, and building charges. “You should charge fees differently for different project types,” explained Thomas, “but it’s on you to communicate the value of what your service is bringing to the process.”
LMNOP would like to thank Krug and Levine Calvano Furniture Group for hosting the January 19th evening event at their New York City showroom. The generous support of our sponsors enables LMNOP to provide members of the architectural and design (A&D) community with professional development mentoring, training, and networking activities and resources. Thank you Krug and Levine Calvano! For information about sponsoring similar events please visit the support tab on our website.
Defining Project Costs for Commercial Building Construction
Thomas began the discussion by describing the various entities that are part of a typical commercial building construction project and, therefore, affect the percentage of funds devoted to professional service fees. He was careful to differentiate between construction costs, which typically represent the greatest output of funds at 50% to 80% of the budget, and additional considerations, such as furniture, fixtures, and IT/AV/security equipment (20%-25%) and miscellaneous expenditures that are often overlooked. For example, moving expenses, including disconnecting and reconnecting technology, and DOB fees and permits can increase a project budget further.
Depending on the project type, size, and market sector, the remainder of the budget (10% to 30% of the total project cost) is typically allocated to “soft” costs, or consultant fees. Why the range? Because determining who is doing what and when, e.g., the identifying of team member roles and responsibilities, can have a significant impact on overall project costs. “It’s the unexpected that you want to avoid when budgeting,” said Thomas, who recommended being as upfront and clear as possible with a client about expectations and accountability for individual team members. Some projects can do very well with a pared down team, but other projects necessitate the expertise of multiple individuals and companies. Similarly, the prime consultant or even an employee of the client may assume additional responsibilities for certain aspects of the project scope. When this is the case, the hours need to be clearly accounted for (preferably as line items) in the budget.
Being aware of and budgeting for these kinds of overlaps in team responsibilities can mean the difference between a well-considered and successfully executed project budget and misunderstandings that could ultimately cost you.
Communicating Value for Professional Service Provider Fees
The first step toward communicating the value of a particular professional service is breaking down and clarifying individual contributions. “Transparency is about helping a client to understand the value they are getting out of a consultant,” explained Thomas.
Different fee structures have different advantages and disadvantages. Incorporating fees into the basic services (per phase) is dependent on identifying and resolving the gray areas in a proposed scope of services. (The RFI's during the RFP process is the ideal time to clarify project parameters.) Team member hourly rates should be clearly delineated. Often, the best way to communicate value is to adopt a balanced approach to fees based on both hard and soft costs and/or a budget range. It is acceptable to offer a client a combination of fee structures—maybe an hourly rate upfront, and follow with lump sum fees for specific phases later in the process. The most important guiding principle is to outline your fees in a a manner that aligns with the project scope.
One audience member remarked in response to this discourse about effective proposal writing, the more quantifiable the better. She said that “in her experience” for example, clients respond more positively to a set number of hours per phase or a specific number of renderings. Because construction costs can vary widely between projects—for instance, multi-phased efforts involving occupied floors can involve a delicate orchestration of people and resources—it is critical to quantify what is required at each step. From a value engineering standpoint, decisions about where to cut and why are most successful when a complete and comprehensive picture is available for analysis. It is preferable for a client to focus on a particular category of cost savings in a budget opposed to questioning an individual team member's contribution.
Project Fee Structures: Being Upfront about Costs—is the Best Policy
“It’s next to impossible to ‘go back’ and request more funding,” said one audience member. When the inevitable occurs and a project hits a bump in the road or a design “evolves” due to unforeseen circumstances, Thomas’s advice is to “pull off the band-aid as quickly as possible with the client and go back to the contract.” The original contract will define what is part of the scope of work and what is not. Referencing specifics, e.g., exactly what was budgeted for and what was spent, provides you with a starting point for negotiating additional service fees.
Graham summarized the challenges faced by professional service providers best when she said, “You want the entire team on board with how fees impact overall project costs. You never want to hear, ‘I didn’t know’.” She added, “Regardless of your role, part of being a trusted advisor to your client is understanding that all fees are to be respected throughout the project.”
Did you know…? Hidden Impacts Unveiled
- Architecture and finishes typically represent less than 50% of the total construction budget and sometimes as little as 30%. An argument can be made that chipping away at the design may only diminish the final outcome and not deliver the desired returns.
- Soft costs (consultant costs) can comprise anywhere from 10% to 30% of the project costs and are highly susceptible to building and market conditions. Typical variables include remediation, customization, and phasing requirements. Too often a client’s operational needs trump gains from economy of scale.
- IT/AV/security equipment and cabling are probably the most difficult category of expenditure to nail down. Multiple layers of approval will likely be required, from the client’s in-house IT team to facilities management to plain management.
- If only moving were that simple. Building owners and suppliers charge fees for non-business hour freight elevator use, early lease termination and move-in, space remediation, and the disconnection and connection of equipment.
- Professionals should be paid for all of your time, not just some of your time. For example, a 10% mark-up is common to cover administrative fees associated with hiring (and vetting) consultants on the owner’s behalf.
The Evolving Global Workspace
Contribution from Jean Chandler IIDA, NCIDQ - Assoc. Principal STUDIOS Architecture -
On February 23rd, Hafele hosted the LMNOP CEU accredited workshop that discussed the changing requirements that have affected the workplace. Hafele’s showroom, was filled with A&D professionals representing every aspect of our industry ready to learn how our workplace has evolved to what we know today. Dan Chong, Allermuir’s VP of Sales and Marketing, and Keith Cooper, Regional Sales Manager for Allermuir North America, presented an enlightened evolution of the workplace that has taken place since the 1950’s.
Doing more with less
Dan pointed out that in 1950, the typical office allotted 600 square feet per person. In 2015 this number was closer to 180 feet and in some cases even less. More and more, workers are doing their jobs from a remote location. He compared modern workers to college students, doing good productive work without someone demanding they do it in a certain place or in a certain way. Workers are logging hours in airports, cafes, hotels, home and even outdoors. Increased virtual connectivity has made working from these locations just as valuable as from the workplace. Dan talked about how the unpredictability and texture of these unexpected spaces could really start to influence creative thought and innovation and in theory make the work people are doing better than work done in a stagnant office.
The forecast calls for more change
People are integrating the latest technology into their personal lives at lightning speed. The adaption of technology is happening on a personal level and BYOD's (bring your own device) are being used at work. Constantly changing tools are influencing process, workstyle and products like never before. When work flows change to support the nuances, efficiencies and innovations these tools provide, the environment must be flexible to support the unpredictability of today’s work landscape.
Workplaces host 5 generations of people currently in the workforce. The outlook on technology varies from skeptical to dependent. The meaning of a job varies from “jobs are for life” to “career multi-taskers”. Bridging the generational gap is a blended approach between the built environment and office cultures to support an atmosphere that breeds collective successes for all.
The push for more
5 key points to achieve an epic workplace are as follows:
- Optimize real estate
- Enhance collaboration and concentration
- Attract develop and engage
- Build brand and culture
- Environmental and social sustainability.
In a world with constantly increasing pressures on budgets and schedules, these objectives are almost insurmountable. Dan scored points with the audience when he stated he understands how frustrating it must be as architects and designers to nail all of these points, on time and on budget. Project schedules are always fast tracked, and the bottom line is always looming. The shelf life of a build out does not coincide with the investment cost due to an ever-changing technological element. Designers have to push creativity to the limits to integrate flexibility and advancements into workplaces in order to maintain their relevance in the years to come.