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Partner Corner: The Benefits of Collaborative Office Space

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, August 2012 Community now

By: Emanuel G. Fitzgerald and Bradley J. Wilner

Summary: How your organization can increase staff collaboration and reduce costs.

Challenge: How can our organization increase staff collaboration and branding while potentially reducing overall costs?

Solution: Changes in the way people work are significantly affecting office design. Open-office planning and highly collaborative spaces are becoming more and more prevalent, as organizations discover both the cost savings and intangible benefits of such designs. The right space plan allows organizations to effectively bring people together and better use their space to communicate their mission to their members and partners.

CBRE's 2011 Annual Nonprofit Real Estate Benchmarking Survey found that efficient space planning is necessary for nonprofits, as average office space per employee is now 343 square feet, down from 403 square feet just two years ago.

Today's work environments are often designed with the thinking that "assigned seating" is not always necessary. By incorporating cubicles, virtual offices, or shared office spaces, most offices require fewer square feet to accommodate the organization's staff. And given the increase in flexible schedules, contracted employees, and telecommuting, some employees may not need a dedicated desk each day. This means reduced space requirements and lower occupancy costs.

In addition, associations can reduce overall real estate costs without compromising employee productivity or creativity. Space planning that contributes to collaboration, flexibility, and cost containment means space is being used more efficiently and effectively toward the ultimate goal of promoting the mission.

Emanuel G. Fitzgerald is an executive vice president and Bradley J. Wilner is a first vice president at CBRE, the world's leading commercial real estate firm. Emails: manny.fitzgerald@cbre.com; brad.wilner@cbre.com

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