Archives for August 2014

Can Less Be More?

By Joe Flynn, CFM, LEED AP, senior associate, workplace strategist, Margulies Perruzzi Architects

Businesses are facing difficult choices to remain competitive, not the least of which include real estate decisions, for both the company and the individual employee. Today, companies are “rightsizing” in a very different manner. The intent is no longer to trim the employee headcount, but rather, to reassess and realign the proportion of space allocated to staff. This exercise often results in a personal space reduction for the employee. It may not trigger employees to update their resumes, but as businesses reinterpret their space allocation culture, a different impact is coming into focus. Two clear drivers underlie these issues, requiring a facility manager’s thoughtful attention: culture and technology.

Culture Counts: Corporations are experiencing the impact of a truly multi-generational workforce. It’s not uncommon to witness millennials working alongside baby boomers in today’s work environments. Age diversity and work-style have been the focus of much study, with great attention paid to flexibility, collaboration, and reliance on technology. Businesses are now realizing that private offices may not be optimal for stimulating a knowledge-sharing environment. Numerous sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Neilson Newswire, are predicting a labor shortage of five million workers in 2020 when the Baby Boomers retire. Businesses are preparing for that now. Past mandates may have been focused on keeping a company’s leadership rewarded. Today, the mission has shifted. Recruiting a new class of talent is very important for companies who are laser-focused on maintaining a competitive edge once the baby boomers retire. Office design plays a critical role in that mission. The workplace must attract new talent, and also, foster substantial knowledge transfer for this new generation. Companies today face critical challenges: How do they adequately prepare the next generation to lead?

Technology Works Anywhere: Never before in the history of business has technology enabled so many different and efficient ways of working. Thanks to smarter mobile equipment, workers are now able to be productive – wherever they are – at a previously unheard of rate. Millennials entering the workforce have been weaned on these technologies and are very proficient with them. Senior staff is accustomed to working 9-5, but the younger generation sees no issue with being available to work at any time needed, wherever they are, as long as they have advanced technology. Some companies struggle to find a balance between preserving traditional corporate values with the opportunities technology presents.

These two major business drivers point to real estate savings. Businesses are reacting to the demand to update their environmental cultures in a way that best leverages this technology. If the result of that update is significant savings in how much space is required, it is clearly a win-win. Companies are evaluating a variety of rightsizing options in their properties. They are making choices that serve to attract a new generation of workers, better align with emerging technologies, and create a potential real estate savings.

Everyone wins. Or do they?

As is the case in every major office design shift, the results of social engineering cannot always be predicted. The pre-cubicle generation who worked in an open sea of desks had a different work experience than those who spanned their careers in 65” workstations. Each generation adapted to its environment and managed to work efficiently. Office environments are not cookie cutter. Some businesses need more open, collaborative space while others, because of the nature of their work, cannot. Leaders must understand how their business is conducted prior to adopting a new spatial strategy. In the rush to respond to a generational culture shift and technology, don’t forget the nature of your business and how work is accomplished.

Trending today is the re-evaluation of private offices. Many businesses are questioning whether offices are just status symbols of a slowly dying work culture. This triggers the question of who needs to sit in an office and why. Facility managers understand that management offices provide privacy essential to conducting business, but they also realize that if managers are better connected to their staff, a higher degree of collaboration is achieved.

There are pros and cons to the reduction/elimination of offices. The advantages include greater team-building, increased communication/ collaboration, and heightened managerial awareness of staff performance. The most important benefit is access. Employees with proximity to their managers leverage that closeness for professional direction, conflict resolution and guidance. The disadvantages, however, are notable. Either through their education or tenure managers have achieved the status associated with an office with a door. Stripping them of that prize is an emotional blow to their egos. Additionally, some managers sitting in a workstation, regardless of size, feel their authority is compromised. Real or perceived, this notion can have a devastating impact on a manager’s ability to lead effectively. On a productivity level, many managers feel they cannot be as agile in managing affairs requiring confidentiality and lose the spontaneity to immediately address sensitive issues. Planning for privacy, in their perspective, is not efficient.

The reassessment of offices is not the only major change that businesses are exploring however. There is a concerted effort to investigate smaller, leaner and more technology-responsive workstations. Some firms have even begun to explore the elimination of the “cubes” and are piloting open, highly collaborative benching solutions.

Regardless which direction a company chooses, it is important to offset any real or perceived loss in personal space with increased amenities such as more collaboration space, or break areas with games like foosball or billiards.

Rethinking the open plan is widespread in business today. As the panels disappear or drop in height, space becomes more connected. The benefits of this approach are similar to the reduction in private offices: with more visual connection, there is a greater sense of “team”. This leads to a higher degree of knowledge sharing as staff are more inclined to assist one another with tasks when they see the need. Transparency in the work environment can be effective in creating spontaneous partnerships. A documented upside is also the “better manners” phenomenon: employees adjust the volume of their voice and behavior when they are on full display. The downside of an open space plan is environmental: workers report greater visual and audio distractions and note difficulty in concentrating with so much ambient activity surrounding them.

So how does a company facilitate change in a manner that is most optimal for them?

Here are the golden rules:
1. Before embarking on any environmental office change, study the way the company currently conducts business.
2. Secure one hundred percent backing and support from senior management.
3. Proactively engage and educate the company.
4. Address the job functions of employees and consider the ergonomic needs of the space change accordingly.
5. As change is planned, explore and mitigate the potential pitfalls.
6. Proactively address the perception of loss and plan to include perks to offset it.

Work is cultural. It is not simply about offices and workstations. A business today that wants to be successful tomorrow understands and appreciates that its true bottom line investment is its staff. If environmental change is to be considered by any company, it must be responsive to the culture of the firm and the staff who supports it.

*This article is excerpted from an article that appeared in Building Operating Management in July 2013.


About the author
Joe Flynn, CFM, LEED AP, is a senior associate and workplace strategist at Margulies Perruzzi Architects. Consistently ranked as one of Boston’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi Architects services the healthcare, corporate, professional services, research and development, and real estate communities. For more information, please visit

Iron Mountain: Workspace Re-Envisioned

Iron Mountain: Workspace Re-Envisioned                                                 Rhino publicBy Janet Morra, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Margulies Perruzzi Architects


When preparing to relocate its global headquarters from 745 Atlantic Avenue to One Federal Street in Boston, Iron Mountain, a worldwide provider of information storage and management solutions, seized the opportunity to completely re-envision its workspace from a design perspective, workforce policies perspective and healthy living perspective.


Iron Mountain’s former office did not facilitate collaboration or project the company’s global reach and professionalism to its associates, customers or prospective employees. Offices with solid walls and doors ringed the perimeter, and, coupled with gray six-foot high interior workstations, cut off all visibility to co-workers and natural light, creating a maze-like effect that was isolating and energy-draining.


Iron Mountain sought a high-performance, sustainable, office environment to reflect its culture, to support its increasingly mobile workforce, to increase collaborative space and improve efficiency, and to support the company’s focus on health and wellness for its employees.The design challenge for Iron Mountain’s global headquarters was to create a high performance workspace achieved on-budget and which:


  • Supported Iron Mountain’s new Mobile Mountaineering workforce program, reducing real estate needs;
  • Provided substantially improved collaboration space, facilitating communication among employees; and
  • Promoted the global reach of Iron Mountain’s business including its brand values of security, trust, pro-activity, value, sustainability, and community within the design of the new office.


Featuring an open, flexible, and efficient floor plan with individual workspaces, 100 fewer offices, and technology-supported conference and collaboration rooms, the high performance workspace design of Iron Mountain’s new global headquarters spans two floors with large 56,000 SF floor plates. The decision to substantially reduce the number of private offices, and to keep perimeter windows accessible by placing those offices in the interior of the space, paved the way for the design. All offices and conference rooms feature glass fronts to promote better visibility. Low-height workstations are arranged in “neighborhoods,” encouraging collaboration while avoiding the feel of a large sea of people. To foster chance encounters between people in different departments and truly “connect” all employees, a dramatic, open inter-connected staircase was designed to unite the main reception area with the café (called “the Vault”) and training center directly below.


A major design objective was to provide for a mobile work program, subsequently branded Mobile Mountaineering. Based on job function, 150 of Iron Mountain’s 600 Boston employees enrolled in the program and are provided 100 workstations for a ratio of 1.5 employees to 1 seat. Approximately 40 Mobile Mountaineers found a partner with whom to “share” a workstation on alternate days, providing both with dedicated yet shared space and affording Iron Mountain the benefit of reaching a head-to-seat ratio of 2:1 in those instances.


Three unique applications highlight this project: branding, sustainability, and wellness. To meet the objectives of having the space reflect the company’s brand values and be clearly recognized as the company’s global headquarters, the design team instituted a strong branding program utilizing Iron Mountain’s brand colors and images reflecting brand attributes. The reception area features a backlit world map showing Iron Mountain’s 548 markets across 36 countries. As part of Iron Mountain’s holistic approach to wellness, sustainability was a priority for this project, which has been submitted for LEED Gold certification. Iron Mountain also completely re-envisioned the company’s café from a place that was undersized and poorly laid out, to a bright, colorful, full-service cafeteria, with multiple seating options and a new healthy eating approach.


Iron Mountain moved to its new headquarters in February 2014, reducing its square footage from approximately 128,000 SF in its previous headquarters at 745 Atlantic Avenue to 112,000 SF at One Federal, while increasing its conference rooms from 14 to 31 and adding a tremendous number of amenities.


Employees are beyond thrilled with the new workspace, and very vocal about it. Both the HR leadership and CRE teams are regularly stopped by employees who want to tell them how happy they are coming to work and how much they love the new space and amenities.

The Iron Mountain Global Headquarters project was recently honored with three awards:


  • CoreNet Global New England 2014 Award of Excellence, Best New Workplace/Large Renovation
  • IFMA Boston 2014 Best Practice Award of Excellence, Medium Project
  • NEWiRE Achievement Award for Networking


About the author

Janet Morra, AIA, LEED AP, is a principal at Margulies Perruzzi Architects. Consistently ranked as one of Boston’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi Architects services the corporate, professional services, research and development, real estate, and healthcare communities. For more information, please visit





Project Team:

Margulies Perruzzi Architects – interior architecture and branding

Structure Tone – construction management services

RDK Engineers – mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering consulting

LeMessurier – structural engineering

Communication Design Associates – Audiovisual design

Colburn & Guyette – food service design

Horton Lees Brogden – lighting design

Acentech – acoustical consulting

Entegra – LEED consulting

Fort Point Project Management – project management services

Red Thread – furniture

JLL – brokerage representation

McCarter & English – legal services

Gamble Design – signage

Boston Art – artwork

  (Head Shot Photo credit: Bruce Rogovin)

(Photo credit: Warren Patterson Photography)


2014 Security Trends

End users continue to migrate away from legacy security systems towards technologies that enable them to be more proactive in mitigating their risks. As our IFMA Boston community witnessed first hand, last year’s investigation into the bombing at the Boston Marathon showed the potential waiting to be unlocked in using big data analytics to comb through troves of video evidence. The ability to remotely access and control security systems from mobile devices also continues to rise in prominence. Security Info Watch determined the following top 10 trends in the security industry:

Click HERE for full descriptions of each trend:


1. Security goes all IP, beyond just video

2. Technology makes IP in small systems a reality

3. New life for old infrastructure with bridge technologies

4. Moore’s Law lives on as vision gets even better.

5. Spotlight on cybersecurity as IT involvement continues to grow

6. Hybrid Solutions


7. Increase in demand for more secure, open and adaptable solutions

8. Mobile access control will continue to roll out in stages

9. Continued migration of intelligence to the door

10. Visitor management systems to move beyond traditional applications


RDK’s Lean Journey

For the past few years, RDK Engineers has taken many steps to start incorporating Lean and its
practices into our company.
At its core, Lean is a philosophy that seeks to increase client value and eliminate unnecessary
waste. By applying systems thinking, Lean organizations see the whole value stream of their
operations and find ways to use less material, effort, energy, and equipment to deliver
increased value to clients while providing meaningful work for staff. Lean has successfully been
applied by the manufacturing world to a variety of organizational challenges and is increasingly
being used in healthcare operations.
RDK’s Lean journey started with a half-day workshop in our Andover office in 2011 where we
tackled our internal RFI (Request for Information) process. In the class, we laid out every single
step of the process and identified very quickly all the waste in this process. RDK was able to
walk away with a Value Stream Map, which outlined our wastes and potential improvements
that could be made to our process.
A year later, ten RDK employees completed an 8 week course on Lean geared towards the
Healthcare industry. Many of RDK’s healthcare clients apply Lean to their projects, so improving
our understanding and application of Lean allowed us to align ourselves with their approach.
Since then, RDK has created a Lean Steering Committee that meets every other month to
discuss lean strategies and how to implement a continuous improvement culture. A subset of
our Lean Steering Committee has been meeting with each RDK departments to identify
improvements within their teams using one of the Lean tools called CEDAC (Cause and Effect
Diagram Adding Cards). The topic of the CEDAC’s are “what impedes us from doing our job to
the best of our ability?” and we run a workshop on that which ends with prioritizing
recommended solutions. It is a brainstorming session where dozens of ideas are offered and
then posted. We then chart the cost versus overall impact of each recommended improvement
and also vote on them to determine the most significant. RDK’s internal groups have also
decided to take the feedback from their CEDAC’s and spend at least one hour each month at a
staff meeting discussing Lean and potential recommended improvements. We are thrilled with
the progress we’ve been able to make.
RDK will continue on its Lean journey by holding internal workshops, applying improvements to
processes, minimizing waste and adapting these principles company-wide. While doing this, we
will start to apply Lean tools to our project work and continue to consider the tremendous
value that it can offer our clients.


RDK Principal Joe Bonanno identifies waste in the RDK RFI process.

RDK Principal Joe Bonanno identifies waste in the RDK RFI process.

An RDK group using the 'CEDAC' tool to brainstorm how we can all work more efficiently.

An RDK group using the ‘CEDAC’ tool to brainstorm how we can all work more efficiently.