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Key Learnings from Corbin’s Office Redesign

Posted in Where We Work on December 14th, 2010 by Mark VanderKlipp – Be the first to comment

As technology and our physical needs changed, Corbin Design embarked on a process of office redesign in 2007 and finished it in 2009. For any service-based business on a budget, we wanted to share our key learnings:

1. Hire a professional. While a lot about your workflow can seem obvious, there’s probably a lot of workarounds your staff are employing that they just don’t see day to day. We hired an architect (one of our project manager’s husbands) who knew enough about the business to make salient recommendations. He also saw ways to recycle existing building materials, office furnishings that we would not have seen.

Office workspace during renovation and construction

Office workspace during renovation and construction

2. Negotiate with your landlord (if you have one). We were looking for alternate space downtown but our LL brought us a great deal and we negotiated a long-term lease. We consolidated our space and the LL sprung for the structural changes, including busting through brick walls. Our landlord also happens to be our bank, which made the negotiations a win-win.

3. Take advantage of your internal brains. When it came time to organize the space, our designers/PMs knew much more about storage, adjacencies, workflow, etc. than the architect. They had final say on their own workspace, locations of printers, mail stations, etc. We managed the project internally with our VP of Technology who dealt with wiring, server locations, etc.

The same space opened up, with masonry arches being constructed

The same space opened up, with masonry arches being constructed

4. We offered staff time for some of our designers to research, propose and build work tools. We sprang for a bunch of pizza and beer to get some of the dirty work done, including painting. We recycled thousands of pounds of old samples, project materials, project documentation, etc. Then we went through and did it again.

Fuel for hungry Corbin Designers

Fuel for hungry Corbin Designers

New space prior to move-in; we removed conference rooms and created an open office environment

New space prior to move-in; we removed conference rooms and created an open office environment

5. Pay cash whenever possible.

6. Design for the ultimate solution. Because we watched the economy tank while we were implementing this plan, reality set in – but we still own the concept for our major team space and kitchen, private enclaves, etc. and hope to implement in the future.

7. At the same time, we were investing in technology tools to allow us to be less dependent on one physical space. We changed the culture and our internal policies to match that philosophy. And when the December blizzard hit Traverse City, we moved forward without a hitch.

8. Allow the redesign to be a reflection of your culture. Prior to this effort, we were separated into four suites divided by a public hallway. For some unknown reason, we were also primarily divided by gender. This redesign allows us to cross-pollinate, share ideas and even overhear conversations that build camaraderie and a shared knowledge base.

9. Reduce your footprint whenever possible. By design, our new floor plan incorporates more work stations and technology into a smaller space. We have incorporated room for future growth into the plan, primarily by reducing storage of unnecessary items and turning it into more productive space.

10. Make it fun!

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The FHWA has issued a clarification on the ruling it issued on January 25, 2016 terminating the Interim Approval of Clearview as an alternate font to the MUTCD. With regard to community wayfinding signage systems, the use of alternate fonts is still possible.

To summarize:

  • Projects currently in fabrication do not need to comply.
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