Chapter 9The Untapped Potential of the Workplace

Space is one of the most basic, underlying organizational systems for all living systems—particularly for people.

—Edward T. Hall

While talking to Steve and Jim, two directors of facilities for a large medical device company, I could see that both men wanted to make the case that space might improve productivity. So I shared some of the Case4Space research and offered a few stories. Steve said, “If I put a proposal on the table, it's going to be evaluated strictly on hard costs and savings. None of this soft cost; they must have proof!”

Both Jim and Steve believe there is a clear connection between space and productivity. They told me the story of a new building project that consolidated three locations. The new building provided a nice open cafeteria where people liked to meet, versus the old break rooms. The space had more sunlight and an upscale workout facility.

Jim said, “After we moved the first group in, the others couldn't wait. People really like coming in to the office. And here's my measure: People brought their families to see where Mom or Dad worked. That tells you something!”

The clear success with employees suggests something, but it's not enough to make a case on its own. After all, the C-suite speaks a different language and uses a financial lens to evaluate the value of spending one dollar on improving the workplace versus the return on that dollar if spent on new equipment.

I asked Steve, “What work behavior ...

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