y magazine :: yeager properties edition

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Y Magazine is an Annual Publication of Yeager Properties Showcasing the Yeager Office Suites.

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  • Sometime

    around 1985, I

    recall a student

    of mine showing

    me some

    research that

    proved to be

    light-years

    ahead of its

    time.

    It was a study by BOSTI, the Buffalo Organization

    for Social and Technological Innovation, that showed how

    the physical design of workspace had a direct effect on job

    satisfaction, productivity, and profitability--in settings

    ranging from high-rises to laboratories. Companies with

    workplaces that encouraged more informal mingling of

    employees, for example, outperformed those that

    sequestered their staffs in amaze of cubicles.

    Yet in the ensuing years, I've seen these findings

    preached a lot more than practiced. Scott Adams built his

    Dilbertian empire by mocking oppressive "cube culture,"

    and I still work in a building that has the floor plan of a jail.

    In defense of bosses from hell

    An April 2006 survey of more than 2,000 office

    workers commissioned by Gensler, a leading design firm,

    illustrates both the problems and the promise of workplace

    design. Nearly half of the respondents said they would

    work an extra hour a day if they had a better workplace

    environment. More than 90 percent reported that their

    office space affected their attitudes about work and that a

    different setup could make their companies more

    competitive.

    Yet employers seemed blind to the potential: Only

    38 percent of workers said they would be proud to show

    important customers their workspace. About a third

    complained that it didn't promote health and well-being.

    And almost half thought that creating a productive

    workplace was not a priority at their companies.

    Yet it is possible--in fact, easy--to do better.

    Consider this insight, which came from the General

    Services Administration decades ago: Of the total cost to a

    company for running an office building over a 30-year life

    span, the initial construction represents just 2 percent;

    operating expenses come to about 6 percent.

    The remainder? It all goes to paying the workers

    inside. The point should be obvious: People are the

    biggest cost inside a work environment, so leveraging your

    human capital ought to be near the top of your priority list.

    The high price of employer mistrust

    But, of course, it isn't. And the great irony is that

    you don't have to construct a gleaming new office tower--

    such as Bloomberg's glass-walled masterpiece in

    Manhattan--to achieve real results. One management

    consulting firm, for instance, recently recognized that with

    its staff spending lots of time out of the office, there was

    limited opportunity for mentoring and information sharing,

    and that the workplace inhibited that.

    An analysis of traffic patterns in the office showed

    that a reconfiguration of the space to funnel traffic through

    common areas where people would naturally mingle would

    boost interaction 10-fold.

    At Electronic Arts(Charts), based in Redwood City,

    Calif., managers invited employees to plaster their cube

    dividers with design ideas and notes, and gave them

    "walls" to make it easier. Worker collaboration there has

    since gotten a boost.

    There are other ways to make improvements,

    such as doing post-occupancy evaluations--surveys to see

    how attitudes and practices have changed--so that

    learning from one project can be used in future workplace

    design efforts. Much of this research is being done in the

    WorkPlace 20.20 program of the General Services

    Administration, the nation's largest landlord.

    Workplaces affect interaction, attitudes, and even

    how we think about what we do. All that's required for

    improvement is the same thing required for any initiative:

    high-level involvement and an understanding that the most

    valuable things inside any office building are the people

    who work there.

    Business 2.0 columnist Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of

    Organizational Behavior at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

  • All of these have

    one defining trait

    in common; they

    inform in a non-

    interactive

    sense. You can turn away or read as you wish, but that's

    the extent of your control over the content of the

    advertisement. This has left the power of brand building largely in the hands of the originators. The company

    creates its advertising, and people respond to it.

    Most people and businesses don't have the money

    to create massive media blitzes or overarching TV-radio-

    print campaigns, which left this approach almost entirely to

    the big names or those small companies willing to take a

    chance. This is all changing.

    As we've discussed before, the landscape in

    branding has changed from the advertising model to the

    communicative one. Comments can be left, emails sent,

    blogs posted and disseminated in a matter of hours. We've

    established the increasing power the audience has over

    brands, and have learned how vital conversation is to the

    modern brand.

    Brands can now be built quickly and on a

    shoestring budget. Webhosting is inexpensive, and in

    some cases completely free. A Facebook account and an

    eBay selling account can stand in for a webpage and a

    storefront, and are exponentially less expensive than a

    physical store and even a simple ad in the local

    newspaper.

    Brand success is no longer the sole domain of

    those with the money to employ creative teams and retain

    advertising firms, but an open territory for any willing to

    seize the initiative and do the work.

    Similarly, the direction of brand construction has

    changed. We've mentioned the conversation, the all-

    important dialog between brand and customer, and the

    power customers have in shaping the image of a brand.

    This has lead to the development of the inbound marketing

    technique. Rather than hurling information into the ether

    and hoping to find a target demographic, people are

    building ways for the audience to come to them, where a

    friendly chat can be had.

    Consider the most important purchases you've

    made in the last five years. When is the last time a car

    advertisement on television spurred you to make a

    purchase, as opposed to the time you went into a

    dealership needing a car and sought one out on your own

    time? How often have your computer purchases been

    driven by an ad campaign as opposed to a personal desire

    to upgrade or seek one out?

    This is the realm of in-bound marketing

    techniques. Yes, they still resort to the need to create an

    attraction in the customer's mind, but the focus is different.

    It's less a matter of 'look at what we have to show you,'

    and much more about 'come tell me what you have to

    say.'

    Consider the success of the Something Awful

    forums. Similar to 4chan and other casual social sites, SA

    has indisputably developed a brand of its own on the

    Internet. Ask about SA on just about any site, and you

    don't need the full name, just the initials to get a response.

    And yet at the heart SA is just a forum, a place for people

    to come and talk, and to read entertaining articles

    lampooning various facets of pop culture. The whole

    message, consciously or not, is simply, 'come on in, and

    let's have a chat.'

    Not every site can use the exact approach of SA

    of course, but that isn't the point. The point is that if you

    feel confident in your product, be it a physical item to sell

    or ideas you wish to promote, then you should focus less

    on throwing it out to the world at large and more on trying

    to find ways to get people to come in and have a closer

    look.

    Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Dig, Reddit,

    Slashdot: There are social media networks and sites

    everywhere. People conveniently arrange themselves into

    groups based on interests and locations, and advertise

    these facts on profiles and group pages. A great deal of

    the research is already done for you, all you have to do is

    look for it. Put simply, these people WANT to talk about

    their interests. Don't simply shout your message at them;

    instead, give them a place they can come and share what

    they have to say, and give them a product that relates.

    Yes, digital branding requires even more hard

    work than big-time traditional advertising, especially on a

    budget. You may not be able to hire a bigwig designer to

    put out slick posters and compose outstanding music.

    What you can do is tap into peoples' desire to talk, their

    wish to understand and be understood, and then give them

    both a place to visit and many roads to get to that place.

    Build the road and the inn, and travelers will find their way.

    Enzo F. Cesario is an online brand specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat, a

    digital content agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos and social

    media in the "voice" of our client's brand. It makes sites more findable and

    brands more recognizable.

  • High Impact

    Companies are a

    unique class of

    firms that drive

    virtually all net job

    creation in the

    private sector.

    Nearly 350,000