y magazine :: yeager properties edition
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DESCRIPTIONY Magazine is an Annual Publication of Yeager Properties Showcasing the Yeager Office Suites.
around 1985, I
recall a student
of mine showing
proved to be
ahead of its
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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.
Companies are a
unique class of
firms that drive
virtually all net job
creation in the