Howard Ecker, CEO of Howard Ecker + Company, gives some guru advice on how to make the most out of an office space.
By Siqi Liu
Editor’s Note: We had the chance to ask Howard Ecker, the President and CEO of Howard Ecker + Company, some questions on how to create an engaging, stress-free office space on a budget.
Forefront Magazine: What would you advise people who are trying to create office spaces on a budget?
Howard: When advising people who are trying to create office spaces on a budget, the first question I ask is: How much space do you actually need? A cardinal rule for tenants is to never take on more square footage than is necessary.
Secondly, what is the intended purpose of your space? Things to consider might include providing a convenient and collaborative environment for employees to work or attracting customers.
Forefront Magazine: Are there common things people have in the office that are unnecessary or a downright waste of money?
Howard: One of the most common things that people have in offices is large, unused conference rooms. Today, while meeting rooms are more critical than ever, large “board rooms” are totally unnecessary and a waste of money.
Forefront Magazine: Are there any must-have furniture or facilities in the office?
Howard: To me the most important must-have in an office is the highest-speed Internet connection available. Also, many office buildings have trouble providing cell phone connectivity; therefore the use of cell phones should be tested in any area prior to building space to determine if boosters are needed.
When it comes to furniture, it is my belief that the most flexible and inexpensive furniture usually works the best.
Forefront Magazine: What about some tips you have for making the office as stress-free and healthy as possible?
Howard: I believe one of the key criteria for making an office stress-free is to have a great deal of natural light available and an inviting area outside of the building where employees can get fresh air. Amenities like fitness clubs and healthy food options on site are certainly desirable in a building, but may not always be feasible when looking for a space that fits budgetary constraints.
Another factor that greatly reduces stress is a location that is easy for everyone to get to, enjoyable to work in and adjacent to other businesses and services, rather than isolated and hard-to-reach.
Forefront Magazine: So what can a company do to make the office a versatile and flexible space?
Howard: The more open space that is provided, the more versatile and flexible an office is. That being said, it is key to have breakout areas and meeting areas where people can make private phone calls or have private meetings. There is no reason to put these types of spaces on a window line; they serve just as good a purpose in interior space, allowing people working every day to enjoy the light and air that the windows afford them. Also, a building with conference rooms available by the hour is very important.
Forefront Magazine: The needs of a Generation Y [Millennial] employee may be different from those of a Baby Boomer. How do you keep these different demands in mind while creating the office space?
Howard: The needs of Generation Y are dramatically different from those of the Baby Boomers. Today, one of the problems faced by many corporations is that the Baby Boomers are the ones making decisions regarding space, but they do not understand the “real” requirements of Generation Y employees. They tend to view large offices as the “accoutrements of success,” whereas their younger counterparts do not.
Furthermore, the demands of some Baby Boomers for personal assistants are lost on Generation Y employees. Personal assistants today have a very different function when they are needed. They become key employees in promoting the culture of the business and keeping the day-to-day operations running smoothly. The need for them to take dictation or type letters is certainly not what it was even five years ago.