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Office Space Envy: LWP Group

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December 23, 2016 Comments (0) Views: 2092 Design, Real Estate, Short Stories, Winter 2017

Office Space Envy: BKM Banishes Cube Farms

Company’s headquarters showcase a better way to work

Dread being in the office? The problem might not be you. Look around your work space: the chair you sit in, the desks and conference room tables could be what’s sapping your energy.

BKM, which makes over uninspiring offices into places where workers become happier and more productive, believes everything you touch and interact with throughout the day affects your well-being and performance. Its projects use furniture made by Steelcase, which is designed with the cognitive and emotional needs of workers in mind. A ton of research and science is behind every piece—Steelcase even commissioned a 300-page study on how work environments affect employee engagement. Illumina, Teradata, and local universities have all called on BKM for help.

The company had been based in Kearny Mesa for years, but found it needed to follow its own advice. Mitch Klipa, BKM’s vice president of sales, says the two separate wings of the old office’s layout prevented employees from interacting: “We were selling it, but not living it.” BKM relocated to a 24,000-square-foot headquarters in the UTC area a couple of years ago and turned it into a working showroom, where clients can come in for design ideas and see the furniture line. CEO Bill Kuhnert notices a difference in morale since the move, saying employees have been arriving earlier, and that their office now feels like a destination.

  • Have a seat: BKM employees aren’t trapped at one desk during the day. They’re free to roam around the headquarters and find a space that works for them, like a comfy couch or desk near the reception area, which is filled with natural light.
  • The Pit: Fun lanterns made from FilzFelt wool and a “conversation pit” give a meeting space a casual living-room feel. White noise machines are fitted into the open ceilings throughout the office, emitting a calming sound in an industrial space.
  • Coffee break: Klipa says the company banned employees from eating at their desks, and that an in-house coffee bar, café seating, and shuffleboard table show employees “that it’s okay to take a break.” Staff were resistant to the ban at first, but now welcome it.
  • Upcycled art: Wheel casings from office chairs were turned into wall (and ceiling) art by architect Jeffrey Hollander. It’s a rough outline of San Diego Bay, Orange County, and L.A., representing the territory where CEO Bill Kuhnert operates.
  • Meeting time: Several meeting spaces at BKM are ready to be hooked up to electronics for staff meetings or appointments with clients, where 3-D design software is used to show the possibilities of a made-over space.
  • Defining details: The wall behind the coffee bar is lined with an art piece made up of miniature chairs that were crafted with a 3-D printer. It’s a scaled-down model of Steelcase’s “Think” chair, which BKM says is its best seller.
  • The anti-cubicle : None of BKM’s shared workstations are designed like cubicles, and Klipa says the company is against using them. “It makes no sense to put someone, especially a creative person, in a box and then tell them to ‘think outside the box.’”
  • Places to escape: One problem with an open, “collaborative” work space is that employees find they don’t have any privacy. BKM addressed this by placing small offices and rooms throughout the building to give employees a seperate area when they need it.
  • Clean lines: Aside from housing all the elements of a design showroom, like fabric and accessory samples (pictured), BKM regularly hosts events for Connect (which Kuhnert is a board member of) and parties for employees.

Send us your office space: mariet@sdmag.com

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