Lane at POWER Decommissioning

Decommissioning Furniture & Living Their Values

How do you decommission 190,000 square feet of office space under a time constraint and move into a new building without disrupting work efficiency? A lot of planning and teamwork.   

When POWER Engineers started designing their new building in Meridian, their Operations Facilities team began the gargantuan task of planning for moving personnel and equipment. Their mission was to move employees from their 120,000 square foot Cedar Point office into their 70,000 square foot Diamond Point office, then into their brand-new building over roughly six months. On top of that, they needed to decommission their old furniture as sustainably as possible. So, they decided to divide and conquer. While POWER focused on moving its people, Create Spaces searched for ways to decommission the furniture responsibly.  

Operations Facilities Regional Manager Rob Womble and his team spent countless hours talking with POWER managers to determine which groups needed space in the smaller Diamond Point office. Those who could work from home did so. The others worked from hotelling stations and temporary seats the Facilities team prepared for them.   

Facilities Rob Womble
Rob Womble | Operations Facilities Regional Manager

Once the contractor completed a few floors of the new building, Rob’s team started moving employees. “We moved in over a three-month period in three phases. In the first phase we received the second and third floors. Next, we got the fourth, and finally the fifth. It was a slow progression.” Like they did between their old offices, they created spaces for employees to work if their floor wasn’t ready yet.   

“This move was the largest undertaking our team has ever done. I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it went. Ultimately, there was a lot of planning and valuable input from my team. I’m extremely proud of everybody, not just the core team, but the outer teams all the way down to the individual employees.”  

Rob Womble

As the POWER Facilities team cared for their people, the Create Spaces team identified buyers, recyclers, and non-profits to take 87% of the furniture left behind. In the end, POWER implemented a sustainable decommissioning of their buildings and helped support twenty local businesses and non-profits. One such organization close to Rob’s heart was the Idaho Food Bank. “POWER has supported the food bank throughout the years. I think they’re a great organization and was happy to support them in this way.”  

POWER Engineers Decommissioning Stats

POWER Engineer’s purpose is “Do Good, Have Fun, Build Success.” Through extensive planning and prioritizing sustainability, POWER Engineers successfully moved their team and lived their values.  They are an inspiring example of how to take a complicated situation, have some fun solving problems, do good in their community, and build success for themselves and others around them. 

POWER Engineers helped support 20 local non-profits, organizations, and businesses:

non-profits helped by decommissioning

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PE elevator entry

POWER Engineers: Designing For Flexibility

In 1976, two industrious engineers established POWER Engineers. It is an engineering and environmental consulting firm who team together to design integrated, multidiscipline solutions for their clients. POWER is an employee-owned company with more than 50 offices and nearly 4,000 employees across North America. With their services in such high demand, POWER has worked hard to house their growing team. One such addition is the new five-story location in Meridian, Idaho. Over the past few years, POWER has successfully transitioned its staff out of separate locations and deposited them in a beautiful office built for flexibility.   

Cohesion & Flexibility

Leading the charge to create a space worthy of their brand was Business Unit Director, Daniel Krancer. With a background in architecture, Daniel volunteered to support the Operations Facilities team in developing a hybrid design for the new office. With few examples of how to successfully implement a hybrid work environment like POWER envisioned, Daniel visited offices that were experimenting with a hybrid workplace. It took him all over the US and provided him with many great ideas to fulfill POWER’s vision. That vision included the concept of cohesion in the POWER team and a flexible work environment that adapts to different needs and uses at any time. 

Daniel Krancer POWER Engineers
Daniel Krancer | Business Unit Director

Designing Key Spaces

With that vision in mind, the design team tackled how to turn those ideas into physical spaces. Since POWER’s big differentiator is their people with a focus on collaboration and innovation, highlighting their culture became a large part of their design choices. They did this by first, lowering cubicle walls to encourage communication and transparency.

PE workstations
Workstations

Second, they built the “Charging Station”, a large break room cafe on their main entry floor to create and showcase the energy and comradery of their teams. Third, they designed an open staircase that winds up all four production floors to keep the spaces connected. Additionally, media center walls were placed at the top of each staircase to show POWER’s innovative solutions and internal updates. The addition of a large glass-walled training room showcases POWER’s commitment to innovation and learning for clients and colleagues alike.

charging station for team cohesion
Charging Station

“There is a tremendous amount of inspiration that comes from being in a great training environment. When people walk by, they can see for themselves that our company is actively investing in training, growing, and learning.”

Daniel Krancer

Finally, a broadcasting room serves as a great example of POWER’s commitment to training their teams no matter where they are. In essence, they have created a virtual lecture hall where online participants have an equitable seat in the training. Meanwhile, the instructor can engage with each student as if they were in the room.  

Broadcasting Room
Broadcasting Room

Tech Spaces For Multiple Uses

The vision for team cohesion shines through tech-enabled spaces throughout the office. The POWER team wanted to identify purpose-built spaces, so they incorporated phone rooms, huddle, and focus rooms, and myriad conference rooms to fulfill their team’s various needs. The phone room provides employees with a few moments of privacy while the focus rooms are specifically designed for different teams to sit down, share content, and work through a project together. The huddle rooms (open and private) are designed for two to three people to share ideas, brainstorm, and generally be creative in an intimate, conducive environment. From there, the conference rooms are tailored according to the team meeting size and are useful for video conferencing and sharing content. POWER invested in their technology, so they have great cameras and screens to share content no matter the size of the space. Finally, there are design spaces that teams can reserve for a week or more to work together on a project. These rooms are full of whiteboards, screens, and anything else they need to collaborate effectively.   

Design Space at POWER Engineers cohesion
Design Space

Designing For Flexibility

With a focus on cohesion in collaboration, POWER purposely designed its workstations to be generic in the sense that few are owned by a single person. “We want people to say, ‘Hey, for the next two weeks I’m working with these eight people so I’m going to go sit by them.’ They can take over a desk, a front porch collaborative area, or a design space and work with those people.” Flexibility was fully realized in the plan for designing four categories of workstations depending on an employee’s flexibility preference. Footprint A is for employees who plan to be in the office full-time, personalize their space, and have storage. Type B is for those who will come in three days and don’t need storage but want more desk space. Footprint C is for employees coming in once a week and sharing the space with someone else. Type D employees only come in for very specific reasons and use a hotelling station for the day. Finally, reservable private offices round out the offering to support employees however they choose to work.  

POWER Large Conference Room cohesion
Conference Room

Supporting Their Workforce

With so much flexibility in where and how they work, POWER employees can do their best work regardless of location. Thanks to the vision of cohesion and flexibility, the company has created an environment that supports its purpose of “Do Good. Have Fun. Build Success”. When it comes to creating a hybrid environment that empowers employees, POWER Engineers is leading the way in what it looks like to create thoughtfully designed, exceptional spaces.   

POWER Values cohesion and flexibility
POWER’s Values

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non-profits helped by decommissioning

Reuse, Recycle, Ring Ring

Recently we helped a customer move to a beautiful new corporate headquarters location. As part of the deal we agreed to help them recycle their old office furniture—floors of it.

After brainstorming ideas, we decided to reach out to some local nonprofits in Boise to see if any of them could use some donated furniture. I emailed our list of customers, explaining the story of the local company with multiple floors of furniture to donate. I included my cell phone in the email and asked for any takers to contact me personally.

Almost immediately after sending the email I started receiving phone calls inquiring as to the furniture available. The phone calls went on all afternoon and at 5pm when it was time to leave the office, I had 27 voicemails still left to call back. How in the world was there so much interest? And why did I include my personal cell phone and ask people to contact me personally?

As I would find out in the coming day, the email I sent had gone sort of viral. Individuals who received my email forwarded it to every nonprofit they knew. Then some nonprofit aggregate websites sent out my email to hundreds of nonprofits in their lists. Over the next few weeks, I fielded several calls a day regarding donated furniture. In the end, we established a list of over 120 nonprofits who were hoping to receive some of the decommissioned furniture.

Lessons learned:

  1. Old furniture doesn’t need to end up in the landfill.
  2. Donating furniture feels great and can help a lot of organizations.
  3. If you do donate furniture, there is a better way to have people contact you than calling your cell phone.
Scott's Signature

Scott Galloway   

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Spaces announcement merger

OEC and Machabee Office Environments Rebrand as Create Spaces

Two exciting announcements to share today: 

  1. Merger of OEC and Machabee Office Environments  
  1. Restructure of both companies under the new name — Create Spaces   

Merging of two great organizations 

Last October (2023) OEC acquired Machabee Office Environments—. The merger creates a larger company that spans both Nevada and Idaho, with offices located in Boise, Las Vegas, and Reno. With over a century of combined market leader experience, our unified mission is clear: to deliver exceptional spaces on time, on budget.  

From Snow-Capped Mountains to Shimmering Desert 

Our service area now reaches from the tip of Northern Idaho to the Mojave Desert in Southern Nevada— and everything in between. This extremely diverse area will be serviced by an installation team of nearly 40 skilled tradesmen. Our skilled labor force is one of our key strategic resources and enables us to take on some of the largest and most complex projects in Nevada and Idaho. 

merger us map with service areas in Idaho and Nevada
Service Area

Furniture + Technology + Prefab Construction 

Each business brings something unique to the table. Machabee has long specialized in furniture for Government and Education spaces. OEC specializes in furniture, audiovisual technology, and prefab construction for corporate and healthcare spaces. The unified suite of offerings will include furniture, technology, prefab construction, and skilled labor services in all markets.  

Create Spaces 

In the original planning of the merger, we were either going to keep the OEC or Machabee name. However, after discussion and consideration, our leadership team wanted to create an entirely new brand identity that could be more than either company has been in the past. The name Create Spaces was introduced by one of our employees at a daily team meeting. The name immediately took hold, and we ran with it. Our hope is the simple and modern name Create Spaces will resonate with customers who will trust us to help them elevate their work, education, and collaboration spaces. 

Updated Showrooms, the future of work 

Create Spaces operates showrooms in Boise, Las Vegas and Reno. These active worklabs focus on the latest in furniture, cutting-edge audio-visual technology, and innovative prefabricated walls. Create Spaces is an authorized Steelcase dealership and features partnerships with many other furniture and technology manufacturers. We’re excited about the upcoming updates and renovations planned for the Las Vegas and Reno locations. Stay tuned for our open house events later this spring where we will showcase the future of work.  

Scott Galloway team photos
Scott's Signature

Scott Galloway 
President 
Create Spaces 

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Private Office barriers

5 Tips to Uncovering Barriers

Imagine an office space that puts you at ease and makes you feel valued, productive and engaged from entry to exit. Now consider someone very different from you – would they experience the space the same way? Would they feel accommodated or excluded, connected or discouraged by unseen barriers?

More than ever before, organizations are connecting their inclusivity goals with the design of the workplace. Creating inclusive spaces, where employees feel a greater sense of belonging requires celebrating and building upon what is working well, while also critically examining who feels left out.

When we set out to create inclusive spaces, products and experiences, we intentionally co-create with people who have experienced exclusion, by reaching out to what Steelcase Culture and Diversity consultant Mary Brown calls the ‘unusual suspects.’ “Working alongside unusual suspects should make you question how space and culture impact someone’s life which differs from you,” says Brown. “It’s about seeking people, and perspectives that challenge the status quo.”

Steelcase Furniture

1. Start with an inclusive design mindset that breaks down barriers.

While most leaders and designers agree they want to create inclusive spaces, many do not have a shared understanding of what that means or how to begin.

Inclusive design requires us to go beyond codes and compliance to see the role identity and bias play in decision making. Engaging the perspectives of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, disabilities, ages, sizes, and genders, or who identify as neurodivergent, adds value to any project. It’s less about reaching a perfect outcome and more about uncovering barriers with unheard voices to drive innovation.

Signals of Inclusive Design

It can be difficult to pinpoint what makes a space great, but people instinctively identify shortcomings and potential barriers.

2. First Impressions

As you walk into space, you are welcomed by signage, thresholds, furniture settings, sounds, smells, artifacts, and artwork that set the tone and signals who belongs – and possibly who does not. The best way to attract diverse, dynamic community of people is to ensure they feel seen, supported, and accommodated as they enter. Does artwork reflect the community? Are there touchdowns and accommodations for people with functional limitations? Does signage use symbols to help everyone navigate How are hypo- and hyper-sensitivities impacted as people enter? These questions drive new possibilities.

Office waiting room. barriers

3. Diversity of Settings

When people think of traditional office spaces, they tend to imagine spaces with the same workstation repeated over and over. While this may create a sense of equality, it doesn’t show how people work differently and how our needs vary. Inclusive workplace neighborhoods feature a diversity of postures, boundaries, and intentional adjacencies. Provide places for everyone to be productive, without sacrificing equity and forcing one-size-fits-all.

4. Range of Furniture + Technology Solutions

A range of solutions enables different groups of people to share the same space in different ways. Seating diversity that supports visual consistency, while offering choice in firmness and arm rests ensures everyone is comfortable. Diverse table shapes and heights – with space to approach – provide everyone with a seat at the table. Accessible writable surfaces that can move and adapt encourage community building, collaborations and wayfinding. Don’t forget about power that’s easy to access, without crawling or bending under furniture. These choices provide dignity and allow everyone to contribute.

5. Spatial Perception + Sensory Control

Control over your environment can be tough to find in the office, but it is possible. When designing for neurodiversity, we encourage user sensory control, which has proven to enhance the spatial experience for everyone. Have you identified areas for focus, or no technology? What about flexible sensory spaces that support rest and rejuvenation? Or reservable hoteling stations where people can control visual privacy, lighting, noise, and ventilation? If the answer is no, your space could do more to be inclusive.  

The Takeaway

While inclusive design offers many opportunities, we acknowledge that this work can be challenging – especially for strong advocates. “Even when you have a heart for inclusion and innovation, it can be incredibly taxing to be the go-to person for a perspective,” says Brown. As we navigate our ever-changing world, inclusive design serves as an intervention to challenge exclusion, and build informed and impactful spaces to work, learn, heal and ultimately live better.

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active learning classroom

6 Tips on Active Learning and Active Minds

Regardless of the grade level, subject matter or class size, today’s best learning spaces are designed for participative, active and engaging learning experiences that help students function at their best – cognitively, physically and emotionally.

Active learning spaces are designed to support fluid transitions among multiple teaching and learning modes (including lecture, discussion, group work) and give students and instructors visual and physical access to each other. Highly flexible furnishings allow students and instructors to easily reconfigure the space to best support their activities.

Today, this is especially important given teh setbacks so many students experienced during the pandemic. This broadened, whole-learner approach goes beyond academics and recognizes the importance of motivation, engagement and student wellbeing. Whether students are in the classroom or learning remotely, person-to-person connections and the ability to easily interact with teachers and peers is essential. A more effective use of technology also presents tremendous opportunities to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes.

Steelcase Classroom active learning

1. Active learning increases engagement and improves student outcomes.

In active learning spaces, students are more likely to:

  • Report an increased willingness to participate actively in class.
  • Accept new challenges and work beyond their comfort zone.
  • Feel a sense of community and belonging.

2. Active learning spaces improve movement, communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

Over the past few years. Steelcase has partnered with more than 80 diverse institutions serving thousands of students at all levels across North America to understand how teaching and learning is evolving- and how smarter, more active environments can help.

Students report notable gains in movement in the classroom communication with peers and teachers, creative activities, critical thinking and collaborative learning. 79% of students reported that the experience in the environment designed for active learning was somewhat or much better than in a traditional classroom.

Instructors reported that the new space supports the type of teaching and learning that they want in their classroom and noticed improved student behaviors and mindsets. Instructors also favored the time they spent teaching in an active learning classroom when comparing the experience to that in a traditional classroom.

79% of students prefer active learning spaces over traditional classrooms.

active learning graph

3. Make technology and furniture moveable.

Enable both remote and co-located participants to move around the room. This way, remote students aren’t always ‘on stage’ next to the lesson. Mobile furniture and mobile virtual displays support a more flexible environment. If the classroom is sitting a group discussion, pull the virtual display up to the table instead of situating it at the front of the room. Make sure both remote and co-located participants have clean sight lines to people and content. Flexible furnishings and/or the use of mobile devices can let you move co-located or remote participants to give them the best view.

Students using Steelcase furniture

4. Arrange remote and local participants, and digital and analog content to ensure equal participation.

Activate vertical wall space with writable or trackable tools making everything in the room a learning tool. Some software platforms and integrated technology systems support the use of multiple monitors. That allows people and content to be displayed separately, which creates a more equitable experience for remote participants.

5. Design for the camera’s viewing range (90,120 degrees).

Make sure remote participants can easily see content. A robust video collaboration system, such as the Logitech Rally Bar Mini, allows teachers to move freely around the room. It can also showcase multiple types of content and material to students.

6. Use shared content creation tools.

Provide equal access to digital and analog information and enable multiple modes of collaboration.

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Future CEO Office Space

4 Tips on Learning the Future of Working

If machines can learn, what future value do people bring in a time of rapid advances in AI? It’s about developing uniquely human skills so you can do things computers can’t.

Learning is essential in today’s workplace and we need to help people learn as a regular part of their jobs. But the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on workers’ ability to learn and grow. Remote work made it more difficult for employees to engage in face-to-face training and professional development opportunities.

While there are plenty of high quality online training resources, employees also need to engage in informal learning and mentoring opportunities that happen through casual conversations and serendipitous interactions in the office. According to Future of Work Strategist Heather E. McGowan,

“Long gone are the days when you could ‘dine out’ on the education you got in the early part of your life. With the twin forces of technology and globalization meeting the mega trend of expansive human longevity, our thesis is now reality. In the past we learned one time in order to work; now, we must work in order to learn continuously.”

Heather E. McGowan

A recent survey by the Community of European Management Schools and International Companies alumni (mostly young professionals working in global organizations) reported working from home was harming heir opportunities to learn from each other and more experienced colleagues. They said the inability to easily consult with more experienced colleagues for advice or observe how others deal with situations, prevented them from developing their own skills.

Future Private Office Room

1. Learning impacts retention.

The ability for employees to learn and grow in their career plays a major role when it comes to retaining talent. Many companies are failing.

56% of employees and 68% of business decision makers say there are not enough growth opportunities in their company to make them want to stay long term.

55% say the best way to develop their skills is to change companies.

“Learning is the new pension. It’s how you create future value every day.”

Heather E. McGowan

These insights guide the design of both informal and structured learning experiences:

2. Learning happens everywhere.

Learning is not limited to training rooms. High-performing, adaptable spaces deliver learning opportunities for in-person and remote participants when they include mobile technology. Analog tools and flexible furniture that fosters face-to-face interactions.

Future Office

3. Learning is a never-ending journey.

Rather than thinking of learning as episodic, like attending a conference or training session, it’s more about nurturing a culture that encourages experimentation and has a tolerance for ambiguity and failure – an organization that’s prepared to try things and learn from what went wrong without assigning blame. That’s an attitude and culture that’s opened to taking risks because they’ve calculated risk and recognized it’s a learning opportunity.

4. Future focused organizations need a learning mindset.

To scale innovation and growth, employees need to be continuously sharing and learning from each other. By bringing people together in collaborative and creative ways, the workplace can help people build strong networks and enable a learning mindset. 

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Hybrid Collaboration Office

11 Steps for Designing for Hybrid Collaboration

The earlier you bring design, facilities and IT together to consider how furniture, lights, video and audio will intersect, the more seamless the hybrid collaboration experience will be for in-person and remote participants.

1. Consider the rooms layout so everyone faces the camera.

That may mean shifting orientation to the long wall instead of the short wall in a rectangular room. Seating in arcs or orienting everyone to face the camera helps improve communication, eye contact and focus. Tiered seating in larger spaces can help everyone’s face be seen on camera. Includes plenty of personal tables for individual devices. In the open, consider seating with a high back or a built-in screen for added privacy. Furniture with pegs, hooks and storage keeps cords, personal belongings, and equipment out of the way.

2. In enclosed spaces, center the camera in the room to ensure everyone at the table is in the field of view.

Avoid excessive on-video motion and distraction by eliminating pathways around the space from the camera’s view. Privacy film can be applied to glass to hide what’s happening on the screen from passersby. In open spaces, position the camera to avoid views of aisles, corridors, or adjacent co-workers. Conversations and movement will be distracting.

Hybrid Collaboration Conferencing Room

3. Focus on speech clarity and privacy, as well as limiting the spread of sound, atmospheric noise, and echoes.

Fabric wall treatments, panels, carpet, and softer seating can help absorb sound in hybrid collaboration environments. Acoustic fabric panels opposite the technology in a room can help with sound absorption. Ensure audio settings with noise suppression. Set speakers to default to low while still allowing for adjustments. Consider secondary microphones in settings where people are sitting far apart.

4. Provide multi-faceted lighting of the space, people, and background.

Multi-directional lighting is best to avoid harsh shadows. Lighter colored surfaces within the space promote light distribution. Dimmable options provide the ability to adjust based on the needs of the space. Diffused lighting is preferred over direct downlights. Avoid placing directional downlights directly over peoples’ heads, which can cause dark shadows on faces. Consider programmable light modes in spaces optimized for video meetings.

Hybrid Office

5. Help people see what’s happening and stay engaged.

Logitech’s Scribe camera for whiteboards and Microsoft Surface Hub digital whiteboards and built-in-context camera help people see what’s happening and stay involved. Steelcase Flex Media Cart untethers technology and makes it moveable for better hybrid collaboration.

6. Create a more inclusive experience.

Microsoft Teams Front Row layout and Logitech’s Grid View camera setting place remote participants in more natural sizes and locations on screen, and frame each in-room participant in their own personal window. Tables and chairs need to be positioned to maintain natural sight lines between those in the room, those who are remote and shared content.

7. Use intuitive furniture and technology together.

Microsoft Teams or Zoom Rooms spaces enable on-touch to join while AI-enabled cameras auto-track and auto-frame Ocular tables make it easy to know where to sit to be on camera.

8. The amount of eye contact and face sizes in video chats is often unnatural.

Especially in a one-on-one conversation. The size of someone’s face makes you feel like your personal space is being invaded which puts you in a hyper-alert state.

Hybrid Private Office

9. Seeing yourself constantly in video chats is fatiguing.

You would never want to stare in a mirror all day. It’s stressful.

10. Movement is limited in Hybrid Collaboration.

Video can keep us stuck in the same spot. People perform better cognitively when they can move.

11. We have to work harder in video chats to interpret people’s non-verbal cues.

When we can only see someone’s head and shoulders, it is harder to know why they are making a certain facial expression or gesture.

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personal spaces flex space

8 Tips on How to Make Personal Spaces for Focus

1. An open office isn’t always the best place to work – particularly now that many people take virtual calls throughout the day.

  • With so many audio-visual distractions, there aren’t enough personal spaces in most offices for people to focus, take a call or rejuvenate.
  • Busy backgrounds and a lack of boundaries distract during video calls.
  • Many spaces aren’t remote-ready. Power, lighting and monitors make it easier to connect.
  • Lack of informational privacy can prevent people from talking about or showing content on sensitive or topics.

2. Offer a variety of privacy options.

Fully enclosed enclaves, pods, screens or shelves can provide diverse ways for people to seek out the right level of privacy for the type of work they’re doing. Well-curated backgrounds can provide a professional look free of distraction for those on the other side of the meeting.

3. A range of seating is needed to support different types of work.

For shared spaces, chairs should respond to bodies of all shapes and sizes and require a few manual adjustments to get comfortable. People with assigned spaces will want a fully adjustable chair they can dial in to their exact preferences, that keeps them comfortable longer.

4. Whether sharing or calling it your own, height- adjustable desks are worth it.

More people ca uses the same space comfortably if shared, and those with assigned desks who may sit longer can change postures and keep moving.

5. Provide optimal lighting for different kinds of hybrid work.

A task light that is designed for on-video experiences highlights people’s faces and helps them control their appearance on camera and make up for ambient light. A table lamp with a shade that provides a soft glow also works well.

6. External monitors not only make it easier to toggle between tasks, but they can make it easier to share content on video.

External cameras can be repositioned or refocused so people or content can be seen well.

7. Flexible power allows people to keep personal devices charged wherever they choose to focus.

While power is standard in most personal spaces, in many shared spaces it can be an afterthought or costly to install, which is where flexible power comes in.

8. Most remote workers experience audio and video difficulties.

  • 89% struggle with video.
  • 85% struggle with audio.

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