Great Examples of the Digital Workspace: RAND Corporation

October 31, 2017


We're always on the lookout for great workplace redesign stories. When this one landed on our desk, we just had to share it.

If you're looking for inspiration, practical tips, and best practices, we highly recommend you check out What Happens When RAND Rethinks Its Workspace. As the article notes:

“A modern workspace can better serve the needs of employees and create a better environment for collaboration, without sacrificing heads-down solo work.”

Here are the blog post’s highlights.

Five Key Takeaways

  1. One size doesn’t fit all.

RAND has moved beyond the days of corner offices and cubicle farms to a design that allows employees to choose their optimal working environment. That space may be an open group area, a closed individual one, or something in-between. RAND increased employee satisfaction by asking how their employees like to work and then providing those employees the opportunity to do so through a rich mixture of spaces.

  1. Modern design enhances the workplace community…

The new offices may look more attractive, with glass walls that admit natural light, a café-style coffee area, and spacious passageways—but does the modern design translate into employee productivity? In RAND’s experience, yes.

Given that people work better when they interact, one of the principles guiding the new look and feel of the office was to create a “community buzz.” More than two-thirds of employees reported increased unplanned interactions with coworkers, and roughly 90 percent said the office design led to better or much better opportunities for collaboration.

  1. …without sacrificing individual productivity.
    While building a sense of community can be vital for meeting your business objectives, the same can be said about providing employees with the environment necessary to perform individual, high-concentration work. RAND found that the new design, intended to balance flexibility, collaboration, and individual work, gave an overwhelming majority of employees as much or more support for this type of highly concentrated, focused work than the former office space had.
  1. Your office probably has more capacity than you realize.
    According to Eric Peltz, the executive director of Research Services and Operations, the new workspace cost roughly the same as what RAND would have spent to replicate its older office space. But the new model resulted in a 40% increase in average occupancy, from 27 employees to 38 employees. (And when you look closely at the photos in the article, you can see how the company makes great use of common meeting spaces as well, which include features like EMS digital room signs.)
  2. The future is here.
    RAND’s initiative was a pilot program, intended to test the redesign of one wing of a Washington, D.C. office. The company did a “deep dive” into office design literature, recruited a test group to work in the new office space for at least six months, and kept a control group from the existing offices. To judge the success of the pilot, RAND ran some statistical comparisons, but also used some important anecdotal evidence as well: the employees’ preferences. Of the 63 employees in the pilot program, only 2 wanted to return to the old office design.

RAND’s experience shows that a radical office redesign can lead to increased job satisfaction, better employee productivity and a healthier bottom line. While much of today’s workspace redesign is relatively new, organizations are increasingly realizing that focusing on their employees' physical work space is critical to company success. Learn more about Five Trends Shaping the Future of Work.