As you may have heard, Steve Jobs knew a lot of things before anyone else did. And some of the most important things he knew had nothing to do with technology. In fact, one of these non-technical facts was arguably more responsible for the success of Job’s enterprises than any other single factor: Steve Jobs understood that space matters.


It makes much more difference to your success than most of us ever stop to think about. In fact, your work space does some of the most important work of your business, especially if your value proposition runs partly or completely on your employees’ ideas, ingenuity and innovation. How do you make sure you have enough of these infinitely precious resources? If you’ve been in business long, you know by now that you can’t order them up like a box of widgets. Perhaps you could send out a memo: “Each employee is hereby requested to produce at least three torrents of creativity per week.” Undoubtedly, this will produce a veritable avalanche of genius.

Instead, you could do something like what Jobs did when he was planning Pixar’s headquarters: locate the building’s mailboxes, coat room, coffee bar, snack shop, and so on in a large, sunny, pleasantly stimulating atrium. Pixar employees had to emerge from their cubes every day and mingle with their colleagues, some with completely different backgrounds and skill sets, in unexpected ways. Even those who were skeptical at first ended up agreeing that they often got more done during their coffee break than the rest of the day.

Not even Steve Jobs could produce creative inspiration out of thin air. But he could use what tools he had to make sure that sparks and tinder had every chance to come together – knowing that at least some of the time, something would catch fire. And his most important tool was the space they all worked in. Second most important, of course, was the coffee.

The same is true for your business. You may be saying, well, that’s Steve Jobs and his genius factory, but those esoteric considerations don’t apply to my line of work. That’s where you’d be wrong. The work space of any business is an important tool – potentially quite a powerful one.

Do you have employees who need to interact productively with the public? Employees who need easy access to each other at some times and quiet space to work at others? Managers who need to be able to observe and understand everyone’s work without obstructing it? People, in short, who need to be at their best for your business to be at its best? Then you need to consider what your work space is doing to support that level of performance. And if the answer is “nothing” – then it’s time to put your work space to work.

But how?

We have always been fascinated by the possibilities of space, and see your work space as an integral part of your business’ strategic plan. When we sit down with a client, we don’t start by asking What kind of space are you looking for? or What’s your budget? We start with questions like Where do you want this business to be heading? What resources do you most need to have close at hand? What are the primary forces driving your industry?  We don’t just execute real estate deals – we develop individualized, customized real estate solutions. We’ll help you create a workplace strategy that will make your space work.

The first step for doing this is assessing how your company uses space, what it needs from its space, and how it should be using its space. What activities do your staff engage in daily? Weekly? Monthly? What kind of space do they need for these activities? Are there any clashing needs? We get everyone’s input and use it to create a map of how and where your company’s work needs to be done.

Based on this assessment, we recommend solutions. Do you need to make changes in your goals, objectives, or policies? Do you need more flexible workspace arrangements? Many firms are taking advantage of the ever-advancing technologies that make it possible to run partly or wholly virtual offices. They also make it possible, in a time of increasingly tight personnel budgets, to offer high-value job candidates the perk of a flexible location. Or perhaps you’ll stay with a physical office, but need to reconfigure it to encourage employee interaction while still providing some quiet work space – perhaps with smaller or shared individual spaces and more inviting common spaces. We’ll evaluate all the potential tools and strategies your work space can use, calculate the probable return on investment, and give you our detailed recommendations and the business case behind them.

Next, we move into planning mode. How will we implement the chosen solutions? What technology platforms and communications systems are needed? How will these changes affect your business’ workplans and operating procedures? How will we test the new systems to make sure they work as intended, and what metrics will we use to evaluate their performance?

Finally, we fully implement the plan. Bella Terra Partners directs the process of constructing the new spaces, enacting new schedules and workplans.

Along the way, Bella Terra Partners is adding one more crucial element: negotiation with landlords on your behalf. Even though the economy is showing some signs of perking up, it is still a tenant’s market, making this a great time to bring landlords into the process of making their spaces work for your business. Landlords can provide tenant improvement allowances, or they can even participate themselves in the process of optimizing the space for your business’ needs. This is a service that landlords are increasingly willing to provide, in an environment that can make it difficult for them to differentiate their properties from others on the market. And, this is one reason it makes sense to have a single real estate advisory firm that can both find and negotiate the optimum deal on the space that’s right for you, and guide you through putting that space to work for your business.

This is an amazing moment for workplaces. Strategies that might seem purely budget-oriented, such as more closely clustered desks or shared workspaces, are actually part of workspace solutions that enhance workflow, promote employee morale and retention, and boost organizational flexibility and agility. In short, they enhance the productivity of the whole firm.


NOW is the time to think about how you can put your space to work.