Tech firms, like those in the 1871 incubator space, tend to adopt the best designs<@SM>Bernice Boucher

CHICAGO—Corporations have now been transforming their office spaces into collaborative working environments for years. But a workplace strategy expert with JLL says that some users have mistakenly adopted the increasingly popular strategy to save money.

“The idea that you can make the workplace really small and jam a lot of people in a space has caused crimes against productivity,” Bernice Boucher, head of JLL’s workplace strategy practice in the Americas, tells “The strategy of some has been to ask, ‘how many seats can we fit on this floor?’”

In yesterday’s, Boucher wrote about 14 workplace trends shaping corporate culture. And several of her recommendations revolve around giving employees a wide range of space options in order to accomplish their work.

“Once an organization understands the work patterns and lifestyles in their company, that is, how work actually gets done,” she says, only then is it ready to consider possible options. For example, a company may want to assign all employees a specific desk, but then find out that many spend 80% of their time attending meetings around the office or campus.

Without this type of detailed study, companies can end up adopting office plans that don’t include enough meeting rooms, or a proper number of spaces that provide confidentiality or privacy, or don’t have enough social hubs that employees can use for relaxation, among other flaws. “I think the word is getting out there that you can’t just have an open office plan or just take a segment of the workforce and send them home to work.”

“The solution is to have more than one big sea of open cubes,” Boucher says. “Even call centers need space for one-on-one coaching or spaces for downtime. The idea is to plan a space with a variety of settings that people can choose from so the environment is much more supportive of how people work each day.”