Recreating for connection: SPACE, Inc. designs workplaces anew with sustainability in mind

Over 90,000 hours and one third of your lifetime – the average amount of time a person spends at work.

The place where we work is important, but equally important is the space in which we work that makes all those hours worthwhile. Companies are quickly catching on to this concept and the traditional office setting is taking a backseat to a workspace that encourages variety, creativity, comfort and the opportunity for collaboration.

Over the years, the way we work has changed – technology drives so many things and we’ve traded out traditional computers for laptops, tablets and smartphones. The seamless integration of tech in nearly everything we do touches most aspects of our daily life. With this shift, open work spaces have become more popular, as have areas for coworking and collaboration, often with new builds opting for a limited number of walled offices.

When workers feel good at the office, it boils down to increased motivation, well-being and efficiency.

As work demands change and evolve, so do the needs of those performing the work.

What do workers want in today's modern office space?

They want options.

People, especially creatives, want to have open spaces for meeting and collaboration as well as the space to work privately and quietly when needed. That, coupled with the speed of change, builds a great case for designing for inherent flexibility.

The traditional office setting is taking a backseat to a workspace that encourages variety, creativity, comfort and opportunity for collaboration.

It is a trend that has been on the rise for a while.  Workspaces need a distraction-free area to focus, but also benefit from a relaxing atmosphere that can help spark creativity and innovation. They also need to integrate technology and functionality in a way that also feels easy and comfortable – and often – those needs must be met in the same workspace.

SPACE, Inc. strives to help companies create functional workspaces that fit their distinctive needs. With headquarters located in Midland and a sales office in Flint, SPACE, Inc. has been working to improve the workplaces for many Michigan businesses since 1995. Their goal is to help companies meet their maximum potential by designing a custom workspace that enables workers to be both comfortable, creative and productive.

It’s important for the workspace to reflect the demands of the work itself. This may mean shared workspaces to encourage collaboration in a comfortable home-like setting, furnished with couches and comfortable chairs. Or it might mean a conference room designed so that each individual has equal accessibility to presentations, conversations and technology. Even changing the lighting can make a significant improvement to the overall feel of a space. When workers feel good at the office, it boils down to increased motivation, well-being and efficiency.

As work demands change and evolve, so do the needs of those performing the work.

However, renovating and redesigning workspaces can create a massive amount of waste. With that in mind, the team at SPACE wondered what more could be done to sustain, maintain and leave less of an environmental footprint when redesigning office spaces.

With sustainability in mind, SPACE anew was founded, creating their furniture upcycling program that takes the environmental impact to a new – low. Their innovative process finds ways to creatively repurpose furniture while tending to their goal of designing functional workspaces and keeping material out of the landfill.

Upcycling virtually eliminates the landfill from the redesign process. Kathie Fuce-Hobohm, Owner & Dealer Principal of SPACE, Inc. takes pride in the company’s dedicated efforts to eliminate waste.

Kathie Fuce-Hobohm, Owner & Dealer Principal of SPACE, Inc.

“It is so important for SPACE to embrace sustainability and promote upcycling, repurposing and purposeful recycling for existing office furniture assets. As a company, by utilizing our SPACE anew process, we’ve been able to keep millions of pounds of office furniture out of the landfill. We’ve teamed with federal agencies and outstanding local companies and organizations like Yeo and Yeo, Spicer Engineering, the City of Saginaw and The Savant Group to reduce the amount of usable furniture ending up in Michigan landfills. It’s something we are incredibly proud of!”

For Paddy Hobohm, President of SPACE, Inc., the effort is a personal passion and he is especially committed to eliminating as much of the environmental impact of office furniture as possible. 

“At SPACE, we are passionate about sustainability and understand the importance of purposeful recycling. Protecting the environment and doing our part for future generations is ingrained in our DNA,” says Hobohm. “Our goal is to influence organizations to minimize contributions into the landfill. We accomplish these sustainable overhauls through cutting edge design and our proprietary ANEW process.”

The upscaling process is time intensive, but worth it when it comes to the finished product. Not only does the anew process repurpose up to 90 percent of the existing material, it also cuts the cost of the project by anywhere from 30-70 percent.

The process involves taking inventory of what is currently available to work with and then manipulating the product for optimal use by the client.

Before: A client's dark workspace before an overhaul with SPACE anew.

“Upcycling materials is paramount to designing a sustainable workspace. Through innovative, disruptive design, we strive to give existing furniture a second life,” explains Senior Interior Designers Megan Thomas and Lauren Szymanski.

“As part of our design process, our design team encourages every company we work with to look at SPACE anew before investing in new furniture assets,” says Fuce-Hobohm. “SPACE anew is great for the environment, is a less expensive option and, the end result is amazing. Upcycling allows us to be highly creative with the product and meet the vision of the company for the interior workspace. There’s just no downside.”

The benefits of upcycling seem obvious, but the concrete proof is in the numbers.

After: The anew process created a open and bright space with more functionality.

According to United States EPA estimates, up to 8.5 million tons, or 17 billion pounds of office assets end up in U.S. landfills each year. The SPACE anew program has a goal of capturing 2 million pounds of furniture before it makes its way to the landfill this year alone. The company’s long-term goal is to upcycle by design or purposefully recycle at least 15 million pounds of office furniture by December 31, 2025.

The environmental impact of upcycling is undeniable and each year, more and more companies are exploring circular supply chains.

The successful and sustainable concept has allowed SPACE, Inc. to push the boundaries of commercial spaces in the Great Lakes Bay Region. They’ve also expanded to an office in Washington D.C. where they specialize in helping government agencies design work spaces with the anew process.

Before: A client's workspace that was walled off and separated.

One of the company’s largest scale jobs was the Tip O’Neill building, a federal government project which involved 1,000 people to complete. Upcycling through the anew process allowed this project to keep 93 percent of the existing furniture products out of the landfill. The project also came in at an astonishing 52 percent less than the cost of a new furniture budget.

The success has also encouraged SPACE to make their service available for home design through their SPACE within line. This service features organization and customization to fit each client’s home and lifestyle.

The commercial redesign at Spicer Engineering has been well received by staff members. President, Rob Eggers commented, “We think it will offer a more productive setting, a higher efficiency setting and result in a better place to work.”

“It was important for the new design of our office to allow for choice, flexibility and comfort,” says Eggers. “Some are high-top settings, some are configured for standing and some are situated in a relaxed setting almost like a living room. It gives people the flexibility and choice of how they want to work and where they want to work and share information.”

After: Open and ready for collaboration with access to natural light.

The transformation at Yeo and Yeo has certainly impacted the functionality of the workspace. President and CEO, Tom Hollerback compares the old design to the redesign by SPACE, Inc.

“SPACE was the only choice for us in terms of sustainability, because they're the only ones that really had an idea to use our office furniture and make it look new. The old office was a square box: low ceilings, very few windows, very low energy,” Hollerback says. “The new office has so much natural light, huge, wide hallways, angles everywhere and high ceilings. It’s not a box at all.”

The impact of the redesign has been extremely positive for the work culture. The new concept allows for more connection among employees and clients.

“It’s doing exactly what we wanted it to,” Hollerback says.

For more about SPACE, Inc. and specifically the anew upcycling program, visit http://spaceinc.net/anew/.

Signup for Email Alerts