Money & Business

The Right Office Move Can Change More Than Your Address

By / Aug 29, 2017 (sturti/Getty Images Plus)

The place your organization calls home can have a big impact on your mission. Case in point: the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, whose new office gives it some new neighbors in the medical world—and more opportunities to collaborate.

Last week, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing relocated to new offices in downtown Washington, DC. It wasn’t a big move in terms of distance—only about a mile or so as the crow flies. But it’s a big leap in terms of AACN’s capacity to work with other associations.

The new offices are located at 655 K Street NW, a building owned by the Association of American Medical Colleges. It’s also home to the American Dental Education Association, the Physician Assistant Education Association, and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

That kind of proximity was one of the things AACN was looking for last year as its lease on its old Dupont Circle space expired, said Deborah Trautman, Ph.D., AACN president and CEO. AACN and other occupants of the new building are members of the Interprofessional Education Collaborative, a group of health-education associations that share knowledge and work together on updating curricula, and having IPEC member groups as neighbors is a boon for AACN’s mission.

Being in the same area facilitates an ease of interaction and opportunities for us.

“That was one of the driving factors helping us finalize our decision,” Trautman said. “We have a longstanding history of collaboration [with other health-education associations] but recognize that not only do we need to continue these collaborations, we have to strengthen and enhance them.”

For instance, this fall AACN will host a meeting at its offices with college deans among its membership, and the new space can be deployed to convene meetings with other groups. “The conversations would happen whether we lived in the same space or not, but by being in the same area facilitates an ease of interaction and opportunities for us,” Trautman said.

But the benefits go beyond the ability to get people from different groups in one conference room on short notice. Many businesses have seen value in creating opportunities for office workers to meet serendipitously as a way to spark new ideas. Trautman saw that happen even in the run-up to AACN’s move, when during one visit AACN and another occupant stumbled on a discussion about a new research opportunity.

“I absolutely believe that our time together there for other reasons helped stimulate our thinking and facilitated us moving forward on a collaborative opportunity to seek grant funding,” she said.

AACN made a point to cultivate that openness not just across offices but within AACN’s own staff. The new space is roomier, for one thing—from approximately 8,300 square feet to nearly 13,000 square feet. And during planning for the move, staffers were surveyed about what they wanted in a new space, and the offices are designed to create open spaces while still respecting employees’ privacy.

“What we heard, and it’s been realized in this new space, is the importance of collaboration,” Trautman said. “Our old space created more sections, and in some ways it created barriers. This new space doesn’t have that. People have been really looking forward to that.”

Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. More »

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