Many professional services firms in recent years have stopped assigning workspaces and allowed employees to grab any available desk. But the Minneapolis office of accounting firm Baker Tilly decided that a little personal space is not a bad thing.

Baker Tilly revamped its space in Capella Tower and, in the process, decided workers should keep their own desks.

"They didn't want hoteling," said Cristi Hedtke, a manager at Baker Tilly, using the buzzword for unassigned desks. "They all wanted their own space."

Baker Tilly surveyed its 250 local employees more than a year ago to get a sense of what changes should be made around the office. It found that many employees wanted collaboration space and more light from the windows, but they didn't want to give up personal space.

"Employees should have a place of their own," Hedtke said.

The firm reeled in about 3,000 square feet that it had leased out to other businesses so that it occupies 92,000 square feet of space on floors 20 through 24 in Capella.

"We were starting to run out of space," she said.

Design firm HGA helped consult with Baker Tilly on furniture for the new space. The cubicles were opened up so that the walls were shorter and one of the walls was knocked down so people weren't as closed off at their desks and could get more natural light from the windows. The workstations are more flexible to be customized with adjustable desks and multiple computer screens.

More small conference rooms were added as well as private call rooms and comfort rooms where employees can go to recline and relax in a chair. Some of the new conference spaces were built with temporary walls so that they could be taken down or reconfigured into other rooms when needs change.

An area that used to keep paper files was downsized as Baker Tilly and many other firms have become more paperless. Instead that space houses several more workstations and offices.

"After being here eight years, we figured out what works and what doesn't," said John Lindell, lead partner in the firm's commercial services group.

Baker Tilly started its renovations in June and hopes to have much of it finished by mid-January.

It also extended its lease through the summer of 2029.

Nicole Norfleet