COLLABORATIVE OFFICES are working environments that allows people to work in multiple ways. Collaborative spaces are not built simply by putting people next to one another – but are instead an intentional space with the tools necessary for collaborative activities.
The most common types of collaborative spaces include large monitors to display information, video conferencing technology, wall-sized whiteboards, shelves and tables where materials can be displayed and casual lounge seating.
Rarely is there a solution so simple that can bring benefits so great and yet it’s either unknown or ignored in almost every office. A few moments reading this and acting on the tips can prevent weeks, or even months, of pain and discomfort.
According to the American Chiropractic Association an improperly adjusted chair can cause you a multitude of problems including lower-back pain, carpal-tunnel syndrome and even rotator cuff strain in your shoulder—and that just for a chair that’s too low. A chair that’s set too high can lead to Golfer’s Elbow, which is pain and inflammation on the inside part of the elbow.
Are you ready to adjust your chair—and then teach your co-workers? The first step is to get up on your feet and stand in front of your chair (with the chair facing you, see the illustration). Now, adjust the height so the highest point of the seat is just below your knee cap. With the chair seat at this height, your feet ought to be flat on the floor with your back upright. If everything is correct, your knees will be at a 90 degree angle
Once your chair is set to the optimum height you may notice that some other parts of your workstation are not ergonomic.
You should be able to easily fit your legs under the top of the desk and move them around comfortably. If you’re bumping the underside of the desk then your desk is probably too low for a proper fit for you. Have the desk raised with some type of risers or take the opportunity to find a new desk that that is the correct height.
It’s not uncommon to get the chair to the ideal height only to find you have to raise your arms to reach the keyboard. That means your work surface is too high and your arms will quickly tire. See if there is a way to lower the top of the desk or workstation. Some find it helpful to install a pull-out keyboard tray that swivels and/or tilts. If a keyboard tray is not in the plans you may adjust the chair height so your elbows are at the same level of your desktop. That may make your seat too high for your feet to comfortably reach the floor. If that’s the case use a footrest that allows your feet to sit flat on the footrest.
You can see more information for ergonomic workstation setup at Spine-Health.com.
Even with the thousands of options available when choosing office furniture, everything basically falls into three distinct categories:
The traditional and contemporary styles fulfill the more extreme and defined needs to express one’s taste. But it is the transitional styles that have gained such widespread appeal in recent years. As a matter of fact we are finding that more than 50% of what we sell today falls within the “transitional” styles. The more blended design approach works with a wider variety of furnishings and is less likely to limit a company’s personality. And the furniture you choose defines who you are. Which style are you?
Traditional furniture is exactly what it sounds like – traditional. Usually made of wood, with sometimes ornate accents, traditional furniture has been a staple in office environments for more than a century. There’s a certain beauty in the warmth and comfort that traditionally styled furniture can have. But it can also come off as antiquated or gaudy without careful consideration.
Transitional furniture is less rigid by definition, but essentially marries traditional styling with modern aesthetics. Materials and styles vary widely but laminates are often used to provide a contrasted look of wood against metal, with glass sometimes used as an accent. With this style of furniture, the interior designer has a lot of flexibility to let the environment dictate mood and atmosphere.
Contemporary furniture usually embraces minimalism in its quest for a sleek appearance. Metal, glass and composite materials are commonly used to achieve this. White and black are the most popular colors, sometimes using bright and bold colors for contrast. There’s a cleanliness to this look, often appearing futuristic in its execution. Critics claim this style can sometimes feel cold and uninviting, when taken to extremes.
“Contemporary” furniture is also considered “modern” by most standards. Yet, surprisingly, much of the furniture we classify as contemporary was designed in the 50’s and 60’s. Pioneers in this mid-century modern design such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Saarinen inspired many of the new designs being manufactured today including the chair below by Saarinen.
What do you think? What’s your favorite style of furniture?
Pantone LLC, has been the world’s color authority for nearly 50 years. And for more than a decade, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design. We are already seeing evidence of this fun color from several of the office furniture manufacturers.
The 2012 Color of the Year is Pantone 17-1463 Tangerine Tango
“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”
The color of the year selection is a very thoughtful process.
To arrive at the selection, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.
Are you planning to incorporate Tangerine Tango this year? Let us know.
At its heart, office furniture is about fashion. Manufacturers consistently strive to accommodate changes in the workplace and with that comes new looks and trends. Below are a just few things you can expect to see in the upcoming year.
Steampunk and Vintage/Modern Grunge
Many designs in 2012 will incorporate some of these concepts. If you’re not familiar with the steampunk movement, it’s where vintage meets industrial. There is also a complementary trend that marries earthy tones and materials with modern aesthetics. The eco-friendly movement has brought us new offerings that incorporate reclaimed materials and scrap-wood construction. And wood is always good, even if it’s painted red, black or white.
Technology meets collaboration
The trend in recent years at industry trade shows, has been a steady rise in furniture with baked-in technology. This includes everything from hidden outlets and cable management to built-in speakers and wireless charging systems. Most recently, manufacturers have focused on more ad-hoc collaborative areas that people tend to utilize in open plan offices. Expect this to continue, with more focus on built-in screens and wireless technologies.
Textured Textiles and Monochromatic Colors
There will be more focus on textures like leather, metallic and fur (possibly), with less focus on patterns. The most popular colors will be red, black, white and gray – gray being the relative newcomer this year. Bright colors, contrasts against neutral tones or two-toned shades of the same color, will be reserved more for utility driven areas such as open meeting spaces, waiting and children’s areas.
Under-counter, color-changeable lighting will continue to be popular, as will the proliferation of task lighting. While the promise of CFL lights is all but dead, new breeds of LED lights are on the way that will likely make their way into work spaces across America.
Transitional styles utilizing wood, metal, glass will continue their meteoric rise in popularity this year. Expect more foil/aluminum/stainless steel and mirror finishes. Where plastics are utilized, expect them – along with glass – to be bright, bold and translucent.
What trends are you seeing as we enter 2012? What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Today, storage is not just about filing old or unused records in case there is a need for future reference.
Far from it.
With companies trimming down on physical office size as well as opting for more open and collaborative spaces, they are losing traditional areas to file information. Storage must now be incorporated into actual working areas and must be accessible on a daily basis.
Awkward and inadequate storage space can even lead to lowered productivity.
“The average cost of searching for just ONE misfiled document is $120”
Poor storage solutions not only have an impact on companies’ bottom-line, they affect employee moral as well.
“Inadequate storage and filing space ranks in the Top 10 office complaints by employees”
Yet even with these alarming statistics, storage is typically the most overlooked issue when companies consider new or renovated offices. A whitepaper titled Filing and Storage by KI is a must read for anyone planning new or renovated office workspaces. Below are just a few of the highlights garnered from the paper:
- Because proper planning is missed at the beginning stages, storage is the most frequently reconfigured workstation component
- Even though we are supposedly moving toward a paperless society, storage needs have only grown, not diminished
- Companies must determine information they need to store based on how often it is accessed from daily to periodically to rarely.
- 36 percent of worksurface space is is now occupied by computers, monitors and other electronic equipment, efficient storage making even more important.
- The ever growing concepts such as teaming, collaboration and virtual offices which promote shared spaces have created a shortage of traditional storage areas
Further, KI suggests four key areas that should be considered early in the design stages to ensure appropriate storage needs are not only met, but allow for room to grow.
1. Real Estate Costs
Although it varies by industry, the goal of most companies these days is to reduce the office space required per employee. This has been the result of many factors from the economy to reduce costs to the popularity of open spaces to increase teamwork.
- With offices getting smaller, there is less room for the typical 5-high lateral files
- With panels being lowered in most systems, storage cabinets are disappearing
2. Wasted Space
Traditional storage solutions must be reexamined to locate any potential gains.
- Something as seemingly small as 1.5” can produce 20% more space by using 10.5” drawers instead of the traditional 12.”
- It’s important to take an audit of exactly what is to be stored. The way that information is managed has changed dramatically. Everything is not on letter- or legal-sized paper. For instance, systems must accommodate other forms of media including CD’s and DVD’s among others.
Being able to “find” information is imperative.
- It is estimated that workers spend 15 – 30 percent of their work time “looking” for information.
- A typical organization of about 1,000 employees wastes $6 million to $12 million per year searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information or recreating information that can’t be found.
4. Environmental Issues
Green design has now become the single greatest force in the building industry.
- 92 percent of facilities managers surveyed say they are actively working to make their facilities more sustainable.
- Because a great deal of storage solutions are incorporated into the actual workspace within the actual furniture and walls, they must be aesthetically pleasing was well.
- Well done storage systems can actually help companies toward their LEED® Certification.
So, plan for storage in the beginning stages. You can choose to do it now, or be forced to do it later.
You can download the complete whitepaper from KI, as well as proposed solutions, here.
What better way to consistently sell what you do than letting people see and feel it as they stroll through your office?
They sell communication and one of the first things you see upon entering is a piece of the Berlin Wall (shown to the left) – an expressive symbol of suppressive lines of communication being torn down. But, they not only sell communication, they sell cutting edge information and/or the latest news. Below are a few things we caught during the tour that we think have successfully created a visual and expressive link between where they work and what they do.
- Touch screen wall
- Wrap around ticker feeds with Twitter and Bloomberg updates
- 100 percent open work plan removing all barriers and hierarchy way of thinking
- Expressive and arresting artwork
- Meetings rooms for collaborative communication
- Communal kitchens
- LEED® certified roof top area for parties, gatherings as well as day-to-day work
- Wellness room for employees to relax and rejuvenate.
Take a look at the video tour below. What all do you see?
Public relations is all about open communication and that message is loud and clear from anywhere in their office. Does your office say what you do? Let us know.
Office furniture is ever evolving. Not only to keep up with the newest in color and design, but just as important is the functionality. As businesses adapt to the economic and environmental changes, so too must how and where they work. The NeoCon Conference is always an excellent peak into the what the future holds for office furnishings.
That’s why we didn’t just send a couple of folks to NeoCon this year. We sent our whole sales and management team! Terry Creel, one of our team members, noted the move away from traditional desking systems, towards more open and collaborative spaces.
“The benching trend is something we’ve seen coming for a while,” he said. “This year it became mainstream.”
And Bryan Carr, who recently joined our staff, noted an interesting observation,
“We saw that there was a push toward small group areas with soft seating and embedded technology. Flatscreen televisions with built-in connectivity and wireless charging for portable devices, stole the show.”
Media:scape by Steelcase was perhaps the biggest exhibitor of this exciting new trend. And, Davis Furniture Industries, won four awards for best Seating: Guest, Conference and Sofas & Lounge, and Best Conference Room Furniture for their Ekko line of tables.
Overall, NeoCon 2011 did not disappoint! Just when you think nothing new can be done, there were thousands of innovative products and resources for corporate hospitality, healthcare, retail, government, institutional interiors from hundreds of showrooms and exhibitors. Check out just a few of our favorites below:
The answer is – a great deal.
Can you imagine being able to simply lay your laptop or phone on a desk and it automatically begins to recharge your battery if needed? Well, the technology for wireless charging embedded into furniture is here and being manufactured, now.
So, why do we need it?
As noted in a recent whitepaper from KI, titled Charging Ahead: Intelligent Wireless Power for Real World Environments, the explosive growth of the portable electronics industry has helped to reinvent the way consumers and businesses work, play and communicate.
• According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average U.S. household owns 25 consumer electronics products
• It is estimated that by 2013, the average U.S. household will have 2.5x as many digital media devices in use as in in 2008.
• These portable devices are being transported into the workplace, community spaces and campus buildings and the number of these electronics continues to increase daily.
Now, imagine an office environment having to support all of these devices when it comes to recharging the batteries. The cord clutter alone becomes a bit overwhelming doesn’t it? Not to mention the number of wall sockets that will be required to accommodate the increasing number of portable electronics. Hence, the push for wireless charging.
Some furniture manufacturers such as KI are already looking to the future by partnering with Fulton Innovation and embedding wireless charging into their furniture with eCoupled technology. The results include flat surfaces such as desks and counter tops that will have the capability of charging batteries simply by laying your device on the surface. This intelligent technology will not only know if your device needs charging, it will immediately begin the charging process.
IMS Research projects that over 900 million devices will be in the market by 2019 using wireless charging and over 50% of the market will use embedded solutions.
How do you feel about wireless charging? Will you consider purchasing furniture with this capability?