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Tag Archives: shared workspace


Architectural Walls in a Post Coronavirus World

Architectural Walls in a Post Coronavirus WorldHow our work environments and the use of architectural walls will change due to the COVID‐19 pandemic is changing daily (and sometimes hourly). Since many of you have asked my thoughts on the future of office architectural walls, I thought I would point to eight factors to watch. Much like the world changed after 9/11 and the 2008 recession, I fully expect the world to change after this global pandemic. As the world goes back to work and social distancing morphs into professional distancing, (and assuming the economy comes back quickly compared to 2008), I would offer these trends to watch.

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1. Growth in Wall Market:
While the office footprint will shrink (many people have been working from home, and this will carry forward for some), the use of architectural walls in offices will continue to rise. I have already seen an uptick in inquiries around glass partitions, space separators and demountable offices. This should not be a surprise; glass lets natural light in, shows transparency and is a good space divider. As companies balance expensive office real estate, open floor plans and small group interactions, the real growth will be in open space dividers such as Allsteel Beyond Pavilion and Allsteel Viz

2. Room Size Will Shrink:
Conference rooms will morph into smaller huddle and collaboration spaces. Wework is cutting conference rooms in half to keep groups to a manageable and comfortable size. Collaboration will be important…just in smaller groups and with walls that meet the needs.

3. Technology:
Video conferencing will continue. Technology will be required in each collaboration space, and it will be important
that camera and audio connectivity are seamless. Architectural walls have an important role to play in this transformation, as demountable partitions have great acoustics, technology integration and correct camera angles.

4. Traffic Patterns:
More thought will be given to how workers move through and in and out of office spaces. Adding an extra door to a conference room might help as “professional distancing” lingers with us for some time to come.

5. Air Quality:
Buildings will move away from minimal standards of fresh and clean air. Wall dealers will need to
partner with clients and designers around diffusor and circulation locations for better, fresher and cleaner air.

6. Healthcare Moves to the Office Environment:
Easily cleanable surfaces will be a focus, so there will be fewer fabric wall panels and wall materials that are difficult to clean. Look for manufacturers to follow some of the creative surfaces that healthcare uses and adapt them to business settings.

7. Fewer Touch points:
COVID-19 has made us keenly aware of how many things we touch every day. One of the most intriguing ways this will manifest itself will be in architectural walls with auto door openers and doors that swing both ways that you can push with your feet.

8. Changing Materials will be in Focus:
While some amazing new inventions are coming out from Hong Kong around self-cleaning door hardware using both photocatalytic and blacklight technology, older metals like copper, brass and bronze will make a strong comeback.



Bob Batley, COFCO

I am sure I will amend and change this list as we move forward, but it is a good way to get the conversation started. So, what did I miss? What do you see coming? I cannot wait to hear what your predictions! Bob Batley is the Vice President of Architectural Products at COFCO, a mid‐Atlantic regional commercial furniture and walls solution provider. With over 35 years of executive leadership in the hospitality, commercial construction, and work environment fields, Bob consults, speaks, and is a thought leader when it comes to the challenges of today’s fierce competitive work environments. Bob can be reached at BBatley@cofcogroup.com or follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Is Open Floor Office Design Good for Business?

Open Floor Office DesignIt’s tempting to consider open floor office design for your new headquarters, but is open floor office design good for business? Open floor offices advertise their collaborative environment and cheap rent, but is this true? Most likely not. You’ll come to find that the privacy of cubicles will be sought after, once the thrill of an open floor office wears off. Productivity will suffer, and so will your company work ethic.

Cubicles may not be as visually appealing, but they serve their purpose in keeping your business running smoothly. Open floor offices may have negative effects on your business that you’ve never thought of but should consider. If you’re currently renting open floor offices, a few of these points may feel a bit familiar. If
you haven’t hit “PAY” yet, read this before you are making your final decision.

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Open Floor Office Design Problem #1 – HIGH PERFORMANCE EMPLOYEES NEED QUIET SPACES

It is no surprise that open floor spaces are loud. When there is chatter all around you, it’s hard to focus on your work at hand. There could be someone on a call, or a group of coworkers discussing their next business strategy, and maybe even a disagreement that’s within earshot. To you, this is just noise. You must reset your brain multiple times to zone back into your project in front of you.

Open Floor Office Design Problem #2 – JOB SATISFACTION OR NOT SO MUCH?

A study investigated the correlation between office type and employee job satisfaction. It revealed that those who worked alone in cellular offices and those who worked in a room shared with one other colleague experienced a positive work experience. However, as the number of co-workers increase in a room, job satisfaction decreased. Sure, you’ll save money on an open floor office, but you’ll pay for it in the long run with the costs associated with job satisfaction going down. It’s more cost effective to consider the impact an office type will have on employees rather than solely focusing on the short-term financial benefits.

Open Floor Office Design Problem #3 – LACK OF INTERACTION

Unfortunately, face-to-face interaction decreases in open floor offices, the opposite effect of what an open layout is going for. Communication through emailing and instant messaging increased and productivity declined. Because everyone is constantly surrounded by people, there was no longer the privacy that cubicles
provided. Online interactions increased as a result. Some may even go as far as to avoid more interaction with team members. Having so many people around you
can be overstimulating. You’ll see earbuds in and coworkers making the effort to avoid as much contact with others as possible.

Open Floor Office Design Problem #4 – VISUALLY DISTRACTING

When you’re in such close proximity to so many other team members, it’s visually distracting. In open floor offices, you’re surrounded by people that may not necessarily be in your department or even your company. Not only is their presence distracting, but their projects can also disrupt your work ethic. You could be bombarded with questions about what you do and how you do it, something you wouldn’t have to worry about if you were in a cubicle.

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