Tag Archives: work space

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.


Work Areas that Help Employees Reach Peak Productivity

employee-work-areasThis article explores the type of work areas that aid employees in reaching maximum efficiency and peak productivity in the office workplace. It was written for Wolf Commercial Real Estate by the good people at COFCO Office Furniture.

If you’ve been wondering how to help employees work to maximum efficiency and peak productivity these insights about what employees really want at work will help. New studies find that your employees have a pretty good idea of what the work environment that supports productivity looks like versus one that doesn’t. Add to that their work preferences and mix in a little cutting edge design making use of user friendly technology and your employees will vote for your office as the ideal work place.

Why is this important?

Attracting and retaining top quality skilled employees is high on the list of ‘must haves’ for organizations wanting to develop a significant edge over competitors. An organization that provides a supportive work environment that helps employees achieve their professional goals translates into loyalty and high level productivity.

Here are a few ways progressive organizations are making their offices appealing:

Responsiveness to individual needs: Office buildings are beginning to make use of artificial intelligence to monitor as well as respond to individual employee needs. For example, personalized climate control and lighting in an individual’s work station.

Practical layouts with central social hubs: Recognizing that the younger generations place a high level of importance on social interaction and collaboration by integrating social hubs and serious work areas.

edge-work-areaTHE EDGE IN AMSTERDAM:
A perfect example of this new concept working seamlessly is ‘The Edge’ in Amsterdam. It is said that this is the greenest, smartest building in the world and we have to admit that its capabilities are impressive. Here’s what it offers: Indoor climate mirrors outdoor climate as it mimics natural air currents throughout the building for your personal comfort. Too hot or too cold? Not to worry… once you reach your workstation, the building’s artificial intelligence adjusts the temperature and light to suit you.

• Natural light is always 23 feet or closer to where you work.

• The smart roof provides efficient acoustic control where indoor and outdoor noise is muted

• Smart customization is as close as your phone: People working at The Edge have an app on their
smart phone. This app tells the building what kind of work space will be needed when the person
arrives in the morning. The building’s A.I. will determine where the person needs a sitting or a standing desk, whether they’ll require a meeting room or private space for focused work.

• The building immediately readies what the person needs based on their schedule. The industry term for this is ‘hot desking’ or ‘unassigned work space’. In line with the most up to date office design philosophy, employees do not have a single work station at which they work every day, they simply move to the station best suited to the task at the time. The result is fluidity as people move between stations to access the facilities or people they need at that moment.

• It’s not all about the work though. When it’s time for a coffee break, the on campus coffee bar’s intelligent espresso equipment remembers exactly how you like your coffee. It’s like having your own personal barista. Who couldn’t get used to that?

This organization did some impressive research before designing their new H.Q. in Schaumburg, Illinois. Not only did they work with a large number of their own employees in an on site focus group, but also with outside experts.

Here’s what they found:
• Employees preferred areas dedicated to social interaction rather than having them interspersed between serious working areas. They wanted these social hubs screened off from work areas so that ambient noise and food aromas wouldn’t disturb people working nearby. They felt that having social areas featuring casual furniture including sofas and tables with chairs, interfered with their ability to get work done.

• Employees also wanted privacy for focused work or private conference calls and meetings.
• Natural light access was a big request.
• Height adjustable work surfaces were in high demand.

The conclusions from this research is not all that surprising. It confirms the current thinking that the ideal office will incorporate a hybrid of privacy and open plan factors where employees have some autonomy over where, when and how they work.

When considering a new office design, it makes sense to take these findings into account. If you have any doubts about what your employees will find most desirable, it’s always a good idea to create a focus group or forum setting in which to propose and ask for ideas before settling on your final design. This way you’ll get maximum buy-in from employees and have a greater chance of achieving your productivity and loyalty goals.

If you’d like a little help with this, please don’t hesitate to give COFCO a call!