04/30/2013

The Next Generation of Open Offices

Does your collaborative space have the right mix?

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Collaboration, adaptation, and innovation aren’t just buzz words in the workplace – they’re fundamentally changing the way the office looks. The rigid cube farm has lost its foothold to flexible offices that encourage employees to move freely within the space.

More than hoteling desks together, today’s open office is an energetic mix of casual and formal areas for employees to meet, congregate, share, and discuss. Look beyond color schemes and get down to the brass tacks of your office design to make your real estate work as hard for you as your employees do.

A Trend Becomes the Standard
The move to open offices has steadily expanded the last few decades. The rise of the knowledge worker, a multigenerational workforce, and evolving technology have rendered the cube farm a relic of business culture past.

Globalization has also demanded a nimbleness from companies irrespective of time zones. In many ways, the 9-5 business day is being erased as people work in teams distributed around the world, notes Mary Lee Duff, principal with IA Interior Architects.

The rise of mobile and wireless devices allow people to work without being tethered to a fixed spot. The personal desk is now just one of many places an employee can work.

“Rather than one workspace for each employee, offices will provide a range of work settings that employees can use depending on the task at hand,” explains John Michael, vice president and general manager of Business Interiors by Staples.

But the growing prominence of teamwork is the real culprit. Knowledge workers require interaction with colleagues. Collaboration has become the engine of most companies, but the traditional office landscape hinders the free movement of people and ideas.

“Open spaces can enable innovation to occur at faster rates,” says Duff. “You want a high level of knowledge share and few barriers to collaboration.”

Offices have accordingly become energetic, casual, and transparent. “The days of fixed environments with silos of people, groups, and information are over,” says Dan Lee, national manager of interior design for Business Interiors by Staples. “You want to create an informal space that forces collaboration intuitively.”

Reimagined Spaces
Whereas the traditional office is a standard mixture of individual offices, cubes, and a handful of meeting rooms, the open office of today has no cookie cutter model to follow. It is highly reflective of the company culture it supports.

“Your office should be like a smartphone,” Duff says. “You can customize the space in a number of different ways so it works for you.”

The overall approach is to downsize individual space while increasing collaborative areas. Common tactics include fewer walls and partitions, multifunctional furniture, a mix of casual and formal meeting areas, more collaborative technology throughout, and better disbursement of natural light.

Beyond these characteristics, however, lies a cornucopia of options that can be tailored to your exact specifications. Is hoteling desks the right option for you, or do you simply want to lower cubicle walls so people can see each other? Do you need personal offices at all, or can you create other areas that support meetings, heads down work, and phone conversations?

As you add team space, don’t overlook opportunities to improve individual areas. A smaller desk with more room for side chairs or pullout benches is a great way to encourage people to linger.

“Not only have cube farm walls come down lower or completely gone away, but there are more opportunities within an individual workspace to collaborate now,” Michael says. “These modifications make them more amenable to casual meetings.”

Unhindered sightlines can also visually promote interaction. With benching, for example, most companies are forgoing privacy panels. If used at all, the panels are so low that they’re almost a gesture of separation, explains Duff. Glass walls, interior windows, opaque partitions, and doors with cutouts add transparency. These elements also enable daylighting strategies, which can increase productivity and reduce your HVAC and lighting loads.


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


 
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