Flexible Workspace

April 5, 2004
The Benefits of "Smart" Modular Furniture
Do you need furniture designed for people and the way they work today? Layers of bureaucratic process and hierarchy so familiar to Baby Boomers are giving way to The New Workstyles. Now, new generations of employees are bringing a spirit of sharing and collaboration to the workplace. Their more balanced approach to life and careers also requires simpler work tools. New office furniture takes its cue from these highly skilled workers who rely on lean, mobile technology. As people move seamlessly between home office, on-site work teams, and outdoor café meetings, modular furniture can significantly increase the flexibility of today’s workspace.Modular furniture can:Adapt to the dynamic workplace. If people join or leave an organization, modular furniture can be reconfigured easily, with little – if any – facility management involvement.Create “win-win” control. Employees want to put an individual stamp on their space. Facility managers want employees to have some degree of control over their space because it saves everyone time and energy. With modular furniture, both parties win. Employees can reposition their storage units from left to right, reconfigure their storage cabinet, or shift computers between the desktop and side table. Facility managers still retain control over macro decisions – such as deciding when to order furniture and determining which products are suited for certain spaces and work functions.Satisfy “pilers” and “filers.” The same kit of modular furniture parts – tables, accessories, and seating – can be personalized across different disciplines. Employees can organize spaces according to their own thinking and working behaviors. Pilers and filers can both thrive in identical furniture groups, simply by arranging and using furniture components differently.Dress up or down. The same focused statement of line means that furniture can scale up or down. Executives might prefer veneer furniture, while teams might require certain fabric patterns or colors to distinguish their work groups. Modular furniture is versatile and can be used from private offices to open, collaborative workspaces.Set up, break down, and store easily. Modular furniture typically arrives flat and compact and can be disassembled and stored the same way. It’s also more forgiving. If you forget to order a component, or a part is broken during shipping, you can more easily adapt or “morph” modular furniture – temporarily or permanently – during installation. With a panel system, you often can’t use the workstation unless the order arrives complete and without damage.Cross over to home office. Modular furniture should be easy enough to order and set up so that telecommuting employees can assemble their own home office, without much or any help from professional installation teams.Make you feel smart. Modular furniture – also called a table-based system – is easy to specify because it has fewer components. Ordering is fairly straight-forward and easy to understand – saving you time, energy, and cost.Not ready? Can’t afford it? Freestanding tables and storage cabinets can be phased in over time, working within existing panel systems. This allows your organization a gradual, cost-efficient migration to a more flexible, high-tech workspace. By taking this approach, you can put part of your company on the cutting-edge, yet earn additional respect for remaining rooted in traditional purchasing values.Tim Ruffini is product manager for izzydesign (www.izzydesign.com), Spring Lake, MI.

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