Posts tagged conference room
Looking Back at NeoCon 2017 Workstation Trends & Themes
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Our key takeaways from NeoCon 2017 center around three themes: a lack of sophisticated technology enablement in collaborative workspaces, a growing acceptance of compressed polyester products, and a striking emergence of thought leadership from niche manufacturers in the workstation category. In this article, we will outline how specifiers, interior designers, architects, and operations and technology professionals can apply these insights to their workstation strategy. We’ll also give practical examples of ways to do so.

NeoCon 2017 Trend #1: Technology Enabled Collaboration Areas Drive Higher Productivity

For years, we’ve seen the gradual shift to office workspaces designed for higher collaboration. NeoCon 2017 brought a new twist to this trend, leading us to question what elements are essential in these shared spaces to truly inspire people to work together. Furniture products designed for teaming or even ad-hoc collaboration have been the hot product category for the past 3 years. 

Much of what we saw, however, did not support or coexist with the collaboration technologies that the most innovative companies in the world use. The problem is bigger than it may seem: according to Forrester research, employees avoid 29% of meeting spaces due to insufficient collaboration tools (Forrester, 2016). This provokes thought as to how much technology is needed, what kinds of technologies are necessary vs. nice to have, what is the cost, and what return on investment should companies expect to see for this outlay?  

The idea of “huddling” is universally understood as bringing people together to solve problems and foster innovation. These “huddle spaces” - communal areas designed for meetings of up to six people - are served by many manufacturers with lounge-like products peppered with whiteboards and the occasional auxiliary display. Marked by good styling and attractive materials, little if any of the products we saw were sensitive to making good use of collaboration technology. The fastest growing companies achieve their innovation goals when employees can quickly and effectively share their information. This requires easy access to collaborative technologies within huddle spaces. When designing a workplace to maximize huddle space usage, consider the following technologies:

  • Robust Wireless Networks: Employees are relying on both their own wireless devices and the supplied hardwired collaboration technology. Wireless networks should be designed to avoid limitations or dead zones where mobile devices won’t be able to function properly. If not, meetings can become delayed or canceled altogether due to the challenge of finding a way to get everyone connected. Design the huddle spot with the roaming wireless user in mind. Device charging stations don’t hurt either. 
  • Virtual whiteboards: Going beyond the traditional flat screen display can be a very powerful tool for sharing ideas among a team, working both within a huddle space and remotely. Choose whiteboard applications that operate in real time, store information in the cloud so that valuable information is not lost, and can be accessed by teammates offsite.
  • Video conferencing: To encourage adoption of video conferencing, huddle spaces must first make it easy and foolproof to initiate and connect the conference without delay. Not so obvious, the participants of the conference must also be visible and audible. Collaboration and video conference technologies deliver this, but if the environment or furniture is not adequately supportive, critical collaboration tools are rendered useless.
  • Office Information Security: Remember the WannaCry virus? The threats are real and ever-present. Including a guest network will help prevent network password misappropriations when visitors join a huddle area meeting. While it’s important to ensure proper network security, remember that employees are typically the largest source of security breaches. To help employees feel at ease with huddle spaces nearby, consider privacy screens for workstations near communal areas that are highly trafficked. Many of our clients restrict any kind of network access in areas where guests visit frequently, such as lobbies and cafeterias.

Clients and employees alike will thank you for better collaborative technologies. According to Forrester Research, 51% of business leaders report higher employee satisfaction, with a little over one-third seeing higher employee retention rates (Forrester, 2016).

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Read here to learn about the latest solutions that will help you integrate collaborative technology and cabling into conference room environments.

NeoCon 2017 Trend #2: Compressed Polyester Offers Higher Acoustic Controls for Workstations

Polyester, particularly compressed polyester, has followed the resurgence of felt and felt-like materials, appearing within the workplace in a variety of forms. NeoCon 2017 proved that polyester is making its mark in workstation design, of all places. Compressed polyester is a felt-like substrate - not a fabric - that is easy on the wallet and has terrific sound absorption potential. We’re seeing it on privacy panels, vertical faces of storage, and any other areas that blend acoustics and aesthetics.

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Innovant’s own workstations seamlessly integrate polyester cladding. The multi-functional panels divide workspaces, conceal cabling and serve as desktop storage, providing solutions that are both environmentally friendly and acoustically beneficial. At NeoCon, we were impressed by Silver Award winner Aura™ by Sis Ergo. These wraparound privacy panels, mostly made from recycled polyester felt, snap on to divide adjacent stations on a workbench.

NeoCon 2017 Trend #3: Niche Players Steal the Spotlight for Workstation Design

At NeoCon 2017, niche manufacturers stepped up to the plate, demonstrating thought leadership in the workstation design and development segment. According to industry experts, new products from big fish Herman Miller and Teknion failed to make a splash this year, and word on the street is that Haworth, Steelcase, and Herman Miller will “continue to be pushed by outsiders” (Monday Morning Quarterback, 2017). NeoCon 2017 showcased far more new product selections from smaller companies, signaling a higher degree of competition. At the end of the day, this works in favor of the end user. For the intermediaries who select designs on their behalf, the takeaway is this: there are great rewards to be reaped from looking further than the usual suspects when seeking the latest and greatest in workstation design.

Innovant’s latest integrated adjustable height bench was on display at our North Wells showroom this year. REX™ was developed as a base benching product upon which Innovant could deliver advanced tailoring capabilities. Nonetheless, in it’s out of the box format, REX has redefined the adjustable height benching category by delivering (finally) a product that perfectly conceals and manages cabling and technology to deliver a beautiful product without the mess usually revealed by work surfaces at standing height.

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Check out more of our thought leadership in the workstation category here

NeoCon 2017 & Beyond

Putting it all together, NeoCon 2017 showed us that the office design and furnishings market is at an evolutionary inflection point. The paradigm is shifting with greater thought leadership coming from less expected places. These innovations are expected to deepen already existing trends and introduce an environmentally friendly twist where possible.

Architects, designers, specifiers, operations and technology professionals, please weigh in here by commenting below. What is your view on NeoCon and beyond?

Sources:

Forrester Research. (2016, August). Digital Transformation: Achieve Agility and Innovation Through Collaboration Technology. Retrieved from http://compass.microsoft.com/assets/9d/ad/9dad58e1-e430-4f1e-bb3e-effa22c9c5d6.pdf?n=Digital%20Transformation%20_%20Achieve%20Agility%20And%20Innovation%20Through%20Collaboration%20Technology_Final.pdf [PDF file].

The Monday Morning Quarterback. (19 June, 2017). NeoCon 2017 Wrap-Up. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6RxwwvbBCpHR0p1NDdyRGdZSDQ/view.

Innovant Case Study: Global Technology Company
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THE CHALLENGE

In 2012, the world’s largest and fastest growing internet services company set out to source a furniture product to support its distinct video conferencing needs. Frustrated with the lack of suitable options on the market, the company embarked on a close collaboration with Innovant to develop and tailor a unique product.

The client voiced three major concerns regarding sourcing, cost and function. With offices in over 20 countries, sourcing proved difficult given the pace and breadth of the client’s global deployment of new video conference rooms. These deployment expenses were significant, costing thousands of dollars in construction alone just to prepare the rooms for technology and furniture.

Finally, the client’s ever-changing investment in video conference and display technology mandated that the furniture be “technology agnostic.”  With employees constantly on the move from conference room to conference room, laptop charging posed serious concerns. The “Glass Box Problem” was another factor in rooms with no walls for mounting monitors. With all this in mind, Innovant set out to design a solution tailored specifically for this cutting-edge technology company.

THE INNOVANT SOLUTION

Rather than imposing a pre-existing furniture standard, Innovant examined the client’s specific furniture- and building-related challenges. Through this thoughtful development process, Innovant created a complete design brief for a new product, FORm_AV.

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FORm_AV contains all client-supplied technology and cabling within a single product assembly. Capable of rigorously supporting up to two 80” LCD monitors, the product’s sleek support stand can be freestanding or joined to a series of 30 conference tables of various shapes and sizes.

Designed to accommodate the working styles of the mobile, video conferencing employee, FORm_AV offers integrated laptop charging and secure cabling for presentations. The product also delivers flexibility in its rapid deployment and relocation capabilities.  A simple connection to a wall box or floor monument is all that is required to deploy a FORm_AV room, saving thousands in construction and cabling costs, as well as days of installation time.

THE RESULT

A complete product family of integrated conference and display stands, FORm_AV provides compelling features for this rapidly growing, technology-intensive company. The product has been deployed in over 100 conference rooms, delivering optimal performance and full efficiency for conference rooms all over the world.

Innovant Launches FORm_AV, Revolutionary Video Conferencing Suite

imageFollowing 18 months of development in collaboration with some of the most prominent global tech giants, Innovant is proud to launch its FORm_AV Video Conferencing Suite.

“Designed in partnership with some of the world’s largest tech firms, Innovant’s FORm_AV products are particularly suited for high growth, global companies with intense video conferencing requirements.” – Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development at Innovant

Video conferencing is rapidly expanding in the workplace, demanding more sophisticated, yet flexible solutions to accommodate this technology. Innovant offers an especially apt solution that eliminates the high construction costs of technology mounting and cable routing through floors and walls. With all cabling housed directly within the technology stand and accompanying conference tables, FORm_AV provides superior utility with zero disruption of the physical environment.

FORm_AV stands are also uniquely engineered to deliver high-capacity display support for either single or dual monitors (up to 80” wide). When configured with Innovant’s FORm_AV conference tables, the product creates a fully integrated conference AV platform that provides unparalleled flexibility and speed of assembly or relocation for the fast-changing conference environment.

FORm_AV conference tables (available in a variety of shapes and sizes) offer intelligent power & connectivity management and access for technology-intensive clients with special requirements. Desktop power, USB, laptop charging cords, and other connectivity options are all available through easy access panels in the tabletop. Standard desktop finishes include high pressure laminate and wood veneer with Innovant’s proprietary Greenlock™ finish (tailored materials available upon request).

Innovant’s FORm_AV Conferencing Suite epitomizes efficiency, balancing a minimalist aesthetic with the super strength of its function. Now available to customers, the product will be formally unveiled at Neocon 2014 in Chicago.

For more information about Innovant, FORm_AV or any other conference products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.