Posts tagged open plan office
How Safe is Your Sit to Stand Desk? [Video]

The importance of safety and quality in height adjustable tables and workstations, by Bruce Wells.

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They have arrived. After years of toe-in-the-water contemplation by real estate and facilities executives, height adjustable workstations are now being specified for everyone.

I won’t comment on the associated health benefits, which individuals rely upon to offset the negative impacts of “sitting too much.” Height adjustability in the workplace can’t hurt, right? 

Or can it?

As someone who has developed height adjustable solutions for clients over many years, I can confidently say that customers now seem to be committing to these workstations because they are suddenly more affordable. Competition has made them affordable. But competition has also driven many manufacturers in a race to the bottom regarding quality, functionality, and most disconcertingly, safety.

We demand that machine operators, carpenters and electricians be properly certified in their field of work to ensure their own safety as well the safety of others. However, we provide only optional guidelines to the soon-to-be millions of motorized desk operators in the US.

There are some products on the market with built-in sensors to stop and reverse the operation of an adjustable desk upon contact with an obstruction - whether an object or worse, a human obstruction like hands and fingers. At Innovant, we refuse to compromise safety and have made this capability standard for all our adjustable height products. This anti-collision technology was initially developed to protect the motor within the desk, but it offers a significant safety feature for users. Of course, a feature like this costs a little bit more.

Not only do furniture RFPs rarely indicate this as a mandatory performance requirement, few people ever ask what level of anti-collision sensitivity is built into the products they buy because they don’t know what a “safe level” means. As a result, we now have an influx of questionable quality machinery, (particularly from low-cost manufacturing regions) getting incorporated into furniture here in the US. These come with little to no collision sensitivity built in - all in an effort to make “health conscious” furniture “affordable.”

Accidents are usually rare in a data pool. But when the numbers of that pool grow as we reach millions of motorized, adjustable height pieces of furniture, it’s time to start asking questions about the safety expectations of these products.

Introducing NEO, Innovant’s New High Performance Trading Desk

After galvanizing the market leadership position established with its FORm family, Innovant is proud to introduce its next-generation trading desk, NEO.

NEO trading desks are engineered to be height adjustable, but can be specified as fixed height. Day-2 conversion to adjustable height is a quick and simple process, saving clients time and money. Available in four standard configurations, NEO accommodates various CPU containment requirements. All four options feature sophisticated cable management, easy equipment installation or access, and state-of-the-art thermal management.

“NEO is a game changer. Its performance, features, and aesthetics set a new benchmark for trading desks,” explains Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Design at Innovant.

Incorporating the unparalleled quality and workmanship of all Innovant products, NEO boasts exceptional technology integration and aesthetics. NEO also offers the critical sustainability and wellness features required in today’s workplace. Bolstered by Innovant’s trademark excellence in tailoring and global manufacturing capabilities, NEO is boldly positioned to expand Innovant’s market leadership worldwide.

For more information about NEO, please visit http://www.innovantfurniture.com/neo.

About Innovant: Innovant is a renowned industry leader creating intelligent, adaptable furniture for the modern workplace. For over a quarter century, Innovant has proven itself the preeminent trading desk manufacturer of North America. More than half of the twenty largest global investment banks in the US consider Innovant their standard trading desk manufacturer. With a flagship showroom located in New York, Innovant maintains a worldwide network of offices and showrooms spanning North America, Europe and Asia.

An Innovant Installation Fit for Superheroes: Jet.com

Interior Design Magazine recently featured Jet.com’s new Hoboken headquarters. In a story, “ IA Interior Architects Delivers the Goods for E-commerce Newcomer Jet.com,” writer Jesse Dorris reveals the intention behind this recent FORm_office installation. 

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It takes superhuman ambition and supersize resources to challenge the likes of Amazon.com and Costco Wholesale Corporation. So why not a superhero-inspired workplace? When Jet.com was still based at an incubator, the e-commerce start-up gave the names of different superheroes to the company’s various teams. “That would be something good to keep,” Interior Architects principal and design director Julio Braga said to himself when conceiving the company’s first real headquarters, in a new building on the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Although the company had outgrown the incubator, IA intermediate designer Brie Samyn notes, “They liked the buzz of everyone being together.” That meant constantly moving through a vibrant environment. Braga and Samyn therefore settled on a largely open plan, with office areas occupying the four corners of the 40,000-square-foot floor plate. Of the 350 employees now, about 200 work in a dedicated team, while the remainder either float among unassigned desks or have no desks at all. “The CEO, the employees—you see everyone,” Braga says. Tucked between these quadrants are shared spaces, from the reception area to a variety of meeting venues.

Then there’s the question of branding. Samyn explains it as “making sure, when you walk in, that the headquarters can’t be mistaken for that of any other company but accomplishing that without a big gesture.” The winking letter J in the purple logo gave her and Braga the idea to develop what they refer to as “Jet wink moments,” subtly clever references.

Completely in the open, among the workstations, painted circles on the concrete floor demarcate break-out areas furnished with tables and ottomans. When the need for quiet or privacy arises, glass-fronted phone rooms are available. They’re nestled next to alcoves containing upholstered banquettes and shell chairs by Charles and Ray Eames.

All that still isn’t sufficient for fast-growing Jet.com. The company has leased the level below, expecting to expand there next year, and IA is once more coming to the rescue on the design front. As a way of thanking the customers behind the success story, the names of the first 25,000 to test the Web site, in beta, are listed on a purple wall as Jet Insiders. From the company’s perspective, they are the true heroes, one and all.

Read more about this project on Interior Design’s website.

Case Study, Jet.com
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Innovant is proud to share photographs of a recent FORm_office Adustable Height installation. The product is perfectly suited for the offices of this dynamic technology company.  

Client: Jet.com

Designer: IA Interior Architects

Location: Hoboken, NJ

Photographer: Eric Laignel

This office was also featured in a New York Times roundup of “Cutting-Edge Offices Around the World” and on IA’s blog, dIAmeter.

Innovant Case Study: SWA Group
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THE CHALLENGE

SWA Group, a world leader in landscape architecture, planning, and urban design, relocated its San Francisco office to a new space that would better serve its business and accommodate the firms’ growth. Plans for the new office stipulated a sophisticated, open plan furniture system that was capable of accommodating SWA’s particular work style, while also delivering a strong, contemporary aesthetic. Integrating the existing structural columns as a point of interest rather than an architectural obstruction in the layout was another design challenge.

THE INNOVANT SOLUTION
Innovant’s FORm_office benching product was selected early in the evaluation process by SWA Group and their interiors consultant, SmithGroupJJR. In addition to delivering the desired aesthetic, FORm_office was chosen for its easy tailoring to meet the specific needs of the end-users. An increased desk depth of 42 inches allows each designer to comfortably view plans at his or her workstation.

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Instead of relying on a more typical enclosure solution to contain the columns, FORm_office’s oversized raceway permitted building columns to be easily scribed through the desks with minimal cost or complexity. This allowed for cable management and concealment throughout the space. Additionally, the designers are able to freely “slide” back and forth across the work surface of the product, a quality that will support SWA Group in densifying its workplace environment as the firm continues to grow.

THE RESULT
Project Architect Dew Padilla reported that “the product is working perfectly for SWA Group.”  The SWA Group architects “love the depth” of the desks and appreciate the unique edge detailing of the product, as well as its seamless technology integration.

Photographed by Sherman Takata

How the Physical Environment Influences Work
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Architect Clive Wilkinson, a recognized leader in workplace design, is responsible for some of the most creative office spaces in the world. With a thoroughly modern approach to the way we work, his firm has created spaces for Google, Twentieth Century Fox Digital and countless other business leaders using everything from hanging pod chairs to bean bags and breakfast bars.

At the annual Workplace/Work Life conference, Wilkinson spoke about how the way we work — and our ability to be productive — is shaped by our environment. “Offices are becoming more like homes as lifestyle becomes increasingly important and companies compete for talent,” he explains. “Our world is now ideas driven and our environment needs to be energetic, inspiring and even provocative. Employers also want people to stay longer at work and making the space awesome certainly helps.”

If you are considering making a dedicated space to work at home, he says the best place to start is with a separate work area. “Separation from the family is highly desirable,” he says. “Work is a different state of mind from family concerns, which can be very disruptive. A separate studio is cool.”

For optimum productivity, he says a well-lit, well-ventilated work area is ideal. “We all need constant connection and engagement with nature and the world outside so good views, light and air are vital to our sense of well-being,” Wilkinson says. “Plants are restorative too.”

The need for a separate space at home is different to commercial offices, which Wilkinson says are veering towards open-plan design. “The driving reason to go to work is to collaborate and therefore most of the space should be configured to support that,” he says.

In commercial office spaces, he says there is now a stronger push towards keeping workers moving and less sedentary. “It’s a major concern in planning work space,” Wilkinson says. “People need to move around during the day to stay alert and healthy. We like to emphasize staircases over elevators and to locate amenities to drive people to move around.” But whether your office is a bus ride away or just at the end of the hallway, Wilkinson is a strong believer in well-designed workspaces.

“All people respond to their physical environment in a powerful way,” he says. “It could be very hard to do productive work in a messy home or it could be hard to do creative work in a formal office environment. We need to be mindful of what enables us to get into that state of flow.”

Content originally published in The Daily Telegraph, August 22, 2015.

How  Plug 'N' Play Offices Have Impacted Design Culture
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While the tech field has undoubtedly changed the way in which we interact with our world, there is one field that has undergone a complete transformation in the last two years: the pre-built office. Eschewing the traditional blank-canvas method of leasing retail space, commercial landlords are turning to finished office spaces specifically for start-ups that would rather lease an office where set-up isn’t needed.

“They don’t want to do anything beyond installing furniture, telephones, and computers,” said Daniel Montroy, designer with Montroy Andersen DeMarco Architects. “They want their new space to be plug ‘n’ play.”

The presence of plug ‘n’ play spaces in commercial architecture is already widespread. The challenge of such spaces is that they must appeal to everyone. To satisfy whichever company may eventually settle into the space—particularly those in the “TAMI” industries: technology, advertising, media, and information services—it must incorporate ideal market positioning, technology, workplace organization, and aesthetic.

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“These projects call for much more than design abilities… The designer has to think like a leasing agent and asset manager, and suggest the most beneficial solutions to the landlord—the best use of the budget, the most promising tenant segment to the target, the upgrades that will increase rent rolls.”

With so many start-up companies embracing less traditional workspaces, creating plug ‘n’ play offices can be costly. “They all want an open collaborative workspace with a loft aesthetic,” explained Montroy. While ductwork and mechanical systems could previously be hidden under a dropped ceiling, today’s open-ceiling buildings require that architects work alongside engineers to ensure that the exposed mechanical layout meshes harmoniously with interior elements.

According to CBRE’s Laura Bruno, real estate property manager of 180 Madison Avenue, this extra cost could be good for business. “The trend of the quality pre-built is here to stay,” she said, adding that it’s become something that tenants are learning to expect. In her experience, the market is currently split 50-50 between companies looking for a blank canvas versus a finished office space, suggesting the future may lead to a more holistic design approach.

Content originally published in Interiors & Sources, June 1, 2015.

You May Have Good Reason for Feeling Cold at Work

It turns out that women are cold in offices for a good reason. Kingma and Lichtenbelt report that, “Indoor climate regulations are based on an empirical thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s… Standard values for one of its primary variables – metabolic rate – are based on an average male, and may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 35%… This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy efficient in providing comfort to females.”

The study makes a case for using occupants’ actual metabolic rates instead. “If you have a more accurate view of the thermal demand of the people inside, then you can design the building so that you are wasting a lot less energy, and that means the carbon dioxide emission is less.”

Currently, many office temperatures are set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that’s comfortable for most men. However, many women would be comfortable at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The solution to this discrepancy may be providing people with the opportunity to control the temperature at their own workspace or to relocate easily to spaces in their workplace with different temperatures.

Not only are Kingma and Lichtenbelt urging an end to the Great Arctic Office Conspiracy for comfort’s sake, they also conclude that buildings with a “reduce[d] gender-discriminating bias in thermal comfort” have the added benefit of helping combat global warming.

Content based on the study, “Energy Consumption in Buildings and Female Thermal Demand,” by Boris Kingma and Wouter Lichtenbelt published in the Nature Climate Change journal.

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Innovant recently completed the installation of a television network’s corporate headquarters in New York City. Splashes of color and a mix of materials were applied to Innovant’s award-winning adjustable height bench. These aesthetic flourishes complement the surrounding environment for this creative client. Check out other installations on Innovant’s new Featured Installations webpage.

How Flexibility Supports Function in the Modern Workplace

Inspired by the dystopian world depicted in the pages of the Divergent literary series, Citi’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of HR Susan Catalano, modeled her group’s offices after the fictional books.

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Image via HBR.

In order to foster collaboration and autonomy in Citi HR’s new workplace, the floorplan was segmented into “neighborhoods - a compensation neighborhood, a learning and development neighborhood, etc. — to help individuals feel they ‘owned’ their space, even though no one has a designated workspace and no one has a private office,” Catalano explains. This pilot concept – of assigning employees areas instead of actual seats – encouraged a sense of belonging, while also enabling a healthy sense of identity.

The concept also addressed two practical problems facing Citi: First, people had been scattered in different offices throughout the metropolitan area, creating a fractured feeling. Second, an internal study showed that some offices - like most workplaces - were underutilized because of travel, vacation, illness and flexible working arrangements.

In a HBR article, Why Citi Got Rid of Assigned Desks, the authors offer a comprehensive summary of the results of this flexible workplace concept, the challenges faced and lessons learned. By consolidating 150 workspaces for 200 people into a single office, Citi saved millions of dollars in overhead costs. In turn, they were able to invest more dollars into making the space functional, eco–friendly and pleasant for employees. Another significant benefit is employee innovation through new social interactions. Read more valuable takeaways from this project here.

3 Reasons Open Plan Offices Are Better After All

By Jim Belosic

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The open office concept has been around for awhile, but lately has come under fire. Apparently having no walls, no doors, and shared workspaces undermines what the concept was designed to achieve: communication and flow of ideas amongst employees… Despite what some organizational psychologists and productivity experts say, the open concept can make a team more cohesive, especially if it’s adopted by the senior staff and CEO.

It can also give leaders a better picture of what’s going on at the company. Those are just two reasons I’m leaving my company’s mostly open concept setup as it is. And it’s also the reason that I, the CEO, sit at the desk that’s usually reserved for the receptionist, right next to the front door. Yep, just like Pam from “The Office.”

Here are three reasons leaders should consider sitting in the middle of the action:

1. You’re tuned in to the office vibe.

If you sit in the same vicinity as your team, you’ll hear more of what they’re discussing–good and bad. It’s not like you need to function like some sort of NSA operative, but if you’re aware of people’s concerns, you have an opportunity to weigh in and offer guidance when it’s needed. When people need to meet privately with each other or with you, just make sure they have a place to do so with doors.

2. You’re more approachable.

I’ve never had the pleasure of working in a cubicle, or in an “old-fashioned” office. That said, I envision a corporate setup as being very compartmentalized and the kind of place where the staff don’t feel comfortable talking to the executives.

Setting up my desk near the front door and, coincidentally, next to the kitchen, means people are walking by all the time; anyone can ask me anything at pretty much any time. I can just say “go ahead” and what needs to get done, gets done. Yes, this can affect productivity. To get around that, you might adopt a policy that when people need to work undisturbed they’re free to work from home. And at the office, make sure everyone has a pair of headphones. When headphones are on, the rule is “Do not disturb.“

3. It improves interoffice communication.

Tools like HipChat and Slack make interoffice communication quick and easy, but it’s also nice to hear people actually talking to one another, which happens naturally in an open office.

As my company grows–we now have 17 people in our main office and three people who work remotely–space is becoming an issue. I’ve looked at a few spaces that have tons of character–like beautiful old Victorian houses that have been converted to offices–but I’m reluctant to move into a building where we could all go days without seeing each other. I’m not entirely sure yet how we’ll deal with the office space issue as we add more staff, but finding a place where we can still work in an open environment is a priority.

Content originally published on Inc, September 19, 2014.

Introducing NIGEL, Innovant’s Beautiful New Desking Product

Innovant has expanded its selection of open plan workstations with the launch of NIGEL Desking.

This new product line features a modern, yet classic design that is both sophisticated and simple to specify. Characterized by a lightweight appearance due to its slim frame and lack of hardware, NIGEL evokes a residential feel in the workplace.

NIGEL is the perfect solution for clients seeking Innovant’s trademark design methodology – clean, intelligent and tailored products – who do not have high-level technology management needs. With a profile that draws upon the universally admired Parsons Desk frame, NIGEL’s quick assembly, knock-down (KD) design allows for efficient transportation, rapid installation and/or reconfiguration.

Available in a variety of colorful finishes, NIGEL allows designers and clients to achieve a signature aesthetic. Collaborative and mobile office workers across different industries - from technology to media, or real estate and design – can also personalize their space with distinctive storage and connectivity features. Whether through unique material selection or adapted storage and privacy accessories, NIGEL can be tailored to suit any client’s needs.

“We created NIGEL in response to our specifier partners who wanted a product with Innovant’s sensitivity to design and user-centric features, but on a lighter scale than our other product lines,” explains Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development at Innovant.

Consistent with all Innovant products, NIGEL delivers a minimalist aesthetic with intelligent and purposeful features that can be easily tailored to meet the requirements of every project.

For more information about Innovant or its products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

Innovant Secures Top Honors for Design Excellence with 2 Platinum ADEX Awards

Innovant, a leading manufacturer of contract office furniture, has been honored with two Platinum 2015 Awards for Design Excellence (ADEX). This annual competition, sponsored by the Design Journal, is the largest and most prestigious award program for product design.

Innovant’s FORm_AV product received a Platinum ADEX Award for its revolutionary design. The freestanding unit houses video conferencing technology and supports either single or dual monitors (up to 80” in size). With all cabling seamlessly contained within the technology stand and accompanying conference table, FORm_AV offers superior utility with zero disruption of the physical environment. It also provides unparalleled flexibility and speed of assembly or relocation for the rapidly changing conference environment.  

Innovant’s FORm_office Standing Height also received a Platinum Award for its best-in-class performance. The comprehensive benching system addresses many of the concerns created by adjustable height desking: cost, reliability, consistent aesthetics, cable management and safety of operation. Ideal for collaborative offices concerned with employee health and workplace aesthetic, FORm_office Standing Height is set at 38” or 42” high. This allows all users to work in a standing or seated position without the added cost of adjustable height mechanisms.

“Both products were designed in collaboration with high profile clients whose unique requirements were not met by the marketplace,” explains Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development. “Innovant excels at this kind of design partnership.”

In addition to receiving two Platinum Awards (ADEX’s highest award level), Innovant’s PRIVATE_office product was recognized as a Finalist for outstanding design and finishing. “The 2014-2015 ADEX Awards attracted upwards of 500 companies submitting thousands of innovative new products,” John Platter, Executive Director of ADEX. Categories for this award include furniture, fixtures and finishes. ADEX selects judges that are the most celebrated in their respective areas of expertise. Platinum, Gold and Silver level products will be published in the 2015 ADEX Winners Issue of Design Journal.

For more information about Innovant or its products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

The Business Case for Office Design

by Bill Esler

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Proving contract furniture projects benefit the bottom line was the mission of journalist and author Kevin Salwen. At the behest of BIFMA and the International Interior Design Association, Salwen and his colleagues identified some signature headquarter build-outs that demonstrably improved productivity for client staffs. The co-author of the IIDA/BIFMA report on workplace - Design, Leveraged - examines how smart companies use office space to boost productivity.

“For decades, businesses have viewed their work spaces as ‘overhead,’ a necessary evil of spending on desks, carpet and pricey lighting,” Salwen writes. “But now, smart companies are shifting their thinking on design: The firms doing the hard work to get it right are reaping the benefits right down to their bottom lines.”

Salwen says this applies to all firms, not just Google and Facebook. “Most of Corporate America doesn’t fill its seats with 20-something engineers eager to pull all-night hackathons,” he says.

Why is design critical? Three factors:

  • Real estate costs are rising roughly 10 percent a year
  • A scorching war for talent is underway (and expected to worsen)
  • Demand for innovation amid global competition is acute

Only one in four U.S. workers say they have optimal workplace environments, according to a 2013 survey by San Francisco architectural firm Gensler. “Design may be the single most under-leveraged tool in the business world,” says Salwen. David Radcliffe, Google’s VP real estate and workplace services, reveals his Top 5 office planning keys:

  • Coming in to work matters: “We want to create an environment where it feels like they’re missing out if they’re not there.”
  • Valuing accidental encounters: at least half of Google’s space is dedicated to “collaborative environments” – casual meeting places with a couch or a kitchen so workers bump into each other and chat. White boards and plugs for laptops are sprinkled through the office for spontaneous brainstorming.
  • Healthy eco-friendly buildings: Good health helps drive productivity and innovation, so furniture is formaldehyde-free and building materials are free of toxins. Space allows a maximum of natural light.
  • Blend local with Google: Local staff advise on locations, and interiors, using different architects. Each office “starts with a clean sheet of paper.”
  • Go urban: “We love urban cores,” says Radcliffe.

Originally published on woodworkingnetwork.com in November of last year, this article highlights the significant link between office design and a business’ bottom line. For more information and case studies, visit Salwen’s website, DesignLeveraged.org.

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.

It's Time to Stop the War Against the Open Office

by Blake Zalcberg

It’s no longer fashionable to hate the cubicle. The hot new trend is to bash the open office.

It seems like every week there’s a new thinkpiece arguing that the trend towards more open- office layouts in American businesses is bad. Not just bad. Terrible. Literally, the worst thing ever.

The headlines tell the story: “The open-office trend is destroying the workplace.” “Why the open-concept office trend needs to die.” “The dark side of open offices.” “The open office trap.”

We’re told that open offices cause distractions, reduce productivity, irritate introverts and maybe even spread the flu and other germs.

Some of this criticism is grounded in genuine concerns. But at this point, it feels like a lot of these pieces are not accurately describing the ideas behind the open-office movement. Yes, there are bad examples of open offices: free-for-alls with no privacy and no protection against noise and nosy coworkers. But as someone once sort-of wrote, every unhappy office is unhappy in its own way. There are also cubicle farms where workers feel isolated, flexible workspaces with uncomfortable chairs, and even corner offices that feel cold and uninviting.

The critics are right about one thing: the open office is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every workplace. Nothing is. Every industry, every company and every department has its own needs and deserves an office design that works for it.

Consider human resources. No one thinks that the people who advise staffers on delicate personal situations should do so while sitting in a wide-open space.

At the same time, creative types working on a group project shouldn’t be tucked away in quiet rooms where they never interact with each other.

The open office works best when it involves small- to medium-sized groups of people who frequently collaborate on projects that require creative thinking.

But no office should be 100 percent open–or closed for that matter. There’s always going to be a need for a private office where business deals and personnel matters can be discussed or a conference room where a small group can hash out a new strategy or even a cafeteria table where a couple coworkers can informally trade ideas over tuna sandwiches.

The truly effective modern workplace isn’t just a mindless off-the-shelf floorplan based on whatever the hot trend of the moment is. It’s tailored to the needs of that office’s employees. With so many of today’s workers engaged in creative work, that means open offices where people can trade ideas, easily gather in spontaneous group meetings and tell at a glance which of their coworkers are available.

An open office also requires a different office style.

People who don’t want to be bothered right now should be comfortable putting on headphones without their coworkers taking offense. Companies should also create some flexible spaces where people can go when they need more privacy. And managers should accept that workers may need to sometimes goof off on the Internet to recharge their brain.

The open office isn’t for everyone. Some people may never want to work in one. Some businesses may be better with a more traditional layout. And some examples of open offices are no doubt poorly designed and implemented.

What businesses and organizations alike should consider is the idea of a modular office with versatile furniture. An office should be designed in a way that you can create a certain layout when you need it. Sometimes privacy is necessary, but there are times when having an open-office layout that fosters collaboration makes sense.

Office design isn’t an all or nothing. Under one roof a company can have some traditional offices, a few cubicles, a conference room, and some open-office space where its employees can work collaboratively. It doesn’t have to choose an open-office plan or not. It doesn’t have to decide to have a traditional office design or not.

But bashing the open office is getting a little too easy. It’s not destroying the workplace or trapping America’s workers on the dark side, and it doesn’t need to die.

Originally published on The Huffington Post, February 2015.

Innovant Case Study: Biopharmaceutical Company
imageTHE CHALLENGE

With the joint venture of two pharmaceutical firms came the challenge of merging two distinct cultures, brands and office environments – one European, one American. Thus, the focus for the companies’ new office design was to create a fresh, contemporary and singular workplace signature.  Adjustable height desks were specified from the onset as the European partner already used similar products. This decision was also motivated by the influx of firms choosing to improve their desk and staff performance with height adjustability. The challenge, then, was to find office furniture of a high enough caliber for companies that rely on cutting-edge technology for their work.

THE INNOVANT SOLUTION

Innovant’s product was evaluated in a formal review process against Steelcase. With its superior performance and quality, FORm_office Adjustable Height was selected as the companies’ new national workstation standard. Every employee was instantly granted improved ergonomics with a well-designed desk for sitting, as well as the opportunity to stand at the simple push of a button.

imageMeasuring 78 inches wide, the large scale desks offer plenty of workspace. Configured in short rows separated by wide aisles, the benching clusters create a pleasant, open experience. Low-level, but deep storage elements offer plenty of room for stowing items and help to delineate personal space for the end users.  These cushion-topped storage elements were injected with brand personality using a variety of colored fabrics grouped by segments around the office floor. Side dividers finished with whiteboard material function as both writing surfaces and privacy elements. All of these details and product features have helped render this workplace a “state-of-the-art facility.”

THE RESULT

Though it is not always easy for a client to achieve its complete furniture wishlist when adopting a new workplace strategy, these pharmaceutical companies found in Innovant and the FORm_office product a solution to meet all their objectives. Not only is IT pleased with the furniture’s performance, but the end users also enjoy their workspaces and the facilities staff feels that the new environment has helped in the merger of two very different firms. Initially deployed in the Fort Washington office, FORm_office Adjustable Height has also been installed in Tampa with an expansion to follow.