Posts tagged storage
The Not So Open Plan

imageMaking the change from cubicles to open plan office environments is a major shift for any organization. Two of the biggest concerns we often hear from clients are related to retaining sufficient storage and privacy. When shifting to more densified, open environments, the application of multi-functional solutions, such as storage elements that provide separation or privacy, can help address these concerns.

One main motivator behind this densification is the desire among companies to reduce their real estate portfolios, which leads them to look at the most efficient practices for working with less space. Corporate real estate and facilities managers ask how they can give their employees the tools to be productive, collaborative and focused, while reducing their allotment of space per person. One effective solution is to utilize furniture that serves multiple purposes, to create division and provide extra surface space; we call this, “storage as separation.”imageIn addition to space reductions, there has been a rise in corporate social responsibility initiatives, which include sustainability and LEED certification strategies. These often translate to open furniture plans, which have inherent sustainability benefits because they use fewer materials. Open furniture plans also minimize or eliminate such elements as panels, walls, and high storage that tend to obstruct lines of sight and access to natural light. As a result of these programs, more employees are sitting in the open environment, with senior management joining them outside their private offices.

By adding tailored privacy panels or storage units to Innovant’s workstations, privacy can be achieved with full utility and an enhanced aesthetic impact. What results is a “not so open plan” environment that balances privacy and interaction in the workplace.

Innovant Case Study: Societe Generale

imageTHE CHALLENGE

With Societe Generale’s US Headquarters lease set to expire in September 2013, the Director of Facilities Management organized an executive committee to study the efficiencies of moving as opposed to renovating. Upon the completion of those studies, it became clear that the company would benefit from moving its headquarters to a
new site.

In addition to this location change, Societe Generale evaluated workplace strategy, determining that it would build out a large trading oor with over 1,200 seats and create “neighborhoods” of benching for its 600+ administrative employees. The bank embarked on an expedition, reviewing all the major manufactures in order to find a vendor that could achieve the required functionality – including adequate privacy and personal storage – while also reflecting Societe Generale’s sophisticated aesthetic standards.  

THE INNOVANT SOLUTION

After a thorough review and comparison of the major manufacturers’ product offering, price and on-site mockups, Innovant was chosen for both the benching and trading desk solutions. This decision stemmed from numerous details in Innovant’s product design that set them apart from the competition. The product is “sturdy, well built, and easy to assemble due to its unistrut frame. The desktop design, monitor arm track and undercarriage framework for wire management are well thought out and manufactured with the highest quality materials.”

Throughout the mockup process, Innovant prevailed in terms of aesthetics, quality and framework. As a result, FORm_trading was chosen to outfit the bank’s trading floor. The product incorporated tailored technology management solutions for CPU housing and access, as well as bespoke personal storage pedestals for a premium fit and finish. Innovant’s proven sensitivity when using sophisticated materials and superior finishing capabilities resulted in the bank’s selection of FORm_office for its administrative benching. The bank’s “neighborhoods” incorporated tailored millwork storage units and end-of-row storage centers using mitered construction. These finely-finished elements afford employees a sense of enclosure despite working in open plan.

THE RESULT

By presenting the best solutions for both the trading and benching scopes of this job, Innovant could provide a single-source solution for Societe Generale. Since then, both the FORm_office and FORm_trading installations have received “rave reviews from the end-user community as they are both functionally and aesthetically pleasing.”

Check out other case studies on Innovant’s website.

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Innovant's FORm

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by Rob Kirkbride of The Monday Morning Quarterback

In a world where a lot of companies do a lot, but none of it extraordinarily well, it can help to focus on doing one thing right. In a nutshell, that’s the story behind Innovant, an open plan desking company born out of the boom in New York City’s financial firms.

The company makes desking systems and that’s it. But what it lacks in SKUs, it makes up for in quality and corporate connections. Innovant recently won two major contracts: one with a financial services firm and another with a global pharmaceutical company – both highly recognizable names and jobs worth thousands of workstations.

Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench was chosen as the workstation standard for the financial firm’s 2,300 worker Newport Beach, Calif. headquarters. The pharmaceutical company chose the product as its new national workstation standard last month. The pharmaceutical company has already ordered desks for 500 at its Tampa and Philadelphia locations and more sites are coming on each month.

They represent two major wins for Innovant, who beat out Steelcase on the desking deal at the pharmaceutical company. Both clients evaluated the products in a formal review process before making their selections. After weathering the financial downturn in 2008, Innovant has gained significant momentum in the height adjustable open plan benching marketplace, especially since launching FORm_office in 2012. “What sets this product apart is the level of consideration given to all of the consequences created by an adjustable height, open plan workstation,” said Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development.

Both companies selected Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench over products from the top five major furniture manufacturers. It is notable that Innovant is not competing through a lower price either. The company’s products are at – and sometimes above – its larger competitors. The FORm_office product line won Best in Show at NeoCon 2012. It addresses the significant health concern associated with employees sitting at a desk for hours a day.

According to Innovant, 50 percent of all incoming requests for proposals for new workplace standards incorporate height adjustability into workstation specifications. Height adjustable requests are coming in exponentially more in recent months, Wells said.

“We added adjustable height to benching (in 2012), which wasn’t something completely new to us since we have sold them to financial customers (for some time),” he said. “Height adjustability is becoming a near universal requirement in open plan environments. Very few products allow that option in open plan.”

Up until recently, designers have been reluctant to specify height adjustability in open plan environments because it can look messy if not executed correctly. Desks scattered at different heights can make an office look sloppy. But when aesthetics are kept in mind and the design of the product helps keep the look of the office neat, designers are happy to specify height adjustability. Few manufacturers have height adjustable desks as an option in open planning. The pace of acceptance seems to be accelerating, Wells said.

“We are being asked for height adjustability on almost everything,” he said. “Even in the last 60 days, we are getting more and more requests to participate in projects – and these are large projects – from $100,000 to $10 million. We are seeing adjustable height on at least half or more and that is helping us win those projects.”

Part of the company’s success comes from its focus on a few products. It has desking, storage, conference room tables and the ability to do custom work. But that’s it. It does not sell seats, lounge furniture or anything else for the office. Still, the products they do have are opening the door for large projects. For example, 2,300 workstation financial firm win came first from a request from the customer for Innovant to bid on the trading desk portion of the contract.

“We told them we would be happy to bid on the trading desks if they allowed us to bid on the open plan as well,“ Wells said. “We were able to win the entire building on the merits of our benching product.”

At first, Innovant was looking to supply the customer with static benching desks. The customer asked for height adjustability, which was added later. It is a huge project – a 24-story building that Innovant will fill with desks from top to bottom. Other office furniture makers will supply the seating and other products. Innovant is thrilled to have the desk portion.

“Innovant has a narrow range of products, but we have never been a cubicle manufacturer. We are specialists in the open plan. Historically, we were only a trading desk manufacturer, but with everyone going to open plan, we saw the opportunities there too,” Wells said.

Innovant is not winning projects because it is cheap. In fact, the company takes pride in the fact that its products are superbly engineered with a well thought through product line. The company focuses on the details as well such as safe and effective cabling, pinch points, privacy and other concerns that come when height adjustability is added.

The company has quietly emerged from the New York financial market and is beginning to gain traction in other sectors. “We are doing our best to get discovered,” Wells said. “We have been walking the alleys of New York City and Chicago for the last 20 years, but we have really emerged strongly out of the last recession. We are becoming a darling for big specifiers.”

Based in New York, Innovant has manufacturing in Long Island. It also has showroom offices in Chicago and San Francisco. The company was started in 1990 by industry veterans Charles Braham, Garrett Pluck and Joan Gullans and it fed off the growth of the financial sector, specializing in the relocation of banks, investment firms and hedge funds. The company continues to branch out from there.

This article was originally published in the October 7-13, 2013 edition of The Monday Morning Quarterback, "The Business of Furniture.”

Expert Series: Storage as Separation

by Julie May, Strategic Account Executive

Making the change from cubicles to open plan office environments is a major shift for any organization. Two of the biggest concerns we hear from clients are:

“We need to make sure that our employees have as much storage as they do now.”

“Our employees are used to having privacy. They sit in 6’x8’ cubicles with 60”H privacy panels.”

These are understandable concerns.

There are many factors that drive organizations to move into densified, open environments (see previous post, "Expert Series: The Changing Workplace" for common factors). Under these parameters, the application of multi-functional solutions help address many of these concerns. 

One effective solution that Innovant has routinely provided to address these concerns is the use of storage elements that serve multiple purposes: create division, provide extra surface space, and establish additional informal meeting spaces.
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Face-to-Face Storage as Separation: The personalized storage cubby units that sit in the center channel of a double-sided benching cluster do not take up any additional real estate. They provide plenty of above-work surface storage for books, binders, and personal effects, while also providing separation between colleagues. This separation helps provide a sense of privacy, while sitting low enough to meet LEED Daylighting requirements.

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Side-by-Side Storage as Separation: The bookcases and storage units pictured below are at 42”H and divide colleagues that sit side-by-side, while minimizing the overall footprint of each user position. Storage can be configured with different components depending on the client’s requirements. These units can also function as informal meeting areas.

These types of solutions help maintain privacy and provide storage, while also keeping the open plan “open” and conducive for collaboration. As Innovant continues to evolve with the ever-changing workspace, these types of storage solutions are flexible and easy to modify, which enables users to replace their storage units with new solutions in the coming years.

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INNOVANT CONFERENCE PRODUCTS:

This product range was developed in order to address the complexities of open plan environments. Breakout spaces for private meetings or conferencing are vital for creating a collaborative yet productive work environment. With this in mind, Innovant seamlessly adapted the designs for both its private office products and award-winning workstations into a single, complementary line of conference products. This line includes tables, “Big” and “Small,” and casegoods, such as credenzas and wall units.

Visit Innovant’s website for more information about it’s line of Conference Products.