Posts tagged workstation
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: Evolution via Innovation

By Mallory JindraimageThe ability to successfully transition into a new market in order to grow is perhaps the defining measure between maintaining a business and skyrocketing into a sphere of innovation inhabited only by the top talent. To say this is a ‘tricky’ venture is a gross understatement, but it’s what growing a business is all about, and it’s certainly attainable.

Innovant is a growing company taking smart, conscientious stops to evolve itself from an expert in one area, in this case the trading desks of the 1990s, to a viable competitor in the broader furniture manufacturing market. The company’s very name self-prophesizes its ability to do so, but only recently has it begun to branch out into new product categories. Now, in its 25th anniversary year, Innovant has 160 employees in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area, plus Chicago and San Francisco who are busy elevating the company to the next level with a broad product offering.

Innovant formed in 1990 (originally known as CBA) as a supplier of trading desks to the financial and energy companies. Its signature claim was introducing to the marketplace the concept of tailoring catalogued product without increasing cost or adversely affecting lead time. In 2008, after opening an office in London, England, Innovant recognized the workplace shift to benching products and decided it was ready to spring from trading out into commercial offices.

“Trading desk manufacturing has changed little in 10 years,” said Bruce Wells, Innovant Director of Marketing and Development, “and trading desk design innovation has plateaued. Trading often cannot take risks – it goes with guaranteed techniques. We knew that benching was going to be the future, and we made a decision to rebrand and expand our offerings.”

Once a company makes the decision to jump into something new, it must address a list of predicable but important questions. What does this new customer segment need? What have they always wanted, and what have they not experienced yet that we can provide? Do we have the knowledge to successfully execute? Or is it too far off the mark/too big a leap? In its leap to benching, Innovant found logical, intuitive answers to all of the important questions.

“A trading desk is similar to a benching workstation, but more sophisticated,” said Mr. Wells. “It has a similar footprint, but there’s about three to four times more technology than normal. And the end user is different. Traders are high-strung, high-demand alpha personalities. It’s easier to scale down a trading desk to suit a typical workstation’s needs than to scale up a typical workstation to a trading desk. In that sense, it was a natural progression.”imageFORm_office™, Innovant’s benching system, offers four types of benching/workstation solutions, all designed with Innovant’s “trading eye” expertise in integrating technology above, below and within the furniture: the full product overview reads, “The other side of the story is inside the bench, where superior cable management, technology accommodations, and rugged superstructure make FORm_office a benchmark of intelligent engineering and clean, contemporary design.” FORm_office Adjustable Height, which won Best of NeoCon Gold for Benching in 2012, utilizes sleek control switch options, and the system can be built with shelving in between workstations to minimize the oft-awkward feeling of not using the same height as the person in the spot next to you.

At NeoCon 2014, Innovant displayed the newest innovation to its benching solutions, FORm_office Standing Height, a fixed standing height open plan workstation that, when combined with stool-height task chairs, allows users to work in a seated or standing position without the cost of adjustable height mechanisms. The solution proposes to benefit “collaborative offices concerned with employee health and workplace aesthetic”, and the logic is there; why not just start with a fixed standing height option and then use a stool height chair to sit? And aesthetically speaking, who wants to sit at an adjustable height desk working lopsidedly three feet below your co-workers on either or both sides? Because the workspace is kept level, the solution is also much more conducive to teamwork and can double as a conference table.

Visiting Innovant’s showroom, one sees the full range of its expanded lines of conference and private office solutions, which it debuted in 2013 and continued to enhance at NeoCon 2014. Freed from the constraints of the concise, predictable trading desk aesthetic, Innovant has also put serious thought into how its product looks. Wells describes the brand as clean, sophisticated and robust, with a determined move to sidestep the Ping-Pong conference tables and beanbag chairs of so many playful workspaces existing today.

“We have a product that balances the drastically different aesthetics of both Silicon Valley and Wall Street.”

Wells cites the company’s strong history of offering affordable customization as an asset that has allowed it to accelerate its position. “The ability to tailor to the extent we can is exciting, and the quality of the full experience we’re offering our clients is so high that they find they can actually achieve much more than what they had expected and still stay within their budget. When they come to our showroom, they receive a tour of what’s possible, rather than just what’s available.”

Securing the fundamentals of excellent customer service and the design quality of product is certainly top of the docket when you’re in transition. And Wells notes that Innovant’s reach extends far past its regional tri-state home market (both its main office and factory are located in its home market) so that a large percentage of its business is now conducted on the west coast. But as Innovant moves past these initial years of expansion to more involved projects, we wonder, what’s next?

“We want to shape the team room. The true collaborative team space, which exists somewhere between the workstation and the conference room where employees can act as a team rather than simply co-workers, is a complicated one.” Innovant’s recent work with two notable technology giants has provided a window into what the needs and parameters of this type of space are.

“This type of space is becoming more and more important in the work environment, especially in light of the mobile nature of how people work and the fact that they very well might not have a personal cube to themselves anymore. We don’t think it’s been done justice yet, and we want to lead that effort.”

Innovant’s recent products demonstrate its ability to evolve through innovation. Its lineup is strong, and we’re paying attention.

Originally published in the Office Insight, August 25, 2014.

Office Products to Support Posture

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As a follow-up to our first post of the month on office posture, here’s a list of products that will help keep your back straight, your shoulders relaxed, and create an overall sense of comfort while working at your desk.

First, an ergonomic office chair is key for healthy working. If this is not available to you, consider acquiring a backrest to place at your chair. This will provide support by easing some of the pressure of sitting in an uncomfortable office chair.

Another essential item to consider is one that provides support to your wrists. This could be achieved by using a keyboard or mouse-pad wrist rest. Be sure to use these so that your wrists remain as flat and supported as possible.

Finally, a monitor arm is an excellent tool for easily positioning and adjusting a computer screen. By placing the screen at a comfortable height and appropriate distance, you can avoid any neck strain from tilting your head.

Launching S4A, Innovant’s new height adjustable benching system this June at NeoCon!  
 To schedule a time to meet with one of our representatives please email  info@innovant.com  or call 212 929 4883. 
 Space 7-4093 7th Floor (Right outside the Elevator Between 3Form & Dyson) 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Chicago IL 60654

Launching S4A, Innovant’s new height adjustable benching system this June at NeoCon!

To schedule a time to meet with one of our representatives please email info@innovant.com or call 212 929 4883.

Space 7-4093 7th Floor (Right outside the Elevator Between 3Form & Dyson) 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Chicago IL 60654

Amerca’s Workforce Reducing its Footprint - Work Environments are getting Smaller and Smarter  
 In this week’s issue of Monday Morning Quarterback studies from CoreNet Global showed that the amount of office space per worker has been declining as more and more offices adopt open plan environments. We’ve found on numerous occasions that to successfully densify your office having  a more  intelligent workstation is essential. Giving employees flexible workstations and different environments throughout the office to do their work can lead to huge increases in productivity. 
 “For the first time many companies, the average allocation of office spaces per person in North America will fall to 100 square feet or below within the next five years.  By 2017, at least 40% of the companies responding indicated they will reach this bench mark of individual space utilization, which has been the case in Europe for the past several years but is now heading for the Americas. 
 The average for all companies for square fee per worker in 2017 will be 151 square feet, compared to 176 square feet today, and 225 square feet in 2010. “The main reason for the declines,” said Richard Kadzis CoreNet Global’s Vice President of Strategic Communications, “is the huge increase in collaborative and team oriented space inside a growing number of companies that are stressing “smaller but smarter” workplaces against the back drop of continuing economic uncertainty and cost containment.” Core Net Global, which  conducted the survey, is the worldwide association for corporate real estate and workplace professionals. 
 Today, just 24 percent of the respondents reported that the average space per office worker is 100 square feet or less; however 40% reported that within five years, the average space per office worker would be 100 square feet or less. 
 It is clear the amount of space dedicated solely to specific employees is steadily shrinking. A majority of the respondents, 55%, reported that square feet per worker has already decreased between 5 – 25% over the last 5 years. 
 “There are a number of additional factors contributing to the decline in the amount of space per worker“ said Kadzis. “ More Companies are adopting open floor plans in which employees do not have any permanently designated spaces at all; rather they use unassigned space when they are in the office setting that often change daily. This trend is enabled by technology and by cost measures, as they require smaller footprints .” 

Amerca’s Workforce Reducing its Footprint - Work Environments are getting Smaller and Smarter

In this week’s issue of Monday Morning Quarterback studies from CoreNet Global showed that the amount of office space per worker has been declining as more and more offices adopt open plan environments. We’ve found on numerous occasions that to successfully densify your office having  a more  intelligent workstation is essential. Giving employees flexible workstations and different environments throughout the office to do their work can lead to huge increases in productivity.

“For the first time many companies, the average allocation of office spaces per person in North America will fall to 100 square feet or below within the next five years.  By 2017, at least 40% of the companies responding indicated they will reach this bench mark of individual space utilization, which has been the case in Europe for the past several years but is now heading for the Americas.

The average for all companies for square fee per worker in 2017 will be 151 square feet, compared to 176 square feet today, and 225 square feet in 2010. “The main reason for the declines,” said Richard Kadzis CoreNet Global’s Vice President of Strategic Communications, “is the huge increase in collaborative and team oriented space inside a growing number of companies that are stressing “smaller but smarter” workplaces against the back drop of continuing economic uncertainty and cost containment.” Core Net Global, which  conducted the survey, is the worldwide association for corporate real estate and workplace professionals.

Today, just 24 percent of the respondents reported that the average space per office worker is 100 square feet or less; however 40% reported that within five years, the average space per office worker would be 100 square feet or less.

It is clear the amount of space dedicated solely to specific employees is steadily shrinking. A majority of the respondents, 55%, reported that square feet per worker has already decreased between 5 – 25% over the last 5 years.

“There are a number of additional factors contributing to the decline in the amount of space per worker“ said Kadzis. “More Companies are adopting open floor plans in which employees do not have any permanently designated spaces at all; rather they use unassigned space when they are in the office setting that often change daily. This trend is enabled by technology and by cost measures, as they require smaller footprints.” 

Featured in this Month's Issue of Interiors & Sources

Featured in this month’s issue of Interiors & Sources

“Conference tables from Innovant are ideal for outfitting larger offices when combined with the company’s FORm_office system. From technology-rich touchdown tables to traditional conferencing, the Innovant conference line features a full complement of user-accessible services and advanced cable management tools. Access to power, data, video and USB ports is provided by flush-mount, pop-up and fully recessed ports in the center, and a variety of table sizes and finishes are available. ”


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