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The workplace is driven by ever-changing technology and collaborative processes, meaning that organizations must be flexible and adaptable like never before.
Office furniture often has a decade long life-cycle, while technology’s life-cycle is a quick 18-24 months. Workspace planning and furniture decisions must anticipate this disparity since a disconnect here can lead to poor office design and reduced employee performance.
Answering the following questions is the jumping off point to designing work spaces for your organization.
Does your team mostly collaborate? If so, an array of options for the exchange of ideas is needed. This runs the gamut from supporting how technology screens are shared to walls with writable, tackable, or magnetic surfaces.
Does your team thrive in a more formal space driven by linear conversation, or might a space where ideas are exchanged organically fit the bill?
Does space need to be dedicated for longer term projects? What types and sizes of collaborative groups work together?
Does the team bring their technology with them, such as screens, laptops, tablets, smartphones, videoconferencing?
When people bring technology, it needs to recharge in a wide variety of work spaces and groupings, whether it be within individual or group spaces.
Power modules must be visually and physically accessible. This might be table top or portable power modules or power poles. Avoid power sources that are hard to get to or are hidden behind people or under the table.
When collaborating, displays range from hand-held devices to a large TV or touch screen. Collaborative spaces should allow the ease of sharing a hand-held device and should include a wall, table, or power pole-mount for larger monitors.
In the modern office, furniture should be able to accommodate short term changes including hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly adjustments. Freely movable seating, tables, and technology power sources can easily modify a space.
Furniture should also accommodate long term changes. Because technology innovates every 18-24 months, avoid being tied to old technology because it is what your furniture supports. Instead, choose furniture that allows technology to be easily swapped out when updates are needed.
A final thought should be given to the acoustical challenges in the workspace that contain both collaborative groupings as well as open concepts. Acoustical walls and ceiling baffles can help dampen sound that would otherwise encroach on other work spaces.
The most rapidly growing collaborating spaces are meeting rooms of 6-8 people, project team rooms, and video conferencing spaces, as well as small spaces for 3-4 people where short, unplanned interactions can take place. Increasingly, work happens everywhere, and organizations must be ready for eventual shifts in the workplace. By choosing flexible furniture and technology support, you will be on your way to future proofing your organization.