Workplace Office Makeover: Updated ideas, trends

  • Versa is a multifunctional table that acts as a conferencing, dining and play solution. Storage is strategically designed to accommodate the accessories of these various uses. The table also provides a whiteboard surface allowing teams to collaborate on the fly -- or to keep score of their team building games.

    Versa is a multifunctional table that acts as a conferencing, dining and play solution. Storage is strategically designed to accommodate the accessories of these various uses. The table also provides a whiteboard surface allowing teams to collaborate on the fly -- or to keep score of their team building games. Courtesy of Rieke Office interiors

  • Creating an office environment that is flexible is key. Choosing furniture must to be done on a case-by-case basis depending on the needs of employees.

    Creating an office environment that is flexible is key. Choosing furniture must to be done on a case-by-case basis depending on the needs of employees. Courtesy of Rieke Office Interiors

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/22/2016 12:02 PM

There is no cookie cutter solution to furnishing an office.

Every company and office space is different, according to Mike Warren, workplace culture consultant for Rieke Office Interiors (ROI) of Elgin. So choosing furniture needs to be done on a case-by-case basis.

 

But there are some trends that should be kept in mind.

"Most businesses today want to provide team members with a combination of collaborative space and quiet work stations," Warren said. "Those work spaces now feature flat panel monitors and multiple screens. So, instead of the old work surfaces that were 30 to 36 inches deep, we design them to be, on average, 20 to 24 inches deep with monitor arms that can be moved around at will and can accommodate laptops and iPads."

Communication is also taken into consideration.

"The walls around individual spaces have also changed. They are now an average of 48 inches high instead of the old 66 to 72 inches high because today it is important to be able to stand up and collaborate with your neighbor," he continued.

And private offices are not disappearing as quickly as you might think, Warren stated. "Most small and medium-sized companies still have them and if they don't, they are replacing those offices with private rooms for sensitive phone calls and small meeting rooms where employees can meet with vendors and customers.

No matter the type of work they are doing, today's workers know that it is healthier to stand up at least part of each day. So companies are incorporating many more standing workspaces, Warren said. And those who can, are offering employees powered work spaces which move up and down, depending on whether the worker wants to sit or stand at any given time.

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"The most cost-effective way to offer this to employees is to create a flat surface on top of a divider that can double as a work space," he stated.

Many firms are also changing the look of their break rooms, choosing to pursue the look of a Panera or Starbuck's with soft seating areas and standing height pub tables to give employees a choice when they enjoy their lunch or break.

"In a large office, however, team members may not want to walk all the way to the break room for a quick snack or drink. Today's equivalent of the old water cooler where employees met and socialized for years is now being replaced by a small area within the collaborative work area where they can find a small refrigerator filled with beverages, a coffee machine and even dispensers for cereal and candy," Warren said.

The board room in most companies is also in transition because companies can't afford to devote a large room to a group that seldom meets, according to Warren.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Today these rooms are doubling as training or collaboration rooms and are also used for meetings with clients. They often feature soft seating for collaboration and segmented tables that can be reconfigured for different needs from classroom-style training sessions to small group collaboration to large, formal meetings.

"To meet these multiple purposes, these large meeting rooms now often include white board tables, televisions and technology, as well as white boards and chalk boards, on the walls," he continued.

Even the reception area of companies is being re-imagined.

"The person who is greeting people generally has other jobs, too, so their workspace must be able to accommodate multiple roles like processing payables or sorting mail," Warren explained. "But if there is no one actually sitting at the door, many companies are choosing a kiosk approach featuring technology which allows visitors to interact with the people inside."