One Size Does Not Fit All

(4 min read)

The way offices are being used, the way people are working and the technology they are using is evolving fast.

Work is now a transitional activity, often starting and ending in the home but taking place in multiple locations. It has evolved away from somewhere you go for eight hours, to something you do for 14 hours.

The challenges for organisations are many, but here are some common goals:-

  • Increase flexibility
  • Increase productivity
  • Encourage collaboration
  • Make work a destination
  • Build brand collateral
  • Reduce cost …and of course do it all faster and more efficiently.

The buzz word for 2017 is:

collaborative-office-furniture

“…working together to produce something…”

It is universally accepted that teams find better solutions faster than individuals. Harnessing collective knowledge and focusing it through collaboration is the key to future success.

However, open environments and layouts can create some challenges for organisations with increased noise and distractions. There is also a need for privacy and concentrated working. In striving for more collaborative working, layout and planning is key to ensure organisational goals are met.

Companies also need to take into account the differences between workers of all generations in terms of their evolution and working habits.

collaborative-office-furniture

BABY BOOMERS Born into the high of the post war boom. Well established careers; holding positions of authority and seen as mentors.  Hard-working & team players.  Resistant to change; not tech-savvy; less collaborative.

GENERATION-X: The best educated.  Lived their young adult years in the pre-September 11 world of relative peace and prosperity.  Known for being cynical. Good problem solvers and tech-savvy.

GENERATION-Y: Sophisticated with technology; immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches due to over-exposure since childhood.  The speed of the internet has led them to be more flexible in their choices of communication.

MILLENNIALS: Highly diverse; sophisticated use of media and computers. Good social conscience but can be self-obsessed.

WHAT DO THESE DIFFERENCES MEAN IN THE WORKPLACE?

It means we all have different influences.

collaborative-office-furniture

TECHNOLOGY: The identification of the characteristics of differing generations can be an issue within the workplace along with their approach to work and the working environment. The ‘millennials’ or generation ‘Y’ being the first generation to arrive in the workplace having grown up with the benefits of the current technological possibilities brought by mobile communication and the internet.

CONNECTIVITY: The information age brought about by information and communication technology has generated a knowledge based society. The internet has created a globalised economy where the procedure of making decisions has been significantly simplified and costs are lowered for both consumers and producers. Scale can now be less important to success than time to market.

MOBILITY Devices are becoming smaller, more powerful and more efficient. They seamlessly blend our commercial and personal lives. In an incredibly short timescale the smart phone and the tablet have become ubiquitous. To this end companies are now being faced by ‘BYOD’ whereby staff ask to use their personal devices on companies networks rather than company issued devices. Connectivity Virtual vs physical, the key driver in the world of IT used to be processor speed. The key issue now is the speed with which we can access information. The shift to fibre optic networks, 4G, delivers enhanced connectivity. This enables telepresence to be easier, more reliable and the norm today in 2D on our handheld devices and in the future 3D. The need to travel to a fixed location to meet becomes diminished and efficiencies of time use are enhanced, not to mention the environmental benefits.

SOCIAL MEDIA allows anyone to voice their opinion on whatever subject they choose and to publish this on a private or public network. As it is web based it means the impact is instantaneous and potentially global. For many, Social Media is now the defacto form of communication, their portal to the wider world of social and commercial activity.

KNOWLEDGE VS PROCESS WORKERS: Some workers are location dependent and typically hard wired to a business – their fixed physical presence is often required within the organisation. This type of employee requires more simple office layouts predominantly requiring maximum space efficiency bench desking in order to maintain smooth flow of work within the organisation’s procedures and processes. When this is achieved the results are consistent and repeatable for the organisation ensuring smooth planning and efficiency of the team.

collaborative-office-furniture

Knowledge workers are not routine or process based and their objective is to provide solutions, solve problems and think creatively within the organisation. The nature of the role requires less fixed locations and alternative spaces for differing activities dependent upon the type of work being undertaken. The outcome of providing the right solutions for both focus and sharing is a highly engaged and motivated team enabled to think creatively and provide solutions.

THE CLOUD gives us secure internet based access to our programmes and data, so devices can have more energy efficient processors and solid state memories, so batteries last longer and are smaller. The opportunity the Cloud brings is to enable us to truly utilise the current generation of smart mobile devices, to live and work unplugged, giving new options of where and how to work.

What is Activity Based Planning ?

There are a multitude of buzzwords and phrases being coined, however the simplest and most common term we’ve come across is ‘Activity Based Planning’ or the ‘Agile Workspace’.

This takes the view that you create a number of settings that suit particular work activities, similar to a domestic setting where we tend to have rooms equipped to the various functions and needs.

The workforce can then move from setting to setting throughout the day. Attracting and retaining talent is a key issue globally and the quality of the working environment is important in this.

Around the world architects are in discussion with their clients about how to integrate agility into environments and use the physical real estate of a business to help build brand equity.

Furniture products, if developed and deployed correctly, can support functional diversity that directly results in reduced cost of real estate as more people can be accommodated in less space.

Senator have created modern, flexible, efficient and cost effective workplaces for people that will facilitate new working practices, improve service delivery and act as a catalyst for change.

We believe it is possible to segment tasks or spaces into five basic definitions or top level activities— Work / Share / Show / Source / Refresh

  • Work Personal space where staff can concentrate and be productive.
  • Share Informal meeting space where ideas can be exchanged and developed.
  • Show Formal spaces for presentations and important meetings.
  • Source Spaces for shared resources and storage.
  • Refresh Creative spaces that inspire and encourage lateral thinking.

Using a simple block planning approach, it is relatively simple to segment a building floor plate that respects the natural grid found within most buildings. The planning grid fits the furniture to the building, allows furniture to be placed uniformly in a building and simplifies the integration of power and services. The Grid— It’s all in the planning.

collaborative-office-furniture

We create a series of environments that are focused on the activity to be carried out. This gives individuals the freedom to migrate around the office utilising the furniture setting that is most relevant to the task being undertaken.

It’s one thing to say you do business differently, but quite another to deliver on that promise. At The Senator Group and Now Furniture & Accessories (Pty) Ltd. we’ve built our reputation on keeping our promises, time and time again!