How to Furnish an Adaptive Workspace

What is an Adaptive Workspace

Due to the daily flux of number of employees in an office, organizations are transitioning to more flexible furniture and more agile layouts to accommodate the diversity of worker density in the workplace. This concept of furniture that adapts to the fluctuating needs of the office is an Adaptive Workspace.  There are many examples of an adaptive workspace. The simplest is an open-plan office, furnished with more flexible elements, such as stackable chairs and furniture on castors. Other adaptive workspaces include “room-within-a-room” structures that define a space using soft architecture. Another example of adaptive workspace adjusts to the employee density fluctuations with furniture that can adapt accordingly – meeting tables that can transform into a cluster of independent workstations or a power beam that can have workstations added to it or work as a charging port for lounge furniture.

The adaptive workspace can rapidly and cost-efficiently adjust to the changing furniture needs of the business.

 

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Flexible and Agile Furniture

Flexible and Agile Furniture addresses the desire for employees to make changes to their work environment. In this “hackable” workspace, they can rearrange the furniture placement and configuration to fit their individual needs.  

Businesses also like flexible furniture because the more dynamic and personalized arrangements increase productivity, employee happiness, and comfort. In addition, Flexible Office Furniture is more cost-effective than having dedicated spaces for an employee desk, another area for team collaboration, and a third space for presentations to the group.  

Office Space Configured as Neighborhoods

One of the biggest reasons employees come back to the office is for socialization and collaboration with others. Zones in a company’s floor space can be arranged based on specific purposes for employees to gather. These “Neighborhood” zones are beneficial for a business because they encourage the various departments to interact together to synthesize community and creative coexistence.  

Offices set up as neighborhood zones provide:

  • A culture space.
  • Providing workers with a social anchor.
  • Facilitating connections.
  • Enabling learning.
  • Fostering unscripted, innovative collaboration. 

Personal zones are for employees to do focused “head-down” work. These zones can include cubicles, workbenches, or isolated areas when employees need privacy for a phone call or a webinar.

Social zones, such as cafes and lounges, create an active and dynamic workspace that encourages a human moment: face-to-face encounters that allow for empathy, emotional connection, and nonverbal cues to complement what is being said. In human moments people are often energized and more likely to empathize with each other, supporting organizational culture and collaboration.

Impromptu Meeting zones, replacing the “popping into someone’s cubicle to ask a question,” are for quick informal meetings where employees need space or privacy to collaborate.

Break-Out neighborhoods may have pavilions or defined break-out areas for group presentations and dynamic brainstorm sessions.

Neighborhoods are flexible and can switch up the look or function of the workspace at a moment’s notice.

 

The Adaptive Desk

An adaptive desk area can grow as additional desks are needed in an area.  They also can convert to different layouts and configurations depending on the needs of the team.  Some desks are fixed in place to have a more traditional look and rigid layout.  The mobile desk design supports the freedom and mobility that people seek in today’s office. Individual desks are movable, so single-use desks can combine to form a collaborative grouping. In addition, focus areas and group environments are created by linking desks, adding partitioning elements, and integrating storage.

Height Adjustable Desks

Height-adjustable desks, or sit-stand desks, allow the employee to adjust their desk to their correct ergonomic height and adjust it throughout the day to alternate from sitting to standing healthily and safely.

Smart Desks can memorize positions to adjust to the user automatically. The desk height, monitor tilt, and lighting can all be customizable and recalled with a wave of an RFID badge or from a phone app.

“The (Dedicated) Desk is Dead”

Mobile technology allows the employee to untether from a desk, and they only need places to sit– independently or in groups occasionally. The same technology that allowed Work-From-Home also empowers employees not to need a dedicated desk.

Desk Hoteling: This is an office dynamic, where workers do not have dedicated desks but are allocated workspaces based on need and on a rotating basis. An employee may be assigned to the same desk for multiple days in a row while they are working as a team, but then assigned a different desk in a totally different area for the next project.

Hot Desking: This the office trend where employees use whatever desk is available.  It’s often a first-come / first-served arrangement and multiple people may use the same desk at different times.

The Power Beam

A power beam supplies power, data and voice along a freestanding beam that furniture can hook into.  This modularity allows teams to continually flex their workstations to fit changing needs without disruption and without facilities.

Dividers

Dividers are ways to create zones, personal space or social distance between coworkers.  Dividers can range from simple plexiglass or fabric screens to free-standing full-height walls that integrate with lockers, shelves, foliage, nooks and other furniture pieces.  The three main categories of dividers are:

  • Portable
  • Attached to desk
  • Free-standing

The Lounge Seat Workstation

A sofa or armchair with integrated power, charging ports, and a work surface is sufficient, even preferred. Many modern sofas are sectional units that can be combined in as many or as few sections as desired to create an almost endless array of configurations. Likewise, informal work areas paired with charging outlets, integrated side tables, seat arms, backs, shelving, and storage are comfortable and attractive.

Secure Personnel Lockers

Personal employee lockers are meeting the need for storage that has risen with the decline in dedicated desks. When employees do not have their “own” space, where do they store their notes and other work when they leave the office? When they are in the office, where do they keep their traveling clothing, gym bags, purses, and other items that will go home with them?  

Personal lockers are the answer. Employees can have a locker dedicated to them if they come into the office often or select or be assigned a locker on the rare days they come in. In addition, businesses can monitor locker use to see which areas are in most demand and determine when cleaning needs to occur. Locking options include keys, integrated combination locks, kiosks, remote assignment, and touchless through RFID tags or mobile Bluetooth.

Phonebooths and Nooks

Every workspace has an area that draws people for escape – some by design and some through natural activity flow. Think of offices nooks, stairwells, corridors, and the like. Disadvantages of the Open-Space Design are that privacy is minimal, distractions are frequent, and noise is prevalent all the time. 

Without an office or cubicle, many people cannot focus on their work without distraction. After months of working from home in solitude, the contrast to coming into the office can be shocking. As a result, phone booths and nooks provide dedicated areas for head-down work for individuals or small groups with a range of privacy and noise-canceling options.

Interior “Soft” Architecture – Room Within a Room

While Open Plan offices are common and well-known, there are many issues for employees. Open Plan offices are noisy and full of distractions.  Especially after a year of remote work, trying to focus in an open floor plan office is incredibly difficult.  Traditionally when you wanted a quiet area or needed to meet with team members, you would have to reserve a conference room, or find an nook or alcove away from the open space. 

With the rise of Hot Desking and Desk Hoteling, it is even tougher to carve out a quiet space of your own.  For those important phone calls or video conferences,

When hybrid employees come into the office, they are usually coming to meet with team members for brainstorming or project updates. 

While phonebooths and meeting pods are great for individuals or for close team meetings, if you need room to meet with a group of people or enough space to brainstorm and go over documents, a larger space is desired.  Rather than constructing new conference rooms, soft architecture can provide the defined areas for meeting without the cost of construction, additional lighting, HVAC and fire suppression. Soft architecture can be a dividing wall, a framework, an enclosure, or a demountable wall. Privacy can be granted through curtains, glass or solid panels.

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