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In a world of cookie-cutter furniture designs, Formaspace Office breaks the mold by allowing its clients deep into the custom furniture manufacturing process — to produce creative, flexible office environments that speak to each client’s unique, authentic brand vision and message.

visit formaspace office at booth 7062

As the world’s architects, interior designers, and office planners convene at the annual NeoCon expo in Chicago to discover the newest commercial design trends, Austin-based Formaspace Office will exhibit six client-driven projects that showcase its unique “Co-Creation” furniture manufacturing process.

NeoCon attendees are invited to learn firsthand how they can create their own unique office furniture designs —manufactured by one of America’s leading custom furniture companies — by meeting the Formaspace Office executives and the engineering & design team in person at NeoCon booth #7-7062 on June 10, 11, and 12th. Attendees are also cordially invited to attend a special “Co-Creation Cocktail Hour” held at the booth on June 10 (3 – 5 pm) and June 11 (2 – 5 pm).

“Since we launched the Formaspace Office brand at NeoCon in Chicago two years ago, it’s helped us grow our overall business by 60%, making Formaspace one of the fastest growing manufacturing companies in America,” says Formaspace CEO Jeff Turk. “Our strategy is simple: as a custom office furniture manufacturer, we can build whatever you can imagine — in large or small quantities — by working in direct partnership with YOU as part of our unique 4D (Discover, Design, Develop, Deliver) Co-Creation manufacturing process.”

formaspace office cocreation process

“It’s simple: no two companies are the same, no two clients are the same, and very few physical locations are the same. That’s why it’s difficult to create a modern, flexible office design with standard off-the-shelf solutions, you need an element of custom solutions for each project,” explains Frank Bucher, Formaspace EVP of Sales. “And to get to a custom solution, you need a special partnership with a custom manufacturer — that’s why we’ve developed the 4D Co-Creation process. It’s become a key to our success, helping to make Formaspace Office furniture a favorite choice of many leading Silicon Valley-based high-tech firms. These companies understand the power that custom furniture design brings to the office environment and how it helps them convey an authentic, visually coherent brand message.”

“What can we build for you?“ asks Bucher. “By Co-Creating with Formaspace Office, you can take complete control over the development of a coherent visual design and branding message for your entire office. And you can simplify your project management workload by working with a single furniture manufacturer that delivers exactly what you want, when you need it – from project management to production to professional on-site installation. Be sure to visit the Formaspace Office booth #7-7062 to see our custom manufacturing capabilities first hand and to meet our engineering and design team.”

Visit the Co-Creation Projects On Display at Formaspace Office’s NeoCon Booth #7-7062 June 10 – 12, 2019 at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart

NeoCon visitors are encouraged to visit the Formaspace Office booth #7-7062 located on the 7th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart from June 10 through June 12, 2019. Architects, designers, space planners and more can meet the company’s engineering and design team in person to learn more about the company’s custom manufacturing capabilities and tour the Co-Creation projects on display, including the following:

formaspace office booth 7062

 

Collaboration Zone:

When it’s time to get down to business, the Collaboration Zone provides a dedicated space for the hands-on project and brainstorming sessions, with built-in whiteboards, video screens, and more.

Flex Office:

Fast-growing companies know the challenge of keeping up with ever-changing employee workspace needs. These mobile Weldmarx™ work desks, originally developed for the fintech division of major finance company, allow employees to take back control and “hack” their own layout configurations.

Outdoor Lounge:

Today’s employees want to take their work with them wherever they to go, including the great outdoors. The Outdoor Lounge offers a durable work environment built to withstand exterior conditions while maintaining a coherent visual look that connects the exterior and indoor design elements together into a unified design.

Team Zone:

Encourage collaboration by adding a Team Zone to new construction or to an existing office space. The custom vintage-looking table on display at NeoCon is a prime example of Formaspace Office’s 4D Co-Creation process; it was designed in partnership with (and manufactured for) a major West Coast media company.

Huddle Zone:

When the conference room is too big and too far away, it’s time to move to the Huddle Zone for a quick conversation between colleagues. Huddle Zones with bar stools and cocktail height tables can also serve as hospitality areas for casual office meetings and receptions.

Lounge Zone:

Employees looking to move around during the workday are attracted to casual environments that blend the best characteristics of residential, commercial, and hospitality design. The Lounge Zone serves as an alternative work area that offers the opportunity for more spontaneous interaction between employees, helping to break down departmental “silos” at work.

Lucky NeoCon visitors can also win a fun 2-day trip for two to Austin, Texas — home of Formaspace Office — by posting a photo of their favorite Formaspace Office furniture from booth #7-7062 on their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts.

formaspace office contest neocon 2019

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Modern work overloads us with information while asking that we make valuable connections to seed progress. To make these connections, without burning out, our offices must be designed to support our growth and well-being. They must be dynamic to support the array of needs we have at work and in life, from deep focus to concentration to socialization.

formaspace modern office

The way to create an office that holistically supports the individual in this way is by ‘zoning’ space through focus, collaboration, and lounge zones. For instance building a flexible office through flexible furniture pieces that adapt to change, growth, and individual preferences. And the easiest way to achieve cohesion and differentiation across an office space with multiple zones is by partnering with a custom furniture manufacturer; a team of industrial designers and engineers who are expert at co-creating pieces for every kind of zone, indoor to outdoor.

The modern office: an asset for growth

Year on year, work is becoming increasingly intense yet richer with opportunity. For teams, this intensity is evident in the competitive playing field. This competition makes attracting, retaining, and developing the best talent a crucial objective.

And for individuals, the intensity equates to a need to always be on their A game — making health, well-being, and focus vital priorities.

How to build for growth? Flexibility.

As work becomes more complex, we’ve redefined the ‘office’ and all we expect of it. The modern office is now understood to be an asset that attracts the best talent. And an asset that, furthermore, supports everyone in realizing their best work, together and individually. In short, the modern office is an asset for growth.

The design of these spaces in which we do our work, both privately and collaboratively, then, is critical. The question is how do we design an office space that is an asset for growth?

The short answer is: flexible design.

Flexible design is characterized by two rudimentary elements: a variety of zones that support a variety of needs, and furniture within these zones that is, you guessed it, flexible.

When describing flexible furniture, what we are referring to is office and lounge pieces that can adapt to end-user preferences. This means innovative works that are mobile, height-adjustable, maneuverable, and customizable to accommodate unique needs and preferences on an individual basis.  Furniture pieces that empower employees to ‘hack’ their working environment, creating the ideal space for their workflow to flourish.

And when we talk about zones, we are referring to zones dedicated to supporting different working styles and zones dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of workers.

This approach to the design of an office is inspired by the ultimate vision of a high-performing, healthy organization.

The building blocks? Custom, flexible furniture pieces that adapt to change and growth

The building blocks of a flexible office are custom, flexible furniture pieces. Pieces such as modular shelving units, height-adjustable work desks, and privacy-restoring modesty panels that are built to adapt to change and growth. Furniture that is either free-standing, maneuverable, mobile, or customizable through casters, wheels, cranks, lifts, and mounts.

Furniture that ‘flexes,’ so to speak.

And in order to create flexible furniture that can and will adapt to your or your client’s evolving needs, it needs to be custom — as custom as your team’s story.

The obvious challenge of a flexible office: achieving cohesion across each office zone

The challenge inherent in designing an entire office space is one of achieving cohesion across each zone within it. And this challenge is complicated by our trend toward a modern, flexible office with a variety of zones for work, play, and everything in between. This is made even more difficult as outdoor areas become popular, introducing an entirely different arena of furniture.

When we speak of cohesion here, we are talking about fusion or flow across each unique zone, carried by the design features and material selections. A cohesion in the fabrics sourced, the colors chosen, and finishes manufactured. Coherence Is realized and carried through the details.

Coordinating a flow in these details is difficult to impossible when sourcing furniture from a different manufacturer for each style of zone.

Cohesion is made possible by working with one manufacturer for all your furniture needs

That’s where our team comes into play.

Formaspace Office manufactures both open plan furniture and ancillary furniture — paving the easiest path toward cohesion in the design of your flexible office. Our expert ID&E team has the skill and talent needed to effectively oversee and coordinate the details for that big picture, beautiful cohesion.

The alternative might be a mismatched experience throughout the office or an unrealized potential to express the brand’s character through key details.

The bottom line benefits of working with a custom furniture manufacturer

Partnering with a custom furniture manufacturer unlocks tangible, bottom line benefits in hand with the less tangible benefits of cohesion, flexibility, and brand differentiation.

  • Create custom furniture pieces that can be produced at scale
  • Simplify the process of furniture sourcing by working with one manufacturer for all your furniture needs
  • Source custom, differentiated products at a lead time comparable to standard furniture delivery
  • Achieve cohesion across each zone within the office, indoor to outdoor, work to play
  • Innovate flexible furniture solutions that adapt to your team’s unique changing needs
  • Realize brand differentiation through details within the furniture pieces

 

Custom but scalable sounds great… but how?

To anyone in the field of office design, the words custom and scalable simply don’t belong in the same sentence.

But our team is defying this conception — we are joining the two concepts, through the efficiency, creativity, and success of our custom design studio. Our studio is coordinated by expert industrial designers, engineers, and craftsman and powered by modern manufacturing technology.

This combination of talented people and the best technology is what allows us to create supreme furniture, both open plan and ancillary, at a price and lead time comparable to that of standard furniture delivery. And, most importantly, to create unique furniture that can be easily manufactured at scale.

The key to co-creating furniture solutions? Asking the right questions

In the creation of any product that is innovative in its function and form, the process of realizing it, from ideation to installation, must be a process of discovery. That is, it must begin by asking the right questions to identify the important answers.

And asking the right questions is not only the first step but the lifeblood to our signature co-creation process. As designers, leaders, and teams, listening well is the key to understanding the critical parameters, nuances, and challenges of the current and ideal space.

This practice is vital to our success — to properly identify what is needed, concretely and abstractly. To create innovating ways to support these concrete and abstract needs through custom, flexible furniture works.

formaspace office cocreation process

Thus, the discovery phase of our co-creation process is as custom as our final furniture pieces. Because a truly custom solution necessitates a custom process of creation.

The engine behind co-creation: an expert team to identify wants + needs

“Form and function are one”

-Frank Lloyd Wright

Effective design necessitates a marriage between wants and needs, or form and function. Or, in the case of office and lounge furniture, a marriage between aesthetics and performance.

Marrying these wants and needs through custom furniture requires quite the sophisticated finesse. And our creative team of industrial designers and engineers possesses this finesse. We churn and distill all information gathered during the discovery phase of the co-creation process to craft unique solutions that meet their aim, however complex.

What drives this finesse is the creative manner in which our ID&E team approaches each problem. Every member of our team possesses both an innate appreciation for art and a skillful solution-orientedness. This finesse of vision tempered against skill comes only with years of experience.

And this expert finesse is the engine behind our signature co-creation process. The engine that can take the complex nuances to any problem and uses them as fuel to create concrete solutions.

The proof: cohesive, flexible, unique spaces delivered by the Formaspace Office team

formaspace office booth 7062

Visit Formaspace Office Booth #7-7062 @ NeoCon 2019

The best way to understand the power of a co-creation process is to take a tour through an office designed using the process itself.

Thus, the following ‘virtual’ office space is what we would call a complete flexible office, comprised of a variety of working zones and complemented by a variety of lounge or ancillary zones. By understanding each zone’s story, you’ll get a feel for the spirit and competence of our co-creation process.

Foremost, you’ll quickly understand how co-creation, sparked by asking the right questions and led by a brilliant team, is an incredible fuel for innovation. And how partnering with Formaspace Office` in co-creating together is a tried and true path toward a cohesive, flexible, modern office.

Flex Office

Formaspace flex zone

The following configuration is a model flexible workstation. Its design is our team’s response to a growing desire for more choice and control over every element of one’s work environment. The desks on display are our popular Weldmarx I — height-adjustable and mobile works of art that don’t compromise on aesthetics. The Weldmarx-I and all iterations within the Weldmarx product line emulate all that flexible furniture has to offer.

Here, our mobile partitions are defining the user’s individual space by providing privacy and a reduction in noise level. As a unit, the flex office is a space-efficient, adaptable, and flexible workspace solution for both collaborative and solo work. Each product featured has numerous customizable elements.

Collaboration Zone

formaspace collaboration pod

Collaboration is a requisite for coming up with new ideas, connections, and solutions. The collaboration pod is our team’s response to the need for more it.

The pod delivers functions as a compact meeting space, providing flexibility for the time when professionals want to have the freedom to work in alternative comfortable work zones. Its thoughtful design gives teams the privacy needed to focus and the environment suited for sharing ideas comfortably. This privacy is especially helpful for teams that need the right acoustics to get their thoughts flowing.

The pod also serves as an area for simple socialization, when a change of pace or focus is needed.

Team Zoneformaspace team zone

The modern office is expected to help teams thrive. How can this be done? By building environments that encourage brainstorming, for instance, or designing layouts that catalyze collaboration. Or innovate furniture pieces that support communal activities and foster a more relaxed approach to the day’s work when needed.

But how can we create such dynamic zones without walls? The team zone is an example of the ideal workaround in the case of an open office plan — with a shelving unit placed to create a makeshift, useful wall. 

The zone is furnished with a stunning conference table, mobile stools, and the unique modular storage unit that can let light pass through its look-through design, or simply divide the room. Together, the pieces create a relaxed working environment, where deeper team relationships can take root, and new ideas can spring forth.

The centerpiece to the space is the vintage conference table. The Formaspace Office ID&E team marries performance with aesthetics flawlessly through this piece — with its vintage aesthetics and effortless height-adjustability. The client who partnered with Formaspace Office to co-create the piece started with a vision for a vintage table mounted on a cast iron base. After honing in on the specific wants and needs expected of the product, however, our ID&E took to the drawing board to spec and manufacture a truly show-stopping and functional signature piece. The final price came to less than ⅓ of the original budget.

Huddle Zone

formaspace hospitality table

Across generations, job functions, and personality types, different people have different ways of communicating. The huddle zone is built for those who communicate most comfortably and naturally in a smaller, more intimate space.

A huddle space is also great for ad-hoc debriefs or brainstorming on the fly in instances when a more formal, traditional meeting area might stifle creativity. The products that furnish the space embody a union between hospitality and functionality — take the cocktail tables that double as standing height working desks.

This awesome hospitality element brings a more relaxed feel to the office. The result is a family of furniture pieces that comprise a dynamic environment. An environment where both informal debriefing and comfortable collaboration can reside.

Lounge Zoneformaspace lounge zone

As the definition of work-life balance evolves, so does our understanding of how to best support well-being. Recently, the desire for a more living-room-feel at the office has become clear. This ‘feel’ can be created by applying design philosophies that fuse residential elements with commercial elements. As an example, our lounge area doubles as an informal space to work.

The lounge zone is a unique alternative work area showing how the informality of the space encourages relaxation, allowing one to switch gears and approach their work from a new perspective. This benefit is especially helpful when hitting a wall, experiencing a block, or stuck in the weeds of a complex problem.

Because all furniture pieces were designed by Formaspace Office, the lounge area carries that element of design cohesion through the details of each furniture piece within it.

Outdoor Zone

formaspace outdoor furniture

The trend toward biophilic design in the modern office is only picking up speed as we better understand the importance of nature to our happiness. The outdoor zone is a space inspired by this fundamental need — to be close to nature. The space also taps into the benefit of revitalization and community, with a welcoming picnic table placed center stage.

In the case of the project that inspired this space, Formaspace Office was sought out by a furniture dealership who wanted to create cohesion across the entire office, indoor to outdoor. Namely, to create this cohesion without getting lost in the complexity of multiple points-of-contact and vendors. Because our team has the skill, talent, and ability to manufacture both open plan and ancillary furniture, we were the obvious choice.

Want to walk through the zones yourself? Find us a NeoCon!

The Formaspace Office team would like to invite you to walk through their ‘flexible office display’ at NeoCon this June. Each of the office zones described above will be set up at booth #7062 on the 7th floor from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day of the event (Monday, June 10th through Wednesday, June 12th). The team will also be hosting a happy hour Monday, June 10th from 3-5 p.m and Tuesday, June 11th from 2-5 p.m. Team reps will be on-site during the course of the event, and they will be happy to answer any questions regarding Formaspace Office’s co-created custom furniture design solutions.

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The dream of anyone working on the edge of design is to leave a legacy of built work; a physical portfolio that realizes vision. In commercial interior design, the challenge is thickened to meet client needs, both purely functional and more difficult to measure (i.e. culture and brand-related) — through drawings; shapes, lines, and forms. And to chauffeur this evolution from 2-dimensional idea to 3-dimensional structures with the vision always front of mind. That is: to create a unique space that serves all who work within it.

 

For these reasons, design is an art, a science, and above all, an act of balancing elements to find that sought harmony between function and form.

 

Where the discipline gets especially dynamic is in the coordination of furniture pieces to fit the framework of the space in making — and in the arena of the modern office, it is office furniture in consideration. Everything from chairs, desks, conference tables, cabinets, communication boards that make for collaborative, productive work. And in an age where brand and culture differentiation matter, details count: the finishes, table legs, acoustics, mounts, wire fixtures, and ancillary pieces the same — the details of office furniture that support the functional use make for this richer, more distinctive work environment.

Mastering The Relationship Between Interior and Exterior Space

Charlotte Perriand, one of our most beloved Architect/Designer hybrid-artists is quoted saying, “Architecture is an ebb and flow between interior and exterior—a round-trip.”. In less abstract phrasing: the furnishings of a space are of equal importance as the space itself. The two complement and complete one another, better fit to realize that vision for the modern office.

 

And in commercial practice, client vision is threaded with more ethereal goals of, say: a more open and inclusive working culture, healthier ergonomics per workstation layout, or greater connection to nature for happier morale. These goals, original and powerful, are best served through a fully bespoke design of equal originality and strength — for the sought, differentiated ebb and flow between the interior and exterior Perriand spoke of.

 

No longer are most of us satisfied with mass-manufactured, cookie-cutter pieces, spaces, or products. Our modern preference for personalization and customization has bled naturally into our approach to the design of offices in which we work.

The Role of Bespoke Design

The movement toward bespoke everything empowers the creative to fulfill every detail of the vision down to specific design features of the office furniture. And so, as the movement toward customization influences the design ecosystem, we see contemporary architects and designers from renowned commercial interior design firms and architecture firms partaking with zest; co-creating custom pieces to furnish and complete the environments they’ve given form to — perfectly.

 

And as modern manufacturing advances, custom furniture co-creation has become a viable option for architecture and interior design firms of all walks and focuses — proving especially helpful to commercial interior design firms, where custom furniture is the necessary finishing touch.

 

No longer are creatives shackled by the bonds and limitations of conventional, ready-made office furniture that sullies the beauty of their work, failing to advance the artistic aim. What technology has allowed through accessible custom design is a pure shot at creating a space that is entirely distinct because it is entirely bespoke.

Why Bespoke “Worked” Long Before the Word Was Trending

Of course, innumerable greats from the world of design took to creating their own custom furniture pieces — both office furniture and home furniture — before ‘bespoke’ became a somewhat trending word. This, out of both the sheer desire to experiment and the real need for chairs, desks, tables, and furniture sets that pleased them.

 

And for a handful, what resulted of their raw and natural appetite for new materials, concepts, shapes, forms, and furniture-making processes were pieces that proved bonafide iconic in time. Pieces that even those without an eye or interest in design would recognize as staples. Office furniture that is still in production or reproduction today; Eames’s molded plastic chairs, for instance, that we all grew up with whether we were aware of it or not.

 

For these architects and designers, their custom-designed and often co-created office and home furniture finished their space. And for their legacy? Well, for some, their contributions to furniture design brought more fame even than their biggest, most legendary buildings.

 

In studying the iconic office furniture designed by our favorite architects, we can appreciate the role that ‘custom’ plays in a designer’s life work, especially if practicing at a commercial interior design or architecture firm. ‘Custom’ allows one to leave a real, signature mark on the built world. More explicitly, when the practice is commercial, it allows one to bring a client’s multi-faceted and layered vision to life with an immersive experience.

Examples: Bespoke Furniture Pieces From Architecture’s Finest

Iconic Furniture Design

Charles and Ray Eames’s Iconic Eames Lounge Chair and OttomanCharles and Ray Eames’s Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman

The American couple were creative partners in the fields of architecture and furniture design through the midcentury, bringing groundbreaking work to both worlds. The ubiquitous Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman and Eames Chaise are their most iconic pieces. They pioneered technologies new to modern furniture including fiberglass furniture, plastic resin chairs, and the classic wire mesh chairs still in production today. Though Charles, an architect, was the face of their work, Ray, an artist, contributed half (or more) of the horsepower — she designed custom fabrics, including the famous dot pattern, to bring the level of craftsmanship to their work that differentiated it. As a pair, they teach us what attention to detail can afford your work.

“The details are not the details, the details make the product.”-Charles and Ray Eames

Pernilla Ohrstedt’s Silhouette Tables

Pernilla Ohrstedt’s Silhouette Tables | Source credit: Dezeen “Pernilla Ohrstedt designs custom Silhouette table for Dezeen offices

The contemporary London-based Swedish architect created the Silhouette custom-designed tables for Dezeen’s new office with a vision of a “clean, vibrant and efficient newsroom”. Functional features of the table include a cubby hole on the underside, AC charging units in the center, and an ability to extend the table to a longer length for a more formal meeting. The black metal legs supporting the piece are intentionally offset from the table’s edge, shifting each person’s workspace off-center, so looking across the office to communicate with one another is natural; Dezeen’s vision of “open space” is achieved. Ohrstedt’s thoughtful design illustrates well, how “custom” brings a client’s vision to fruition.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Peacock Chair

Legendary Peacock Chair

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Legendary Peacock Chair | Source credit: Wright Auction House
https://www.wright20.com/auctions/2014/12/important-design/156

One of America’s most influential architects and interior designers, Frank Lloyd Wright built his works with a design philosophy that form and function are one — a principle with great power when applied to the commercial interior design. He treated the interior of a space with the same detail as he did the exterior framework; believing furniture to be an extension of the structure, and designing his own to furnish the projects he led whenever possible. His incredible sense for the relationship between interior and exterior inspires an even greater focus on the details on furnishings in interior design.

“The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble of the rooms should then be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty.”-Frank Lloyd Wright

tubular wassily chair

Marcel Breuer’s Tubular Wassily Chair | Source credit: Courtesy Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Image
https://robbreport.com/shelter/art-collectibles/marcel-breuer-iconic-wassily-chair-eg17-2747275/

Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair

The Hungarian-born, American architect and furniture designer is best known for his signature chairs, which earned him a spot as one of the world’s most popular architects at the peak of 20th-century design. His Cesca Chair was named “among the 10 most important chairs of the 20th century” while his Wassily Chair, the first ever tubular metal chair created, earned total praise in the field of furniture design for its graceful achievement of elemental lines and planes. His inventive use of materials and technology shines a light on the role of experimentation in custom design.

“I am as much interested in the smallest detail as in the whole structure.”-Marcel Breuer

 

David Chipperfield’s Basis Modular Workstation

With the vision of a “smart and casual” desk system fit for modern work, Chipperfield created this modular, flexible, custom-designed workstation for German furniture company e15. The British architect’s collection here includes a traditional-height desk and a high table with a customizable top. The tables can stand individually or be linked together, supporting both solo and collaborative work. The individual workstations can also be rigged with a variety of wire management options, as well as partitions that function both as acoustic walls and magnetic pinboards. The reduced design does well in illustrating what a bespoke workstation can achieve for the functional and creative needs of a workspace.

“Focusing on the needs of creative and functional work environments, Basis workstation is a smart and casual desk system stripped back to the essentials while featuring the pure use of material and craftsmanship…”-e15

modular workstation

David Chipperfield’s Modular Workstation | Source credit: Dezeen “David Chipperfield develops “casual” desk system for e15”

 

infamous chair design

Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chair | Source credit: Wright Auction House https://www.wright20.com/auctions/2019/02/american-design/312

Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chair

The Finnish American architect and industrial designer behind the Washington Dulles Int’l Airport approached furniture design with the same zeal as he did architecture, receiving his first wave of recognition for the Tulip Chair which was designed in partnership with Charles Eames. Other recognizable furniture pieces of his include the “Womb” chair and ottoman and the “Womb” settee, side and armchairs. Both sets are considered classic pieces in office furniture.

“I have come to the conviction that once one embarks on a concept for a building, this concept has to be exaggerated and overstated and repeated in every part of its interior so that wherever you are, inside or outside, the building sings with the same message.”-Eero Saarinen

 

Johan Kauppi and Bertil Harström’s Sabine Office Furniture for Glimakra

Swedish designers Kauppi and Harström teamed up for this sound-absorbing, room-dividing line of office furniture pieces, launched by Glimakra. Each configurable and customizable piece is shelled in a molded polyester felt with foam to create that “quiet” key to the success of an open office plan. This particular collection includes partitions, desks and storage units — which can be linked together in various configurations, and are customizable down to the felt material, storage unit dimensions, and style of the leg to each storage unit (solid ash, aluminum wheel, or metal frame). With the guidance of an acoustics professional, the duo has created a completely customizable workstation.

“The need is well defined – open floor plans in general and activity-based workplaces in particular, need to be supplemented with specific products to achieve a functional acoustic environment…”-Kauppi and Harström

legendary custom furniture

Johan Kauppi and Bertil Harström’s Sabine Individual Workstations for Glimakra Source credit: Dezeen “Johan Kauppi and Bertil Harström launch sound-absorbing office furniture for Glimakra” https://www.dezeen.com/2015/02/10/johan-kauppi-bertil-harstrom-sound-absorbing-office-furniture-sabine-glimakra-stockholm-2015/

 

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair
Source credit: Wright Auction House
https://www.wright20.com/auctions/2013/06/important-design/155

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair

Commonly regarded by his surname, Mies, this German-American architect stood tall among Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright in recognition as one of the trailblazers for modernist architecture. His style is marked by clarity and simplicity, as revealed in the Barcelona chair, designed for the 1929 World Exposition. He sought to realize craftsmanship, a rich combination of traditional luxurious fabrics and chrome frame, and a stark separation between supporting structures and surfaces in his pieces — all with the guiding discipline of his favorite maxim: “less is more.”.

“A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous.”-Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Le Corbusier’s “Definitive” Chaise Lounge
Source credit: Design Within Reach
https://www.dwr.com/living-lounge-chairs/lc4-chaise-longue/6515.html?lang=en_US

Le Corbusier’s LC4 Chaise Lounge

The Swiss-French architect, designer, and servant to modern architecture relied on ready-made furniture to finish his projects up until 1928 (23 years into his career), when he shifted to

experimenting with office furniture designs of his own beside creative partner Charlotte Perriand. The classic Chaise Longue, co-created with Perriand, would be the most recognizable pieces to result of this experimentation. It is “built for relaxation” and seen as the “definitive chaise lounge”.

“The purpose of construction is to make things hold together; Of architecture, to move us.” -Le Corbusier

Frank Gehry’s Wiggle Side Chair

Gehry’s works are noted as some of the most important of contemporary architecture. His time spent at his grandfather’s hardware store in his youth inspires his current use of corrugated steel, chain-link fencing, unpainted plywood, and other utilitarian materials. This passion for experimenting with the bounds of design applies just the same to furniture design; Easy Edges — the name given to his series a furniture designs from 1969-1973 — brought public recognition through the 1970s for how it creatively leveraged the versatility of cardboard. Gehry continues to experiment with furniture, some of his most recent works including the Frank Gehry Furniture Collection; modular office furniture pieces composed of abstract shapes, sleek surfaces, and flowing lines.

“A lot of people don’t get it, but I design from the inside out so that the finished product looks inevitable somehow. I think it’s important to create spaces that people like to be in, that are humanistic.”-Frank Gehry

Jean Prouvé’s 1940’s Office Furniture Collection

Jean Prouve was a French, self-taught architect and designer who developed skill in architectural, industrial, structural, and furniture design over the course of his career. His contributions to office furniture include his Standard Chair, the Compass Desk, the Potence Lamp, and the Bibliotheque. Though his work is somewhat unknown in the design world, updated versions of his original designs for a modern office furniture collection — chairs, desks, tables, cabinets, desk lamps, and wall-mounted reading lights — have been recently reproduced by select manufacturers on account of the collection’s functional and stylistic appeal.

“Never design anything that cannot be made.”-Jean Prouvé

“Custom”: The Key Ingredient for Building a Legacy Through Design

The most influential architects and designers tapped into their wells of creative energy to contribute work across all realms of the built world: structural, architectural, product, furniture design… Some considered their time in the office furniture arena only an experimental “dabbling” — but, with a disciplined ethic of work and gift of vision, still inadvertently created signature pieces that gave deeper roots to their legacy.

And it is at this nexus of experimentation and vision that we see how “custom” is a powerful ingredient for the phenomena of inadvertent legacy-building. Bespoke, co-created furniture options bridles this creative energy behind legacy-building to do what it does best: to create. Bespoke gives the designer command over every detail of the project: the finish on the desktops, the style of handles on the cabinet drawers, the slope to the office lounge chairs, and the drawer configuration to the storage units. With command over each shape, line, form, color, and feel; a designer has the honor and joy of completing a space with its furnishings rather than filling it with standard, ready-made pieces.

Modern Manufacturing: Fast, Affordable Customization

“The machine has liberated the beauties of nature in wood…”-Frank Lloyd Wright

Meeting budget and timeline is imperative. And to most, custom furniture equates to longer lead times, and a greater expense — especially custom office furniture with its complexity of functional requirements.

 

The concern is, of course, valid, and the stigma associated with “custom” (as equating to expensive and timely) is understandable; manufacturing custom office furniture did not even begin to become accessible or affordable to the masses until the turn of the century.

 

But advancing manufacturing processes have made bespoke, co-created office furniture accessible; “custom” is no longer reserved for those free from the constraints of time and money. Commercial interior and design and architecture firms have the opportunity to co-create their custom work on budget and timeline. With Formaspace Office, this opportunity is made better with the support of our in-house ID&E team to direct the process steadily along, from ideation to delivery or installation.

Design: The Essential Vision Behind Co-Created, Original Spaces

Design is the essential vision behind any space that serves its people.

 

And in our modern age, we have command over every aspect of the designs we bring to form in the world. This gives us a great opportunity to build signature work — such as the Eames’s molded plastic chairs. It may be difficult, but certainly not impossible, to imagine leaving such a mark as theirs. To walk into an institution, for instance — a school, coworking space, office, university, or hospital — to find reproductions of a chair, table, or desk by your original design.

 

Not impossible to imagine, certainly, because modern technology makes custom office furniture co-creation accessible to all on the stage of architecture and design. And difficult only because we never know when our creations will strike a major chord with the public at large.

 

And in commercial interior design, with the advent of affordable bespoke furniture options, this opportunity to co-create signature pieces that might ‘wow’ the masses is made just as fast and economical as standard furniture delivery. And, perhaps most importantly, the process is made enjoyable, on account of the quality partnership between the A&D team and our ID&E team; a crew of professionals who respect the work and take on the vision as if it were their own.

 

Want to learn more about co-created office design? Contact your Formaspace design consultant to get started on your first custom furniture project today by emailing hello@formaspaceoffice.com.

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Organizations today are faced with a unique challenge: management needs to encompass the needs and skill sets of the most diverse labor workforce ever. Although workforces that comprise multiple generations is not new, the span of years represented has never been so wide.

reverse mentoring

Many workplaces today are represented by four generations. Two camps, the Millennials (born between 1980-1995) and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980), comprise the majority, in numbers, of most companies. But equally as vital to an organization’s culture is the up-and-coming Post-Millennials/Gen Zs (born 1995-2012) and soon-to-retire Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964).

 

Innovative organizations are looking to reverse mentoring, also called peer mentoring, co-mentoring, and multi-generational mentoring, as one way to bridge generational gaps.  Reverse mentoring, like standard mentoring, pairs of older team members with young ones. But here’s the twist: the younger team members drive the training. Junior employees are provided with the opportunity to showcase their technical skills and leadership abilities and receive career-boosting access to senior team members. Older employees obtain the opportunity to pick up new digital skills, hear fresh perspectives, and embrace new ideas.

 

Reverse mentoring is a two-way street. With multi-generational participation, professional development benefits are received by both the mentor (junior team member) and the mentee (veteran team member). Establishing a reverse mentoring program can help bridge generational gaps within your organization and reduce the impact of continually changing workplace demographics.

 

And demographic shifts in the workforce are inevitable.

 

Through 2017, the latest full year for available figures, the two largest workforce groups, Gen Xers and Millennials, accounted for almost the same size group of U.S. workers – 33% versus 35%, respectively. But, by 2025, Millennials will make up more than 75% of the workforce. Accelerating the professional development of Millennials will help fill leadership roles as the percentage of Gen Xers in the workplace declines and Baby Boomers retire.

millennials workforce demographics

Image by Pew Research Center

 

Reverse Mentoring Helps Bridge the Generational Gap

Since first promoted in the late 1990s by Jack Welch, then CEO of General Electric, reverse mentoring has been embraced by leading companies in many marketplace segments — technology, business, and financial services, healthcare, retail and manufacturing sectors, and the military.

 

Today, reverse mentoring programs often match Millennials and Gen Xers. This is because the Millennials tribe is unique. It is the first generation ever to possess skills and knowledge that previous generations didn’t. The Millennials, sometimes called “digital natives,” are known for first turning to text, instant messaging, and quickly embracing the latest tech tools and devices to interact with their peers.

 

“Millennials have always been counselors at home,” notes Debra Arbit, CEO of workplace consultant BridgeWorks. “And then they get to the workplace, and they’re never asked their opinion? It’s such an immediate way to disengage this generation.”

 

Reverse mentoring provides a way to utilize the abilities of these “digital natives.” They, in turn, are more likely to feel appreciated in their role and engaged with the company. It’s a win-win!

How to Engage Millennials and Generation Z Using Reverse Mentoring 

 

Reverse mentoring is a mutually benefitting arrangement.

 

Since tech tools often evolve faster than teaching materials can be updated, older employees can leverage the tech knowledge-base of their younger co-workers to stay current. Reverse mentoring can be especially helpful, too, for senior managers and C-suite executives short on the time to learn the latest technology skills.

 

Retain Top Talent by Leveraging Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring can also help address the elephant in the room.

 

According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 43% of Millennials say they expect to leave their job in the next two years and only 28% plan to stay beyond five years. The findings from this study tell just part of the story.

 

An industry-wide survey from Formaspace Office provides additional insights on this topic.

 

Respondents to the recent Formaspace Office Survey of Employee Satisfaction represent more than 25 different industry sectors. Several of the top concerns relating to improving job loyalty – management effectiveness, training opportunities, and company culture -‑ can be addressed through reverse mentoring. (Responses received to this survey are highly enlightening and we encourage you to learn more from the full Formaspace Office employee satisfaction survey.)

 

Studies show this historic turnover rate is troubling for many companies. Why wouldn’t it be?

 

According to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the costs to replace a salaried employee is the equivalent of six to nine months of wages. Considering that the time to fill a given position is 42 days on average, retaining good employees helps ensure the long-term stability of an organization.

 

It stands to reason that organizations that provide employees with opportunities to grow professionally are more likely to hang on to them.

 

Enter reverse mentoring.

 

Organizations that have launched reverse mentoring programs have seen a reduced turnover rate among various generational groups according to PwC’s Millennials at Work study. Younger employers feel more recognized and valued for their talents. Through reverse mentoring sessions, they provide perspectives about what it is like to sit in a management chair and hold a leadership role.

 

When interviewed by the Wharton School about how best to manage Millennials, Jason Wingard, then the Chief Learning Officer at Goldman Sachs, the multinational investment bank, offered this guidance:

 

“We help them understand how to motivate, communicate and lead others. We want them to help set a culture where people from diverse backgrounds can have fun and be effective. We teach them to evaluate people in the organization objectively, not just subjectively… We want the good work that they do to cascade down to others.”

 

Insurance Company Scores Double-Win with Reverse Mentoring

The benefits of reverse mentoring programs cited by top companies are multi-fold.

 

To address its concerns about recruiting and retaining valued employees, the Hartford Financial Services Group conducted its own survey of Millennials. Top actions the company could take to retain younger employees involved in training, developing, coaching, and mentoring. Management was also aware that consumers were increasingly looking for information about insurance, the primary product offered by the company, through the Internet.

 

Establishing a reverse mentoring program was a double-win for The Hartford. Younger employees played a greater role in advancing technological innovations at the company. Older employees learned how to better leverage digital and social media tools to reach new customers and enhance intra-team communications. Both camps soon realized the benefits of the multi-generational exchanges.

 

The reverse mentoring program began as a test pilot at The Hartford, with 12 Millennial mentees engaging in five to seven sessions with senior leadership. Embraced enthusiastically from the beginning, at program’s end, it was rated “extremely effective/effective” for Business by 80% and for Personal by 97% of the mentees.

 

The program was then rolled out to more than 50 mentees in seven states and, following this, became a national program at The Hartford. Participation in the program now is highly anticipated: 94% of those surveyed at the company said reverse mentoring will be valuable for them.

tedtalkxlisa

The Hartford tapped into its “technology kids” to mentor senior leadership.

 

Multinational Company Realizes Gains from Digital Reverse Mentoring

The reverse mentoring pilot program at AXA, the international financial services industry organization, was rolled out to achieve two objectives: better understanding of the digital behavior of its customers and better equipping of senior leadership in the use of digital and social media tools. At the end of the test program, enthusiastic participants encouraged an expansion of the program.

 

AXA, today, takes pride in its digital reverse mentoring program and points to the support shown throughout the company. By the end of the first year, more than 1,000 AXA employees from 26 countries volunteered to participate. After two years, the company counts more than 1,500 employees in 28 countries as program alumni. Internal surveys show that 97% of the mentors and mentees have voiced their approval of the program.

 

The experience of two AXA reverse mentoring program participants was featured in a recent SHRM article. The mentee, 23-year AXA veteran Dave Hattem, learned how to leverage social media, plus develop his skill sets with technology and various software programs. His mentor, Jérémie Berthon, had been with the company for just three years and said the experienced enhanced his institutional knowledge and visibility at the company.

 

Both described AXA’s program as beneficial and they have continued their collegial relationship even though the formal reverse mentoring program has concluded. (Learn more here about their AXA reverse mentoring program experience.)

AXA’s “digital natives” prepare for reverse mentoring sessions on digital topics that support business and cultural transformations at the company.

 

5 Steps to a Successful Reverse Mentoring Program

Implementing a successful reverse mentoring process is a multi-step process that focuses on two key pillars: being open to embracing new work strategies and cultural changes, plus accepting generational and cultural differences. A recent Formaspace Office article, 10 Tips for Successfully Managing Millennials in Your Organization, provides additional insights.

 

In the following section, we’ll outline five steps your organization can use for rolling out a successful reverse mentoring program.

  1. Get upper-level management on board with the reverse mentoring program.

    Secure support for your program from an executive sponsor. This should be someone at the top level of your organization, such as a vice president, who will champion the program and encourage other leaders to get involved. The program won’t be effective unless there is senior leadership support.

  2. Create a plan and formally implement it with meetings and on-going communication.

    Develop a reverse mentoring program based on solid business goals. Set realistic engagement objectives, such as meeting once or twice a month for six months. Clearly define the purpose, objectives, meeting, and communication check-in timetables to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to the program.

  3. Set clear expectations and share success stories.

    Mentees and mentors need to understand the importance of nurturing a personal connection. Time should be allowed for younger workers to discuss their career goals and talk about their concerns. Older workers should be allowed time to offer their business and industry insights. Equally important is sharing wins. Evangelizing reverse mentoring program success stories help promote best practices that could be implemented throughout the organization.

  4. Schedule periodic check-ins.

    After mentors and mentees have been matched up and one or two sessions held, a check-in should be scheduled by the program facilitator. This will help determine if the participant synergy is positive. It is OK if there are personality clashes. The match-up can be revisited and participants reassigned if necessary. A mid-point check-in ensures both parties benefit from the association and that progress is being achieved. A post-program review enables the sharing of what was and wasn’t learned, plus program feedback. This information can be included in a senior leadership team report.

  5. Leverage program learnings to jump-start innovation and the exploration of technology trends.

    Your organization’s reverse mentoring program provides an excellent opportunity for employees to acquire vital knowledge. Plus, employees will feel more connected to the organization and its values. The program can serve as a launching pad for generating innovation and demonstrating agility in response to technology challenges.

 

Formaspace Office Supports Reverse Mentoring Through Open Office Communications

At Formaspace Office, we support the concept of reverse mentoring. Our Millennial employees are encouraged to take on more responsibilities and to step into management roles. One way we implement this at Formaspace Office is within our newly founded Culture Committee. Our Senior HR Manager and Culture Committee Leader, Angela Shaw, had an interesting perspective: “Culture can certainly always be improved upon, even here at Formaspace Office. I believe culture is a living and breathing thing, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that everyone feels valued and has a voice within the workplace.” Encouraging Millennials to step into management roles enhances diversity and culture, helps the company grow, and gives senior level executives a different perspective for strategic actions.

 

One way to keep communication fresh between different generations within your company is by utilizing an open office floor plan and office furniture that inspires collaboration. Our tips include incorporating pop-up offices and huddle rooms to encourage employee interactions. Another solution is the Formaspace Office custom gallery panels to improve workspace designs and provide a visual differentiation between departments or functions within the office.

 

Office aesthetics are important, especially to Millennials.  Respondents to the Formaspace Office Survey of Employee Satisfaction cited the design aesthetic of the office as the number three reason they find a company attractive when they are looking for a new job. With Formaspace Office eye-catching office furniture, your organization can convey its personality and create an attractive and appealing workspace environment.

silver gray wave gallery panel

Formaspace Office Custom Gallery Panel features 16 Ga Steel Frame and 11 Ga Steel Powder Coated Silver Gray with a custom laser cut pattern for a large tech giant in California.

 

Learn more about the benefits of open office environments for employees. Contact your friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultant today to discuss the options best suited for your workspace. For more Formaspace Office open office furniture designs, check out some of the work we’ve done for top companies in the United States.

 

If you’re looking for more resources to help your organization engage with one another in an open office workspace, look at the Formaspace Office Custom Turquoise Mobile Communication Board

powder coat mobile communication board

This product is 76” high, powder coated in Turquoise on casters with 16-gauge steel frame mitered corners.

 

Join Formaspace Office!

Contact your Formaspace Office Design Consultant today for custom furniture information or to modify our standard furniture products with the Virtual Furniture Designer, 3DConfigure tool.

 

All of our furniture products are proudly made here in the U.S. and backed by our 12-year warranty.

 

To learn more about us, please check out our Who is Formaspace Office video and be sure to visit our website for more information about us and how you can get involved.

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We now have some of the first empirical research on how worker behavior changes as a result of working in open office environments. Research underwritten by Harvard Business School found that study participants actually spent 72% less time interacting face-to-face, while the use of electronic interactions (email, messaging, etc.) increased by 20% – 50% during the study period. This defies the conventional wisdom that workers transitioning into open offices would tend to have more face-to-face encounters than those working in closed office environments.

open office privacy

 

What’s going on?

 

Tom Polito- Polito Associates

Tom Polito, Polito Associates

Given that this study seems to contradict one of the main arguments in favor of implementing open office environments, e.g. that they can help increase collaboration between employees, we wanted to get more insight on how today’s open offices are working in practice.

 

To find out more, we had a lively discussion with two office design professionals that often take opposing points of view, Tom Polito and Fernando Xavier Romero.

 

Both Tom and Fernando are contract furniture reps for Formaspace Office; Tom’s company, Polito Associates, represents Formaspace Office across Southern California, while Fernando’s firm, Element Design Group, covers the Florida peninsula region.

 

 

How Should We Interpret Recent Research on Open Office Privacy Solutions?

 

In a recent behavioral experiment underwritten by Harvard Business School, researchers Ethan S. Bernstein and Stephen Turban found that employees working in open-plan offices at a Fortune 500 multinational company spent 73% less time in face-to-face interactions, while the number of electronic communications they sent increased dramatically (by more than 50% for email and by 67% for instant messages) compared to when they worked in a closed office environment.

 

We wanted to get Tom and Fernando’s reaction. Have they observed this kind of behavior with their clients working in open office layouts? Are open offices making workers feel alienated from one another? Is work performance suffering as a result?

 

Fernando- Elements Design Group

Fernando Xavier Romero. Elements Design Group

Fernando jumped in. “No, I don’t think the open office layout is causing alienation at all. If anything, it allows people to interact more.”

 

Tom notes there may be an underlying generational bias against moving into an open office. “I think what we’re finding is there’s a lot of hesitation, especially among the older Gen X and some of the Gen Y workers, who’ve become comfortable in their little cubicle where they feel they’ve got some privacy. So, when they start talking about going to an open plan concept, sometimes we get a little hesitation or push back from them just because it’s something different.”

 

Fernando agrees there is a generational difference. He explains that Millennials have a different take on working in an open office. “From my experience, Millennials tend to choose technology first before they start talking to people. I call them the instant gratification demographic. They want everything right away, and if they can’t get that instant gratification, they look elsewhere. They are very self-sufficient. They know technology. And they will choose to use email and instant messaging to get the information they need right now before starting to ‘collaborate’ with their co-workers.”

 

What can be done to make open offices successful for all workers?

 

Fernando believes it’s important to ask the employees themselves. “I think that the industry needs to encourage employers or company owners to ask their employees (including the Millennials) what motivates them. How can they get the most out of their office space? I can think of several companies, locally, who got a lot of input from their employees up front. In my opinion, it’s critical to get input to tailor the office design so their employees will be happier and more productive, whether it’s by incorporating a pop office or huddle rooms, adding privacy panels, etc.”

 

We asked Tom about his experience with open office layouts in the Southern California market.  “As a rep group that’s working with open space all the time, we find our job is to educate the furniture dealers that — if you’re going to propose a bench or sit-to-stand open office applications — you need to let your customer be aware that you’re going to have some noise issues if you don’t take steps to control the acoustics or do sound masking. If not, what happens later is they’re going to blame the architect. They’re going to blame the furniture dealer for not setting them up properly. So, it’s our role to help the dealer provide the right solution, the first time. To do this, we always recommend conducting a detailed on-site survey at the start of each project to identify ways to reduce unwanted noise and distractions.”

 

Design Tips for Open Office Planning:

 

  • Work with an experienced rep group that knows how to create successful open plan offices. (End users may not know what they actually need.)
  • Conduct a detailed on-site survey to identify ways to reduce unwanted noise and distractions. (We’ll discuss ways to accomplish this in the following sections.)
  • Survey employees to find out what their needs and expectations are for working in an open office environment.

 

Space Planning Tips to Improve Face-to-Face Collaboration in Open Offices

 

Let’s continue our discussion with Tom and Fernando as we ask them for their top space planning tips for encouraging face-to-face collaboration in open plan offices.

 

Tom and Fernando agree that if you want to encourage face-to-face collaboration among employees in an open office, you need to think about the right mix of people who would benefit from working together. Tom notes that “I’ve seen areas where you’ve got an accounting department set up next to a telemarketing department, and the chatter from the telemarketing people makes it very difficult for the accounting people to function in their jobs.” Fernando agrees. “Each of the different office ‘packs’ have their own culture and their own way of communicating.” He says it makes more sense, for example, to “put the accounting team and the finance team in the same area of the office; because these people really need to focus on their activities, number crunching, etc.”

 

Tom agrees. He believes that the most successful open office “tribes” are those employees who work together in a “team of say five or six people who share a particular objective, a shared job function that needs to be done. These are the ones who really benefit from collaboration to achieve their objectives. And I’ve seen end users, working together in teams, come up with very creative ideas — much quicker than if they were each working individually. On the other hand, if your job requires you to focus all day (like an engineer, for example), then you’ll need to have more privacy and the ability to remove yourself from distractions.”

 

We wanted to get some feedback on a new Formaspace Office Product that we debuted at NeoCon 2018 — our new laser-cut hackable gallery panels. How do you see using these product fitting within an open office?

 

“I was struck by how cool the gallery panels look aesthetically; they are very slick; a privacy solution that is much more visually interesting than a solid laminate panel,” says Tom. “I think they can be used to delineate the space between different departments within an open office.”

 

Design Tips for Open Office Space Planning:

 

  • Develop a coherent layout plan that helps enable collaboration by grouping people or departments together according to their needs for privacy, noise levels, face-to-face discussions.
  • The new hackable gallery panels from Formaspace Office, with their unique, laser cut metal inserts can help provide a visual demarcation between different departments or functions within the office. The intricate designs can also be customized to reflect your brand.

How to Control Unwanted Noise in Open Offices — From Sound Absorption Panels to Living Walls

 

Next up we’ll discuss noise control solutions for open offices.

 

“Noise in open offices is the big issue right now,” says Tom. “It can be a demotivator for employees. What tends to happen is employees get up and go to the office cafe because they can’t focus. So you’ve lost productivity –because that worker is not fully engaged in their job for the full day.”

 

“What we’re seeing in our market in Southern California is a lot of Biomed and Biotech companies going into warehouses, and they’re doing an open plan office. They have to do something with that sound because it just bounces around like you’re in an echo chamber.”

 

Tom notes that they saw a lot of acoustic control solutions at NeoCon 2018 designed for open offices, including wall panels and acoustical panels with integrated baffles that hang from the ceiling. These can be very effective.

 

Tom says he also gets lots of requests from end users for taller privacy panels attached to the back of open plan benching solutions; many want to move up from 24” tall privacy panels to 30” ones — even if they’re using dual monitors, which provide additional privacy.

 

Tom is also bullish on the idea of using taller gallery panels (ideally those that are between 60 and 66 inches tall) as space dividers, as they also improve sound control and increase privacy. But Tom admits these taller panels often run into problems with California’s strict seismic building codes. That’s a challenge, he says, and unfortunately, they often end up having to construct a standard wall to comply with the codes.

 

Over in Florida, Fernando does not face the seismic challenges they have in Southern California, and so he is a big fan of demountable walls. “That’s a big one for addressing privacy concerns. It’s also nice to look at aesthetically. You can set them up to create a cube in the center of the office or move them around to change the look. Everybody’s getting into using them.”

 

Fernando also agrees with Tom that acoustical panels are a major part of the solution. “They provide noise reduction, that’s very big. People want to have conversations, but they don’t want to feel like they have to whisper. With acoustical panels, people can have normal conversations without lowering their voices.”

 

We’ve written before how office workers feel calmer and less distracted when they can see natural surroundings through a window, or view extensive plantings within in the office — it’s part of a movement toward incorporating what are called biophilic design elements within the office. Extensive plantings can also help control noise within the office. We wanted to know what Tom and Fernando thought about this approach.

 

“Yes, I first began seeing this about four years ago in Mexico, the first of the living wall concepts,” says Fernando. “The story behind it is they wanted to have more green and a kind of natural feel in the office, almost like they were outside, without actually being outside. This trend has started to come to the U.S., especially in Florida. The living walls and the plants to make it feel more like home, and it encourages people to be more productive because they’re in a comfortable environment. I think it also helps with the carbon footprint of the office as well.”

 

Design Tips for Controlling Noise and Increasing Privacy in Open Plan Offices

 

  • Acoustic wall panels and ceiling grids with sound baffles can reduce unwanted sound in open plan offices.
  • Taller privacy panels (up to 30”) mounted at the back of desks and benches can help end users feel they have more privacy.
  • Tall divider panels or demountable walls can reduce sound (if they incorporate sound absorbing materials) and increase privacy. Be aware of seismic regulations that may limit the height of free-standing panels.
  • Living walls and extensive plantings with the office (biophilic design) can help control noise while helping end users feel more relaxed.
  • See other sound control ideas in our article on reducing noise in open offices.

 

Innovative Furniture Solutions for Creating Privacy in an Open Office

 

At NeoCon 2018, we saw a lot of companies introducing semiprivate office pods to create quiet spaces. We wanted to know if our open office experts see an increasing demand for these, as well as other solutions for creating quiet spaces in the office, such as huddle rooms.

 

You may recall Tom talked earlier about converting warehouses into open-plan offices, particularly in the Biomed and Biotech sector. “I think these privacy pods are perfect for that type of user because they are portable,“ he said. “If they decide to move, they can take it with them. I think that’s going to be a hot item over the next few years. What’s interesting is that we first saw this type of solution in Europe, where they’ve been using them for a number of years already.”

 

Fernando sees the value of using huddle rooms in open plan offices. “People working together in a ‘pack’ will reserve the huddle room when they need to focus on their work.” Tom agrees: “My interpretation of a huddle room is that it’s more of a privacy place. Something where you know, you can get a group together or just maybe one or two people, and just, you know, get into a quiet space where you can focus. Or have a space where a small group can meet without being distracted by all the chatter in the open area — without disturbing your fellow workers.”

 

Tom is also intrigued by a variation of huddle rooms that incorporate a full complement of technology for making presentations. “These came out a couple of years ago. I seem to recall the original one I saw was called the “Media Stick.” It’s basically a horseshoe-shaped lounge area set up with a table in the middle and a flat-screen monitor set. The users all come together, and they can plug in their technology and work collaboratively instead of borrowing a large conference room or one of the meeting rooms. It’s still out in the open, yet it gives you a sense of privacy without being totally cordoned off. We’re also beginning to see these now in schools, not just at companies. More recently, the larger setups are starting to incorporate a countertop shelf alongside the inside perimeter where people can pull up a bar stool seat. We’re seeing that quite a bit now.”

 

Design Tips for Creating Privacy in Open Plan Offices Using Innovating Furniture Solutions:

 

  • Freestanding Pod Solutions with built-in services can provide instant private spaces, even during construction phases. They can also be transported easily to other locations when your needs change.
  • Huddle rooms provide an area for team members to work together without disturbing other workers.
  • Huddle room spaces equipped with electronics allow for mini-presentations and other impromptu collaboration sessions without tying up a larger conference or meeting room.

 

We’d like to thank Formaspace Office Reps Tom Polito and Fernando Romero for their time and their insight.

 

Make the Right Move with Formaspace Office

 

Remember, at Formaspace Office, if you can imagine it, we can build it.

 

We build a full line of office furniture solutions, made just for you in our Austin, Texas factory headquarters.

 

Did you know you can design your own Formaspace Office furniture online, using our free Virtual Furniture Designer? Try it today. It works in your internet browser, no software installation required. Create photorealistic renderings of your favorite office desks, conference tables, storage elements, lounge tables, and communications boards.

WeldmarxCIII virtual furniture designer

Formaspace Office is also your custom manufacturing source. Bring any of your office furniture designs to us, and we will turn your designs into reality by handcrafting them in our Austin factory – to your exact specifications. We can also offer our industrial design services to you as well, to create one-of-a-kind, bespoke pieces of furniture.

 

Want to learn more? Just give one of our friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultants a call. They can help make your office design project a success.

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south central texas heat wave

It’s been a hot year for the record books.

 

Many parts of the country have or are experiencing all-time high temperatures. The National Centers for Environmental Information, more commonly known as NOAA, reports that more than 1,000 high heat records have been broken this summer in cities and towns throughout the United States. Some of the previous high temperatures date back more than 110 years. Plus, since the Summer of 2018 is not yet two-thirds over, more record-breaking temperatures are possible.

 

So far, Death Valley, California leads the pack hitting 127 degrees Fahrenheit on the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer. Since then, more than 10 towns logged 115+-degree days in the first month of Summer 2018. Central Texas, an area experiencing a string of sizzling days has already doubled its number of triple-digit temperatures compared to last year.

 

The most triple-digit and record-breaking temperatures have occurred in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico. But this year, areas not accustomed to such high temperatures are sweltering too – including Memphis, Tennessee (113), Long Beach, California (109), and Walsh, Colorado (107).

 

These hot and dry weather conditions have also contributed to a large number of fires this season that have forced many to evacuate their homes and buildings. Ninety mega-fires have burned more than one million acres in 14 western states this summer. California has been challenged with 20 mega-blazes in recent days, including those impacting lives and property in and around Redding and other parts of the northern part of the state. Heroic firefighters battling on the frontline have developed techniques to help them weather the firestorm.

firefighters how to protect from heat

Firefighters on the frontline perform heroic tasks to help protect our lives, property, and the environment. Learn more about what firefighters do to prepare for extreme heat conditions in this 6-minute video.

 

Staying hydrated is key

Staying healthy – and cool – in extreme temperatures requires knowledge, planning, and the right tools. Drinking plenty of water is of prime concern in hot conditions, of course, but being properly hydrated might impact us in more ways than we realize.

 

A study, from the Yale School of Medicine, found that when people become dehydrated, they achieved 12% more errors in a cognitive flexibility test, especially surrounding complicated tasks. But those same type of errors decreased and functions returned to normal when they rehydrated. Another study, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that extreme heat negatively impacted the memory and cognitive speed of college students.

 

Staying hydrated is vital, but the signs for determining your correct hydration level might not be obvious. Staying healthy in the heat starts with fluids, but how much do we really need to drink?

 

While it can vary somewhat by body size and type, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; in the heat of the summer, women should drink at least 91 ounces of water each day. For men, the suggested level is 125 ounces. Despite a commonly held belief, the NASCM determined in a recent study that coffee and caffeinated beverages, in moderate quantities, had no detrimental effects on hydration levels. So, feel welcome to enjoy your cup (or two) of Morning Joe – even on extremely hot days. But, then, perhaps you’d prefer an iced coffee?

 

Be on the lookout for the signs of heat stress

Despite our best intentions, each of us can get overheated — especially on a blistering hot day. In outdoor work and high-intensity situations, it’s wise to be aware of the clues that indicate you, a co-worker, or friend are suffering from overheating. If you learn to detect the clues regarding heat stress, you can be proactive and reduce or prevent the possibility of serious problems.

 

Let’s start with ourselves. Since there might be times when we sweat out more fluids than we take in, how can we tell if we are dehydrated?

 

The easiest way to confirm your own status is to check the color of your urine. Generally, the darker the color, the more likely you are to be dehydrated. Brown or dark orange color urine is cause for concern. Urine that looks like pale lemonade typically indicates that you are properly hydrated.

 

In terms of co-workers and friends, your observation of outward signs of heat-related distress is crucial.

 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a helpful chart for recognizing and addressing heat disorders.

 

An informative 2-1/2-minute video from the National Safety Council details the steps to take to help a co-worker or friend experiencing a heat-related problem.

Planning ahead is another way to minimize risks.

 

To help individuals and business schedule the best times for outside activities in extreme heat conditions, a mobile device app was developed and recently updated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and NIOSH. The Heat Safety Tool gauges, hour by hour, the heat index in your area. The heat index is a measure of how hot it “really” feels when relative humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) is taken into account along with the actual air temperature. The easy-to-use, free app also includes valuable heat safety tips and guidelines. The Heat Safety Tool can be downloaded from the Apple App Store (iPhones, iPads) and Google Play Store (Android devices).

apple iphone and andriod device weather app

 

Simple Outside of the Office Tips to Promote Healthy Work Productivity

Heat safety resources can help you address a heat stress-related emergency, but there are also steps you can take every day to minimize the impact of extreme weather.

  1. Plan out your day. – Schedule your most strenuous tasks for the morning hours, when you are fresh, and the heat won’t impact your efficiency as much. Schedule your routine chores in the afternoon when you might start to feel a bit drained by the heat. You can use the Heat Safety Tool app to preview and monitor the heat index throughout the day.
  2. Dress light and less formally. – Wherever possible, choose looser fitting items. Clothing that is 100% linen, cotton or viscose will feel cooler than polyester or synthetic materials. When outdoors, wear long, loose sleeves to reduce the possibility of sunburn. If your primary duties are mostly indoors and you need to keep to the company’s dress code, select a “light and loose” version to stay as cool as possible.
  3. Keep water nearby and sip often. — Experts say that if you feeling thirsty, you’ve probably somewhat dehydrated already. Be proactive! Women should drink a minimum of 2 1/2 liters of water throughout the day, and for men, at least 3 1/2 liters.
  4. Choose a fresh lunch for immediate refreshment. – A slice of watermelon, a cup of frozen fruit, a piece of cucumber, or a green salad can help replenish the fluids in your body and provide a healthy snack.
  5. Be more cautious when working outside. — If you work outside at moderate intensity for just one hour you can reach up to 2% dehydration. That doesn’t sound like it should be a huge problem. But, for the average-size person, 2% can equal sweating out about one liter of water. Plus, in severe work conditions, you could reach that level in about 30 minutes. Practice OSHA’s message on working safely in the heat: “Water. Rest. Shade.” This means that on hot days, take frequent breaks in a cool or shady area and drink water every 15 minutes.
  6. Establish good office habits. – As tempting as it is to burrow indoors in at your desk on hot days (or inclement weather in general), long-term health benefits are realized by using good posture, performing flexing and stretching exercises periodically, and practicing good office ergonomics.

 

Health Experts Report Numerous Ergonomic Benefits:

Whether you’re in the office or out maintaining a proper posture helps prevent neck and back pain. For the average office worker who spends from 6 to 8 hours each day at his or her desk, researchers emphasize the importance of altering positions throughout the workday to avoid unnecessary stress on the lower back and pelvis area. An adjustable, Sit-to-Stand desk can be your great ally because it enables you to work comfortably in a stress-free position either sitting down or standing up.

weldmarx I height adjustbale desk

Formaspace Office Weldmarx I Sit To Stand Desk

Formaspace Office did their own research, read about these easy, one-minute-each-hour stretches and bad posture habits in “How to Avoid Neck and Back Pain at the Office.” As well, flexibility exercises help reduce the presence of varicose veins and spider veins that are associated with cardiovascular problems, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), Peripheral Artery Design (PAD), and Pulmonary Embolism (PE). Adding short stretch breaks to your day-to-day routine relieves tension that builds up in your shoulders. This will leave you feeling refreshed, clear-headed, and will help you tackle the rest of your day. Read more about this in “Stopping This Habit at the Office is Good for Your Health.

 

Proper ergonomics is vital for workplace comfort and helps minimize strain on the body. The design of office furniture can play a key role in supporting workplace productivity. Practicing good office ergonomics can help prevent other types of common Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) that can develop in the office, such as Tendonitis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Discover how ergonomics in the workplace improves performance and employee well-being in “5 Benefits of Ergonomics in the Workplace” and “If Sitting is the New Smoking – Here are 7 Steps to a Healthier Workforce.”

 

If you ever experience severe symptoms of your body overheating, please take the necessary precautions to cool your body down and have someone call 911 Emergency Services on your behalf.

Formaspace Office Cares About Your Safety and Well-being

Look to Formaspace Office for your ergonomic office furniture solutions that help your work community stay healthy. Formaspace Office offers the popular WELDMARX I “Sit To Stand Desk” for all your ergonomic work environments. With the new Formaspace Office Virtual Furniture Designer, you can easily design your office furniture 100% online with accurate photorealistic renderings of any office desk in the WELDMARX line, as well as conference and lounge tables, storage pieces, and communication boards. All Formaspace Office products are backed by our 12-year, no-questions-asked guarantee. These high-quality office furniture products are proudly made in the USA at our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas.

formaspace office conference table

#NETWORKING 5-in-1 Ping Pong Conference Table

To learn more about ergonomic solutions, contact one of our friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultants today. Give us a call, we would love to hear from you!

 

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Now that an increasing number of professionals at companies such as Apple, Amazon, Glassdoor, and Dell are working remotely from home or other unconventional locations, we wanted to know: will the remote work trend continue to grow in the future or has it already reached a plateau?

MRL virtual library

To find out more, we spoke with Jim Palmitier, President of MyResourceLibrary (or MRL for short), the ground-breaking virtual library for the contract furniture industry. We reached out to Jim because we had heard they were heavily invested in employees who work remotely, including Jim himself.

MRL virtual library

Jim Palmitier. President at My Resource Library

But first, we should take a moment to introduce MRL, whose company mission is to “facilitate efficiency in the contract market.” MRL provides tools for professionals working in the contract furniture market for streamlining the front-end ordering process, from design inspiration to providing a quote – and everything in-between. MRL’s Virtual Library platform allows users to find up-to-date information from all the major furniture makers, including Formaspace Office. Users can search MRL to find specific brands or find products in a specific category, such as office desks. They can also browse MRL’s “Fresh Ideas gallery” for settings-based inspiration. Users can then save their collections into custom “Project Binders,” which can be shared privately with their customers and partners.

 

With that introduction out of the way, it’s time to ask Jim Palmitier our first question.

Remote Work is an Ideal Strategy for Startup Companies

We had heard through the industry grapevine that some of MRL’s employees worked at remote locations, but we didn’t know any of the details. We wanted Jim to give us some specifics on MRL’s hiring practices and the company’s attitude toward remote work.

 

The answers surprised us.

 

According to Jim, while MRL maintains its official corporate office in Gilbert, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix), a full 60% of MRL’s employees work remotely, a figure that’s much higher than we expected. (Counted among MRL’s virtual employees is Jim himself, as we’ll discuss shortly.)

 

We wanted to know, “Why did MRL create a staffing structure with such a high percentage of employees who work remotely?”

 

Jim explained that one of the reasons that MRL has embraced remote working is that it’s enabled them to access talent from across the country. “We focus more on the individual and the skill set they can bring to us – and their match to our culture – more than we consider their location.”

 

Another consideration is the virtual nature of their product, which falls squarely in the Software as a Service (SaaS) category. Jim notes that while the company is heavily engaged with furniture and interior design products, MRL itself doesn’t carry physical inventory. Instead, MRL’s Virtual Library and all the supporting data resides in the cloud, where it can be accessed from anywhere, including by the company ’s programmers, as well as its production, sales, and customer service personnel. In other words, as a virtual company, MRL can have ‘virtual’ off-site employees as well.

 

Are there other advantages?

 

Cost is another consideration, says Jim. To date, MRL only has 24 employees, making it a small (but growing!) startup company. Allowing a large number of employees to work remotely helps MRL keep a smaller footprint at their “bricks and mortar” headquarters, which in turn, helps reduce MRL’s overhead costs significantly.

Working Remotely Can Help you Get Closer to the Customer

As we mentioned earlier, Jim Palmitier himself is one of MRL’s remote employees – an arrangement that some might find unusual, given that Jim is also president of the company.

 

We wanted to know if there were any advantages (or disadvantages) about working remotely that he could share with us.

 

Jim was quick to respond. Remote employees can help smaller companies provide better customer service, especially if they are located close to your key accounts.

 

“I grew up in West Michigan where, over the last 25 years, I’ve had a variety of positions that were either in the contract furniture industry or directly supported it. Prior to coming to MRL, I spent twelve years leading sales for a furniture dealership; then I was the VP of sales for a small manufacturer based in West Michigan. So I really have touched the contract industry in one way, shape, or form since graduating from college. In fact, my first job out of college was with our family-owned printing company, and I was doing type sets for price books for La-Z-Boy and Steelcase.”

 

“So I’ve seen the industry as a supplier, I’ve seen it as a furniture dealer, and I’ve seen it as a manufacturer. One of the values that I bring to the company is the fact that I’m based in West Michigan. I am no more than a 45-minute drive from any of the major manufacturers. If you think about Steelcase, Hayworth, Herman Miller, Knoll — they are all here in West Michigan.”

 

“By having members of our team spread out geographically, it provides us an easier opportunity to reach our customers. And we’re available from the time the Eastern Time zone gets to work to the time the Western zone goes home.”

The Need to Create a Collaborative Culture between Remote Employees

The former CEO of Yahoo Marissa Meyer once said: “people are more productive when they’re alone, but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together.”

 

We wanted Jim to react to this and get his opinion on the state of collaborative culture at MRL.

 

“Speaking from personal experience, I definitely agree with that statement,” says Jim. Of course, each individual is different, he goes on to say. “It really depends upon the employee and how they function best. For example, I’m more of a structured, systematic type of thinker, almost more like an accounting or a finance person. I do better at receiving information, considering it, thinking about it, and then discussing it. Yet there are other types of people, especially the younger employees, that thrive in a more purely collaborative environment.”

 

Managing and coordinating interactions between remote workers in different time zones is actually a much bigger issue than managing different personalities, according to Jim. ”When I joined MRL, one of the first things I started working on was how to solve the problem of interacting with one another without taking a lot of time out of each person’s workday. It’s not like you can walk down the hall and ask them a quick question.”

 

In response, MRL uses a variety of tools, from text messages and phone calls to collaboration-oriented software, such as OneNote, Microsoft Office 365, and Planner.

 

“Sometimes there is an advantage for everyone to be in the same spot, virtually speaking. If there is a large project or big enough issue that we’re trying to resolve, quite often, we’ll jump on a Join.me conference call with a handful of our employees and start reviewing something with everyone looking at it together. And when we want to make sure that people are engaged during a meeting, we’ll use Skype video conferencing so that everyone’s visible.”

Setting Boundaries for Yourself When Working Remotely

At this point, we realized that Jim Palmatier has only given us positive answers. We wanted to know about the disadvantages of allowing employees to work remotely from home.

 

“Speaking for myself,” Jim responded, “one of the concerns that I have is knowing when to stop working. All too often, we have the tendency to push through to get something done, when you should set time aside for yourself as well, to each lunch, for example. When I first started working at MRL, I wouldn’t step away from my desk until 8 o’clock at night, and that’s not healthy. Yes, it’s good to work hard and get stuff done, but you also need to make sure that you’re fresh and ready for the next day.”

 

“I know everyone says this, but it’s really true: we need to establish a proper work/life balance for our remote employees. In response, we’ve put together a policy for remote workers that includes recommendations on how to set up your home-based work environment and how to keep it separate from your home life.” It also includes specific recommendations, such as starting each day as if you were going into the office, taking lunch at proper mealtimes, and making time to “close yourself off” from distractions when you need to concentrate on work projects.

 

That’s good advice. We have something to add to Jim’s comments: remote workers also need to consider the health benefits of using safe, ergonomic furniture in the home office. Formaspace Office has a full line of sit-to-stand desks that not only offer convenience (at the touch of a button, the entire desk worksurface moves up and down as a unit) but also important health benefits that come from changing from a seated to standing position throughout the day.

 

Custom Weldmarx I NeoCon

Custom Weldmarx I sit-to-stand Desk

 

Establishing a Culture of Trust between Management and Remote Workers

While MRL has embraced the concept of employees working remotely, many other employers have not. We wanted to know why that is. Do other companies fear that remote workers won’t put in a full day’s work?

 

In response, Jim notes that “When people ask me ‘well, how do you know they’re getting their work done when working from home?’ my response is that every one of our team members has a job to do. You need to allow your employees the ability to grow, and sometimes that means you need to just let go of the vine and trust the fact that they’re going to get their job done.”

 

“As leaders, we do not micro-manage our team, we’re here to guide them and find ways to help them grow. We really don’t focus on the working from home aspect. Instead, we ask ourselves, are we leading and guiding our employees properly? Are we clear about our expectations? Is there a training deficiency affecting this employee? We ask a whole series of questions before immediately jumping to the conclusion that the reason an employee is struggling is due to working remotely.”

 

“Society and the culture today is so much different than 20 years ago. We’re not clock punchers anymore. For people who have a strong work ethic, work doesn’t have to be a 9 to 5 scenario for them to be successful. Everyone’s unique, and each of us can work in our own way, but it’s about getting the job done. You have to have a passion to be successful.”

 

On the other hand, Jim notes that not everyone is suited to working remotely. “When we’re talking to the individual job candidates, we do stress that working from home isn’t for everybody. I would consider the opportunity to work remotely to be a great employee benefit, a perk if they can be disciplined enough.”

The Spillover Effect that Remote Work is having on Corporate Office Design

As we saw at NeoCon 2018, the mashup of residential design influences and commercial office furniture design, collectively known as the “resimertial,” continues apace. We want to ask Jim what he thought about the current “resimertial” design trend as well as any other furniture design trends he’s spotted.

 

“If you look this resimercial trend, as they’re calling it, it looks to me like they are they’re trying to recreate the remote worker’s environment inside an office,” Jim notes. “They’re trying to build office environments that are more comfortable, just like home.”

 

That’s an excellent point. The resimertial trend could indeed have originated with remote workers.

 

Jim also sees a generational shift at work as well, which he feels may be quite significant in the long term. “If you look at our industry, at the independent representation, and you look at the dealer principals across the country, they’re a very senior group. There is a gap between that senior level individual in our industry and the much younger Millennials,” says Jim. He predicts the changes from this generational shift will ultimately be much more impactful than whether an individual company employs remote workers or not. The Millennials and Gen Z workers want to make their mark – by pushing for major design changes in the office environment, such as introducing campus-style, open offices.

Predictions for the Future: Will the Remote Work Trend Grow until it Becomes the Default Way of Working?

In closing, we had one final question to ask Jim: What’s the future of remote working? Is it a trend that will reach a certain penetration among employers and stop growing, or will most of us work remotely at some point in the future?

 

Jim Palmitier doesn’t think will happen any time soon, for a couple of reasons.

 

First, he doesn’t foresee a “one-size-fits-all” employment model that favors one way of working over the other. “I think the remote worker is more of a cultural thing for each individual company. For some organizations, working remotely is going to be a leading principle in their company’s work culture while, for other companies, it won’t be.”

 

Second, Jim notes that, at most companies, there may be an upper limit on how many jobs can be performed working remotely. “When you think about the remote worker and you look at the job titles the remote workers hold, many of them are more of your customer-facing individuals, more so than what I would call the internal type employees, such as production or support staff. We’re a little bit unique at MRL because our production staff is remote, which is possible because we have a virtual, cloud-based product. Not every company is the same.”

 

On that basis, Jim Palmitier doesn’t think that remote working will become a near-universal standard, at least not in the near future. If it were, we’d see major structural changes in the office furniture market due to the shift toward home offices. We haven’t seen that happen yet. Jim agrees: “I don’t think that the trend of remote employment will have an immediate negative impact on the industry.”

 

But in closing, we can make our own prediction: we think we’ll continue to see growth in resimertial-style furniture, as corporate offices continue to emulate the comforts of working from home.

 

We’d like to thank Jim Palmitier of MyResourceLibrary for the generous amount of time he spent with us, and we hope the conversation with Formaspace Office has been useful.

At Formaspace Office, If You Can Imagine It, We Can Build It.

Formaspace Office doesn’t just manufacture furniture for employees working in your corporate office, we can also create custom furniture designed for your employees working remotely at home.

 

So remember, whether you’re at the office or working from home, Formaspace Office has the right solution for you.

 

Check out our line of executive office furniture for inspiration.

Weldmarx Private Office

Or try our free Virtual Furniture Design, an interactive 3D design tool that allows you to build photorealistic 3D models of your Formaspace Office furniture online.

 

If you can imagine it, we can build it.

 

We offer a full line of standard, customized, and one-of-a-kind, fully bespoke office furniture – all made in America at our Austin, Texas factory headquarters.

 

That’s why customers, such as Apple, Busch, Capital One, Google, Parabola, Twitter, and Yeti choose Formaspace Office.

 

Why not contact one of our friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultants today for a free consultation. They can help you find the right custom solution to make your office work more efficient and enjoyable, whether you are in the office or working remotely from home!

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Want to discover the latest contract furniture and office design trends at NeoCon 2018? Join our discussion as we recap the coolest and hottest trends on display at the Chicago Merchandise Mart as NeoCon celebrates its golden anniversary.NeoCon 2018 Exterior

Didn’t get a chance to attend NeoCon 50th anniversary exhibition in Chicago?

 

No worries. We’ve got you covered. Our Formaspace Office team not only met with hundreds of independent reps, dealers, architects, and interior designers at our booth on the seventh floor of the Chicago Merchandise Mart to discover what the ‘buzz’ was at the show, but we also took the opportunity to walk the entire exhibition to see firsthand which design trends — including new concepts, new colors, and new material applications — stood out from the crowd.

 

We also wanted to find out if the predictions made by our expert panel prior to NeoCon were on target. As we’ll see in a few moments, the answer was a qualified ‘yes’ — yet there were still quite a few surprises in store at NeoCon 2018 that we didn’t anticipate.

 

Let’s jump right into the commentary, starting with Frank Bucher, Formaspace Office’s Executive Vice President of Sales.

 

vp-sales-frank-bucher-linkedin

Executive Vice President of Sales, Formaspace Office

Frank Bucher

We had an opportunity catch up with Frank after he had toured the exhibitions at NeoCon 2018 to find out if our pre-show predictions were on the mark. “Yes,” he replied, “for the most part, yes. As predicted before the show, we saw a wide variety of campus style, open office furniture solutions, as well as partitions and other solutions addressing the need for privacy.”

 

One of the new concepts addressing this issue that caught Frank’s attention was the mobile office pods from Nook; these allow teams to collaborate in a semiprivate zone within a larger open office environment.

Prior to the show, our experts predicted that the resi-mercial office furniture trend would continue to grow. They also predicted we could expect to see office designs inspired by “French farmhouses” with pastoral imagery.

 

“I’d agree that, at NeoCon, the resi-mercial office design trend continued to build momentum. But what really surprised me at NeoCon 2018 was the strong resurgence of mid-century, modern design influences as well as the return of bold colors, neither of which I was expecting to see. Steelcase’s Mackinac series was a great example of this.”

 

Steelcase modern office

Steelcase Mackinac series, photo by steelcase.com 

 

Jodi Gaines Linkedin

Brand Manager, Formaspace Office 

Jodi Gaines

Jodi Gaines agrees with Frank Bucher that our pre-show predictions did not anticipate the strong influence of mid-century modern and Scandinavian design elements at NeoCon 2018.

 

“Other than a few products that were launched in previous years, farmhouse and industrial inspired designs were out of the picture — so that prediction did not come true. Resi-mercial designs, however, continued strong, as well as a surprising return of furniture inspired by mid-century modern and Scandinavian designs. Bold colors were also seen throughout the show, making for a much more playful and brighter environment than in previous years.”

 

“We also saw many new products around space division, privacy, sound attenuation — including many privacy ’phone booths’ and sound control solutions for open offices. I was really intrigued by the living walls that use actual live moss to control unwanted ambient sound in the office.”

Pixels moss wall

Scandinavian Spaces Pixel is a living wall sound absorption product make with living moss. A Best of NeoCon 2018 winner.

 

Corey Hutchins Linkedin

National Sales Manager, Formaspace Office

Corey Hutchins

Like Jodi Gaines, Corey Hutchins was also fascinated by the living wall solutions that Incorporated live moss. “It was probably the most intriguing solution for sound control that I saw at NeoCon, one of many products on display designed to reduce ambient noise within the increasingly popular campus-style, open office environments.”

 

“I was also surprised by all the in-office pod designs that companies were showcasing at NeoCon. They are an interesting solution in that they provide a private (or semi-private) place to work, AND they can cut down on the ambient noise that can be a problem when working in open offices. Time will tell if these will become commonplace in the office or not.”

 

What about next-generation on-line furniture ordering tools?

 

One of our pre-show predictions was that the furniture ordering process needs to move to the next level; in other words, ordering contract furniture needs to be a simple process, even when making custom material and color choices. Corey feels this prediction was right, based on the very positive feedback Formaspace Office received at the booth when demonstrating our new 3D Virtual Furniture Designer. It allows the user to create instant photo-realistic 3D renderings on demand directly from the Formaspace Office website. No more needing to call in for renderings, you can create as many variations as you need until you find the combination of colors, materials, and accessories that are right for you.

 

Other trends that caught Corey’s eye (aside for a remote controlled beer cooler!) were the continued popularity of incorporating hardwood materials in furniture designs as well as the extensive use of bright colors.

 

David Howerton LinkedIn

Business Development Executive, Formaspace Office

David Howerton, IIDA

Bold color throughout NeoCon 2018 was a trend that got the attention of Formaspace Office’s Business Development Executive, David Howerton, who’s based in the SF Bay area.

 

“I felt that bold, exciting colors were a major trend at NeoCon this year. Some of the outstanding examples included the Heathered Hues carpet fibers from the Mohawk Groupbright fabric colors from HBF Textiles, and dramatic color applications from KnollTextiles. Probably my favorite color trend was the electric lime green color — used in movable Glide glass panels from Clarus Glassboard and also found in the Pixel living moss wall (mentioned earlier) from Scandinavian Spaces.”

 

Robbie Sutkay linkedin

Intern, Formaspace Office

Robbie Sutkay

Robbie Sutkay comes to Formaspace Office from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, just north of Chicago in Evanston, so he’s very familiar with the Chicagoland area. Yet this was his very first visit to NeoCon.

 

What struck Robbie was the great positive energy surrounding the show, and the Formaspace Office booth in particular. What created the most excitement? “Visitors to our booth were enthralled by our shuffleboard. They just couldn’t take their eyes off it!” says Robbie. “People were intrigued by the Formaspace Office story as well — a home-grown American manufacturing company that can build large quantities of custom-designed products that really stand out from the crowd. As a grad student pursuing my MBA, I found the spontaneous, positive comments from the booth visitors very encouraging.”

 

formaspace office gallery panel

Custom Wave Pattern Gallery Panel

 

Brooke Turner LinkedIn

Marketing Associate, Formaspace Office

Brooke Turner

In the lead up to NeoCon, Brooke Turner was busy conducting market research as well as orchestrating our pre-show panel of experts who went out on a limb to predict which trends that would be on display at NeoCon 2018.

 

So how does Brooke feel about the panel’s predictions now?

 

“I have to congratulate our panel, I think they were pretty close to the mark. For example, as predicted, we saw lots of resi-mercial product offerings that bring the comforts of home to the office. A great example of this was the new Dado line of modular sofas created by Alfredo Häberli (distributed by Andreu World). For me, the Dado line epitomizes the marriage of residential and office design trends. The generous proportions of the upholstered cushions remind me of an overstuffed sofa you might find in the home, yet the thin, taut lines of the color-contrasting welting help give it the professional presence of a serious piece of office furniture.”

 

“While I would say Dado represents a great example of resi-mercial design, its low-stance proportions also speak to mid-century modern design sensibilities. In fact, I also agree that mid-century modern inspired designs were a huge trend at NeoCon 2018 — something that our panel did not anticipate!”

 

“I especially liked how designers were picking up on certain elements of mid-century modern — especially the thin, delicate wooden legs or wire base designs found in lighting, seating, and furniture applications. Keilhauer’s new Untucked line, which won the overall Best of NeoCon award, is a great example of this kind of mid-century modern revival, and I like how it also fits squarely within the ongoing resi-mercial office design trend as well.”

 

Benjamin Tovar LinkedIn

Industrial Design Engineer, Formaspace Office

Benjamin Tovar

Benjamin Tovar, an Industrial Design Engineer at Formaspace Office echoes Brooke’s observation that mid-century design was on the march again at NeoCon 2018.

 

The fact that quite a few manufacturers exhibited chairs constructed from bent plywood — reminiscent of famous furniture designs by Charles and Ray Eames — was exciting news for Benjamin Tovar. “I think my favorite thing at the show was all the plywood. It’s a material I use heavily in my personal fabrication projects. I love it!”

 

Among the standout mid-century modern designs using plywood materials was the Ginkgo Ply Lounge series created by Jehs+Laub (for Davis Furniture Industries). “I liked how their chair forms made a subtle nod to the shape of the ginkgo leaf,” said Tovar. “It’s very natural and refreshing. I also was interested in the Legacy bent plywood collection from Thonet as well as the Twirl line from Encore Seating. The Twirl chairs have a wrap-around cantilevered back that’s reminiscent of early nineteen thirties art deco chairs, but the plywood materials and color schemes are very mid-century modern.”

 

As an industrial designer, Tovar was also drawn to the vendors exhibiting custom hardware components at NeoCon 2018. “It almost felt like a Maker Faire with all the different hardware pieces on display. I was really intrigued by the offerings from vendors like Mockett, who displayed interesting, specialized furniture hardware at their booth.”

 

Brett Gray LinkedIn

Project Manager, Formaspace Office

Brett Gray

Brett Gray, Project Manager at Formaspace Office, took note of the different ways that manufacturers at NeoCon 2018 were addressing the privacy and sound control issues arising from today’s popular campus-style, open office working environments.

 

“Creating a sense of privacy in an open office space was one of the ideas that drove the development of our own Formaspace Office Hackable Gallery Panels that we introduced in our booth at NeoCon,” says Brett Gray.

 

“We felt there was a real need to segment off semi-private work zones within the larger open office context, which is why I think these Gallery Panels were so well received at the show,” said Brett Gray.

 

“Our Hackable Gallery Panels also lend themselves to unique customization opportunities that can really reinforce a company’s brand message. For example, if the company has a graphic branding element they want to incorporate into the panels, we can take the design information and perform a precise custom laser cut during the manufacturing process at our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas.”

 

Gray was also intrigued by other privacy solutions at NeoCon 2018. “Like Frank Bucher mentioned earlier, I was intrigued by the booth style solutions from Nook. There were also intriguing telephone booth solutions, such as the freestanding “glassEnclose” booths from Carvart, and the Speakspace collection from Unika Vaev — some of which literally look like futuristic phone booths.”

 

“There were a variety of other privacy/acoustic solutions as well. For me, the Hip Hop High Back by Arold (distributed by Groupe Lacasse) felt like a classic, elegant design. I was interested in some of the “wilder” privacy concepts at NeoCon as well. Examples that caught my attention were the Gazebo by Nienkämper, which brings what looks like an outdoor greenhouse into the office, as well as the many inventive privacy-oriented products exhibited by Buzzi Space, many of which have a pop-art vibe that would feel at home on the spaceship set of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

 

Aaron Stoneburner LinkedIn

Lead Design, Formaspace Office

Aaron Stoneburner

Aaron Stoneburner, a Lead Designer at Formaspace Office, was pleased with the many natural earth elements.

 

“We got a very strong positive reaction at the show from our live edge credenza,” says Aaron. “Overall, I was pleased to see so many ‘natural earth’ elements at the show, as I’m a big fan of using natural elements, from reclaimed wood to live edge, to the living walls with natural moss that were mentioned earlier.

 

“I think that the current popularity for natural wood materials is the underlying reason behind the resurgence of the mid-century modern language. They go so well together with one reinforcing the other. It also speaks to the sustainability aspect of our industry — using reclaimed wood, e.g. upcycling, is an earth-friendly way to make a strong, eco-friendly statement.”

 

“A design that I’d like to give a shout out to is the Looper Bench seating concept from Michael Graves Design (distributed by David Edward). These come in a series of two, five, or seven ‘loops’ to form seating for one to four people — or more if you gang them together. They have a strong geometric presence.”

 

“The Looper Bench reminds me of another riff on the office privacy solutions that Brett Gray mentioned earlier — I’m talking about the LimbusBarn & Fences collection from Glimakra of Sweden. Now I realize this product that was not on display at NeoCon 2018, but I hope we’ll see it later in the year at the upcoming ORGATEC show in Cologne Germany. Like Looper Benches, the LimbusBarn & Fences collection uses very simple wooden forms set in playful geometric designs to create privacy dividers and semi-enclosed collaboration workspaces.”

 

Jeff Turk LinkedIn

Chief Executive Officer, Formaspace Office

Jeff Turk

Our mantra at Formaspace Office is “If you can imagine it, we can build it.”

 

“What does that mean in practice? It means we can manufacture the widest possible spectrum of office furniture at our Austin, Texas factory headquarters – spanning the gamut from our standard office furniture lines to our semi-customized furniture options, to our fully bespoke, completely custom-made signature furniture projects.”

 

“It was imperative for our team to bring our best work to NeoCon’s golden anniversary, starting with custom Weldmarx XII made with a gorgeous live-edge top made of pecan wood.

 

To show off our custom manufacturing capabilities, we also created a second variation fitted with a set of open, high-back, live-edge shelves, also fashioned out of pecan wood.”

 

“We also wanted address the need for establishing privacy in open office concepts – a major trend we spotted at NeoCon 2018. This is where our Hackable Gallery Panels come in. Thanks to our custom manufacturing capabilities, architects and designers can create unique, custom branding elements within each panel – allowing you to incorporate client logos or other design elements that reinforce your client’s brand.”

 

“Health and wellness at the office continues to be a major concern. We brought our latest version of our Sit-to-Stand desks to NeoCon; these have the unique ability to raise your entire worksurface as a one unit, which is much less disruptive than solutions which only raise part of the desk. The custom Weldmarx Sit-to-Stand desk version we brought to the show incorporates the same type of metal design details in the privacy screen as seen in the Hackable Gallery Panels.”

 

“I was also pleased by the reaction of our customers, including Google and other Silicon Valley clients, whom we brought over to see the special projects we had on display at our Formaspace Office booth. Our custom shuffleboard game was a huge hit – I think this piece is just gorgeous — people wanted to place orders for this game table right away.”

 

formaspace office shuffleboard table

Formaspace Office Custom Shuffleboard Table

 

Keep Up with the latest Trends at Formaspace Office

 

We hope you’ve found our roundup of the hottest and coolest trends at NeoCon 2018 useful.

 

Stay in touch with Formaspace Office to keep up with the latest trends as we visit ORGATEC in Cologne, Germany this coming October 23 – 27, 2018.

 

If you can imagine it, we can build it.

 

Formaspace Office is your source for custom-made, trend-setting furniture built just for you in our Austin, Texas headquarters. Turn to our experts when you need furniture that expresses your client’s brand message.

 

formaspace office neocon 2018

Contact your friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultant today to learn why leading companies, such as Oculus, Toyota, Busch, Yeti, Apple, Google, Twitter, Capital One, and Parabola are Formaspace Office customers.

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There’s a revolution taking place in today’s corporate cafeterias. Leading companies, such as Apple, Google, Twitter, and Wells Fargo, are transforming the once forgotten corporate cafeteria into gourmet show places offering healthy, chef-prepared meals that rival upscale commercial restaurants. Why are these companies investing in these types of amenities? We take a look at the reasons behind this growing trend and how it could affect your business.office cafeteria

 

How Did Office Cafeterias Go Gourmet?

If we could go back 30 years to ask the question: “What’s your favorite office cafeteria or restaurant?” we probably would have gotten quite a few blank stares in response. Such was the state of affairs for the much-maligned office cafeteria in those days.

 

Someone might’ve suggested the United States Senate dining room at the Capitol in Washington, DC — where politicians, lobbyists, and reporters rubbed shoulders (wearing formal jackets and dresses of course, per the dress code). But, despite the high-power guests and Federalist decor, the menu selections were as uninspiring as the signature Senate Bean Soup, which has been on offer each day for more than a hundred years.

 

The situation today is altogether different. As we’ll see below, hardly a month goes by without a major announcement of a new corporate cafeteria opening up that rivals anything in the local restaurant scene.

 

But like most revolutions, this transformation didn’t happen overnight. To get where we are today took a journey of more than two decades, starting with a new cafe concept in the San Francisco Bay area.

 

If you’re thinking about Alice Waters and her groundbreaking Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, you’re not far off. Waters has single-handedly helped develop the modern American palette and our appetite for eating locally grown food.

 

But there is another figure who helped transform the lackluster world of corporate and institutional cafeterias into the modern gourmand era, the restaurant entrepreneur Fedele Bauccio.

Larry Ellison, the co-founder of the software database giant Oracle, gave Bauccio his first big break in the corporate catering world of Silicon Valley, selecting his company to create a paninonteca, or Italian sandwich shop. Soon Bauccio’s company, Bon Appetit Management Company, opened a series of different cafe offerings at Oracle, each featuring a different cuisine.

 

Over time, Bon Appetit’s concept of providing high-quality, locally-sourced food took root all across Silicon Valley. The company now operates more than 500 corporate cafeterias at leading tech companies, including Adobe, eBay, Google, LinkedIn, and Yahoo. At Google’s Mountain View headquarters alone, Bon Appetit operates more than 30 different cafes.

 

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Introduce Healthy Food Options in Your Office

Is the trend toward upgrading corporate cafeterias on your radar?

 

We look at five reasons you might want to make the switch to offering healthier food options in the office.

 

1. Cafeterias That Support Your Brand Message Are Becoming an Essential Talent Recruiting Tool

Given the ongoing shortage of tech talent, leading tech and finance companies are making an investment in cafe amenities to build up their brand as a cool place to work.

 

Twitter office cafeteria

Twitter hospitality tables for their cafeteria/ lounge space

The resulting transformation of the once mundane corporate cafeteria into a “must try” food destination hasn’t gone unnoticed in the culinary, restaurant, and foodservice industry, as this deep dive article by Bon Appetit (the magazine, not Fedele Bauccio’s company!) explains:

 

“Where boomers were swayed by sturdy 401-k plans and reliable retirement packages, today’s labor force—particularly those interested in tech-y and internet jobs—are wooed by snacks, sustainability, and farm-to-cubicle ethics. And these companies are happy to keep them at the office longer, both in the span of a day and the span of a career.”

 

In other words, Millennials and Gen Z employees prefer to start their careers at companies that cater (pardon the pun) to their needs and desires, which skew toward workplaces with college campus-inspired open office environments, sustainable business practices, and healthy food choices.

 

Among these aspirations, it’s the latter one, healthy food choices, that often winds up as the most talked about amenity shared among their peers on social media. Indeed, Instagrammable food pics send a signal to their friends and followers (who, in turn, represent a significant pool of potential job recruits) that company X, Y or Z “is a cool place to work, just look at the food! #delicious.”

 

Here are three recent corporate “cafe openings” in just the past few months that have caught our attention:

 

Oracle

The database company that gave Bauccio his big break recently opened a new 560,000 square foot college-style campus in Austin, TX that features a cafeteria with eight different menu stations, from barbeque to Indian/Asian food.

 

Wells Fargo

Financial giant Wells Fargo recently opened up newly renovated cafeteria for its 5,000 employees in St. Louis that replaced the dark food service area built in the 1980s. It’s now a showcase amenity that features highly on recruiter visits with prospective new hires.

 

Koch Industries

In Wichita, KS, the new Café Koch serves more than 3,500 employees at the Koch Industries headquarters, which offers a range of West-coast inspired menu items, including their highly popular home-made street tacos offered on Fridays.

 

2. Skip Sad Desk Lunches. Use Mealtimes to Converse and Collaborate with Colleagues at Work

In a world where we are trying to kick-start worker productivity by encouraging spontaneous collaborations, corporate cafeterias offer a unique opportunity to connect with your co-workers while you savor your meal (and digest properly, which is crucial for good health!).

 

By investing in a central eating location, companies can avoid the food diaspora that occurs at lunchtime. At lunchtime, a certain percentage of employees head for the exits to partake in a longish lunch at some local establishment, while another group hovers worryingly around the kitchen mess, waiting for their moment to get a chance to heat up their salty microwave meal before they muddle through another “sad desk lunch.”

 

What a missed opportunity.

 

If you are concerned about lack of communication and missed opportunities for collaboration among your employees, then you should consider an investment in a new or upgraded cafeteria.

 

It can also help improve productivity by reducing those “long lunches” off campus. A recent study by Towers Watson indicates that having food available at work can save employees between 30 and 60 minutes at lunchtime.

 

Not sure how to go about it? Talk to one of our friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultants who will share their experience of creating cafeteria furniture for leading companies, such as Busch and Twitter.

 

Busch lounge cafeteria

Busch break room furniture of their lounge cafeteria

 

3. Good Nutrition is a Cornerstone of Good Employee Health

Companies have a reason to be concerned about their employee’s health, particularly due to the alarming increase in incidences of obesity and diabetes that are affecting American workers.

 

Increasing the activity of your workers at the office is part of the solution.

 

Getting up and moving around during the day is important; in fact, the negative health aspects of sitting for hours at a time has given rise to the phrase “Sitting is the New Smoking.” That’s why we recommend taking a look at our line of Sit-to-Stand desks, workstations, and conference tables. These innovative furniture designs allow you to change your seating position during the day, from sitting in a chair to standing, in order to improve your cardiovascular health. Taking breaks and walking throughout the day is also part of the solution, including taking a walk to the cafeteria.

Wledmarx I Height Adjustable Desk

Weldmarx I Sit To Stand Desk

 

Having a cafeteria on site is another way to help your employees live a healthier lifestyle.

 

Onsite cafeterias will encourage your employees to eat regular meals throughout the day. Research shows many Americans skip meals entirely during the workday. Serving proper portions of healthy food on a regular time schedule can help prevent/control obesity and diabetes.

 

You can also help “nudge” employees to avoid excessive calories by offering smaller plate sizes (which make us feel fuller with the same caloric intake) as well as changing the menu and recipe choices. (More about that in the next section.)

 

Consider reinforcing healthy eating choices in the cafeteria with other wellness programs, such as an onsite gym or workout facility.

 

For many employees, using a fitness app, such as MyFitnessPal, LoseIt or FitBit, can help reinforce calorie control and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle.

networking ping pong table

 

4. Rethink Food Offerings to Provide Healthier, More Sustainable Options

Companies like Google are taking the concept of calorie control a step further.

 

For example, the recipe for hamburgers offered at their cafeterias has slowly shifted to include more plant-based ingredients, such as mushrooms.

 

And healthier vegan choices are promoted more prominently on menus to encourage eating less meat. (Research shows that menu design can nudge us toward healthier choices.)

 

It’s all part of Google’s overall plan to reduce the company’s impact on the planet by reducing consumption of livestock, dairy, and egg production that contributes to global carbon emissions.

 

What can you do at your company?

 

From birthday cakes to pizza parties, the office makes it difficult for individuals to control calories and make good nutrition choices. One place to start is by replacing sugary and high-caloric snacks with healthy alternatives. Phase out cakes and “treats” with healthy alternatives that have less sugar and more nutrient content. Eliminate pastries and other “treats” provided during long office meetings with healthy alternatives based on fruit and vegetables.

 

What about snacking throughout the day?

 

Snacking is not inherently bad. In fact, some nutritionists recommend we eat many smaller mini-meals throughout the day rather than two or three big meals. But we need to eliminate the temptation of sugary late afternoon snacks. Swap out the vending machine and replace it with healthy snack choices.

 

What if you don’t have a cafeteria at your office?

 

If you don’t have an office cafeteria, you can organize healthy potlucks where people bring healthy food options from home. For example, a salad club encourages each participating person to bring a special salad topping or side dish.

 

5. Teach Gardening, Food Preparation, and Cooking Skills for a Healthier Lifestyle at the Office and in the Community

Companies like Adobe and Google are now going beyond just providing healthy food in the cafeteria — they are using their kitchens as teaching tools to educate their employees about the food we eat.

 

Employees can participate in cooking classes taught by corporate chefs in specially designed kitchens that mimic the type of residential kitchen the employees have at home. These classes go beyond just recipes, they include learning about where food comes from (especially locally-sourced produce), how to be an educated food shopper, and, of course, how to cook healthy recipes at home.

 

In addition to helping their own employees eat healthier meals, many companies are starting to get involved in helping their surrounding communities as well by promoting company gardens, rooftop gardens, and community garden partnerships.

 

This is an important effort, because many of today’s workers are very disconnected from food sources, instead, relying on pre-packaged, highly processed foods.

 

Companies can help by partnering with a local community garden (or hosting one on your property if space allows), participating in farmer “shares” programs, or arranging buying trips to local farmer markets.

 

For example, in the Boston area, Netscout Systems has created a garden where employees work in partnership with local community members to grow food. The produce grown in the garden is served in the corporate cafeterias, sent home to feed families, or donated to local food banks.

 

Boston Medical Center has a similar program, except in this case, their 7,000 square foot garden sits atop the roof of one of their main buildings. It’s not a small operation, this garden is expected to produce 15,000 pounds of food for the hospital’s food services food pantry and meals served to patients.

 

Blue Cross Blue Shield in Massachusetts has two 3,500 square foot gardens (one in Hingham and one in Quincy). According to an employee survey, 85% of those working in the gardens reported an improved mood as well as interest in starting a garden of their own at home.

 

Programs such as these encourage your employees to become healthy food advocates in the communities where they live. You can reinforce this message by offering healthy food from your company garden to visitors and partner companies attending meetings at your facilities.

 

Create a Healthier Lifestyle at Work with Formaspace Office Furniture

Are you inspired to create a healthier place for your employees to work?

formaspace team 2018

So are we.

 

If you can imagine it, we can build it — at our Austin, Texas headquarters.

 

To learn more about our cafeteria and employee lounge solutions, contact one of our friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultants today.

 

You’ll find out why leading companies, including Apple, Busch, Capital One, Google, Oculus, Parabola, SpaceX, Toyota, and Twitter, choose Formaspace Office for their office, cafeteria, and lounge furniture.

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As more and more Millennials enter the workplace, they are gravitating toward corporate campus work environments that mimic the best features of college campus facilities, ranging from informal collaboration spaces for group projects to light-filled libraries that offer quiet places to study. Companies who are actively competing to recruit Millennial workers are acting on this trend by introducing campus-style offices with open office designs that not only feel familiar to recent college graduates but are also appealing to more seasoned workers.

Business people working outside

First, a little context before we talk about how college campuses are changing the way we design corporate campus-style offices to attract Millennial workers.

 

Did you know that Millennials are the highest educated generation to date? In 2016, Pew Research found that 40% of Millennial workers between 25 and 29 had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

 

millenial workers between 25 and 29 survey results

This high level of education makes Millennials a coveted target for companies that are vying to recruit new talent— especially those companies in the tech sector that are feeling the pinch from an ongoing shortage of knowledge workers.

 

Competition for hiring Millennial tech graduates is especially fierce. But savvy companies have uncovered a secret competitive advantage: many Millennial job candidates are highly influenced by the way their prospective office space looks.

 

formaspace corey hutchins

Corey Hutchins, National Sales Manager at Formaspace

NCR is a good example of a company that’s acting on this insight, says Corey Hutchins, Formaspace National Sales Manager. NCR moved their national headquarters to Atlanta to “be right across the highway from Georgia Tech, where they can attract some of the best engineers in the country. And they want the absolute best furniture — much of it custom — to encourage graduating engineers to move across the highway and start their careers at NCR’s new HQ.”

 

In the minds of today’s Millennial job candidates, isolated desks situated in cold, impersonal cube farms are a definite ‘rule out.’ Instead, the more a corporate campus looks like a college campus, the better.

 

But which elements of college campus design are the most important to them? To find out, we take a look at a day in the life of today’s typical college student.

 

What Does a Day in the Life of College Student on Campus Look Like?

 

In the eyes of the Baby Boomer generation, life on campus for the Millennial generation looks pretty sweet.

 

Went to the library too late to check out a book? No problem, all the research databases and journals are accessible from your smart-phone, tablet or PC — available 24 x 7. You can also forget about collecting class notes and hard copy handouts, these are now online. You can also submit your homework over the internet as well.

 

The college campus offers many choices for where to work. Wi-Fi is available all across campus so you can study inside or outside, from the dorm room to the quiet carrels in the library, to the outside patio at the coffeehouse on the central square. When it’s time to work on team projects, there are also quite a few options, from casual seating in the student center to reservable conference rooms in the library, to project group workbenches and worktables in student labs.

 

Perhaps the only things that haven’t changed are study breaks. Still, not too much studying goes on at these, so nothing new there.

 

8 Things College Campuses Can Teach the Corporate Office Environment

 

Given the flexible learning environments found on college campuses, is it any wonder that today’s young Millennial new hires suffer from culture shock when contemplating the prospect of working in a traditional office —  at an assigned desk with no window —  for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year?

 

It’s for this reason that so many of the most sought-after Millennial college graduates prefer to accept job offers from companies that have college campus-style offices that are based on open office design principles. These companies simply feel like an extension of the college life they have experienced over the past four or more years.

 

So, given this premise, let’s take a look in detail at eight specific design elements that remind Millennials of their coming-of-age college campus experiences and how these design principles can be replicated on corporate campuses.

 

1. The Freedom to Work Anywhere on Campus

Thanks to pervasive Wi-Fi available across campus, our Millennial college student is accustomed to working anywhere, from open areas outdoors, to quiet spaces tucked inside the library — and everywhere in between.

 

They are entirely comfortable using technology as well. As the first truly Digital Native generation, Millennials have the highest penetration of smartphone ownership — at 92% per Pew Research. (Unsurprisingly, Millennials are also the biggest adopters of social media, at 85%.)

 

Design Insight: Corporate campus-style offices (and their IT departments) should embrace the freedom to work anywhere on campus using mobile devices to access work information.

 

2. Natural Light and Outside Views Brighten the Work Day Mood

Over the past 25 years, college and university campuses have been replacing (or extensively remodeling) education buildings that have reached their end of life. Instead of small, enclosed classrooms with drop ceilings kitted out with harsh fluorescent lighting, today’s modern educational facilities typically feature wide open spaces that offer ample natural light and outside views. This is good news, for natural light helps improve our mental health.  It’s also a highly requested amenity according to recent surveys from Oxford Economics as well as our own Formaspace Work Life Awareness Survey.

 

Design Insight: Corporate campus-style offices should take a cue from the latest college campus building designs which feature ample natural light and outside views.

 

3. Refresh and Recharge by Working Outdoors

As we saw in our day-in-the-life scenario, college students also take advantage of working in the great outdoors. Many college campuses support this by boosting Wi-Fi signals to reach shady outdoor seating areas adjacent to campus cafeterias, coffee shops, and park facilities.  This is part of the greater trend toward biophilic design, which seeks to connect us with the natural world outside, even when we are working.

 

Design Insight: Expand corporate cafeterias to include outside seating areas (with Wi-Fi and shade) so employees can work outdoors in the fresh air throughout the day.

 

4. Move Between Different Work ‘Neighborhoods’ Throughout the Day

Our Millennial college student is comfortable changing up work locations and seating positions throughout the day, moving from a communal table in the coffeehouse in the morning, to a quiet semi-private carrel desk in the library, to a mid-day team project meeting across a science lab workbench, to a comfortable lounge chair in the student center during the afternoon.

 

Design Insight: Corporate campus-style offices can emulate these varied college campus environments by creating their own network of “work neighborhoods” on corporate campuses. To encourage employees to be more active yet comfortable at work, you should also specify ergonomic, height-adjustable desks. (These “Sit-to-Stand” desks are also ideal for accommodating employees of different sizes.)

 

5. Work Together in Dedicated Collaboration Spaces

College campuses also offer a wide variety of collaboration spaces where students can work on team projects*, from library conference rooms to lab workbenches, to informal areas in a student lounge, or at tables placed outside a campus coffee shop or cafeteria.

 

*FYI in college parlance, “team” projects are assigned to specific individuals who will work together. On the other hand, “group” projects refer to an assignment given to any number of students, who may or may not choose to work together.

 

Design Insight: Corporate campus-style offices are picking up on this trend by providing project collaboration spaces in the form of enhanced cafeteriasproject-oriented conference rooms,  and their smaller variant, huddle rooms, which are kitted out with communication technology to support project collaboration. Many new offices (see an outstanding example below) are doing away with assigned desks altogether. Instead, relying on ‘hot desking,’ which provides reserved access to workspaces based on an employee’s current assignment or work style.

 

Deloitte’s new consulting office in The Netherlands uses a custom high-tech app to provide each employee with workspace options that are updated daily based on their current project assignments.

 

6. Serendipity at Work: Make the Most of Face-to-Face Encounters

One of the great benefits of being on a college campus is the increased chance of running into professors and other students who share a common interest. These spontaneous, serendipitous encounters can often lead to future academic opportunities and other valuable future connections.

 

In corporate terms, chance encounters can be responsible for making important connections, while helping break down the “silo” effect, where one department doesn’t know what the other is doing.

 

Design Insight: Make the most of spontaneous face-to-face encounters by providing easy access to casual collaboration zones — kitted out with comfortable, casual seating and useful collaboration tools, such as mobile dry erase market panels for impromptu brainstorming sessions.

 

 

  • Mobile whiteboard

white-board-commboard

  • Mobile pedestal

WeldmarxXI_mobile-pedestal

 

  • Dry erase top table

Dry Erase Top Table

 

 

7. Get into the Zone: Find Your Quiet Space to Work

Given the variety of built environments on university campuses, college students often have wide a choice of quiet places to read, study, and work —  ranging from private dorm rooms to quiet zones in the library, to uncrowded outside areas.

 

Gracie - Sixthriver Architecture

Gracie Conner, Interior Designer at Sixthriver Architects

Recreating these types of quiet work environments within corporate campus-style offices is an ongoing challenge. As Interior Designer, Gracie Conner, of Sixthriver Architects, noted during our recent interview on the rise of custom furniture,  “In corporate design, there is a push for open concept, which is great, but this does come with its challenges, because there is now an emerging trend to create little private spaces within the bigger open spaces.”

 

Design Insight: According to the Oxford Economics workplace study mentioned earlier,  corporate employees working in an open office design rank having a quiet place to work when it’s time to concentrate on a project as a top amenity (outranking other perks, such as free meals at the office or on-site daycare).  This finding was also confirmed in our new Formaspace Work Life Awareness Survey.

 

TIP: Be sure to also check out our guide to reducing noise in your workplace.

 

8. Makerspaces: The Key to In-House Product Innovation

More and more colleges and universities are investing in Makerspaces to provide students with hands-on learning experiences that help reinforce principles learned as part of STEM classes in science, technology, engineering, and math.

 

Companies that produce physical products can benefit from providing their employees with access to Makerspaces on corporate campuses as well.  The ability to print out a design using a 3D printer within the office — or assembling a working model of a product using an Arduino or Raspberry processor and sensors — can speed up the design process. It’s also more secure than sending work out to external prototyping vendors.

 

Design Recommendation:  Talk to your Formaspace Office Design Consultant for tips on how to design the layout, storage, and working areas of a Makerspace on your corporate campus.

 

Employees working at Pinterest can show off their own personal arts and crafts “collections” in the Pinterest employee art gallery and lounge.

 

Don’t know How to Get Started? Formaspace Office Can Help.

 

You can depend on Formaspace Office to deliver office productivity solutions.

 

If you are struggling with the beginning stages of creating an office layout, check out our article on the seven things you need to know to create a productive office design.

 

Not sure how much space to allocate for each employee in open office design? Refer to our guide to open office planning. It also explains how to use our online office space calculator tool.

 

When it’s time to start populating your office space with desks and tables, why not check out our new Virtual Furniture Designer? It allows you to modify our standard product lines to your liking by choosing different top surface materials, frame colors, and finishes, as well as storage, lighting, and other convenience features.

 

If you can imagine it, we can build it. We also offer custom furniture solutions as well as fully one-of-a-kind bespoke options, built to your design specification at our American factory headquarters in Austin, Texas. And it’s backed by our no-questions-asked 12-year guarantee.

 

To be honest, there’s even more that we can offer you. To find out more, contact your friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultant.

 

You’ll learn why famous companies, such as SpaceX, Oculus, Toyota, Busch, Apple, Google, Twitter, Capital One, and Parabola choose our furniture products.