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Formaspace Office, a leading custom office furniture manufacturer, will showcase a height-adjustable vintage conference table along with other custom designs at booth #7062 on the 7th floor at NeoCon 2019.

visit formaspace office at booth 7062

Formaspace Office, a leading custom furniture-manufacturer, is pleased to be headed to Chicago this June to attend NeoCon for their 3rd consecutive year. Their team of project managers, industrial engineers, marketers, and executive oversight—collectively specializing in bespoke office furniture design—invites you to visit them at booth #7062 on the 7th floor. Their booth will be set up Monday June 10th through Wednesday June 12th from 8 AM to 5 PM for all attendees to experience the unveiling of their crown jewel: a vintage conference table.

This signature piece—co-created in partnership with a high tech social media company—is a gorgeous vintage table that has inspired awe in both its natural aesthetic and in its functional achievement. The table’s height is adjusted by a vintage-style hand crank wheel that provides hydraulic, effortless conversion—putting the table in the ‘flexible’ class of office furniture that adapts to changing needs.

The success of the piece demonstrates how the potential of a client’s vision can be met by partnering with a team of dedicated design professionals. Formaspace Office’s crew was on the project from ideation to installation. The client opted for a whitewashed, beautiful maple top and steel frame powdered in textured black to match their brand’s unique preferences and vision. The overall vintage style is coherent through the use of vintage spoke casters—which also give the table mobility.

The stellar functionality of the table is self-evident in its hand crank and casters. But the unit truly shines in its support of organic workplace collaboration with its 96” W X 36” D top. The tabletop lends ample space for all to gather and make progress on the task at hand together. The unit is listed at $16,000—prices vary based on material selections.

NeoCon, renowned as the most important event of the year for commercial interior design, will be marking its 51st edition of the show and will be expecting attendance from 500 leading companies and 50,000 design professionals. The Formaspace Office team is thrilled to stand among other leading companies in debuting their new custom furniture works.

Formaspace Office’s independent reps will be in attendance and available for the introduction at booth #7062 on the 7th floor. To set up a 1-on-1 meeting with Formaspace Office, visit the campaign page.

 

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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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Communication plays an unsubstitutable role in the world of modern work. As technology changes the way we interact in real time, at lightning speed, the nature of communication in the workplace changes in tandem. And we’ve become more appreciative for this role it plays in connecting and aligning our diverse teams who are often geographically dispersed.

And so maintaining communication effectively day in and day out has become critical.

open office with hand crank table

As both communication and collaboration are at a premium, we’re asking more and more of the commercial office in terms of the role we expect it to play in facilitating both, by its design. To boot, according to our Work Life Awareness Survey, despite the trend toward co-working and working from home, the majority of millennials—the largest generation in the workforce—still prefer to work in the office. This means that there is both great power and potential within the office’s design.

 

And because less time is spent in the office and a growing proportion of the workforce is demanding a work-life balance liberated from working after hours, the time spent on-site at the office is invaluable, and fulfilling this potential through good design, technology, equipment, and furniture is paramount. The following article outlines a few promising methods of design in creating an office that promises better communication and collaboration in the workplace.

 

Place flexibility at the center of the design philosophy for a space that adapts

The modern office should be built to flex in every sense; capable of adapting with the ongoing shift in how we communicate and collaborate. This ‘flexibility’ can be built into a working space through the following features and methods:

 

‘Zone’ the office’s working areas to support varied working styles for optimal communication at work

Collectively, an office’s working spaces should comprise an artful and intentional mix of quiet, dedicated workspaces and open, shared workspaces designed for collaboration. This mix lends a powerful competence for supporting work in its dynamic forms—and embracing communication and collaboration. Quiet, dedicated workspaces can take the form of silent or soundproof work areas, conjoined and alterable cubicles, napping pods, and traditional individual workstations. While open, shared areas designed for collaboration can take the form of huddle rooms and pods, and meeting and conference rooms.

 

“73% of employees think their organisation would be more successful if they could work in a more flexible and collaborative way.”-Google for Work

 

This mix of work area styles allows workers to find the level of privacy, noise level, and focus that best serves the work task at hand, whether solo or collaborative. Having this choice over every detail of your working atmosphere is a strong contributing force to the kind of positive morale that unlocks authentic, flowing communication and collaboration and drives progress.

 

For an idea on the form of this mix, consider an array of the following styles of workstations and set-ups, each with elements in their build that foster both communication and collaboration at work. Notice the feature of the sofa within the collaboration area—a style of furniture not to be written off, for it brings levity and relaxation to the space.

 

parabola office

Use modular furniture; configurable as times and needs change

 

Opting for a tilting training table and putting it on wheels for maximum maneuverability is an excellent example of implementing ‘configurability’ within the space’s interior design. Opting for height adjustable working desks, manually operated by hand crank, and easily fixed at the ideal height for any variety of user is another tactic. Seeking out furniture that adjusts, tilts, collapses, rolls, and reconfigures is the key here.

 

standing height l shaped desk

 

Make collaboration at work mobile through the use of the right tools

Tools designed for collaboration should be close at hand wherever and whenever collaboration needs to spark. The mobility here is a principal key to driving raw, thorough communication of organic ideas that can mature into sound solutions and strategies. When we talk about mobile collaboration tools, we’re talking about pegboards and whiteboards and the kind of tools that deliver on the promise of ‘flexibility’ in their mobile, modular, configurable, adaptable nature.

red mobile white board

The use of wheels and casters in communication boards such as these is a simple method of making communication mobile and fostering greater communication and collaboration through office design.

Design for relationship-building across generations

Designing office spaces that support communication and collaboration is the challenge raised by the workforce being multi-generational. Five generations are now working together, each with their own preferences for communication. Differences here can lead to disconnect and tension as parties fail to understand one another. This tension can be avoided or amended by designing for relationship-building within the space.

 

One strategy for combating this is to complement the work-denoted spaces with communal, ancillary spaces that are meant for relaxation, conversation, and social connection. By engineering vibrant and natural areas, such as patios, lounges, and kitchen cafes meant solely for taking a break from work and connecting with one another, colleagues are encouraged to create deeper relationships with one another. This critical feat of relationship-deepening is what allows individuals of differing backgrounds to better understand how each communicates, nuances and all.

 

These kinds of spaces are best realized if complete with furniture built to support the endgame of bountiful social connection.

Busch Cafe Lounge

Another strategy for designing an office space fit for relationship-building is to make the space partially open (free of dividers) to foster spontaneous, water-cooler-style conversations. Spontaneous conversations and chance encounters with co-workers—an idea so important that it’s been coined ‘culture-collision’—are valued aspects of modern office coworking because they seed new relationships between colleagues from disparate departments. Enriching these relationships across departments is a strategic means of improving communication organization-wide through connection.

 

Take note of the furniture below, designed with this divider-free element of the open office; an element that stirs this natural, spontaneous conversation across teams and colleagues.

new generation weldmarx I

View this new generation Weldmarx I at booth #7062 at Neocon 2019.

 

 

Another consideration is to design for ‘fun’ at work. Having fun has been proven to improve relationships at home for years—and fun activities at work improves relationships with co-workers in the same way, helping to develop bonds with colleagues that contribute to improved performance and productivity. Additionally, ‘fun’ improves our cognitive functioning; the reduction of stress that results from doing something enjoyable improves memory and concentration.

shuffleboard table

This stunning shuffleboard table, custom-designed by the Formaspace team, was showcased at last year’s NeoCon. The pecan live edge slab top, leather insets, built-in USB ports, modular phone and drink trays, and custom frame inspired by the Austin-famous Pennybacker Bridge earned the piece much admiration from the crowd for its elegant yet pragmatic design.

 

“Fun in the workplace is good for your state of mind, according to our survey. Employees who took part in fun activities in the workplace were ‘significantly more likely’ to feel a greater level of psychological wellbeing than those who hadn’t.”-BrightHR, It Pays To Play survey

 

Curious what role furniture can play in this creation of adaptive spaces that cater to both to work and play? Check out our #NETWorking 5-in-1 Ping Pong Conference Table below that adjusts to support either sitting or standing solo work, small group collaboration, or a game of ping pong.

conference table networking

Make tech accessible within the office’s build

Technology is the tool of all tools that unlocks communication and collaboration if leveraged properly.

 

“Technology is best when it brings people together.”-Matt Mullenweg, developer of WordPress

 

Again, millennials have the greatest preference of all the generations for being able to seamlessly switch between devices in the office—mobile devices, personal computers, and displays within collaboration areas—to get their work done. This preference reveals the need to make tech accessible and easily leveraged by the design of the office’s space.

 

Simple methods here include featuring clutter-eliminating wire management and making power accessible. Easy access to power enables the kind of mobility sought to support a mobile, remote, fast-paced workforce. Accessible power can take the form of battery-powered USB ports or a power data strip or plate built into each furniture piece that is to be used for work. Cable management enclosures can take many forms and should always be built in with a methodical approach that hides the eyesore of cables and wires.

 

As with any comprehensive project, these kinds of details are fully expressed when custom-designed and custom-manufactured is the route taken for furnishings.

 

Build joy into the details through the use of light, color, and nature

 

Joy relieves stress and improves morale. And positive morale is proven to improve work performance; the natural product of communication, collaboration, and related work activities that depend upon positive, conductive relationships between people. An invaluable and delightfully easy way to bring more joy to the office is through color, natural light, and the inclusion of nature in design.

 

“Exposure to greenery and sunlight yields a 15% increase in well-being and creativity and a 6% increase in productivity.”-Human Spaces. Biophilic Design in the Workplace

 

Natural light can be brought into and dispersed throughout the office space by removing those dividers—the physical walls, barriers, and partitions—that would otherwise block light from reaching colleagues situated away from windows. Better yet, furniture that is alterable, with partitions that can be removed and adjusted as needed, can be optioned to give workers authority over the level of privacy, noise, and light that meets their personal workstation.

standing height series benching

The acoustic panels attached to this standing height series benching can be stacked, allowing workers to adjust the level of privacy, noise, and light that reaches their workstation.

custom designed steel panel

 

Similarly, a custom-designed dividing panel such as this one is an effective way to give each worker control over the level of privacy, noise, and light that meets their work area.

 

Relatedly, color is an accessible remedy to the stagnant, stifling quality of the old-school office aesthetic—one that improves morale, fostering greater communication and collaboration in the workplace. And within commercial office interior design, whether beige, bellini blue, solid grass green, regimental red, or slate grey, the core and accent colors can be expressed within the furnishing frame finishes, surface materials, and the like, to deliver this remedy subtly.

formaspace office finishes

 

For inspiration, consider that nature can be brought inside with a furniture piece like a live edge table: a true beauty of a statement piece surfaced with reclaimed wood slab, crafted to highlight the wood’s natural grain, knots, voids, and surface imperfections. Such a piece is not only a creative form of ‘upcycling,’ but brings nature, in one of its most impressive forms, indoors.

sycamore live edge slab office furniture

Nature can also be built into the detail of a commercial office’s more standard furnishings: storage solutions, conference and meeting tables, and traditional desks. Take the furniture duo below: a hand-cranked conference table complemented by a custom-designed storage unit. Each is designed with space reserved solely for the display of nature.

formaspace office neocon

Visit Booth #7062 at Neocon 2019 to see this Vintage Conference Table and Bespoke Storage Unit.

Opting for natural wood over a synthetic finish in the final build of a space’s custom furnishings is another tremendous way to bring more of that restorative natural element to the office. What’s beautiful about working with a custom-furniture manufacturer to complete an office space is that such details—the finish to signature furniture pieces, for instance—are true to the client’s original vision through the conscientious design process. Whether walnut, oak, or maple is the wood that actualizes this original vision, the dream can be built true to itself through the details.

 

And it is through such details that our Industrial Design & Engineering team shines in co-creating unique, stand-out furniture solutions that delight and deliver at a rate and pace comparable to that of standard furniture delivery. Our team of experts works beside you on your project, from ideation to installation, to bring that original vision to life through custom, signature works.

 

Want to learn more about co-created office design?

 

Contact your Formaspace Office reps to get started on your first custom furniture project today.

Open Office Design
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It is through superior office design that a fluid, healthy, and productive work culture can be fostered — one wherein the value of relaxation and union are both recognized and leveraged, and where work, in its motley forms, is given the correct support needed to flourish. The debate on whether ‘open’ or ‘closed’ design lends best to this flourishing work has finally bred a new vision for the approach: borrowing elements from both styles for a flexible office space that adapts.

The principles core to this pursuit of flexible space, together, embody what we now call ‘flexible office design’ — a philosophy of design comprised by a tactical and artistic mixture of elements from both ‘closed’ and ‘open’ office floor plans.

It is through this approach, with ‘flexibility’ set as the lodestar, that office space can be transformed from a cost into a competent and capable asset, delivering on its primary task of embracing workers in realizing their potential.

Open Office Design

What is flexible office design?

Flexible office design, sometimes referred to as multispace, hot-desking or hoteling, agile, non-territorial, activity-based, or task-oriented, is a philosophy with a goal of maximum flexibility. Through strategic and creative inclusion of custom-designed, modular and adjustable furniture, equipment, and technology, ‘flexibility’ is built right into the floor plan.

This flexibility, first and foremost, is so that each individual worker is empowered and enabled to find their focused workflow just as easily as they can find energizing collaboration with colleagues. And, secondly, so that the company, as a collective, can adapt to the changing, unknown needs of the future with a simple reconfiguration of the office’s layout, convertible by the build.

For more context on how flexible office design came to be, we can review the challenges and benefits of both a closed and open office floor plan — as this will help us understand how a flexible floorplan plan delivers most powerfully and more effectively than either.

Why the closed, private, cubicle-style office design didn’t cut it.

walnut u shaped desking solution

A closed office space is your traditional-looking office, with departments and hierarchies denoted by a deliberate arrangement of cubicles and private offices. The benefits and challenges are clear-cut and widely known. For an easy visual, think of the classic film, OfficeSpace.

Benefits of the closed-office plan

Challenges to the closed-office plan

Improved privacy Having a dedicated, enclosed workspace gives individuals a dignified level of privacy and a sense of autonomy over the pace and focus of their work. Alienating Being cooped up and ‘closed in’ in a cubicle all day has the effect of making one feel isolated from both their team and the larger vision.
Distraction-free Less noise, ongoing communication, eyes looking onto your work, and generally distracting stimuli around you equates to less distraction and greater ability to focus — this quiet, calm space is critical for deep, creative work. Expensive Given the infrastructure needed to create separate workstations, dividing partitions, and private offices, closed-office plans come at a sizable overhead cost.
Improved productivity Productivity improves when concentration is easy. Space-inefficient Cubicle farms tend to be space-inefficient, as each cube has dead space within it, unutilized.

 

Why the open-office plan, as an antidote to ‘cubicle-farms,’ came and went as a hyped-up trend

mobile personal desk with casters

At the other end of the spectrum of commercial office design exists the ‘open office plan’ — a proposed remedy to the stuffy, antiquated, isolating, and hierarchically-defined closed office layout. An open or ‘collaborative’ office plan is characterized by the use of wide, open space with no high dividers, wherein employees work side-by-side, often, at large, shared, collaborative workstations.

Without those physical walls, barriers, and partitions (in the form of cubicle spaces and private offices) to divide teammates, an open office arrived with the chief promise of unleashing ad-hoc collaboration and communication for a more organic team interaction and, ultimately, greater productivity. Even for those who’ve not worked in this style of office, the pros and cons can be intuitively understood.

Benefits of the open-office plan

Challenges to the open-office plan

Cost-effective, efficient use of space Because more employees can fit into an open office layout, and the installation of partitions and individual desks is not needed to complete one, they are a relatively a cost-effective, efficient use of space. Anxiety from being on display A sense of being ‘on display’ at all times can induce stress and anxiety — many people who work in open offices feel they’re being monitored more heavily by colleagues and managers, pressured to ‘appear’ busy at all times, with the lack of privacy afforded by partitions. This stress can verge on paranoia, greatly inhibiting deep focus and reducing productivity.
Can improve team camaraderie The open, fluid layout lends better to spontaneous, chance encounters with teammates from other departments — a term coined ‘culture-collisions’ — which breeds relationships, sparks spontaneous conversations that breed creativity and contributes to a healthy sense of community and connection. Difficulty focusing Increased noise levels, lack of privacy, and working nearly shoulder-to-shoulder to colleagues with numerous devices going off is distracting. Calls and conversations can be overheard from across the office, and movement from colleagues can cause over-stimulation, making it exhausting to impossible to find focus. There is even research proving that stimulation overload in the form of distractions at work can be emotionally exhausting, detracting from the day’s output.
Brings in the natural light Without any high-dividers to block it, natural light disperses well within open offices, improving employee morale through the connection to nature. According to our Work Life Awareness survey, 69% of people applying for a job look for natural light within the office — 82% saying natural light enhances their productivity. More digital interaction weakens effectiveness of communication Face-to-face interaction is proven to generally decrease within open-plan offices, which hinders quality communication and important opportunities to develop trusting relationships.
Works to remove ‘barriers’ between employees and managers (freed from hierarchically assigned office spaces). By physically ‘flattening’ the organization, more effective team-wide communication is cultivated. When the goal is free-flowing creative ideas and information, this benefit is big. Open office plans don’t support completion of certain high-level work tasks Tasks that require a great degree of focus, such as coding, writing, or graphic design, are difficult to complete in an environment fraught with the distractions of various kinds of stimuli.

 

A flexible workplace: the perfect marriage of the best elements of open and closed office design

The perfect balance of quiet, dedicated spaces for deep focus, and vibrant, communal spaces for restorative collaboration is central to flexible office design. This hybrid style of design, if implemented well, also incorporates ancillary spaces with equal share as it does these dedicated and shared working spaces both, in order to unbridle for the healthy benefits of relaxation, social connection, and comfort to be fully realized. Through such ancillary spaces, deeper relationships are fostered as well as a wholesome sense of place — one that allows one’s best frame of mind for quality work.

Ancillary spaces are those “in-between” spaces in the office that allow workers to retreat and relax — the patios, eating areas, and meeting areas with non-work-related amenities. Because the modern office is expected to support well-being, these spaces, once considered of secondary importance to areas devoted to work, are now recognized as of equal importance.

Consider the value of completely unplugging from one’s work to find the perspective that develops it through exercise at an on-site gym. Or the sense of joy and presence restored by a patio lounge lined with lush greenery; joy and presence that reduce stress, allowing one to ground themselves more attentively in their tasks with a new calm. The overdue trend in modern office design puts such ‘ancillary’ support at the core where it belongs.

Flexible office design = quiet, dedicated workspaces balanced against open, shared collaborative areas + communal, ancillary spaces

Quiet, dedicated workspaces: Silent/sound-proof work rooms for solo work, cubicles created by alterable cubicle dividers, napping pods, and individual workstations; spaces designed for heads-down, focused, solo work

Open, shared collaborative areas: Huddle rooms and pods, meeting and conference rooms, and breakout spaces; areas where you can break free from the stress and hyperfocus to retreat, relax, find perspective, chat, and collaborate

Communal, ancillary spaces (“third spaces” or “in-between” spaces): Lounges, cafes and kitchens, gyms, and enclaves; areas designed to help employees to feel more ‘at home’ at the office

What characterizes flexible office design?

A flexible workplace is one that is built with the chief aim of just that: flexibility. Flexible, most immediately, in responding and adjusting to the varying needs of each individual worker, per their unique array of work tasks, patterns, and styles throughout each day and day-by-day. As measured according to our Work Life Awareness survey, a ‘dream’ workspace layout includes both an assigned desk and flexible work options to 47% of employees.

And flexible also in being capable of responding and adjusting to the needs of the future; an office built essentially with high-quality and versatile moving parts makes any office move or reconfigure down the road to be resource-efficient (in time, money, and energy).

Building this flexibility right into an office space that properly features those powerful, regenerative ancillary areas ensures that the space meets its aim of housing and developing a happier, healthier, and more productive force of workers.

It is for these reasons that, by design, a flexible office is primed to deliver on core promises:

  • Competently supports an organization’s variety of, dynamic, changing workflows, on an individual basis
  • Adapts, reconfiguring to empower activity-based working
  • Easily adjusts to accommodate the spacial needs of the future as they take form
  • Emboldens workers to participate in the layout of their space
  • Efficiently uses space

 

Complete with furniture that flexes, too

“Chairs are uniquely the best expression of design. They encompass more of the challenges by which I live and work than any other single component of furniture.”-Vladimir Kagan

standing height l shaped desk

A truly flexible office is complete with multi-purpose, modular furniture, equipment, and technology. Consider the following versatile pieces, as concrete examples:

Fundamental to the flexibility of each of these pieces is the easy adjustability that allow — either free-standing or easily disassembled, maneuverable, mobile, and properly customized with built-in casters, wheels, cranks, lifts, and mounts.

These design features make the ‘flex’ between working solo, working collaboratively, and kicking back effortless.

Because this easy ‘flex’ between work and relaxation is a fundamental goal (i.e. building ancillary into the office), products that combine work and play fit the bill perfectly. Take our #NETworking 5-in-1 Ping Pong Conference Table as an example, which changes shape to accommodate sitting or standing solo work, small group collaboration, and/or a stress-reducing game of ping pong.  

Flexible office space, done right

The Edge, Amsterdam

The Edge, called the world’s smartest and greenest office building, achieves efficient use of space with its app-powered, hot-desking protocol — and overall efficiency with its solar panel covered roof that services the building in generating more energy than it consumes. The space is flooded with natural light (with every workspace within 7 meters of a window), fulfilling environmental, ergonomic goals that make for happier people. The game rooms, coffee bars, and gym on-site satisfy inclusion of ‘ancillary’ areas critical to a flexible, modern office. And the walls are lined with flat-screen TV’s that can be easily connected to for content streaming, allowing that flexible, easy leverage of technology. The building, a superb incarnation of flexibility, efficiency, and ‘smart,’ is complete with custom-designed conference tables, meeting tables, and seating models.

 

Unilever Headquarters, Switzerland

office snap

Design: Evolution Design Source credit: Office Snapshots

The flexibility of Unilever’s headquarters is absolutely manifest in the variety of zones, each denoted appropriately and built to embrace and advance a variety of work and relax tasks: ‘Focus Zones’ for concentrated work, ‘Connect Zones’ for collaboration and communication, ‘Vitality Zones’ for socialization and revitalization, and ‘Quiet Zones’ for improved comfort and well-being. The variety of flexible, modular furniture completes the team’s vision of giving ample room to productivity in all its forms, with ‘agility’ clearly defined as the object of the space’s build.  

Credit Suisse, Zurich

Credit Suisse,

Credit Suisse, Zurich
Source credit: Giorgia Xenakis, Creative Commons

Credit Suisse’s Zurich office aims to embody Smart Working by leveraging technology for both flexibility and a hardy respect for individual preferences. This two-pronged emphasis can be noted in the array of spaces built to support diverse activities across work, play, and relaxation. Note the clever use of breakout spaces, modular, adjustable furniture and equipment, games, cafe areas, huddle pods, comfort-giving work lounges, individual workstations, accessible technology, and versatile meeting spaces.

 

W.L. Gore, Elkton

W.L. Gore’s Elkton office — fit with a healthy amount of breakout spaces, enclaves, and lounge areas — does an excellent job of bringing the ‘home’ to the office through the incorporation of ancillary areas. By the same token, the variety of non-assigned workspaces made available and accessible through modular, adjustable, and versatile furniture succeeds in achieving the activity-based workspace sought through its design.

 

The key? Custom.

“Exquisite details make interiors sing.”-Larry Laslo

cystom weldmarx I

A truly flexible workplace elucidates the awesome and important role that ‘custom’ plays in the creation of a multi-use space. Here, ‘custom’ can be seen as the key to solving both the functional and aesthetic goals, while fulfilling the more ethereal brand-related and culture-related goals as exhibited in the stories of these client spaces. How, exactly? By honoring the most defining finishing touches of a space: the details.

Whether maple butcher block top or hardwood walnut, beige or calcutta marble laminate, or an A, V, Cone, or Eiffel frame table base — it is through the details that the vision, both abstract and concrete, is brought completely to life.

And attention to the details is our team’s specialty — we co-create custom furniture with your team at a rate and timeline comparable to that of standard furniture delivery. From ideation to installation, our team partners on your project for custom, original furniture when ready-made pieces won’t satisfy.

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 contacting us.

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Times are changing rapidly in the contract furniture world. From open-plan offices to curated spaces, the market is demanding unique furniture designs you won’t see anyplace else. Yet, many of us still find the thought of commissioning custom furniture to a be a daunting proposition. But the truth is — it’s not anymore. We asked Formaspace Office CEO Jeff Turk and Executive Vice President of Sales, Frank Bucher, to highlight some of our recent high-profile custom projects and to walk us through the process of co-creating custom furniture in partnership with Formaspace Office.

Jeff Turk Linkedin

CEO of Formaspace, Jeff Turk

“If there is one thing we’ve learned from manufacturing custom furniture for high-profile accounts, such as Twitter, Google, and Capital One’s fintech division, it’s that they move fast in everything they do,” says Formaspace Office CEO Jeff Turk. “And because each of these leading-edge companies has created a very strong brand presence, they know exactly what they want from an office design perspective: unique, authentic, non-standard furniture pieces that differentiate their interior office designs from their competition.”

 

“Now, in the past, you probably wouldn’t have heard the words fast and custom furniture in the same sentence”, admits Jeff. “But with the modern manufacturing methods we have put in place in our Austin, Texas factory headquarters, things in the market are changing rapidly. So we want to get the word out — you can delight your clients with unique, custom commercial furniture pieces co-created in partnership with our in-house industrial designers and engineers. The lead times are now comparable to standard furniture deliveries and the costs for custom furniture won’t bust your budget either.”

 

“Let me back this up with a recent example.”

 

 

Vintage Industrial Furniture Design Inspires a Modern Take on a Custom-Made Conference Table

 

“I want to give you a feel of what it’s like to co-create a fully-bespoke piece of furniture, but let me be upfront:  the end client desires to remain anonymous,” explains Jeff. “But we can share this: they are a major media company on the West Coast that was looking for a unique, signature conference table for their new company headquarters. They found inspiration in a 1940’s vintage industrial style table. But several factors (including an asking price that was $50,000 over their budget) led them to task their furniture dealer, Two Furnish, to come up with an alternative solution that would be a perfect fit in their new communal cafe, where employees gather to eat, collaborate, and conduct team meetings.”

 

“They approached us here at Formaspace Office and challenged our Industrial Design & Engineering team to ‘Formaspace-ize’ the original vintage design concept and create an affordable replica.”

handcrank conference table

This hand-cranked, height-adjustable conference table, which was custom made for a West Coast media company, takes its inspiration from vintage industrial equipment.

 

“The result is a refreshingly modern take on the vintage design. The new custom conference table we built for Two Furnish’s client is a full 14 feet long, with a timeless, rich walnut butcher block top. (If you look carefully, it’s made in two 7 foot sections to reduce material costs and make it more maneuverable for shipping and installation.) We also found an affordable version of the hand-operated wheel crank to adjust the height of the table, inspired by the original vintage industrial table. This new custom-made furniture design — crafted from heavy steel with a textured black powder coat — retains the look-and-feel of antique cast iron industrial equipment, but with significant savings in weight and material costs.”

 

 

Looking for Authentic, Differentiated Furniture Designs? Formaspace Office’s Custom Manufacturing Capabilities are Scalable, Predictable, and Repeatable

 

Times are changing in the contract furniture market according to Frank Bucher, Executive Vice President of Sales at Formaspace.

 

Frank Bucher Linkedin

Executive Vice President of Sales at Formaspace, Frank Bucher

Custom furniture is the answer to the cry for unique, non-standard products in commercial interiors,” says Frank.

 

“But the number one challenge when it comes to custom furniture is perception. When people hear the term ‘custom furniture,’ they immediately think about long lead times and the expense. But that’s no longer the case. At Formaspace Office, we make custom products in large and small quantities at prices that approach standard products and lead times. We’re able to do this because of our advanced internal processes in our Austin factory headquarters, which allow us to manufacture custom furniture designs in a way that’s scalable, predictable, and repeatable.”

 

“I’d like to show you what I mean, with an excellent example of customization for an open office design created by the award-winning firm Parabola Architecture.”

 

 

Award-Winning Firm Parabola Architecture Selects Custom-Made Formaspace Office Desks for Transformative Open Office Environment

 

A San Francisco-based media company commissioned Parabola Architecture, the Charlottesville, Virginia-based firm led by Carrie Meinberg Burke AIA and Kevin Burke AIA, to transform a 1920s canning factory (that once turned out Folger’s coffee cans) into a showcase open office environment.

open office at parabola

Working with Bay Area dealer One Workplace, Parabola Architecture specified custom-made sit-to-stand desks from Formaspace Office for this remarkable transformation of a former canning factory in San Francisco’s ‘Dog Patch’ neighborhood into an open plan office space for a major media company.

 

Located south of SOMA, in San Francisco’s ‘Dog Patch’ neighborhood, the newly transformed industrial facility features hundreds of custom-made Formaspace Office sit-to-stand desks that offer the client’s employees a one-of-a-kind work environment that’s both unique and ergonomic at the same time.

 

“We’re especially proud to have helped contribute to this exceptional project,” says Frank. “We’re eager to show you how Formaspace Office can deliver custom office furniture for your next project at budgets and delivery times that are comparable to ordering standard furniture pieces.”

 

 

It’s Time to Co-Create Your Next Project with Formaspace Office

 

Your company has its own style; its own unique way of doing things.

 

Cookie-cutter furniture – straight out-of-the-box – is out of the question.

 

Now is the time to stand apart from the crowd and make a statement about who you are.

 

You imagine it. We build it.

 

Formaspace Office’s Industrial Design & Engineering team is ready to work with you to co-create bespoke furniture pieces that will fit both your timeline and your budget.

 

We work with you each step of the way, beginning with the ideation, design, and engineering stages, using the latest software technology designed to integrate with your processes, not the other way around. Once the design concept is approved, we can build rapid prototypes for your approval here at our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas. Then, when the project is a go, we put your custom furniture design into production, for quick delivery at a price point that’s comparable to standard furniture offerings. We also offer onsite installation services.

FSO Article Graphic

Formaspace Office Design Process

 

Take the next step.

 

Of course, there’s more to discuss. Make contact with your Formaspace Office Design Consultant. We’re eager to start collaborating with you on your next custom furniture project.

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Formaspace Office toured the international office furniture exposition ORGATEC 2018 held in Cologne, Germany. Here is our report on the top trends in European office design. 

As 2018 comes to a close, Jeff Turk, Formaspace’s CEO, and Jodi Gaines, Formaspace’s Office Brand Manager, crossed the pond to attend the biennial office contract furniture exposition ORGATEC 2018, which is held every other year in Cologne, Germany.

formaspace office at orgatec 2018

With ORGATEC 2018 taking place in October (roughly eight months before NeoCon 2019), we felt it was a good opportunity to take the pulse of current European office design trends as we prepare our new Formaspace Office exhibits for NeoCon 2019 in Chicago. We wanted to see if the new trends taking root overseas are similar to what we are seeing here at home or if they are somehow diverging into new, uncharted territory.

 

ORGATEC 2018: Rethinking Business Culture and the Future of Work

Fortunately for us, the organizers of this year’s ORGATEC sought to broaden the scope of the exposition beyond just product introductions to create a conversation about the changing face of the new work culture, commonly referred to in German as “Arbeit 4.0” (Work 4.0).

 

So this afforded a very good opportunity for us to make the trip and find out if the major structural changes taking place in North American offices — including the rapid shift toward open-plan workplaces and the rise of “resimertial” design influences  — were trending in European offices as well, and if so, to what extent.

To add English subtitles, click “CC” on YouTube task bar and then click the settings icon. Click on “Subtitles/CC German” and select “Auto-translate” and then “English”.

Robert Nehring, chief publisher of the office blog OFFICE-ROXX.de gives his impression (in the German language) of the top trends at ORGATEC 2018, including changing culture at work, the influence of communication and collaboration, “new work” spaces that exhibit a startup feeling, the return of wood materials in furniture, and the first annual ORGATEC office chair hockey competition.

 

Work 4.0 Means Working from Anywhere

To kick off our reporting from Orgatec, we’d like to relay the story of two designers behind the UK-based industrial design consultancy Barber & Osgerby.

 

Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby spent a day observing people working at their computers and smartphones while seated in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in London. Their conclusion?  “We got to thinking, there are just so many people that work this way,” Barber explained to Architectural Digest. The two realized there was a market for a new product concept.

Designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby talk about how the nature of work is changing. They introduced their new Soft Work ergonomic sofa line for Vitra at ORGATEC 2018.

 

So what did Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby come up with? They hacked together a solution that combines a work desk with the comfort of a sofa. Their new concept, which debuted on the Vitra stand at ORGATEC 2018, goes by the name Soft Work. It’s a structured sofa seating environment built for working. Unlike ordinary sofas, the support is firmer and the height is a bit taller. (If you roll up a standard office task chair next to it, it’s the same height, for easier collaboration.) Soft Work also has built-in folding tables for use with laptops, tablets, and phones, as well as convenient power outlets and induction charging stations for mobile devices.

 

The experience of Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby at the Ace Hotel was not unique. In Europe, just as in North America, work happens anywhere and everywhere. Once an end-user has experienced the nomadic work lifestyle, they want more of that and less of the assigned-seating office environment. (Leading-edge hotels are reacting to this trend by increasing the size of their social/work spaces and common areas.)

jeff at orgatec

 

As we learned in an ORGATEC panel on the changing nature of work, employees are starting to ‘hack’ the workspace to fit their needs, not the other way around. When employees become empowered and take ownership of their space, it’s incumbent upon architects and designers to ask themselves if the office spaces they create are saying “work like this” or “work how you want.” The solution? Use more flexible, multi-function furniture so that workers can modify their environment to fit their needs. (That’s a message we’ve been promoting for a long time at Formaspace Office!)

 

Movement Away from Traditional Office Desks in Favor of Soft Seating Solutions

As we walked around the different stands in the Cologne convention center, we realized something was missing. Office desks. Traditional desking solutions were far and few between at ORGATEC 2018. (Those desks that we did see at the show were mostly sit-to-stand versions, typically integrated with apps, such as YoYo, which allow users to reserve their workspace or to track how long they have been working at their desk.)

cardboard desk orgatec

 

What we did see – instead of desks – was a tremendous number of upholstered furniture concepts, which, like the Soft Work concept on the Vitra stand, featured comfortable seating with integrated, stowaway table trays and built-in panels for privacy and sound control.

 

Indeed, the soft seating genre (which we nicknamed the “cocoon” chair concept) took the show by storm. Nearly every manufacturer seemed to offer at least one take on this concept. To illustrate our point, here is a handsome “cocoon” design, called “Plenum,” by the Spanish designer Jamie Hayon that was on display in the Fritz Hansen stand. Like many other soft upholstered solutions at the show, it also features built-in power and USB connections plus a matching work table for your smartphone or laptop computer.

 

Plenum cocoon style

Spanish designer Jamie Hayon’s first contract furniture design is called Plenum. This “cocoon” style chair for Fritz Hansen was one of many soft upholstered alternatives to traditional desks on display at ORGATEC 2018.

 

Avoiding Open Office Distractions with Room-in-Room Phone Booths and Other Novel Noise Control Solutions

As European offices move toward open-plan layouts, the issue of controlling unwanted noise and distractions is becoming more important, just as at home.

 

(See our report on how to reduce unwanted noise in your office.)

 

As we saw at the NeoCon 2018 show in Chicago, Room-in-Room solutions (often called Phone Booths) are a good way to keep conversations private (and the noise down) in open-plan office environments. There was a big push by manufacturers at ORGATEC to showcase different variations of these Room-in-Room concepts. Here are two examples:

 

syneo lounge furniture

The Syneo Lounge Furniture from Assmann Büromöbel features a small “phone booth” for private conversations (left), a banquette work area with acoustic privacy panels (middle), and a larger enclosed room-in-room conference space (right).

 

cocoon by palau

 

A particularly eye-catching example comes from the Dutch company Palau (now owned by Casala). Their room-in-room phone booth concept is called “Boston” (rear left). Also on display are two different examples of “cocoon” style seating by Palau.

 

We were also intrigued by some novel, stand-alone acoustic control products on display at ORGATEC.

sound absorbing wall solution

For example, the German company Wilkhahn showcased a soft padded wall solution designed for leaning against. This sound-absorbing solution can serve as a landing spot, with an optional integrated bump out shelf designed to hold your phone, tablet, or a beverage.

 

ecoustic by instyle

Other sound control solutions on display at ORGATEC included free-standing sculptural designs, such as this partition design from the Ecoustic collection from the Australia-based manufacturer Instyle.

 

Wellness, Exercise, and Play in the Office

If you’ve been following developments at Formaspace Office, you already know we are big advocates of making office spaces that combine the best of work and play. So we were on the lookout for ideas at ORGATEC that promote healthy, physical activity in the workplace.

y-kicker foosball table

One piece of furniture that caught our attention was the unusual Y-shaped foosball table created by Ben Beyer of the Orange Council agency. Known as the Y-Kicker (Kicker being the German word for a foosball table), the design breaks the conventional rules of the game, allowing three players to play against one another.

conference table networking

 

(This design reminded us of some of our own office furniture designs, including our multifunctional #NETWORKING table which converts between a table tennis game and standalone conference table, or our Shuffleboard Gaming Table, both of which were launched at NeoCon in Chicago.)

chair polo at orgatec

Teams from around the world compete for the world champion title in chair hockey. Photo courtesy of Christoph Meyerdierks for BKE Fislage

 

But the big gaming news at ORGATEC this year was the debut of the World Champion Chair Hockey competition. The tournament, created by Jens Fislage (owner of the space planning consultancy BKE Fislange), pitted competitors from around the world. This year’s winner was the team from the chair manufacturer Interstuhl, who competed under the moniker “Chair Force One”.

 

The Top Furniture Styling Trends as Predicted by ORGATEC Exhibitors

To answer the question whether our North American office design trends are converging or diverging from those of our colleagues in Europe, we took careful note of the furniture styles, colors, shapes, and materials on display at ORGATEC.

By our reckoning, there was a surprising amount of coherence between what we’d recently seen at the NeoCon contract furniture show held in Chicago earlier this year with what was on display in Cologne.

color palette at orgatecFor example, we saw very similar color palettes — based on matte black, mid-century color palettes, as well as gold, rose gold, and brass details accented with pops of color. The accent colors on display included jewel tones as well as muted bright colors, such as blush pink, mauve, pale green, pale blue, and so forth.

 

These color schemes on display at ORGATEC surprised us; not because they were different, but because so many of them were identical to colors Formaspace Office had presented on our own display stand at NeoCon 2018.

 

formaspace office finishes

Of course, we were able to identify important differences between European and American office furniture. For example, it seemed to us that the US office furniture market has been quicker to adopt multi-functional furniture designs. And the European offerings continue to lead in design aesthetics and attention to detail; however, in our view, the US market has generally caught up – if not exceeded our European colleagues in product design innovations.

 

What gives? To be honest, we’re frankly a little disappointed that there were not more differences. But in a way, it makes sense. Internet-based communication technology has really accelerated the globalization of design concepts, to the point that there aren’t as many distinctions as there once were between American and European design sensibilities.

 

This reminds us of one of our favorite quotations we recently came across:

“The danger of technology and globalization is uniformity. The solution is to design with love and purpose.”

– Susana Covarrubias, Design Principal, Studio Director, and Design Director of Gensler in Seattle

 

The Resimercial Trend, Known as Hospitality or Homliness in German, Has Taken Hold in Europe

Another possible explanation for the convergence of American and European aesthetics is the increasing influence of residential and hospitality design sensibilities on the contract furniture market. Yes, the mashup trend known in North America as resimercial has taken root in Europe as well. In Germany, this process of residentializing office (Verwohnzimmerung des Büros) goes by the somewhat confusing English terms hospitality or homliness. In the view of Jeff Turk, CEO of Formaspace, “Offices in Europe are taking on a more comfortable, casual feel that’s reflective of European residential design elements, which have seen a strong retro revival of Scandinavian and Mid-Century Modern design elements. That’s in contrast to the resimercial influence on office design that we’re currently experiencing in North America, which is centered around comfort and casualness, such as incorporating oversized sofas or home style lighting elements in the workplace.” To give you an idea what Jeff is referring to, take a look at this video from the IMM Home Furnishings show that took place in February 2018. (FYI this exhibition was held in the same convention halls as ORGATEC.) From the video you can see the extent to which European residential design has adopted the type of Mid-Century Modern design elements that would fit right in within an office environment.

Here the presenter Elisa from OTTO.de calls out six residential design trends that could just as easily apply to the office furniture designs on display at ORGATEC:

  1. Minimalism
  2. More is More (especially mixing different elements, materials, and styles)
  3. The Classics (including Mid-Century Modern)
  4. Bring the Outdoors Inside
  5. Color (warm and cool)
  6. Materials (leather, velvet, wood)

 

Experimental “Plant 10.1” Exhibition at ORGATEC Provides a Sneak Peek of the Future of Work

We now turn our attention to one of our favorite exhibits, one that was organized by ORGATEC to allow artists and designers to express their concepts and ideas for the future of work in a non-commercial setting. This exhibition-within-an-exhibition, known as Plant 10.1, was put together by the creative agency Orange Counsel, the consultancy firm Detecon, and an artist’s collective known as FREETERs & Friends.

This was the one section within ORGATEC that stood out, where new ideas flourished with genuinely differentiated product concepts.

 

Here are just a few photos from Plant 10.1 that illustrate the breadth of new ideas on display.

TRANSFORMER TEIL 2

The artists Silke Mattern-Specht and Frowin Schwer prototypically developed wall shelves, armchairs, drawer tables, rocking chairs and acoustic sofas from old, discarded roll containers, especially for Deutsche Telekom.

 

New Furniture Solutions at ORGATEC Address Sustainability and Environmental Concerns

Given our awareness of heightened European Union standards for sustainability, especially the recycling of materials, we were on the lookout for interesting examples of office furniture product success stories.

 

Our instincts were right. The ORGATEC show coincided with the launch of the new European “Level” certification, organized by the European furniture manufacturing association FEMB. Their new “Level” standard certifies furniture products for suitability according to the selection, longevity, and re-usability of the material components. It also evaluates other sustainable characteristics, such as how much energy is used in manufacturing and distribution.

recycled pet plastics

Among the solutions we saw on the show floor, we were most impressed by the furniture manufacturer Vepa, who worked in collaboration with the Dutch organization Plastic Whale. The high-end furniture projects are actually made from discarded plastics collected from canals in Amsterdam. Their designs include a boardroom table and a lamp — both made with components made from recycled PET plastics.

 

Congratulations to the ORGATEC Show Organizers and Exhibitors

That concludes our roundup of what we were able to glean from this year’s ORGATEC contract furniture exhibition in Cologne, Germany. We would like to congratulate the show organizers for a job well done and to express our thanks and appreciation to all the exhibitors who took the time to introduce us to their product. We really appreciate it, and we hope to return the favor in June 2019 when Formaspace Office returns to the NeoCon contract office furniture exhibition in Chicago.

 

Stay Ahead of the Trends with Formaspace Office

You imagine it. We build it.

 

That’s our promise to you.

 

Here at our Formaspace Office factory headquarters, we are dedicated to fostering the spirit of discovery and creation through the design and manufacture of unique furniture solutions. So whether you are looking for furniture for your office, conference rooms, makerspaces, cafes, lounges, or creative spaces, we are ready to work with you, from ideation to installation.

 

Want to learn more?

 

Why not contact your Formaspace Office Design Consultant today to see how we can work together to make your next office project a success.

 

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Are you familiar with the recent phenomenon of companies creating dedicated social spaces to encourage their employees to interact with one another face-to-face at the office? We take a look at why leading-edge companies — from Google to Hyatt Hotels Corporation — are investing in social spaces, which are designed to build a cohesive workplace culture that encourages spontaneous dialog and helps foster creative collaboration between employees.

gartner office in arlington

Image by Gartner Headquarters in Arlington

It Takes a Neighborhood: The Rise of the ‘Third Place’ in Office Environments Where do you like to spend your time when you are not at work?

Perhaps you like to hang out and drink coffee at the nearby neighborhood coffeehouse, walk your dog at the park, join members of your faith to worship at your church, or meet your friends at the local pub.

 

In the view of American urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, these are all examples of a “third place” that exists between our homes (”first place”) and where we work (”second place”). Since Oldenburg published his 1989 book “The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community,” many urban planners have adopted his language to describe the central role that these public spaces play in creating a positive community culture. Commercial interests have taken notice. In fact, Starbucks, as well as McDonald’s, are among the many businesses jockeying to become the de facto “third place” in communities across America.

gartner offices in arlington

Dedicated social spaces at CEB headquarters in Arlington, Virginia (now a division of the research company Gartner) provide ample space for employees to interact in a public environment that fosters a creative and diverse work culture.

 

Corporate office space planners have taken note as well. If these social spaces help build community outside of work, couldn’t they also be effective for enhancing the performance of culture in a corporate office environment? Intuitively, it makes sense. Where do you get your best ideas? At your desk at work or while sitting at the coffee shop?

 

What about collaboration? Is it better to set up a formal meeting with a colleague to ask a favor or would you prefer to just run into them casually at a restaurant or cafe? Many space planners are starting to think of designing offices to be more like a neighborhood, with different zones for different functions.

 

Most offices already have well-established focus spaces (for getting work done), collaboration spaces (for formal projects and meetings), and learning spaces (for training and education). By adding dedicated social spaces to the mix, you can help build new relationships between employees that can strengthen a company’s overall work culture.

 

One of the innovators in creating dedicated social spaces at work is Google. In this video (filmed by the Wall Street Journal) of Google’s original office space in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, you can see that even within the crowded floor layouts, Google’s office designers were able to carve out casual social spaces with whimsical themes that encourage face-to-face meetings where employees can freely exchange ideas.

Social spaces in Google’s original New York City Office at 111 Eighth Avenue location in the Chelsea Neighborhood.

 

(Since the video was recorded, Google’s need for office space has led them to purchase the nearby Chelsea Market, a former Nabisco factory that occupies an entire block, for an estimated $2.4 billion dollars.)

 

What’s Driving the Changes in Today’s Work Culture?

There may be a greater need for social spaces within the office than most executive managers realize.

 

As our economy has become more connected, thanks to Internet-based solutions that are steadily integrating nearly every work discipline into one cohesive “machine” — from marketing and sales to product design, to supply chain operations and customer service — it may be ironic, but today’s employees actually have a much greater need to interface face-to-face with other departments across the organization to get things done than ever before.

 

Three typical corporate departments illustrate the increased need for face-to-face communication in today’s connected offices:

● Finance Department: Today’s finance teams can track expenditures and make financial forecasts in real-time, but with greater data, comes greater responsibility — for coordinating with all other departments, which, in turn, means the need for more ad-hoc face-time for planning and making strategic decisions for the business.

● Information Technology: Thanks to the digital transformation of the enterprise, practically every job function in every department requires extensive coordination with the IT department. Not to mention that within IT departments themselves, the increasing adoption of open software components that need to work together requires even more human coordination. Remember: not all big decisions or ideas come from meetings. Social spaces can provide spontaneous connections that can help solve critical business problems — both big and small.

● Engineering, Research, and Product Design: These departments can no longer afford to work in an isolated information “silo” as they may have in the past. Fast-moving customer preferences and crowd-sourcing ideas are influencing today’s product development and engineering processes as much as real-time quality control feedback and supply-chain sourcing data. In response, many teams are turning to agile development processes to work more quickly, but the bottom line in space planning terms is that all these changes are driving the need for more face-to-face communication across the enterprise.

 

Many of these same arguments apply to other corporate departments as well, from sales and marketing to quality management, to product support, to supply chain management, distribution and logistics, to employee training and human resources. In all of these job functions, the challenge that employees face is how to perform their jobs in a more integrated, more cooperative, more measured, and more instantaneous fashion.

 

Given these pressures, it’s no wonder that workers feel the need for places to meet in person when the conference rooms are all booked up. In a world where more of us work in open offices, we need a place to meet and talk.

 

angela linkedin

Angela Shaw, Senior HR Manager

Here at Formaspace Office, our Human Resources Manager, Angela Shaw can relate. “At previous places where I’ve worked, there was never enough meeting space,” she explains. “Where do you go to have a conversation? Especially a confidential one. Sometimes people need to have a conversation that not everybody hears, or that they feel like everybody’s hearing. Social spaces are a good way to fix problems like that, so employees can feel comfortable having those quick, confidential face-to-face meetings without having to reserve one of the hard-to-come-by conference rooms in advance.”

 

And finally, it’s not just rank-and-file employees that benefit from having social spaces to meet with their colleagues to exchange ideas. Mid-level managers and senior executives, especially those who ascribe to the servant leadership model, find it very advantageous to meet with employees in a casual social environment, where they can hear directly about issues that might not yet have come to their attention, or to provide assurance and guidance to employees concerned about a particular issue or policy.

 

Hyatt Makes the Leap to Translate Hospitality Concepts for Their Own Work Environment

Like many companies, Hyatt Hotels Corporation was hesitant about investing in social spaces for their new Hyatt Global headquarters in Chicago. What would be the return on investment, they wondered.

 

According to Randy Howder, Managing Director of Gensler’s San Francisco office, the “ big ‘aha moment’ was, let’s not think of this simply as a place to work. Instead, let’s think of it as a test bed for how we conceive the guest experience.”

the hyatt

Image by Gensler

 

Call it what you will, it turns out this “justification” was enough to convince Hyatt Hotels Corporation President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian to come on board. In his view, their new Chicago headquarters, which is designed to mimic the experience of visiting a Hyatt hotel property, is the perfect way for Hyatt employees to experience the very type of social interactions they want to create for their hotel guests, especially business travelers.

This new Gensler-design headquarters also puts Hyatt in the catbird seat for helping set the direction for what has been one of the hottest trends in office design for the past couple of years — the resimertial look that combines the comforts of home with the casual ambiance of an elegant but relaxing hotel environment.

 

Checklist for Successful Social Space Implementations in the Office Are you ready to create your own social space within your office environment?

 

Here are 8 different aspects to consider when designing a “third place” within your office to encourage employee interaction.

1. Does it encourage creativity?

A social space can inspire new ways of thinking, and that’s the point. Create a public space that takes people out of their conventional way of thinking by inspiring them to be playful and interactive.

Igniting creativity to transform corporate culture

 

2. Is the design authentic?

As consumers, Millennial and Gen X are famously expert at sussing out what’s genuine and authentic and what’s contrived. Put your best feature forward. A social space with the best view in the office will naturally attract users, while a converted basement room with no light might repel visitors.

 

3. Is the social space transformative?

A well-conceived social space can be like a chameleon — transforming from one use to another — from a company-wide party venue to a relaxed play space. Talk to your Formaspace Office Design Consultant about our flexible furniture concepts, such as our #NETworking table which transforms from a ping pong table to a pair of side tables in seconds.

networking table

Walnut Conference Table

 

4. Can you bring the outdoors inside?

In our survey of Millennial workers, outdoor access and views scored among the top wish-list amenity items. Consider connecting your social spaces directly to outdoor areas (including providing outdoor wi-fi access) to bring the outdoors inside.

 

5. Will there be food?

We are social creatures who love to gather and eat together. Connect your social space with adjoining food and drink bars, or larger cafeterias, to draw employees together over food and drink on campus (rather than to offsite restaurants and cafes).

 

6. Does it encourage movement and wellness?

Sitting too long at your desk is not healthy. That’s why Formaspace Office creates a unique line of sit-to-stand desks that encourage movement throughout the day. Walking within the office to a social space also encourages healthy movement. Many thoughtfully-designed social spaces can also serve double-duty as areas for yoga classes and other exercise programs as well.

7. Does it connect to other zones within the office?

As we mentioned before, the well-designed office floor plan already has zones for Focus, Collaboration, and Learning. Careful placement of social zones can encourage employee use, but also prevent noise from disturbing those employees in other zones. See our report on reducing noise in open-plan offices for more ideas. PS: don’t forget wireless connectivity in the social spaces for those who want to escape their desk areas.

 

8. Would you want to work here?

Finally, ask yourself the question, “Would you want to work here?”

 

That’s a good way to judge if your social space can help as a recruiting and retention tool, a critical point to make in a business environment where competition for the best talent is fierce.

 

As Formaspace Office’s Angela Shaw reminds us, in this competitive environment “even the best places to work can struggle with getting talent or with retention issues. That’s why creating a work culture that encourages everyone to feel like they belong is so important. Work should not be sad, and angry, and boring. You should be able to come to work and actually enjoy yourself — because the reality is we spend a lot of time at work. I believe that creating social spaces at work can be an important part of the solution.”

 

Formaspace Office is Your Partner for Successful, Modern Work Environments

Formaspace Office is ready to help you create a better work culture. Our innovative, stylish office solutions will help your employees feel better at work and be more productive.

 

And don’t forget: If you can imagine it, we can build it.

Office cafe

We can build custom, bespoke office furniture that’s a reflection of your company’s own unique brand. Think of us as your secret weapon in the furniture industry: we are big enough to make custom designs in quantity for you here at our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas, but attentive enough to give you the personal attention that you deserve.

 

Take the next step. Contact your friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultant today to learn how we can help make your next project more successful.

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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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Choose Formaspace Office to build your next set of custom conference tables and desks, manufactured right here in the USA at our Austin, Texas factory headquarters. We can create fully custom (bespoke) furniture, such as our #NETworking Ping-Pong Conference Table. You can also extensively customize furniture orders from our standard catalog offerings, using our free, easy-to-use, online design tool found here on our website.

 conference table

Say Yes to Employee Engagement in the Office with our #NETworking Ping-Pong Conference Table

Are you looking for something to inspire a little friendly competition and employee engagement at the office? Then it’s time to check out our new #NETworking Ping-Pong Conference Table.

Our #Networking table was a big hit in the Formaspace Office booth at this year’s NeoCon contract furniture show in Chicago, where show attendees lined up to get a chance to play in an impromptu tournament.

 

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.”

— Thomas Edison, American Inventor

 

As Thomas Edison said, perspiration is the greater part of becoming a genius — and our guest table tennis players certainly felt invigorated and refreshed after playing a fast round of table tennis.

 

After the games are over and it’s time to get back to work, our #NETworking table is a real team player. In seconds, you can convert it back into one of several configurations:

 

  1. Flip down the metal ping pong net, and you have a 5’ x 9’ conference table.

 

  1. Or you can separate the big table into two smaller, mobile collaboration tables.

 

  1. Use your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to set the height of the work surface — from seated table height to standing bar height.

 

conference tables real sefl

The A&D community is on the lookout for truly differentiated, authentic, and unique furnishings, such as Formaspace Office’s #NETworking Ping-Pong Conference Table. It comprises two 54” x 60” African Mahogany solid wood tops that the connect together in seconds to create a regulation-sized ping pong table, with matching solid wood paddles. Unique details include vintage-style industrial casters, distressed hex bolt detailing, and cordless electric lifts that can raise the table height to 56” using any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.

 

Think about how you could use a #NETworking table at your office. It’s more than just a ping pong table.

 

With one piece of incredibly flexible furniture, you can collaborate around a single, large, conference table; host a reception or pitch a presentation by breaking the table into two smaller, height-adjustable tables; or quickly convert your conference room into a fun game zone for your workers to play against each other in friendly table tennis tournaments.

 

Customer Spotlight: Real-Self in Seattle

 

We’d like to congratulate Real-Self, the cosmetic surgery experts web platform based in Seattle, who recently purchased two of our #NETworking tables. Real-Self was looking for a way to give back to their hardworking employees, and the #NETworking tables were the perfect solution. Real-Self’s functional workspaces can be converted into an exciting game zone in just seconds.

 

Formaspace Office customized the #NETworking table design finishes to match the design elements in the Real-Self office; we also incorporated their logo and name into the perforated net design. As a bonus thank you, we celebrated the furniture delivery with Texas-style Taco party for their 150 employees. Remember, it’s important to have fun at work!

 

Our Custom Shuffleboard Gaming Table Adds to the Fun in Employee Break Rooms

If you are thinking about creating a game zone within your office to encourage employee collaboration and engagement, we have the perfect complement to our #NETworking Ping-Pong Conference Table.

 

shuffleboard table

Custom Shuffleboard Gaming Table by Formaspace Office made its debut at NeoCon 2017 in Chicago.

 

Our Custom Shuffleboard Gaming Table is an eye-catching, signature, furniture design with many interesting details, making it a true conversation piece:

 

  • The gaming surface is a live-edge slab of pecan wood fitted with leather inserts surrounded by custom brass detailing.
  • The custom steel frame, powder coated in Textured Black, is inspired by one of Austin, Texas’ favorite landmarks, the Penny Backer Bridge.
  • The table includes a built-in custom abacus, modular phone and drink trays, and a battery-powered USB charging port.

 

Make a Powerful Statement with a High-Tech, Bespoke Trapezoidal Conference Table

Take a moment to consider all the important visitors — including your major customers, investors, analysts, and members of the press — who are ushered into meetings held inside your conference room.

 

Are you ready to make a good first impression?

Remember, as this Harvard Business Report article reminds us, “First impressions matter so much because they happen fast, and they are stubborn,” says Whitney Johnson, the author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work. ‘We make judgments [about other people] in a nanosecond.’ And once that impression is formed, it’s ‘very, very hard to change it.’”

 

Make a good first impression with our hand-crafted, Trapezoidal Conference Table. The luxurious solid walnut surface is an impressive ten feet in length. The trapezoidal design provides more comfortable viewing angles for meeting participants, who don’t have to lean forward to see presentations.

trapezoid conference table

Use your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to raise the table to standing height or lower it back again to desk height. And all those messy, unsightly cables and adapters associated with today’s electronic gadgets are gracefully hidden underneath — allowing you to maintain a pristine, clean surface that shows off the fine walnut hardwood surface.

 

However, when you need access to audio video connections, electric plugs, and the like, simply press a button, and the hidden, motorized console rises up from the center of the table to reveal a complete set of power plugs, USB and HDMI access ports, and LED light controllers. There is also ample built-in storage for remote controls and the like.

 

This design offers many opportunities for customization. For example, the console end caps can showcase branding elements (logos, etc.). The perforated custom steel panels underneath the worksurface light up from behind, and they can also be customized with your logo or brand imagery.

 

Speak with your Formaspace Office Design consultant today about ways to customize this and any of our other products to meet your exact needs. Remember, if you can imagine it, we can build it, here at our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas.

 

The PGA Tour’s Design Firm Commissioned a Signature Industrial-Look Metal Table with a High Contrast White Corian Top

So far, we’ve shown you three pieces of bespoke furniture that were designed by our Formaspace Office in-house team of industrial designers.

 

We’re happy to offer design services to you to build custom furniture just for you.

 

But we’re equally happy to be your custom manufacturer as well. We can work with your architect or designer to build bespoke furniture products that meet your exact specifications.

 

We’d like to present an example of how this works in practice: Formaspace Office recently hand-crafted two identical bespoke tables for the PGA Tour, the famous professional golf tournament association based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

 

We worked directly with the PGA Tour’s designer and furniture dealer, who created a very striking table design that features an industrial-look metal base with a high-contrast, all-white Corian top. Both of these signature tables are used in prominent public areas of the golf tournaments where merchandise is displayed or meals are served. They also double as collaboration tables for use in meetings.

 

PGA custom conference table

Using the designs provided by the designer and the dealer, Formaspace Office was able to craft the two table frame bases out of heavy-duty, fully-welded, 16-gauge solid steel; we then gave them a long-lasting, semi-gloss black finish. Finally, we custom fitted all-white Corian worksurfaces with a 1.5″ build up and an eased edge. Each of the finished tables measures 8 feet long by 4 feet deep.

 

Are you interested in bringing your furniture design ideas to life?  Let Formaspace Office be your competitive advantage. We can build your custom furniture — whether you want one or two units, or a large quantity order filled.

 

Create Your Own Custom Conference Tables and Desks Online. It’s Easy, Just Pick a Top Design, Pick a Base Design, and Pick a Finish

Of course, not every interior design project requires fully bespoke furniture designs.

 

Yet, even when we order furniture offerings from the standard “catalog,” we always want the opportunity to customize our furniture orders to some degree — by choosing our favorite combination of worksurface shapes, base designs, materials, surface finishes, and so forth.

 

Did you know you can make these custom furniture choices right here on the Formaspace Office website?

 

It’s easy and intuitive. In just a few seconds, you can create photorealistic renderings of your design choices, then modify them by changing colors and materials, or adding select accessories.

 

Check it out for yourself: Launch the Formaspace Office 3D Configure tool now.

formaspaceoffice 3d tool screenshot

 

How does it work? It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3. Choose your furniture product and then customize it on screen.

 

And, starting in early October, we’ll make it even easier to design a conference table. You’ll be able to pick a top design first, then pick a base design, then select your materials and finish.

 

Want to see some real-world examples?

 

Let’s take a look at four recent furniture pieces we created for customers that you can configure online using our Formaspace Office 3D Configure tool.

 

Custom Furniture Example 1: Walnut Weldmarx Conference Table with Three “Eiffel” Metal Base Frames

 

florence walnut conference table

Here is our first example of the type of custom furniture you can create using our 3D Configure tool.

 

This rectangular conference table features a 192″ long Florence Walnut laminate top. It’s supported by three 46-inch “Eiffel” frame bases that are finished with a gloss-white powder coating.

 

The result is a striking, vintage-look design at a cost-effective price.

 

Custom Furniture Example 2: Walnut Weldmarx Conference Table with Two Metal “V” Frame Bases and Integrated Power

 

Wledmarx CV Conference Table - Florence Walnut Table

In our second example, the customer started with a 72″ x 36″ worksurface finished with a Florence Walnut laminate surface.

 

As the customer wished to use this as a desk in a private office, they customized the order to include a rear surface cutout in the back for housing two power outlets, two USB jacks, an RJ45 data jack, and a 108” power cord.

 

Next, the customer chose two metal “V” frame bases; this gives the design a refreshingly modern look that gives a nod to Mid-Century Modern design language.

 

Finally, the design as manufactured by Formaspace Office is compliant with BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association) guidelines for product safety and environmental impact.

 

Custom Furniture Example 4: Bar Height Collaboration Table with 6 Leg Steel Base and Silestone Iron Bark Top

 

collaboration table

Our third example of custom furniture is being used in a social setting at a community center within a large condominium facility.

 

The long rectangular surface is crafted from Silestone in an Iron Bark finish. This easy-to-clean surface is ideal for serving hot or cold food and drinks.

 

The top surface is supported by 6 legs made of steel, finished in a textured black powder coating.

 

The bar height surface allows people to gather and talk with friends and neighbors, either standing next to the table or seated at bar stools. The table design also lends itself to use as serving buffet for potlucks and parties.

 

Custom Furniture Example 4: Bar Height Collaboration Table with Power Coated 5 Leg Pipe Base and Walnut Top

 

Bar Height Pipe Leg Table - Walnut conference tableOur fourth example illustrates how making subtle design choices can really change the character and functionality of your furniture.

 

This bar height collaboration table has a very different look than our previous example. It was ordered by a software company in Northern California that wanted to add more collaborative space for employee gatherings and impromptu meetings.

 

This customer chose a top surface that is made of walnut it’s  96″ long, 36″ wide and 1.5″ thick.

 

Underneath, the collaboration is supported by a steel pipe frame that gives it a cool vintage, industrial look. There is also crucial design detail in the middle that’s worth pointing out: the middle of the table is supported by a single pipe leg in the center (rather than a two-leg frame) — providing a more generous knee space when people are seated at bar stools around the table.

 

If You Can Imagine It, We Can Build It — at Our Austin, Texas Factory Headquarters

We hope these real-world furniture examples have inspired you to take a look at what Formaspace Office has to offer.

 

We look forward to working with you, your dealer, your architect, and your designer to build on your creative ideas — from ideation to installation.

standing conference table

Working together, we can create differentiated, authentic, unique, problem-solving furniture solutions — for your large and small conference rooms, private offices, co-working spaces, makerspaces, cafes, lounges, laboratories, industrial environments, K-12 schools and universities, and beyond.

 

Formaspace Office strives to make great work environments. Our team is committed to innovative design, healthy ergonomics, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility.

 

Take the next step.

 

To learn more, contact your Friendly Formaspace Office Design Consultant today. You’ll be glad you did.