Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cost Savings Ideas For Modernizing Your Workspace - Pt.1

When Ceilings Need Not Come Crashing Down

Do you have ceiling tiles from the 1980's or 1990's?  Have your acoustical ceiling tiles turned that color of stained yellow when you used to be able to smoke in the office or grey from all of the dust accumulation over the years? Chances are, that if it's been at least ten years since an acoustical ceiling was installed, it may look and feel like working at Initech in the movie Office Space.  They only difference is you may or may not have to submit those darn TPS reports.  If your workspace is in need of a refresher a good place to look is up.  Many companies look at old, beat up, and stained ceiling tile and immediately think "replace".  While this is an option and there are some fantastic new and innovative products on the market, replacement is not your only option.

In an occupied environment, even during off hours, removing and replacing ceiling tiles is big undertaking.  It's messy, inconvenient  and a needs serious logistical maneuvering to be successful.  My advice.....PAINT!

Replacing Ceiling Tiles Costs More Than Money...It Costs Time.

While there is still some aspect of inconvenience, there is definitively less of it.  You will still need to cover with plastic the majority of surfaces, however, you WILL NOT, in most rooms, need to manipulate the positions of desks, chairs, and individual contents.  A good painting contractor with a well maintained spraying machine will be able to maneuver around most contents and cover the ceiling evenly. Care should be taken not to spray areas not intended for painting like walls (if not being painted) or VP John's favorite plastic plant.    
paint ceiling tile grid save
Painted Ceiling Tile & Grid From White To Black
As for costs, it should cost fifty to seventy-five percent less to paint ceiling tiles and grid rather than the cost to remove and dispose of the old tiles, purchase new tiles, and install the new purchased tiles.  Another consideration to note is the saving of landfill debris.

Monday, April 1, 2013

7 Design Trends for Commercial Interiors

7 Design Trends for Commercial Interiors

7 Design Trends for Commercial Interiors
By  | April 1, 2013 at 1:04 am | No comments | apr 2013 - sustainabilityIdeas
Designing interiors for commercial properties is a tricky business. The space must be efficient and cost-effective, but also create a unique and engaging experience.
To further compound the problem, expectations are constantly evolving, so businesses must regularly adapt their interiors to reflect current tastes of their consumers, visitors, and employees.
Fortunately, some modern trends are helping them stay nimble with their designs.
1. Deep Tones
Reflecting the inherent beauty of nature, deep cooling tones are the flavor of the year. Look to use charcoals and greys tinged with greens. Combine them with ivory, stone, and taupe for balance.
Non-Matching Tiles
Non-Matching Tiles
If this all seems a bit reserved, then add a few splashes of fiery paprika or zesty lime for color.
2. Super-scale and geometric patterns
Small-scale designs have long been expected from hotel or hospital flooring around the country. But expect to see them phased out over 2013 in favor of more dramatic, large-scale, geometric patterns.
Superscale Geometric Patterns
Super-scale Geometric Patterns
These striking designs help business create a true design statement that expresses personality and makes a lasting impression on visitors.
3. Form over function 
It used to be that cost was the primary factor influencing decisions to purchase office furniture. However, with an ever-increasing focus on ergonomic design, the furniture in a modern workplace needs to be comfortable as well as cost-effective.
Expect to see more features like adjustable arms and head rests on office seating, as well as the emergence of standing height desks.
In addition, consumers are looking for quality — and commercial furniture is changing to reflect this by incorporating more durable materials like rustic woods, metal finishes, and tempered glass.
4. Quirky combinations
Interior designers today are moving away from obvious formulaic themes and instead including a variety of unexpected quirky touches to make each space unique.
Quirky Combinations
Quirky Combinations
A pertinent example is the rise of non-matching floor tiles, which, though it may sound bizarre, can look great if applied in the right way.
5. Dual-purpose designs
A consequence of all this prolonged budget tightening means that business are constantly looking for new ways to save money. Commercial interiors offer a host of possibilities, as reflected in the growing popularity of multi-purpose designs.
Examples of this economic ingenuity can be seen in filing cabinets with slide-out seats that accommodate those spur-of-the-moment business meetings. Even lounge chairs have tablet arms, so employees don’t have to be at a desk to work.
6. Eco-builds
With corporations coming under increasing pressure to meet social obligations, there is a drive towards promoting eco-friendly commercial designs.
While glass use has generally been considered a mark of energy inefficiency, new advances in window design mean that this is no longer the case — glass looks set to become a staple of future eco-builds.
Consider installing photovoltaic glass, which has the next generation of solar cells incorporated directly into the window surface. This allows a once power-sapping design feature to begin generating its own energy.
7. Collaboration — not isolation
In an era of increasing interaction and constant communication, the modern worker is no longer willing to remain isolated in a tiny cubicle with no access to natural light. As a result, commercial spaces are moving toward a more collaborative approach, changing their interior design layout to create more open workspaces.
Desks are separated with low or transparent panels, or these partitions are removed altogether in favor of circular workstations that promote an increase in communication and knowledge transfer.
Of course, for most commercial properties it’s not possible or practical to conduct regular full-scale refurbishments. Instead, the emphasis is on making smaller changes — a shift in the furniture layout or a new coat of paint – that can make all the difference without breaking the bank.

Monday, October 1, 2012

3 Themes Of Modern Workplace Design

By  | October 1, 2012 at 1:02 am 
Mentoring, socialization, and technology were themes heard throughout the recent IFMA Workplace Summit discussions at Cornell University. These tangible topics aren’t just taking the place of yesterday’s buzzwords like productivity, innovation, and employee experience – they’re helping companies achieve a successful workplace strategy.
The value of mentoring, socialization, and technology lie in the ability to define them within the framework and context of corporate culture, which may make them easier to harness. On a large scale, it seems that we are no longer only concerning ourselves with the “how” and “why” of the physical workspace, but rather moving into discussions about the impacts and integration of culture and organizational strategy within the workspace.
One question asked at the Summit: How do we measure the outcome of mentoring and what is the impact on space?
I would argue that it’s the single most important quality to obtaining high morale and employee investment – yet it does not need to be measured in the traditional sense.
Mentoring is essential to employee investment; without it, a company cannot attract and retain the talent it needs to find success and profitability. Having a well acclimated employee base that works together will undoubtedly help obtain the elusive “productive workspace” designation.
Equally challenged was the concept of reverse mentoring. Putting young employees in a position to support those with more experience on things they are more knowledgeable about — often coming in the form of technology proficiency — helps give them a sense of purpose and cultural importance within an organization.  This leads to a flatter, less hierarchical organization; the future of the workplace, spatially as well as organizationally.
These types of shifts within the organizational structure affect the overall space distribution. They need to be planned for so that all generations can draw on one another’s experience and knowledge.
Facility managers, clients, and real estate advisors are evolving to a more virtual world. Before being able to work virtually in a successful manner, however, it is crucial to develop a working rapport. Without the initial “get to know you period,” there is no way to graduate to a virtual relationship.
During one of the panel discussions at the IFMA Summit, it was stated that once you know an employee, you can read their body language and tone through the phone. For this reason alone, the physical space cannot be devalued as a conductor for a socialized and congruous workforce.
The effects of decreased face-to-face interaction also need to be considered within the scope of mentoring.  How to integrate new employees is often a challenge that we do not concern ourselves with in the built environment.  It is important for young employees to learn by mirroring experienced employees in day-to-day tasks, external client communications, internal company communications, and organizational behaviors.
Beyond the development of working relationships, there should be more value put on socialization itself in the workplace. Casual conversations around family, activities outside of the office, and general conversation about life beyond the office should be considered real work, as this is the establishment of a relationship and trust among co-workers. In creating space, it should be considered crucial to build space that supports this type of communication which facilitates trust and comfort working with one another.
Intranets, virtual workspaces, smart phones all allow us to work around the clock.  It has commonly been the perception that if you are not in the office you are not working. In reality, we are most likely working more now than ever given the continual connectivity.
The advancements of wireless technology are only at the beginning.  How wireless technology will continue to proliferate and revolutionize the work environment was discussed at the Summit. While we cannot predict the future, being able to support and integrate future technologies in our workspace planning will only increase the longevity of a newly constructed space as these technologies become more commonplace.
At the end of the day, the goal is to serve clients and provide a stimulating work environment that supports employees and their work processes.  The physical workspace is integral to achieving a high rate of success for a company but it cannot support users without a successful organizational culture in place.
When we are advising clients on workplace strategy, it is important to understand what the effects are on the organization as a whole. We cannot work alone in a bubble; bringing in key stakeholders, boards, HR, finance and other various groups can only strengthen the case when attempting to modify, rectify or define organizational culture.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why Has Oak Furniture Been Popular For So Long?

It is hard to think of a timber that is more illustrious than oak. Oak is often used for furniture – it has been used throughout history because of its dense heavy structure and the attractive grain it has. Its properties of toughness and durability are prized and well known. What else do you know about oak?
The oak tree is a member of the genus Quercus. This genus is native to the northern hemisphere. There are broadly two type of oak the Red oak and the White oak, and there are over 400 different species. Red oak has a coarse grain and is darker in color than white oak. Red oak is often used for flooring, especially in the US. White oak is considered superior for furniture and cabinet making, as it has a finer grain, less porous, has a nicer color and is much stronger.
The grain of white oak is longer and has attractive silver flecks in it that are the result of medullary rays in the growing oak. The rays can be more clearly seen when the oak is quarter sawn. Quarter sawn oak has been prized since the Middle Ages and was used in the British House Of Commons, The rays are the pathways for the nutrients and can be clearly seen running across the grain and add to the character of the higher quality oak. There are many distinct grain patterns known as flake figures, fine lines, watery figure, pin stripes and leafy grains.
Oak contains a lot of tannin. Tannin gives a bitter aftertaste, helpful in the production of red wine; hence a lot of wine was stored in oak casks. Tannin also protects the oak against infestation of parasites and mould. Different species of oak give different characteristics for wine and many producers have to choose between American and French oak for the flavor they require.
Oak takes a long time to mature – anywhere from 15 -150 years,depending upon the type. Acorns will not appear until the oak is mature, but can take many more years to start growing. Oak was readily available across England and Europe for many years, but as consumption increased and the trees were not replanted it has become less common and more expensive. The quality of oak within a type will vary with the growing conditions. Oaks with the finest grain are usually those grown slowly on well drained soil. These slow grown oaks are the easiest to work with and are more stable in different levels of humidity. The US produces more oak than any other nation at present. Oak accounts for over a third of all hardwood produced in the US
Oak is a dense heavy wood, this makes it good for hand carving as you can get much more detail in a dense piece of wood. It is also very heavy, the old pieces were bulky and very heavy, more modern pieces are made of less wood, but can still be very heavy compared to woods such as pine. Green oak is easy to split making it simple to get the timber into pieces for seasoning. The qualities that oak has are amazing. Oak wood has hard open grain, it is strong, durable and heavy, white oak especially can retain its strength even when in moist conditions. Today many items are made with oak veneer which is applied over other timbers typically composite wood. Oak veneered furniture does not have the same characteristics and features as solid oak furniture, so be sure to choose the type of oak furniture correctly.
Today oak is still grown and prized as a hard wearing wood for furniture. Oak is used for all kinds of furniture from oak bedroom furniture to oak office furniture. There is much more to the oak than just great furniture and acorns! For more information visit Oak Furniture Guide

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Feng Shui for the Office

Written by:  Melissa York
Feng Shui is the philosophy of living a harmonious and balanced life through the arrangement and orientation of the physical world surrounding you.   In the workplace, success is what drives operations.  This being said, success, like the air you breathe must constantly be in motion and flowing around you.  According to this logic, arranging your office to incorporate Feng Shui principles allows for a harmonious and open flow of success.  Within your own personal space there are multiple things you can do to promote YOUR Feng Shui:
  • Remove Clutter:  In order to allow positive flow, your personal work space should be free of clutter – this includes keeping cords well hidden.  All broken items as well as items with sharp corners should also be removed from the space.  It is believed that this promotes positive Chi (energy) and will improve productivity and creativity.
  • Trash Can:  Do not keep your trash can under your desk as that suggests that everything on your desk is in the trash.  Treat your files with respect as they represent your past, present and future.
  • Desk Location:  You should be positioned (if possible) facing the door – don’t turn your back on business.  This puts you in a more powerful position and allows you to have a direct view of the office activity.  If your set up allows, it is important to have a wall behind you for stability.  A high back chair is often recommended and although you are facing the door you should not be directly in front of it as this may put you in the path of negative energy.
  • Desk Shape:  Rounded corners and curves are recommended to increase the flow of energy.  Some say a kidney shaped desk is ideal as it aligns your work self with your inner body.
  • Plants:  Plants are very important in the work environment as they allow you to stay connected to the natural elements.  Feng Shui suggests green as a color of creativity and that plants act as a natural toxin filter.  Plants should be placed in corners where energy flow may become stagnant.  Plants should also have round leaves – all sharp leaved plants and cactus should be removed.  Maintaining your plants is essential, all dead and wilting leaves should be disposed of immediately. 
  • Mirrors:  Mirrors are not recommended as they can reflect the negative energy from clients to others in the room.  It is important for you to control the energy flow in your space.
  • Lighting:  Natural daylight is always the best source of light as it aligns the natural with man made environment.  Replacing the bulbs in your space with warm light or using a warm light lamp can dramatically increase your mood as well as energy levels and creates less glare and eye strain.

  • Water:  Water elements are vital to the calm and tranquility felt in an office environment.  A small water fountain can dramatically increase the relaxed state of mind while working.  Water elements such as fountains and aquariums are important to a natural background setting.
  • Colors:  Blues, Purples and Reds are supposed to promote wealth; however these colors should be used as focal points such as in artwork (landscapes and seascapes) – preferably across from your desk in direct view of your chair.  The majority of tones should be a mixture of deep balanced colors, nothing harsh or bright, think natural – suede, glass, wood.
There are many schools of thought on Feng Shui and many different interpretations of how the rules should be applied.  This is where you must evaluate and determine what makes the most sense for your space and your working environment.  Often it may be impossible to apply all the rules to one space.  As long as you are able to create a place where you feel inspired and creative as well as comfortable, then you have achieved success!  You are in control of your Chi (energy flow) and you can create a balance for the yin and yang of your life. 

Here are some other links to find out more about Feng Shui: