With the function of office space leaning more towards a team working hub, there is a need for functional furniture for collaboration spaces that both brings groups together and offers privacy.
The need for customisable work spaces
International workplace software experts NFS Technology recently carried out a survey of facilities management professionals to ask what their plans were for their workspaces. Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology, commented: “Respondents believe a successful 2021 workplace will combine different workplace types, aligned to tasks and collaboration needs.”
Meanwhile Jeremy Bernard of essensys comments in an article inWorkDesign Magazine: “In 2021, the trend for return to the office from big tech companies is for large, customizable spaces that occupy an entire floor with a flex space model for shorter leases with the ability to scale up and down as necessary. This keeps workplace culture thriving with confidence in collaborating and creating in person or remotely in state-of-the-art agile spaces.”
It seems clear that an approach that allows for quick reconfiguration of furniture makes sense in order to embrace a new hybrid workplace model. So how can those in charge of trying to organise their collaboration zones meet this need for customisation?
Mobile collaboration furniture
“The pandemic has taught us that our workspaces need to be ready for anything, so a new approach to office design that is being adopted by some companies is one of continual experimentation, hackability, and evolution—flexible floor plates with modular, movable furniture that can be endlessly reconfigured and moved around, even by the user. ”
This is the opinion of Russell Kingston, U.S. managing director for Spacestor, and is one that we have been promoting since 2014 and the development of our first mobile writing wall, the ThinkingWall Freestander.
Since then our range has expanded to include more ThinkingWall collaboration furniture. All the mobile walls units feature a double sided workspace. This can be dry wipe, acoustic panel, digital screen, storage, living wall… whatever is needed. The units are on sturdy, lockable castors that are easy to move by one or two people, and once in place don’t shift around in use. This gives the scope to endlessly reconfigure space, without needing to involve the facilities manager. They can be used singly or positioned in groups to define a work zone.
Setting up collaboration spaces
Mobile partition walls are a key piece of furniture for collaboration spaces that meet the needs of an agile workforce.
- Push walls into a straight line, angle them to create a curve, or set at right angles to make a cosy nook.
- Use a writing wall with either part acoustic panel or mixed with full acoustic panels to bring visual privacy and reduce noise in a busy area.
- A larger writing wall divider can be fitted with a digital screen to hold video calls, whilst also giving space for notes. Combine with a smaller freestanding whiteboard facing the screen to allow everyone to be involved in a planning session, team building exercise or town hall meeting.
- Use standing height tables with a dry wipe surface for quick meeting zones, ideal for sprint sessions or an informal chat near the coffee station. Participants can take a phone snap of notes when they’ve finished.
- Low tables with a dry wipe surface teamed with comfy seating create a more relaxed area, great for team chats and creative thinking.
Workspaces as collaboration hubs here to stay
The changes to office work forced upon us in 2020 might have seemed temporary at first. However, they have led to many organisations taking the chance to reassess their use of office space and embracing some of the changes permanently. Plenty of projects can be tackled at home, freeing up the time usally spent commuting to spend on family or hobbies. However even the introverts amongst us have found themselves missing a collaboration hub, whether it’s for formal meetings or just to catch up on office chat.
Loretta Li-Sevilla is the lead of the future work department at HP. “In the past, [the office] was about 80% individual cubes and dedicated spaces and 20% collaboration spaces,” said Li-Sevilla, describing the way offices have been typically arranged in an interview for Digital Trends. “We actually see that changing, to maybe 50-50 or even 80-20 in the other direction.”
If you’re looking for collaboration furniture for your own workplace or you’re designing for someone else, contact us and we’ll be happy to talk through what we offer.