Published Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, by Jo Disney - News and Features Editor, U.K.
New office furniture and workstation designs are equipping today’s workplace ready for tomorrow’s workforce. And just like Gen Y, it’s all about contrasts.
Despite the recent furore over Yahoo’s teleworking ban, the mobile and flexible working revolution continues to gain pace. Billions of workers are set to enjoy greater flexibility over the coming years, and the workplace industry – from its architects and furniture suppliers to its business centres – are adapting to meet the changing needs of today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce.
Among them, office furniture providers like Bene are helping to oil the wheels of flexible working. This is an example of a design company that recognises a lasting workspace trend when it sees one, and their latest range – ‘Docklands‘ – is a suite of private and shared workstations that reflects this development.
This particular workstation range features enclosed desks with walls that can be used as temporary workplaces, or as part of a long-term shift to alternative office space design.
Branded a “new furniture typology” for open spaces, it’s like a condensed office that’s private, yet open. It’s collaborative yet secluded. Sound confusing? It shouldn’t be – at first glance, the concept looks a lot like the staid cubicle cells of old. And yet it feels perfectly placed in any one of today’s cutting edge coworking spaces or open-plan shared workspaces.
It’s designed to fit in with today’s rapidly shifting workplace environment and to accommodate the growing army of mobile businesspeople that work without walls.
According to design combo Tom Lloyd and Luke Pearson, the idea for these cubicle-style workstations came about when clients that were using collaborative workspaces wanted a “degree of privacy”. Recognising that shared office space can be noisy, these hubs provide a secluded part of the office that can be an escape for employees when they need a little ‘head down’ time. And for firms that operate a flexible workplace with a fluid office headcount, the workstations come in handy for hot-desking too.
Where touchdown space is concerned, hubs like this could become part of the appeal for coworking spaces or business centres looking to attract travelling businesspeople. Just look at Regus’ new service station and railway hubs – it’s a very similar concept, but a ready-made off-the-shelf version that can be used in your own business centre.
Such design is a direct reflection of new ways of working, and how the workforce wants to work today. The workstations are not meant to replace traditional desks, but are a complimentary feature to help businesses provide a more agreeable workplace environment for mixed personalities. And who knows – maybe firms with a significant homeworking force could consider supplying workstations like these to dedicated, long-term homeworkers?
Other furniture suppliers like CORT are also mindful of mobile workers’ touchdown needs. For instance the company has recently launched its new STAKS collection, which includes a more streamlined design to support highly collaborative work environments. They also supply inventory such as rolling pedestals with a cushion on top that doubles as a guest seat.
Turnstone is another supplier that is doing its bit to fuel the mobile and flexible working phenomenon. With products designed specifically for collaboration – not just in traditional meeting environments but also as part of open-plan shared workspaces – businesses have the opportunity to furnish their way to a better workspace and greater productivity.
With designers like these furnishing the workplaces of today and tomorrow, businesses are privy to a fusion of working styles and workplaces that can accommodate virtually every business requirement imaginable. Business centres have the opportunity to diversify their space and appeal to a broader client base by taking advantage of innovative furnishings. The flexible workspace industry is certainly moving at pace – and it continues to keep us all guessing as to what the ‘future office’ really will look like.