After several weeks of Covid-19 shutdown, many businesses are coming out of quarantine and negotiating a plan for getting back to work quickly and safely – without skipping a beat on productivity.

THE NEW SPACE RACE

It’s what we’re calling the rush to critically re-evaluate office terrain. Assessing how environments are currently being used and how might those spaces be re-imagined in this “new normal.”

Just like the original Space Race – it’s a competition to see who can win by being the fastest to firsts in a whole new age. Only this time, it’s about being the first to figure out how to reconfigure the workspace to incorporate physical distancing.

Whenever we are racing to make huge leaps and giant changes to our everyday lives, technology is at the forefront. Good old Technology – the true VIP of social distancing. Video calls, ordering groceries online, ordering everything online, working from home; It’s all made possible by technology. And this huge increase in working-from-home isn’t going away once stay-at-home orders are lifted. In fact, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by end of 2021.

Even with a larger number of employees handling business from home, about 75% of employees will be returning to work in a shared workplace. And, finding a way to bring them back in safely is a huge undertaking. This one can’t be solved with Zoom Meetings and online shopping. For these changes, we must get back to physical space.

Currently, the CDC recommends we give each employee 6 ft. of space and we know that’s the number one factor when it comes to re-configuring the workplace. It’s a game changer. The open office floor plan was designed around the idea of fitting as many people as possible in a collaborative work environment. Now we have to completely flip the switch – without sacrificing the connectedness of the open floor plan we’ve grown to love. And we have to do it fast. Byrne’s own Facility Manager, Dane, is dealing with this challenge right now.

“Real Estate is a hard thing to come by, so maximizing spaces to their full dimensions is critical. Getting more out of our physical space while creating an inviting and safe place to work is the ultimate goal.”

Needless to say, he’s been busy. Hard at work; researching and implementing creative solutions for maximizing space and encouraging safe, social distancing.

We’ve compiled a list of some quick-fix office reconfig ideas that can help you make the most of your space as employees start to return to the work place.

RE-CONFIGURING TIPS FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING IN THE OFFICE


From “we” to “me.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modifying Collaborative Space to work as Dedicated Space
Reclaim work cafés and walk-up meeting areas to create more permanent work spaces. Office design over the last decade has shifted to more common areas – more choice in where you can work. Because of that, these collaborative spaces often have more square footage in the floor plan than designated desking. Think of it as “we” space to compensate for less “me” space. For social  distancing, reclaiming some of this shared space is key.

Divide to unite. 

Adding Space Dividers to Create Physical Barriers
In the short term, we will see space being broken up with temporary dividers and partitions giving workers a sense of privacy and security. They’ll break up ancillary spaces to encourage smaller “huddles.” They’ll be used to promote privacy in an open floor plan. They come in a ton of different shapes, sizes and materials so they’re an excellent way to retrofit an environment.

Online is on target. 

Encourage video conferencing and other collaborative meeting platforms
Keep workers connected and productive – across the building or across the globe. More online meetings & working-from-home. What does that have to do with the physical office space? A lot actually. Remember the whole “dedensifying conference rooms thing” from number three? It means less of us can gather in a room and jump on a call with our work-from-home collaborators. It means we may have to join the virtual meeting from wherever we are. It means offices will need to provide more locations for video calls for smaller groups of people. Less in closed conference rooms and more out in the open.

Don’t be so dense. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rethinking Conference Rooms for a Less Dense “Shared Power” Experience
Currently, the CDC recommends we no longer gather in groups of ten or more. And there’s also the six feet rule that needs to be considered. A conference table that normally sat 8 people comfortable may only really work for 4 now. All of this means those large conference rooms that used to host big cross functional meetings may end up being used as storage for all of the chairs that have been removed from everywhere else.

TAKE IT OUTSIDE.


Capitalize on Outdoor Spaces for Added Real Estate and Healthy Distancing
The trend in working outside is not a new one. Millennials and GenZers have been demanding more outdoor spaces at the office for a while. Coming back to work after social distancing at home for months will surely heighten that demand. Being outdoors encourages physical well-being and mental well-being. And for many people, it’s been a huge factor in “keeping their sanity” during this challenging time.  Obviously working outside all day has its challenges – the weather, ergonomics, and the access to power too. But creating hardworking outdoor spaces for employees coming back to work will be much needed breath of fresh air.

PRODUCTS TO POWER PRODUCTIVITY

As employers quickly improvise facilities and furnishings for returning employees, power may be easy to overlook, but it’s one of the most critical aspects of any successfully re-imagined workplace. We asked Dane (our Facility Manager again), what kind of role power distribution plays in getting spaces ready for back-to-work.

“Having multiple solutions for power has allowed us to reconfigure based on social distancing guidelines, knowing we had products that could support the new floor plan. When you only have to focus on the physical dimensions, knowing power solutions are in your back pocket to solve most issues, it allows you to be creative in problem solving.”

DESKTOP ACCESSORIES
There’s no easier way to turn one wall outlet into a bunch of places to plug in. And, our mounting options make it easy to add power to any table style. Mount it under the table, on the table’s edge, or as a freestanding unit. But just because they were designed for the desk doesn’t mean they’re not powerful in other places too. Remember those divider screens we talked about? You can easily add power to those too.

 

POWER FOR A WHOLE ROOM OF TABLES
Interlink IQ allows you to connect power to up to 8 tables with just one power cord. That’s one outlet – providing power to up to 8 tables. And it can be rearranged whenever and put back together however you want. It’s also great for providing power for a long table so coworkers can spread out at a shared table, without sharing power too.

POWER AWAY FROM THE WALL
Coming up with room for everyone, re-purposing furniture, following new rules and guidelines – it’s a lot. But arranging workstations around access to power outlets doesn’t have to be complicated too. There are plenty of ways to bring power to where you need it – no the other way around.

MORE OUTLETS WHEREVER YOU NEED THEM
If moving desks or seating up against the wall is the best way to give coworkers the distance they need, you may find having a few more outlets   a huge help. With 4-Trac, add up to 13 duplex receptacles without making any cuts in the wall. And there’s no need to involve an electrician either.

SPREAD OUT ACCESS TO POWER 
Distributing power along the perimeter of a conference tables gives users their own access to charging so they aren’t reaching across the table or huddling close to shared outlets. Under-surface mounted power accessories are a great way to save valuable real estate on top of the table too. 2-Trac is a super low-profile DC power solution that easily offers multiple user’s their own place to charge up. Twine is a highly configurable branching cord solution that can definitely provide some distance.

OUTDOOR POWER 
Outdoor Vesta is a completely battery powered charging unit that includes enough USB ports to share with the team. And, with waterproof USB ports, it’s safe to leave outside all day. Rain, snow, or shine – just bring it in to recharge now and then.

THE POWER OF PRIVACY
Creating physical barriers is an excellent way to break up a space and give coworkers some personal space, but they can also break up access to power. So, depending on what the space is being used for, it may be important to take that into consideration. Combining divider screen solutions and power distribution makes  it easy to retrofit privacy anywhere, without skipping a beat when it comes to productivity. Twine + Solo and Fence (coming soon) are great power partners for the privacy panels you’re sure to be using a lot of in the future.

 

 

At Byrne, we’re electrical experts so you don’t have to be. If you have any questions about power as you work through your new office layouts, just give us a call, or send us your new layout. We’re happy to help.

In 2018, work spaces are entirely different than even 10 years ago. The days of “traditional” work spaces are quickly on dwindling, let alone the days of the “cubicle farm.” So what designs do matter for work spaces in 2018?

OPEN FLOOR PLANS

Open Floor Plans have been around for years, but we’re starting to see an increase in the use of this concept, moving from private offices and cubicles.

You read that right. Not only do these spaces not need “open door policies,” there aren’t even doors to close. Open floor plan offices encourage collaboration, shared work spaces, and everything that comes with them.

Designing work spaces has changed from a layout having just a few spaces within office buildings that are open concept to nearly the entire space as open floor plan. While the C-Suite may still have doors to close, the rest of the building likely will be sharing desks, outlets, and screens.

HOTELING AS A WORK SPACE

Working doesn’t have to be done at an assigned seat to be productive anymore. In fact, many people that come to the office take part in a trend called “Hoteling” or “Hot Desking”.

Hoteling doesn’t mean that you live at a hotel or even work in a hotel, instead it refers to using a scheduling system to reserve a desk for the day or a few hours. Hot Desking is similar, but deals with unassigned seating by a first come, first served basis.

Each of these concepts is moving us away from having an assigned or static desk and moving to an environment where you sit where you feel you’ll get your best work done. Heads down work could be in a space with more barriers and a quieter environment, collaboration could happen when your team decides to sit together for a day or two.

This surge in providing unassigned workspaces is already changing the face of many offices and can be seen in the rise of Co-Working Spaces.

STANDING WORKSPACES

Standing work desks are more than just a passing fad. Their sudden rise in popularity is linked to more than just health benefits. From a facility point of view this is saving valuable real estate or even allowing new workspaces to be deployed within an existing footprint.

Standing desks increase collaboration, focus, and productivity. You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” but you may not be familiar with all of the benefits of standing.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

As new workers arrive in the office we need the workspaces to meet their needs not just for doing a task, but also meeting their social needs.  That means that our workspaces are changing and how we design them up makes a difference. The goal of a great workspace design is to provide the tools that someone will need, so that all they need to do is sit down, plug in and get to work.

With every day and the improvement technology tools at work, the way we work changes. And when the way we work changes, workspace design needs to change too. How is it affecting you? Let us know in the comments of this blog.

We live in a day in age focused around Millennials. We want to know how they think, what influences their decisions, and how we can appeal to them. Many current design efforts are built to accommodate Millennial ideals, but are they the generation we should really be focused on?

THE I-GENERATION AND THE EXPLOSION OF TECHNOLOGY

I was at a Digital Marketing conference in Boston not too long ago and one of the presenters told a narrative that paints the perfect picture of how technology is affecting this youngest generation. He had been speaking to a group of teenagers and posed the question, “Would you rather have your phone taken away from you forever or have one of your fingers removed to keep your phone?” One girl raised her hand and asked, “Do we get to pick which finger?”

That sums up this generation. Their smartphones are an appendage, and an important one at that.

The i-Generation, born from 1996 to 2010, is a segment that was immersed into connective technology from the start of their lives. Baby boomers grew up during the expansion of television, Generation X had the introduction of computers, and Millennials were raised with the internet bursting onto the scene. i-Gen had all of these technologies at the touch of a finger from the get-go. Social media and constant connectivity has shaped this generation to possess an “always on” mentality.  (2019, Dimock)

They were born in an era of exploding technology – smartphones, tablets, integrated home tech, bots, and Alexa. They went to elementary school with iPads and grew up with the ability to make a HotSpot if they ever found themselves without internet. They are being raised having never known a life without instant and constant Wi-Fi.

This is the way evolution happens. Each generation makes leaps and bounds in one direction, and the next generation either gets to ride the wave or change direction. So far, this “i-Generation”, or Gen Z, has been able to ride the Millennial tech wave.

WHAT DOES GENERATION Z HAVE TO DO WITH ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN?

They can figure anything out online. They can solve problems, find groups, communicate, play games, get jobs, study, take classes, and even have full relationships online. Probably most of the things they do on their devices they don’t even realize actually require internet.

So what does this mean for you when you’re designing spaces?

The next generation doesn’t expect to be able to stay connected everywhere they go. They assume they will be able to.

Restaurants that add in power strips after they were built and hotels that hire electricians to build more outlets are missing the point. New spaces need to be designed with this assumption in mind – that anyone and everyone will be able to charge and stay connected 24/7 no matter where they are.

STAYING CHARGED, CONNECTED, AND POWERFUL THROUGH BEAUTIFUL DESIGN

With the ascension of cables being tucked away under floors and behind walls, released into the open through grommets, power and charging has become an accessory for spaces. Constantly updating colors, designs, styles, materials, configurations, and utility, these accessories not only fit into design – they enhance design.

These charging accessories lend themselves to Generation Z and every generation before. They’re solutions to problems that designers are constantly running into because they solve for today and for tomorrow. And they do so with grace and beauty.

After all, why give up a finger for a phone that you can’t keep charged?