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.

A whole lot, actually. That little USB-C connector means using just one cord across a range of different devices. And who wouldn’t love that?

What else is there to love about USB-C?

We’ve put together a list of a few things that are sure to make you a fan. 

1. Cross Platform Charging

Not that long ago (perhaps earlier this morning), you needed a lightning connector for your iPhone, a micro USB for your Bluetooth speaker and an AC adapter for your computer. And with all that incompatibility often comes the hassle of carrying a bag full of adapters, cords and charging bricks. USB-C technology is different. It doesn’t just work across various brand platforms—like phones from Apple or Samsung—it works across whole technology platforms. Phones. Laptops. Tablets. With USB-C, one universal, shareable cord charges them all.

2. A New (and Better) Connector

If you’ve used a USB-C connector, you may have noticed that you can plug it in seamlessly. No flipping it around to find the top or bottom. The connector’s small size also means better mobility, lighter laptops, smaller tools and more space for other cool tech features.

3. Audio, Video & Super-fast Data Transfer

USB-C supports audio and video transfers up to 10GB per second. How fast is that? Well, you can download a high-definition, full-length movie in about 30 seconds.  With older USB technology, you could only transfer images and file data. If you wanted audio or video, you’d need a meatier HDMI or VGA cable. 

4. Rapid Charging & Power Delivery

Because we use all of this technology—phones, laptops, speakers, tablets, smartwatches, fitness trackers and more – so often, the need to plug in and charge quickly is a very big deal. That’s what makes the Power Delivery protocol used in the USB-C platform really exciting.

So, how fast is USB Type C Really Catching On?

Adopting new tech is a bit like adjusting the direction of a very big ship. Although USB-C is enjoying widespread support throughout the industry, it takes a while for any ship to turn—and for manufacturers and consumers to fully embrace any change. Until then, you’re sure to find both USB-A and USB-C co-existing in the market. But the change is happening.  

  • Devices that feature at least one USB-C port are forecasted to reach nearly five billion devices by 2021, up from about 300 million in 2016—that’s an annual compound-growth rate of more than 70% in just five years. (IHS Market, 2018)
  • USB-C technology launched in 2014, and since then has received ten times more interest and investment in patents than USB Type A.
  • All signs indicate that by 2021, 75% of smartphones and 100% of laptops worldwide will include USB-C Connectivity. (StarTech, 2018) 

What About The Older USB? 

At the rate new technologies, like USB-C and wireless Qi are growing, it looks like the older USB-A could be completely overtaken as early as 2021. While USB-A is still electrically compatible with the new USB technology, because of the updated port design, adapters are required if you want to connect a traditional USB flash drive or other device to a USB-C port.

POWERING FORWARD: How will USB-C  change the way we work? 

USB-C isn’t just about changing the way we plug in—it’s about changing the way we power whole spaces. Now, in areas where you previously needed AC power to charge laptops, you may only need USB-C charging ports. And that’s a game changer.

If you’re a designer working on collaborative spaces today, power should be at the center of your thinking. Asking some simple questions up front can help you understand if USB-C, USB-A, or traditional outlets are best for the space.

  1. What do users need to do in the space?
  2. Do they require more than that 100 Watts of power to charge their devices?
  3. Is there more value for your users in the convenience of USB-C access, or the familiarity of traditional AC outlets?

It could depend on personal preferences, as well as the flexibility needed within the space. So for a while, it may be a good idea to offer users multiple ways to plug in with blended power solutions that combine AC outlets, USB-A ports, USB-C ports and even wireless Qi charging.

USB-C offers a terrific opportunity for improved collaboration and easy connectivity through universal access. Its super-fast data delivery increases the speed of those connections for improved productivity too. And once the marketplace fully adopts USB-C, our bags won’t be overflowing with that old familiar mix of bulky adapters necessary to tackle whatever technology we might face. Instead, the USB-C interface will allow us to simply charge our devices, display shared content and transfer data, quickly and easily—all with a single cord.

USB-C POWER SOLUTIONS FOR COLLABORATIVE SPACES

Byrne is adding to our offering of USB-C charging solutions, and making it easier than ever to bring power right to where you need it, even in highly collaborative & ever-changing ancillary spaces, like these. For USB-C solutions to keep your space connected, click here. 
[/av_textblock]