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.


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.


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.


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 a much needed breath of fresh air.


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.”

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.


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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

The biggest players in technology are moving toward adopting USB-C and the Power Delivery standard in their latest devices. That means we can start to charge all of our favorite tech (laptops, phones, speakers, smart watches, etcetera, etcetera) using the same cord, with the same connector. Type C comes with a ton of other benefits too, which we outlined in our last USB-C article. Check it out if you haven’t already.

USB-C can charge bigger devices than the USB we’re used to, and it charges faster too – about 70% faster actually.  While all of these advancements are great, understanding how Type C works for our unique devices can get a little confusing. We’ve put together some quick explanations and helpful hints, to help you get the most out of your USB-C charge.

Super Fast Charging & Power Delivery

Power Delivery (PD) is basically a fast charging protocol. It’s a standard that USB-C charging agrees to, so that everyone’s devices are compatible and have the same basic functionality. It’s kind of like how ‘Qi’ is the universal standard for wireless charging. It’s a common language that technology & chargers speak together and a common standard to which they’re tested. 

Here’s what you should know about USB-C & Power Delivery: 

  • With the launch of USB-C PD, charging power levels have increased up to a robust 100 Watts and 3 amps of power. And it’s this increase in power delivery that allows a USB-C cord to charge more power-demanding tech, like laptops, monitors, and even some printers. 
  •  USB-C is bi-directional, so devices can either send or receive power. And power can be delivered at the same time a device is transmitting data, across the same connection—which means you can charge your phone with your laptop, or your laptop with your phone.
  • Because USB-C connectors were specifically designed with Power Delivery in mind, they’re able to carry this new higher wattage without being damaged or overheating.
  • USB-C with PD is smart. It delivers the power needed to charge a specific device as fast as possible without delivering too much, for optimal charging every time. How does it know? Well, the PD actually communicates with a device to determine how much power can be pulled from the charger, so it will never overpower or damage the unit.

What are some common devices that now use USB-C charging? 

When it comes to USB-C Charging, how much power do you really need? 

We know that USB-C with PD can deliver up to 100 Watts of power, but is understanding how much power a device needs actually important? Yes, sort of. You’ll want to check the specs on any PC before you buy, because not all USB-C ports are created equal. The good news is that, because USB-C is smart, you can’t overcharge your device. That means, plugging into a 60 Watt charger, when you only need 15 Watts, is completely fine. But, using too small of a charger, means you may not get as fast of a charge as you’re used to. 

Obviously outliers exist, but this chart gives you a pretty good idea of the kind of wattage your device needs to get a good charge.  


We understand that USB-C is positioned to be the new industry standard—which is why we already offer this universal interface in many of our products. But we also offer blended solutions that can charge your older devices too. The chart below can help you navigate which Type C charging outlet is right for you. 

Whether you’re powering your home or office, a hospitality space or someplace in between, Byrne is committed to offering smart charging solutions that allow you to charge not only Type-C devices, but older devices as well. We’ve integrated USB-C into a variety of desktop and mobile power units, and it’s even available as an interchangeable “chiclet,” allowing you to customize nearly any Byrne power unit. 

How do you know which charge is right for you?


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.


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. 

Building automation is a rising trend in today’s real estate marketplace. The automation of workplace functions allows a Facilities team to increase efficiency and track the use patterns of a space, as well as enables users to schedule events. These “smart building” systems use common communication protocols to talk to each other and share information with a central “brain.” A smart platform also allows integration with other building systems and the company’s IT infrastructure itself. Here, we’ll dive into what building automation really looks like, how it works and how your workplace can apply this technology to its best advantage.


When people talk about a “smart building” what they’re referring to is the autonomous control of a facility—both distributed control and the building’s automation systems. Distributed control systems include things like monitors, mechanical functions, security, fire, lighting, HVAC and ventilation systems, either within a single building or across a campus. Building Automation System (BAS) functions are all about keeping an eye on things—maintaining climate within a specified range, lighting rooms based on occupancy schedules, monitoring performance and device failures and provide malfunction alarms accordingly.

It’s not hard to see how such automation systems reduce building energy and maintenance costs through pre-emptive maintenance and the quick detection of tech issues. In fact, smart energy management practices can often pay for themselves in a short period of time—and help companies tell a powerful sustainability story for customers, partners and employees alike.



According to the Department of Energy, businesses consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S. and waste 30% of the energy used per year.




By 2020, 19.5% of all buildings in the US will be automated, with 50 million connected devices.




Focusing on HVAC, lighting, and some types of electrical loads, mid-sized buildings implementing a proactive energy management program can expect savings from 10% to 25%.


Here are just a few ways in which automation can help today’s workplaces do what they do…better.


Within a business environment, some controls can and should be in the hands of the people who work there (individual level control), while others automatically kick in based on whether people are actually in the space or not (occupancy level control).

For example, with individual level control, an employee can engage the HVAC system in a conference room using an interface on their IP phone, if they happen to be working after office hours or on a holiday. At the Occupancy Level, unused equipment or appliances will power on and off automatically, without any needed user intervention—like automated blinds that adjust according to heat and light, or lighting that turns on according to movement within a space.

In either case, tracking real-time energy utilization for any building from a central location can help a Facilities team determine energy consumption patterns, design spaces more efficiently, and identify areas of improvement across departments. Better awareness of energy consumption levels and their sources can also enable companies to negotiate power contracts and better verify the billing info provided by those utility companies.

To learn about Byrne’s workplace energy management system, visit their Circuitrac website here. 


Think of it as air traffic control for a company’s busy meeting areas. Employees can use a scheduling app on their phone to book a room. And even without an app, room sensors tied to the workspace reservation system can note movement and change the occupancy status within the system—effectively reserving the room to prevent employees from double booking. These same sensors can also tie into digital room signage and displays to indicate whether a room is available, reserved or occupied.


Work space is expensive, so employers want to maximize its use wherever they can. In building automation, sensors record the use of a room, eliminating the need for employees to register that information themselves. Then space utilization reports can track when certain environments are being used, to help organizations make decisions about how to best allocate square footage—they can even help inform the creation of smarter workplace design layouts based on usage.


In order for your building automation system to operate, you need five things:




The eyes of the building


Sensors measure information such as CO2 output, temperature, humidity, daylight or room occupancy and come in several types.


These use passive infrared technology to detect heat and movement and are usually mounted to the ceiling or an area where the sensor has full range of vision within the room. Motion sensors deliver a 90-95% accuracy rate—accuracy may be reduced when people sit for long periods of time. While these sensors can detect if a person is utilizing a space, they can’t specify how many.


These sensors utilize the same passive infrared technology as their motion-based partners and are designed to detect the presence of a person in a particular spot—desk, conference table, etc. As with the motion sensors, desk sensors may inaccurately capture data when people sit too long, which is why they tend to be more useful in gathering simple vacancy data.


Unlike the sensors mentioned above, these are ideal for capturing the number of individuals entering and exiting a room. Mounted above the room’s doorways, companies can precisely track occupancy and analyze usage versus capacity. This data also helps improve office design by identifying where people are congregating and by providing data to adjust and improve wasted space.


SMART HUB (Controller):

The boss of the operation


The brains of your BAS (Business Automation System), these digital controllers receive input data, apply logic to that information (think algorithm, like Google does with their search data), then send out a command to other devices to adjust accordingly, based on the info gathered.




The channel your devices talk to each other on


The most commonly used communication channel, ZigBee radio communication protocol, is an openly available global communication standard that addresses the unique needs of low-power, low-cost wireless M2M (Machine-to-Machine) and IoT (Internet of Things) networks. In technical terms, it operates on an IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio specification and even on unlicensed frequency bands including 2.4 GHz, 900 MHz and 868 MHz. Zigbee offers a wireless range of 70m indoors/400m outdoors and uses military-grade AES 128 encryption for an exceptionally high level of information protection.



The IOT that controls your device


Once the controllers have gathered the data and determined what course of action your system should take, those commands are carried out by the system’s output devices. When the controller sends out a command, actuators and relays (the typical output devices) go into action—reducing or increasing the heat in a particular part of the building for example or dimming lights in unused areas.



How you view your data


Simply speaking, these are the screens or interfaces that work as a translator between a BAS system and the humans who operate it. This is where building data is reported (historical, consumable, run times, and system activity information) and can be used as a record of building operations. It also allows immediate diagnosis of a system without needing to be physically in front of the unit.



Intelligent BMS systems integrate disparate BMS devices/networks onto a common network (IP) to enable unified automation and management, even though they may be manufactured by different vendors. In the future, we may even get to a single dashboard that can manage all BMS and Network/IT systems. Running a building should be a data-driven process. Analytics platforms like SkySpark, CopperTree, and others can pull in data from existing equipment and produce useful insights for facility managers to help make better operational decisions. Then the next logical step is to utilize that vast amount of operating data currently sitting unused by existing building control systems and turn it into actionable insights—so building operators can be free to focus on fixing problems, not out there searching to find them.

With today’s automated technologies, businesses are not simply in control of the function, safety and comfort of their buildings, they can operate those systems from a smarter position. One that not only increases employee satisfaction and informs better space allocation, but one that is sure to generate significant energy savings for years to come.


More than ever, people want to work where and how they work best. Thanks to the evolution of technology, that means taking advantage of outdoor spaces as well—but of course, powering up al fresco comes with its own challenges. The need for reliable outdoor power is not only increasing in the workplace, but in hospitality […]

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 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.


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 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.


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.

Welcome to the wonderful world of being able to work wherever you want. Well, almost.

Coworking spaces and Makerspaces have been on the rise since the integration of technology into the workplace. While both spaces are slightly different and used for different types of work, they both help usher in a new era of developing the freedom to work away from your specific office.

Whether to make working while traveling easier or to give remote workers a home base (other than their dining room table), both spaces are unique in that they foster a work community outside of a company’s four walls.


In 2005-era San Francisco, Brad Neuberg realized he could create his own coworkers. By attending networking events and slowly gathering a group of like-minded individuals, Brad discovered that all it took was a shared space and passion for people to connect. They didn’t need to be employed by the same company, and in fact they learned much more from each other than from their companies. And with this idea, coworking spaces were invented.

This incredible trend has continued (and swept the world with it) for 13 years now.

Coworking spaces have completely changed the way employers view the 9 to 5 landscape. Gone are the days having to sit in front of a screen for 8 hours a day in an office (heaven forbid in a cubicle…). This new style of space has created a new culture around working.

Designers focused on developing and improving coworking spaces can’t ignore the high level of technology integration. The ability to connect PC or Mac to any outlet and any other gadget is critical.

The importance of coworking spaces is just that – they allow collaboration and they work. It’s the seamless integrations that often make the space. Add in a banging modern facade and you have the total package in a coworking space.


Makerspaces are directly engineered for prototypers. In fact, they might even be better known by their nickname: hackerspaces.

These spaces are an entirely new realm outside of coworking spaces. They’re developed in an effort to foster a community that likes to build, invent, create, and learn. Rather than creating a networking space that encourages like-minded computer dwellers to collaborate, Makerspaces encourage the handcrafted to gather together.

Typically outfitted with technology such as 3D printers, models, software, and other electronics that enhance crafting, Makerspaces are still a rare find. And their rarity makes them that much more marketable.

It’s ever-important for designers to keep in mind that while Makerspaces are still in their infancy, they will only explode from here. Discovering the right technology to integrate, layouts to develop, and freedom to collaborate through open floor plans are imperative.

In a world where people can work from home, why sacrifice the convenience and comfort in an office space?

Design and coworking spaces are constantly changing. And while it seems hard to keep up initially, understanding how wireless power is completely changing the way we design spaces is a big first step.


Just a couple of decades ago, the workplace was designed around the significant technology explosion of USB and other cables. So many new technologies needed to be connected – to sync, to charge, and to function at all.

This required several changes to workplace design. In an effort to accommodate the cables and cords that were so prevalent in workspaces, furniture made a shift. Desktops and bench style tables were designed to include troughs or other under-surface cable organizers. Raised floors were invented in an effort to manage cables, cords, connections, and power charging without cluttering desks, conference rooms, and other shared spaces.

Even with these new design styles, designing new methods for cable management were the beginning of countless startups, technology branches, and other new designs. But as we’ve learned in Business School, leadership books, and TED Talks alike, incremental change isn’t the way to a blue ocean strategy.

Fast forward to the mid-2010s and we’ve seen massive changes in how the workspace is designed.

With the emergence of Bluetooth and wireless power, cables no longer need to be managed but rather sought.

Gone are the days of needing to charge your phone in your car during your lunch breaks. Office spaces, restaurants, and hospitality spaces are all finding the great value in wireless power within their walls.



Wireless power encourages smartphone owners to find the nearest pad, case, or any other home for inductive coupling. Rather than being chained to a wall by a 3ft cable, users can set down their phones on a surface that will charge their phones. Some of the biggest benefits include:


Reducing the need to use a car charger rather than plug in at work,

in airports, or at a coffee shop with wireless power


Eliminating the need to buy phone chargers by the dozen



These benefits alone can influence a decision on where to stay for vacation, where to work, what airport to use, and what brand of charger to swear by. As designers, it’s critical to maintain spaces that complement those who work within it. And as marketers, it’s just as critical to understand pain points that led to these design shifts.

While designing with these new technologies may force costs to be incurred sooner rather than later, they are quickly becoming the expectation for the base norm. Until wireless charging goes into full effect, you will begin seeing power solutions with a combination of plug ins as well as cordless options. 


The Universal Serial Bus (USB) has quickly become an expected technology included in any new tech hardware. From smartphone chargers to flash drives and printer to computer connections. But what is the difference between the two most common USB versions, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 4.0?


USB 2.0 was released in 2000 whereas USB 3.0 was released in 2008. In those 8 years, 5 major innovations improved the usage of USB 3.0. Coming in 2019, USB 4.0 will be released to address higher data transfer rates.




Transfer Rates (Speed)


USB 2.0 has a transfer rate of 480 Megabits per second (Mbps). Its counterpart USB 3.0 has a transfer rate of 10x that, offering a transfer rate of 5 Gigabits per second (Gbps). More recently, USB 3.2 offers a transfer rate of 20 Gbps and in 2019, we can expect the ratification of USB 4.0, which will offer 40 Gbps.  These transfer rates allow quicker uploads of data.


Physical Changes


In order to offer an increase in the transfer rate, the USB Type-A/B connector for USB 3.0 and higher requires more pins than USB 2.0, increasing from 4 to 10. To accommodate the physical updates, USB 3.0 required the design of new USB Type-A/B connectors.  Additionally, the arrival of the USB Type-C connector has 24 pins and allows for inverted insertion.





USB 2.0 offers one-way communication between devices. This means that it can only handle data transfers one direction at a time. With USB 3.0, they contain two unidirectional paths, allowing them to maintain transfers in both directions at the same time. While the USB-C connector adds two more data paths for a total of four.  These are key innovations for improving data transfer load times and improving efficiency.




While simultaneously sending data, USB 2.0 provides a maximum of 500 mA when charging devices. USB 3.0 offers up to 900 mA – cutting charging time nearly in half while sending data.  The categorizing of USB power has evolved and new standards have been released for power delivery.  Depending on the connector and wire type, up to 5A at 20V or 100W can be delivered to a device needing a charge. 




The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) maintains that their revisions are always backward compatible.  This means that USB 2.0 devices are compatible with USB 3.0 – though only at USB 2.0 speeds.

If you are looking to learn even more about the USB versions available, be sure to check out our USB 101 blog.


Have you ever Googled “what is charging”? The funny thing is, it seems like such an obvious question until you see the answers.


Your phone battery is essentially a tiny compartment of chemical energy. Every time you plug your phone in to charge, you’re basically the catalyst to reset a chemical reaction which inside the battery. For those of you who passed chemistry, charging is the transfer of electrons from the negative end of a battery to the positive end (and for those who liked chemistry, electrons passing from the negative anode to the cathode).

Most smartphone or smart device technology now includes a Lithium-ion battery. Charging works the same way with these batteries, despite slightly modified components within the battery. But we won’t get into the details.


Amperage is the strength of an electric current often used to measure charging. In fact, amperage is the difference between a lightning quick full charge and an all-day trickle. Amperage is the defining factor of how quickly your device will charge.

Voltage, on the other hand, is the unit of current. Interestingly enough, it is actually a function of pressure – and in this case referencing the chemical reaction that creates charge. In simpler terms (kind of), voltage is equal to the pressure that pushes electrons through their conductive loop (or from the anode to the cathode).

Wattage, on the other hand, is the rate at which energy is either created or spent. Watts represent energy per unit of time. As an example we’ve all run into, when buying light bulbs, a 100W light bulb means that the light bulb will last for 100 Watt hours.

These three concepts tie together in this formula defining charge:

Watts = Amps x Volts

So, for example, a phone charger delivering 5 Watts = 5 Volts x 1000 mA.

According to this in-depth article from Wired:

“For example, consider these charging scenarios for the Retina iPad mini. You could use a Lightning connector plugged into a computer (via USB), an iPhone charger connected to a wall socket, or an iPad charger connected to a wall socket. A PC USB charger delivers 2.5 Watts of power (5 volts at 500 mA). An iPhone charger delivers 5 Watts (5 volts at 1000 mA). A Retina iPad mini charger delivers 10 watts (5.1 volts at 2100 mA).

“While all of these will charge your iPad, using the USB connected to a PC will charge your Retina mini four times slower than if you used the iPad charger it came with. Conversely, if you use a tablet charger for your smartphone, it’d charge up faster than normal (Note: Some devices like the iPhone will only draw up to 1A of current no matter the charger). If you play mix-and-match with these types of chargers like this, don’t worry – you’re not going to blow up your phone or anything crazy like that. And the myth that charging your device at a faster rate will reduce the life of your device’s battery is false. For some older devices, the higher specced charger just won’t work at all, while newer devices will just charge faster.

“Ultimately, it’s really the amperage that determines how fast a charger will supply power to your device. If you want quicker charging, look for a wall or car charger that delivers 2100 mA of current at 5 volts (or whatever voltage the device you’re trying to charge is specced at).”


The age-old question: how fast of a charger is too fast? As you’ve noticed, the larger the brick, the quicker the charge.

Larger bricks accommodate for larger chemical reactions and pressurization – charging phone batteries even quicker. Naturally, an iPad requires more reaction to charge. Accordingly, an iPad charger will charge your iPhone quicker whereas an iPhone charger could equate to a trickle charge for your iPad.

The best way to know that you are protecting your devices and charging properly is to check their tags or manuals. If you don’t have either handy, a quick Google search will keep you on the right track.

But to reiterate the point from Wired’s article, it’s a myth that you will reduce phone battery life or blow up your phone by charging at a higher wattage than its standard charger offers. Newer, higher wattage chargers simply speed up the charging process.