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While there is some evidence to suggest that dedicated office spaces date back to the ancient Roman empire, it is known that the first official office building was built in 1726 in London and known as The Old Admiralty Office.  Since then the office space has been developed, redeveloped and continues to evolve to this day.  However, most of these transitions have had productivity and efficiency at their core with little thought of employee interaction, comfort or happiness…until now that is!

Collaboration in the Workplace:  The New Normal

With the progression of new technology after the new millennium, the rise of tech start-ups such as Google and Facebook have had a major impact on a new office design trend known as “Collaborative Workspace”.  Collaborative workspaces are exactly as the term indicates, a space where people congregate for thought development and sharing of ideas.  These spaces can exist specifically for one company, OR, they can be shared by multiple companies. 

In St. Louis three major collaborative workspaces have taken innovation, entrepreneurship and resource sharing to a whole new level.

  • Cortex Innovation Community is “strategically built around the idea that, together we can do more.”
  • T-REX is a “non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the economic vitality of St. Louis, one startup at a time.
  • Rise Collaborative is “both a workspace for professional women to conduct business and a curated community for women focused on growing professionally and personally.

Where the focus was formerly on individual worker productivity and efficiency, encouraging cooperation and collaboration now rule the day.  In large corporations, this allows co-workers to share with each other the various projects they are working on and seek non-traditional ideas from areas outside of the previous norm.  In the incubators mentioned above this allows freelancers, start-ups, and those with common goals to network on personal projects while seeking input on fresh ideas, again from non-traditional sources.

A Modular Nature

In order to have “collaboration” these types of areas are designed with openness in mind (breaking down the barriers so to speak) by removing many of the walls.  Much of this is designed for casual conversation and modularity.  With laptops, tablets and cloud technology, workers are literally free to be mobile as they work on-the-go. This mobility has led many office furniture manufacturers to focus their designs on modular functionality allowing collaborators to find a space, set up quickly and have ready access to the next big idea! 

Modularity doesn’t mean sterile environments either.  In fact, many of these spaces are as warm and inviting as your home.  There’s a reason your local Starbucks has large comfy couches and chairs without outlets and USB ports nearby.  When people are relaxed, they can let the mind daydream and be more creative than sitting at desk in an old cubicle somewhere.

Not All Spaces Are Created Equal

These spaces don’t work for all industries, however.  Industries requiring privacy such as doctors, lawyers, financial planning, accounting, and such need enclosure to ensure discussed matters and access to data are kept confidential.  Equally, while open-concept design allows for the free flow of ideas, workers still enjoy a sense of privacy, so having a space to call their own puts a wrench in the fully open design concept.  So, what’s an office space designer to do?

Modular Walls: The Perfect Blend

Modular office walls allow for an architect or space planner to combine the openness of a collaborative environment with the privacy needed for confidentiality and focused work.  Modular Glass Walls allow for the transparency desired and with todays acoustical technology allow for private discussion to be had without someone overhearing confidential information.  They allow for a clear view of activities going on in open areas and huddle spaces but provide a boundary in which client meetings can take place.  Modular Partition Walls provide a solution for saving both time and money.  It takes a carpenter a lot longer to build a traditional finished wall with studs, drywall, electric and trim than it does for a carpenter with an office furniture installer to build a modular partition wall with those same elements.  Modular walls also save time, money and create less mess and inconvenience to workers when an office renovation or reconfiguration are needed.

In today’s multifunction design, office furniture and modular wall installers should be a major part of the space planning process and brought on early to discuss the best options for installation and potential money saving opportunities.  When it comes to demountable glass walls, using an office furniture installer who has been factory trained and certified will also save time and money when things don’t quite fit like they are designed to do.  Professional Installers, Inc. (PI) is factory trained and certified on many different wall manufacturer product lines.  If you have an upcoming project, PI would be happy to be involved.  Contact Us Here or at 314-209-8000.

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