May 18th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
It’s hard to believe that another year has passed and NeoCon 2013 in Chicago is just around the corner. As always, Cubicles Office Environments will be showcasing information about dozens of award winning designs right here on our blog. It’s the next best thing to being at the show! This year, NeoCon will be playing with the theme of outdoor furniture. The trade show will host The Outdoor Office exhibit by designer Jonathon Olivares. You can see images from the exhibit at its current location in the Art Institute of Chicago here. The concept exhibit explores stripped down, sturdy office equipment mixed with architectural pieces to give structure to even the most wide open spaces.
The trend of mobile/remote work is here to stay with more and more traditional office employees getting their hands on devices that make it easier to work on the go. We’ve heard all about the different places people choose to work. There’s the second place (home), third place (coffee shop or café), and the fourth place (coworking space). Now, it’s time to introduce the fifth place – the biggest one of all. You guessed it; we’re talking about the whole of the Great Outdoors. It’s about time office furniture designers started creating for this space. NeoCon thinks so too, and will be hosting multiple presentations on this emerging market. Hopefully, these presentations will be hosted outdoors to demonstrate the practicality of the concept…
May 17th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult to create a truly effective workplace culture? Perhaps it’s because your organization is being pulled in so many different directions at once. Haworth has a great white paper that gives you a simple way to visualize how this works with the Competing Values Framework. It uses two sets of opposing values set at right angles to create four “quadrants” that encompass a remarkably complete picture of the different definitions of effectiveness found across organizational cultures. The system is also scalable from small groups to large corporations.
The framework contrasts flexibility vs. focus along one line and internal vs. external along the other. For example, an organization that values flexibility is highly adaptable and interested in promoting transformation. A more focused organization places value on stability and prefers a predictable environment. An internally focused organization seeks harmony and collaboration while an externally focused one is interested in outdoing the competition. The quadrants created demonstrate the key characteristic of the organization based on its two main values (e.g., internal/flexible, external/focused, etc.). These are the characteristics:
- Collaborate (do things together)
- Create (do things first)
- Compete (do things fast)
- Control (do things right)
How Can This Information Be Used?
According to Haworth, “The Competing Values Framework is used to organize an approach to leadership and management development. Individual leadership competencies, for example, are developed and improved in the context of the organization’s culture, its strategic competencies, financial strategies, pressing problems, and desired outcomes.”
Since each set of values is diametrically opposed, there is no way to “have it all”. For example, you can’t have both complete control and complete creativity. That’s OK. There is no one correct way to run an organization. So, this diagram isn’t designed to invite judgment. Instead, this tool is designed to:
- Make it easy to see the currently existing culture for what it is
- Identify areas where competing values within the organization are leading to conflict and loss of effectiveness
- Determine what areas need to be focused on to create more balance – or an even more finely tuned emphasis on the areas of greatest strength
- Discover which technologies and resources will help bolster the desired quadrants
Basically, when you understand the framework, your organization can stop pulling in all four directions and pull together in the desired direction.
May 16th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
Have you ever wondered what office furniture would look like if it was designed by a young person with boundless energy? Darryl Agawin, a med student turned product designer shows that the stereotype of the “couch potato” generation has it all wrong. Generation Y may actually be the first to crack the problem of the sedentary American working style. Sit-to-stand and treadmill desks aren’t ambitious enough for Agawin. Instead, he’s developed a suite of furniture for the home or office that can double as a complete gym.
In the design stage, Darryl investigated a wide array of popular fitness routines and identified the common movements and support structures. From there, he created a simple 3 piece set of furnishings that can facilitate dozens (if not hundreds) of physical exercises. It’s all very low tech, so there’s nothing that really requires maintenance. Each larger piece of furniture breaks down into smaller components to increase the versatility of the workspace/workout space. You can see the video over at Gizmodo.com. Warning: If you are over the age of 35, you may get tired just watching this. The concept is called “No Sweat!”, but that’s obviously a lie.
May 11th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
Last week, we looked at a roundup of automatically-adjusting task chairs. They were pretty neat and definitely make the process of molding yourself to your chair easier. But there’s one kind of chair that really does need to be totally self-adjusting and flexible – without the need for any complex moving parts. That’s a stackable chair that you would deploy in hospitality, training area, meeting room, reception, and other temporary use areas. Why is simplicity as important as comfort?
- Adjustable ergonomic stackable chairs would no doubt have a higher price point. It’s unlikely that you would want to pay a premium price for features that aren’t used or appreciated.
- You can’t really stack a chair that has levers and knobs sticking out that might get bent or broken. Those delicate components would never get replaced and some users would be stuck with chairs that couldn’t be adjusted.
- Even if you did keep everything working great, it wouldn’t have that much impact. If an employee who sits on a task chair for 8+ hours a day can’t be bothered to adjust their chair, someone who is only using the chair for a couple of hours total certainly isn’t going to try.
New Ergonomic Stackable Seating Options
There are lots of “ergonomic stack chairs” advertised online. But just making a chair with dip in the seat and a curve in the back isn’t the same thing as making a really comfortable chair. However, we’ve just learned about a higher end product in this category that may come closer to actually delivering on their ergonomic promises.
The Grazie is a brand new design from KI. It features an ultra-contoured seat to minimize pressure points. But it’s the back of the chair that is really innovative. It is designed with PerfectPivot™ technology to allow the seat to recline while staying close to the lower back for lumbar support. The seat back material is also flexible to respond to twisting, side-to-side movements. These advanced features are streamlined into the chair so nothing is sticking out and the user activates the mechanism with their natural body motion.
You can see a YouTube video demonstration here. Let us know what you think about this chair? Have you tried it? Did you like it? We’d like to hear your review.
May 10th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
It’s great to be able to personalize your workspace with funny, inspirational and motivational cubicle posters. Those pictures of cute kittens, mountain climbers and eagles can make a drab panel more interesting. However, there are some types of décor your boss really shouldn’t be allowed to see. For example, you’d never want to print out and post this infographic in your cubicle – or in the break room. Instead, it’s the kind of thing you secretly share with your coworkers for a quick chuckle on a long Friday afternoon. We don’t think you’ll actually try any of these tips for getting away with sleeping on the job. But a good belly laugh will make you feel just as relaxed and refreshed as a quick nap. Let us know which strategy is your favorite.
Strategies For Sleeping On The Job: An Infographic by the Team at OnlineClock.net
May 9th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
Are you trying to find the right balance between your closed and open office furniture systems? There’s a very specific “typology” that encompasses both formal and informal, business and relaxation, work and hospitality, enclosure and collaboration. These furnishings are both less than and more than cubicles. They are designed to bring people together while also ensuring more freedom of movement and privacy within the workplace. They are part of the underlying support structure that may help usher in the new era of hot-desking and free employees from assigned workstations.
Wonder what we’re talking about? Check out the examples and an in-depth analysis of this trend at Architonic.com. Here’s an excerpt “… A raft of the new office systems and furniture programs have appeared that would seem to reflect the zeitgeist of contemporary office culture – one which ostensibly privileges both group intelligence and idea-generating communication between co-workers on the one hand and a sense of privacy bound up with notions of concentration and productivity on the other…”
Do see a place in your own organization for this office furniture typology? Let us know in the comments.
May 4th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
In the world of office chairs, more isn’t necessarily better. A good ergonomic chair will have a high degree of adjustability. However, the seating option with the most knobs and levers isn’t necessarily the best one. In fact, some of the most awesome chairs are those that automatically adjust – so you can just sit back and enjoy. Here’s a look at a few choices for self-adjusting office chairs.
Cobi from Steelcase
This affordable task chair has only one adjustment – the height of the seat. Everything else about the chair moves with you. The back and the seat are both designed to flex, encouraging you to sit in a variety of comfortable postures. As one reviewer says, “I am a squirmy worker, constantly changing sitting positions throughout the day, and particularly love that the Cobi bends and adjusts with me.” Of course, the lack of adjustability in features such as tilt lock and lumbar support mean you really need to try it before you buy it to ensure it’s a good fit.
Bionic by Dauphin
This chair from the Dauphin HumanDesign® company has some very exciting automatically adjusting features. The chair detects the weight of the user and regulates the backrest counterpressure to an optimal level. What’s more, the “automatic lordosis depth adjustment” changes with the movement profile of the chair to guarantee the best lumbar support in any position. Finally, the Bionic’s seat flexes at the front edge and curves further down as you lean back. The seat depth changes as well to ensure circulation in the thighs is not impeded.
Freedom by HumanScale
Like the Bionic, this chair also adjusts the recline function based on the sitter’s weight. In addition, the headrest automatically moves up to cradle your head when you lean back and shifts out of the way when you sit upright. The pivoting backrest supports your spine as you sit up or lounge back as well. Even the seat cushioning is designed to ensure your weight is evenly distributed as you move about, relieving pressure on your legs.
These are just a few of the great automatically adjusting office chairs on the market. Check out this blog post at OfficeChairAdvice.com to see the pros and cons of self-adjusting chairs. Scroll down to the bottom to find reviews for additional chairs not covered in our exclusive roundup.
May 3rd, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
Are you looking for fast and easy ways to improve your workspace design for better functionality? The Daily Worth gives you several quick tips for how to “Make Your Office Space Work for You”. Unlike other advice columns that are all about helping your office or cubicle express your personality, these solutions are about helping you express the most effective side of yourself. So, rather than buying little knick-knacks to add verve, choose to incorporate color with items you actually use daily such as a mouse pad or a stapler. Of course, you probably already know that adding motivational sayings and keeping your desk clear of clutter helps you stay focused and feeling good. But the tips about the color blue (in both décor and the light spectrum) are a little unexpected. They may prompt you to use more of this hue in your workplace. There’s lots of cool research linked throughout that you’re sure to find interesting. Read the full set of tips here.
May 2nd, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
On this blog, we usually focus on workplace décor and furniture tips that are intended to make employees feel comfortable. But there’s something to be said for taking a long look at how your office design impacts clients and other visitors as well. Duncan MacPherson at Pareto Systems offers insight into this topic in his blog post about the “Multi-Sensory Office”. He specializes in coaching financial advisors, so his target demographic really has to impress clients who come to visit. After all, no company is going to feel good about entrusting their financial wellbeing to a consulting firm that can’t even take care of its own office space. Even small, highly targeted touches make a big difference. For example, Duncan suggests equipping the lobby with current magazines that are relevant to client interests – and investing in some glossy coffee table books as well. The upgrade suggestions for the meeting room, private office, and even the bathroom are worth your attention. As a bonus, all of these changes can benefit your employees as well.
April 26th, 2013 by Mark Canavarro
Do you enjoy gazing at beautiful office design photos? It’s a great way to end your workweek. You can go home on Friday imagining that your own office will be magically transformed over the weekend, like Cinderella’s pumpkin being turned into a coach to take her to the ball. Sure, the bubble will burst on Monday since you don’t really have a fairy godmother. But it’s a nice dream while it lasts. Here are some brand new links to give you inspiration:
School Is Definitely In
The Office Design Gallery brings you photos from School SS99. Feast your eyes on white and gold furnishings and accessories that speak of class and luxury. The brick walls and black checked floor add an industrial undertone to the space, making it look quite gentrified with its new facelift.
But What Does the Office at Forbes Look Like?
Forbes has its own top 10 list of cool office designs for this year. Check it out here. As you would expect, there are quite a few technology companies in the mix (including one that has an indoor playground with adult sized swings). But smaller firms in niche markets also make an appearance. Take a gander at the Human Healthy Vending picture and see if you can find the green hand.
Ply Your Trade Surrounded By Wood
The Cool Hunter appears to have a real gift for locating offices that feature unusual materials. In 2013, the material de jour is plywood. That’s right, and it’s not even painted! The photo collection at this link features a shocking amount of unfinished plywood used for walls, built in furnishings and ceilings. Perhaps there is a subliminal message here – we are all under construction and the work never ends.
Google Is in a Class of Its Own
This new location in Israel has a little something for everyone. Misty mountains, coffee stained manifestos and orange groves decorate the walls, setting a different theme for each workspace. Enjoy the images brought to you by Office Snapshots here.
Still haven’t had your fill? You can spend hours browsing the lavish office designs in Inc.com’s extensive library of images.