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Incorporating Technology Versatility and Design in Movable Wall Office Systems

Office planning for today's multitasked workplace environment requires a carefully planned and tailored blend of workspace layouts and floorplans to accommodate personnel employing a wide range of skill sets. Today's new approach to office planning is a direct result of experience gained over the past decade. Throughout this period it has been dramatically demonstrated that one size does not fit all when it comes to fostering workplace productivity and employee morale. While the experience has been rich, it has come at high cost for many firms who for reasons of economy or attempts at building a "family" feeling through teamwork, believed that open-plan offices would boost productivity and lower costs. Perhaps one of the most extreme examples of this was the "virtual office" created by an advertising agency.

Employees had nothing of their own ? instead they queued up daily to be issued a phone and computer, then sought out a place to camp for the day. The experiment was not a success. More common is the open office plan built on modular panel systems and furniture. The systems approach has achieved a high level of development in terms of sophistication, aesthetics and functionality.

The most technologically advanced of these systems easily accommodate the tremendous amount of intelligence accessed within and from the workplace. Open-office solutions provide high value when teamwork and interaction are essential to the tasks being performed. They can be reconfigured quickly and inexpensively to facilitate the Moves, Adds and Changes (MACs) characteristic of most open office workplace environments.

Evolution in the Workplace The popularity of open office designs notwithstanding, clearly there are instances where they do not add value. For example, Michael Brill of BOSTI Associates says there is an idea that openness feeds interaction, but where that happens is in the hallways and coffee bar ? exactly where it should happen. There is no doubt that open office designs prove their worth in workspaces that require teamwork and collaboration ? such as in a call center. But studies by BOSTI show privacy can improve productivity by up to 250% for task-intensive knowledge workers. Because of this and other reasons, leading edge companies are blending open plans with private offices. This trend is expected to accelerate as menial office tasks are automated.

Moreover, companies are increasingly aware that skilled knowledge workers are not in unlimited supply. Companies viewing skilled personnel as a valued resource provide the facilities that attract the right people, then support their contribution to the success of the organization. Movable wall systems are a key element to knowledge worker satisfaction and productivity.

They solve the privacy issues necessary for thinking but without imparting a feeling of isolation. They enable employees to add their own touches to the workplace and create a home away from home. Structural elements liberally enhanced with colors, textures, coordinated worksurfaces, cabinetry, shelving and technology support typify the new worker-friendly approach to movable full-wall office systems. This paper will examine movable floor-to-ceiling wall systems based on a modular design, and provide guidelines to help office managers and planners make educated purchasing decisions. It will discuss first costs and lifetime costs, cable management, construction details, privacy and other concerns impacting the purchasing decision. The Evolution of the Wall Until very recently, office privacy was synonymous with inflexibility.

Private offices were largely constructed of plasterboard or sheet rock over metal studding and firmly attached to floor and ceiling structural members. Construction and subsequent remodeling created dust, paint fumes, aggravations, lost productivity, missed opportunities and work disruptions as employees moved to a temporary location. New construction or rebuilds frequently are costly and difficult to manage because they can involve as many as 6 or 7 trades ranging from common labor through painting, plastering, electrical and communications workers. Moreover, as landfills close, disposal costs are increasing for old plasterboard and studding.

MAiSPACE.com will help business owners and operators make smart choices in Modern Office Furniture. and Office Cubicles for their offices and selecting the right Systems Furniture.

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