Category Archives: Office Design

“Smart” Office Walls

Walls. Not just any walls, but office walls. A pretty dry topic, not likely to be the first choice of subject for a scintillating conversation. The phrase “like watching paint dry” springs to mind when proffering the theme of an article to be entirely about office walls….

Your walls may not be the most exciting aspect of your office design, but they’re an unavoidable, integral part of any building. So how can we make offices and commercial properties have walls that people do actually want to talk about?

We may have found the solution – how about interactive walls?

“Smart" Office Walls

The stating point for refreshing a wall is usually it’s colour, and your first port of call is likely to be a quick paint job. How about if that new lick of paint also creates a wall that becomes interactive?

A university in the US has researched this concept and has produced a conductive paint that contains electronics components which, when applied with a simple paint roller, created a smart infrastructure that sensed human touch and detected gestures, as well as registering when appliances were used.

The research is still in it’s early stages, but the hypotheses of the capabilities of these smart walls include enabling users to place or move light switches or other controls to any point on a wall where they’re most convenient or to control presentations by gesture alone.

Needless to say, these are walls that we can get excited about. Two of the guys involved in this research, Chris Harrison and Yang Zhang, both of whom work in Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) certainly think this is worth investigating further.

Chris Harrison is quoted as saying; “Walls are usually the largest surface area in a room, yet we don’t make much use of them other than to separate spaces and perhaps hold up pictures and shelves. As the internet of things and ubiquitous computing become reality, it is tempting to think that walls can become active parts of our living and work environments.”

Naming this “Wall++”, Zhang admits that it has yet to be optimised for energy consumption but estimated these walls would use about as much power as a standard touchscreen. Knowing how much area walls take up, the costs needed to be kept low, so they have used a water-based paint containing nickel that can be applied with a paint roller.

It may be sometime before we see smart walls as standard in commercial properties, but here at last is, perhaps, a reason to revisit the dull office wall and get excited about the potential of the interactive, smart, Wall++.

5 Types of Office Partition

The big, open plan office space has had a lot of bad press of late. Offices designed in this way have been accused of causing unhappy, unproductive and unwell workers with everything from noise levels to lack of privacy being named as chief culprits.

That being said, not everyone has the means to move into a more suitable work space – and if this is the case, what can you do to break up your wide, open and noisy spaces?

Using Office Partitions:

Utilising office partitions enables you to implement temporary walls that can be mobilised around the work space. They are the quickest, simplest and most cost effective way of enabling a more productive work space. Being either temporary or permanent, these partitions can fit into just about any size room required.

5 Types of Office Partition:

Glass Partitions: Here at 20six we’re big fans of using glass walls, so much so that we have installed them in our own offices to separate our boardroom from the rest of the office. We have even dedicated an entire blog post on the reasons to use glass walls in commercial design. Find out more... 

Wooden Partitions: If you are looking to recreate a traditional, elegant look that enhances the warmth of the interior, wooden dividers may be right for you. There are a variety of timber partitioning systems available in different finishes such as solid wood or veneer finished MDF. They can come with timber faced trims, glazing sections, integrated door frames and skirting, enabling ease of relocation to another position within the office should this be required.

Aluminium Partitions: Coming in as the most cost-effective solution, aluminium partitions are very durable, quick and easy to install, demount and relocate. Available in solid units, with part or full glazing, installation will create minimal disruption. They may not have the classy look of pure glass, or the natural feel of wood, but they gain bonus points from the fire department.

Office Screens: Whilst not necessarily creating the same effect as the options above, office partition screens give you a cut-down version on a smaller scale. Screens provide you with acoustic benefits, writeable surfaces, pinnable or magnetic surfaces, and attachable accessories. They can come in a variety of coverings, including fully customisable options to fit into your overall company branding.

Office Pods: To circumvent building restrictions and to negate the need for any fixings, office pods offer a freestanding room solution.  This form of office divider also means that there is negligible dilapidation costs that are associated with fixed office partitions. Due to the modular construction of the pods, there is the choice to extend and create larger pods such as meeting room pods. The pod construction also allows for integral writable whiteboards, glass surfaces, pin boards & TV / monitor support for training or conferencing purposes.

These are the five most common options for dividing up your commercial interior work space. Whether you are unrestrained in how you can fit out your offices, or whether you are restricted by building or landlord regulations, there will always be a solution for you to reduce noise levels and increase productivity among your employees.

Blending Home and Office

Workplace Trends 2018 | Bringing Home To Work

There has been a trend in office design to make the work place less formal and to blend aspects we would usually expect to have in our home environment into the work space. This continues to be an integral aspect of workplace trends in 2018 making offices a more appealing environment for all to spend time in.

How To Include Home-Like Elements Into Workplace Design

When we think of traditional office spaces, we’re likely to imagine open spaces, cubicles, large meeting rooms and tiny communal kitchens. None of these areas are places we would chose to relax and maybe watch a film or read a book. When you get home at the end of a hard days work you’re more likely to want to plonk yourself down on a comfy settee, or sit in your cosy kitchen with a cuppa. The trend towards blending the home and the office has the underlying ethos of making the work place more relaxing. Sure you’re not there to chill and watch a movie, but the more you feel comfortable in any given environment, the more you will be able to offer.

We’ve come up with 6 ideas of how to bring elements of the home into your work spaces:

6 Ways To Blend Home and Office

Office Furniture: At home you will have a range of furniture that will be chosen both on design and colour, and on function. We can’t have an office that only has settees to sit on as this doesn’t do well for your productivity if you’re trying to work on your computer - but office furniture can still be stylish, functional and ergonomic, and enhance and complement the overall aesthetic of your work space.

Relaxed Seating Areas: Studies have shown that you are less productive if you spend your entire day sat at your desk, and more productive if you take a break. Having comfortable, welcoming break out areas where staff can take five minutes out will help them remain focused as well as encourage collaboration and mingling amongst employees.

Decent Kitchens: We’ve dedicated a whole blog post to office kitchens before as we feel passionately about this aspect of commercial design. Too often the office kitchen is an after thought, stuffed into a room barely bigger than a cupboard and full of mugs that are breading new life. The health and well being of staff is paramount in increasing engagement and productivity and where better to start than with an office kitchen that people want to spend time in?

Office Gardens: You may be restricted by external space, but office design trends are embracing the “green” office internally as well. Adding plants within the premises softens the space as well as bringing the benefit of improving employee performance on memory retention and other basic tests that studies have shown to be substantially improved with office plants.

Softer Lighting: Whilst we need decent lighting levels in order to work and not cause eye strain, having variable lighting levels is beneficial for all staff. Think of your office lighting design in terms of layers. Your main overhead lighting will provide the base, your individual task lighting gives you independent functionality and accent lighting adds an air of ambience.

Choice Of Space: The more people have choice, the more they are able to find the right working situation for the project they are currently engaged in. Sometimes we need a quiet spot alone with our work, others we need to collaborate in a dynamic environment, or we need to have groups working together. Co-working spaces have become increasingly popular, and the basis of this setup can be incorporated within more static business premises.

Here at 20six we are enthused by the workplace trends we’re seeing in 2018 and are very pleased to be working on some great projects this year.

From Open to Flexible

Office Design Trends 2017 | Making your space work for you.

Part of the reason behind the rise to prominence of the open plan office was to do with cost. Open office plans resulted in leasing an overall smaller footprint, with employees’ room per square foot reduced to as little as 185 square feet from the average of 250 to 300 square feet. With business space often at a premium, reducing your square footage whilst maintaining your staff made for sound business investment – on paper.

In reality, workers didn’t find the open plan designs conducive to maximum productivity, with issues around noise, concentration levels, lack of personalisation and privacy being cited as the biggest bug-bears.

Moving Away From Uniform Cubicles

Employers and designers have begun to recognise these issues and the concept has evolved into something more intricate and informed than a simple, open plan office. Office design has moved from open to flexible.

There is still a case to be had for open plan office design – it can be beneficial for companies continuing to embrace the collaborative model – it’s just that it needs to be more thought through in the planning stages.

Through several businesses trailing various versions of the flexible open floor space, what has become clear is that to make it work for your staff it is essential to have a variety of spaces, from individual silent pods, to two-person quiet meetings, to cosy sofas, to large training, meeting rooms, to outside spaces.

Recognising Different Work Requirements

It is vital that you understand the different ways that groups and individuals work, both within their own departments and among others within the company. Creating a collaborative office requires a lot of planning, not just in where we place the office furniture or a simple case of “who gets to sit where.”

To ensure that the dynamics of the work force are at their best, you will need to locate complimentary departments next to each other and delve even deeper to ascertain individuals’ work personas and/or roles to ensure that you provide the right type of workstations suited for each worker’s needs.

The ‘flexible’ office space applies to the way that work-spaces are used and how they are physically designed. So, it makes economic sense to use office furniture, desks, and other installations that can be easily reorganised or reconfigured.

In summary, the best modern offices are flexible, adaptable, and are designed around the working requirements of those who regularly use them.