Tag: furniture

Let the light shine in

A recent survey of office workers across South Africa has revealed the top five things people want from their office space.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says that the survey was carried out late last year and queried just over 3000 office workers on what mattered to them most in the workplace.

“Unsurprisingly 42% said more natural light was the the most important element.

“It so simple but often design gets so caught up in the fancier things, people forget the importance of sunlight to humans’ sense of well-being.

“This is especially true in the workplace, where traditionally there has been a focus on issues of layout and safety – important factors, but not the only elements affecting happiness at work.”

Second on the list was ‘quiet working spaces’ at 22% and in third ‘was a view of the sea’ at 20%.

“Increasingly we are installing quiet zones for our big clients. People need to escape from what is often a noisy and disruptive environment to really get work done.

“A typical office work switches activities about every three minutes and half of these switches were caused by interruptions. Interrupted work is usually resumed however it takes workers about 20 minutes to get back to what they were doing.”

She adds that views of the sea were a nice to have but not practical for inland cities. “We have found however that placing large pictures of peaceful natural places like forests, mountains or the sea does create a calming atmosphere in the office.”

Rounding out the list was ‘live indoor plants’ at 18% and ‘bright colours’ at 15%.

“The recent trend to create clinical uncluttered offices doesn’t make people more productive or help them concentrate better.”

Trim noted that a green office signals to employees that their employer cares about their well-being.

“Adding live plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.”

Another factor that made offices better places to work was the right use of colour.

“Bland colours induce feelings of sadness and depression while grey and white can also contribute to feelings of gloom and anxiety.

“Scientific studies have shown that colours don’t just change our moods, they also profoundly impact productivity.

“That’s why it’s best to decorate your workplace with a vibrant mix of stimulating hues that increase output and spark creativity,“ Trim says.

How space affects learning

South Africa faces a particularly challenging teaching environment with often overcrowded classrooms, distracted learners and hard working but sometimes under-qualified teachers.

And another, more subtle challenge is that traditional teaching classroom experiences are often not aligned with how the brain works, particularly as it relates to attention.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says that learning institutions in South Africa can achieve far better results by better understanding how learning works.

“There are so many things vying for student attention today it makes it harder to get attention and therefore engagement but there are five things that can be done to dramatically improve results:

Seat location impacts attention

A study by Kennesaw State University revealed that where students sit in the classroom impacts focus. Says Andrews: “Students in the front and middle of the classroom stayed on task, while those in the back were more distracted. An active learning classroom where students easily moved and rearrange their seating enables them to stay attentive.”

Classrooms configured with no fixed position where the instructor must stand and mobile seating create better results. Here an teacher or student can address the class, lead a discussion and share content from anywhere in the classroom. There’s no front or back of the classroom, and since the seating allows students to change posture and position easily, every seat is the best seat in the room.

Active learning

Research by Diane M. Bunce, et. al. on “How Long Can Students Pay Attention in Class?”, compared a passive lecture approach and active learning methods. Researchers noted fewer attention lapses during times of active learning. They also found fewer lapses in attention during a lecture that immediately followed a demonstration or after a question was asked, compared to lectures that preceded active learning methods. This suggests active learning may have dual benefits: engaging student attention and refreshing attention immediately afterward.

Physical movement fuels the brain

Schools are starting to incorporate more physical activity in the classroom, such as Delaney Connective, a high school in Sydney, Australia, where students do “brain pushups” each morning: five-minute, Tai Chi-like exercises that get the blood flowing and help students focus.
“Physical movement increases alertness and helps encode and trigger memory. Yet schools and teachers traditionally train students to be sedentary, and equate sitting still with greater attention and focus,” noted Andrews.
Simply allowing students to get out of their seats to move while learning provides the brain with much-needed novelty and change.

Novelty and change get attention

Our brains naturally seek out what’s new and different. Therefore varying materials and breaks facilitate attention. A study by Kennesaw State University found that students paid more attention when the professor reviewed quiz answers, presented new information or shared videos, essentially by changing things up.
Novelty and change facilitate learning in another way too. Repeating important points by engaging multiple senses helps to reinforce learning. There is a greater likelihood that learning will generalise outside the classroom if it is organised across sensory, physical, emotional and cognitive networks.

Learning has a natural rhythm

The need for periods of both quiet focus and healthy distraction finds its parallel in learning.
Our brain can focus on a task for only so long, after which it needs a break for renewal to achieve high performance on the next task. Ignore this rhythm and we tend to lose focus.
“Researchers have found that people who respect this natural rhythm are more productive,” says Andrews. Breaks for rest and renewal are critical to the body and brain, as well as to attention span. The work of education is similarly organic, changing at different times of the term, week, even during a single class period.

Despite the well worn office mantra of group work being central to success, businesses often struggle to offer effective collaborative spaces. This is according to Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy.

Says Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office: “Historically, most collaboration in South Africa has occurred through formal, scheduled meetings having many participants.

“As a result, organisations have had years of experience building conference rooms and other formal meeting spaces. These spaces were designed to facilitate large group work processes, efficient client exchanges of information and decision making.”

Andrews notes that the need for innovation, improved productivity and particularly speedy decision making are the principal drivers behind the charge towards collaborative, less structured workspaces.

“This is especially true when you consider 70% of great, innovative ideas at work come from people collaborating,” he says. “The search for competitive advantage through innovation and effective decision-making has led many organisations to highly value group-oriented work and workspaces.”

Today’s collaborative spaces fall short of expectations, driven by a lack of spaces to support the most valued types of collaboration, and a lack of adaptability of both furnishings and technology within the spaces.

“While the most highly prized collaborations are informal in nature, they need to be supported with the right design characteristics such as convenient location, support for social and small group work interactions, and casual look and feel.”

Most organisations consider the social component of work separate from “work” spaces. To foster social interaction, some copy the obvious characteristics of successful public spaces (the café, bar, market, lounge) mistakenly hoping that the variety of social interactions occurring in the public versions of these spaces will translate to a business setting.

However, organisations have few insights into supporting innovation other than to encourage as much interaction as possible and “wait for the magic to happen”. Organisations know their group spaces are under-performing, but do not know how to respond.

Andrews says that while the trend to establish comfortable, informal collaborative spaces within offices has taken hold in Europe and particularly in the US over the past few years, and to some degree in South Africa, he expects the trend to accelerate here in 2017.

“The economy is sluggish and adding a collaborative space in an unused office area means you can enhance office facilities without taking on extra spaces and bumping up the rent or spending a lot on expensive office reconfiguration.

“Another advantage is because these spaces typically consist of things like screened off areas, perch tables with high stools, booths with comfortable ottomans and chairs, they are easy to move to a new office.”

Andrews says that the types of collaborative spaces offered continue to evolve- the most rapidly growing categories support brainstorming, small unplanned meetings, videoconferencing and project team work.

“In the future, most collaborative spaces will offer features that facilitate connection to technology, sharing of visual information, adaptability to changing work process and amenities such as food, beverages and daylight,” he concludes.

What makes an office not just mediocre, but exceptional? How can a design that has all the functional elements be taken one step further?

It comes down to the little finishing touches. The splash of colours and textures. The furniture and art. The detail that is incorporated into the design. These finishing touches bring together the elements of a room and set the tone for the space.

Choose a design company, such as Giant Leap, who knows how to carefully choose these features, spending time pulling together the overall design of a room.

In 2016, Giant Leap has seen certain trends coming through with these finer details. A lot of natural materials, textures and neutral colours have been incorporated in the design and accessories. Pops of colour are brought in through aspects such as the art, scatter cushions for the furniture and the objects that may be placed around the room. At the moment, favoured materials are copper, brass, wood and marble.

An integral part is also ensuring that the overall design works with the finishing touches. Some offices have been designed with intentionally exposed elements, such as exposed roof beams or unpainted concrete. In these instances, the accessories or finishing touches will tie the space together and highlight the design. The finishing touches work hand-in-hand with the design to enhance the space and ensure that it leaves a positive impression.

Although lighting may not be considered a finishing touch, it is! The use of floor lamps, table lamps and pendants can provide a warmer, calming atmosphere, affecting how a space is perceived. It’s an important part of the design that can really tie together the tone of a room.

Ensure a design that is exceptional from floor to ceiling by inspiring creativity, enhancing productivity and focusing on the finer  details.

Think desk workers spending their days in front of a computer aren’t likely to get injured on the job?

Think again.

More than half of all workplace injuries are related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) — injuries that are common among those who engage in repetitive motion activities as typing on a computer keyboard.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, says that even the seemingly ‘safest’ jobs lead to employee injuries and a large cost to the bottom line of business.

“In fact, nearly 60 percent of employees doing office computer work say they have wrist pain.

“Long days hunched over keyboards can lead to cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) and lower back ailments.”

Here are some other common complaints:

  • Muscle fatigue or pain. Working for long periods in the same position or in awkward positions can put stress on hands and wrists and lead to injury.
  • Eye strain. Sitting too close to — or prolonged staring at — a monitor can reduce eye blinking and may lead to dry or aching eyes.
  • Lower back pain. Using laptops or non-adjustable office furniture can cause employees to work at awkward angles and lead to back stress.

Andrews notes that several trends make CTDs a special concern for today’s typical office workers.

“So many employees use computers all day and then also sit down at the computer at home to surf the Internet or even catch up on work.

“Secondly, specialised jobs are on the increase the world over. This means more people are doing the same thing all day. And finally, people are living longer and also working longer which means many more years of wear and tear on the body.”

According to South African workplace research company Know More, only 40% of 10 000 South African workers surveyed feel that their workplace environment supports their wellbeing.

And this doesn’t just exact a physical toll on employees, it can have a significant impact on businesses’ bottom line.

“For example,in 2003 in the US, the average medical claim associated with a CTD was over $43 000. Now it’s over $50 000. And that doesn’t even include the hidden costs for employers of lost productivity when an employee is injured or the cost of hiring and training a replacement worker.”

So what’s a business to do?

“Don’t think that a desk and chair is all that employees need,” Andrews advises.

Ergonomics, or the process of safely and comfortably relating workers to their work- spaces, can help by reducing the likelihood of work related injuries through greater emphasis on a well designed workspace.

“Studies have shown that a well-designed office space can increase efficiency by up to 36%.”

Andrews adds that Inspiration Office has increasingly installed several ‘collaborative spaces’ with furniture like couches and coffee tables.

“These are designed not only for teamwork, but also to encourage people to move around and change their workstations to reduce repetitive actions during the day.”

Moving is particularly important: according to the same Know More survey, only 21% of South African office workers feel that their workplaces offer sufficient areas to allow physical activity.

It needn’t be costly either. “When one considers that in most organisations 80% of the budget is allocated to people in the form of salaries, while only 7% is allocated to space, by leveraging the smallest cost line item better – businesses can obtain a return in efficiency in the biggest cost line item,” says Andrews.

For instance, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests measure such as leaving enough room for range of motion, adjusting desk chairs to individuals, positioning monitors so eye level is at the top of the screen and finding a pointing device, such as a mouse, stylus or tablet, suited to the individual.

There are many other simple things employers can consider to help protect their workers and their pocketbooks. For example:

  • Stress the importance of good posture at the computer;
  • Use smart lifting techniques and tools that can make the job easier;
  • Appoint someone on your staff to take responsibility for safety issues. Have this person understand ergonomics best practices, review resources provided by your workers’ compensation insurance company, train employees, and make changes to workspaces as needed; and
  • Take breaks throughout the work day to walk about.

Major risk factors that add to cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs):

  • Static posture
  • Awkward posture
  • Repetition
  • Force and/or vibration
  • Extreme temperature

Safe behaviours that limit CTDs:

  • Good posture
  • Correct workstation setup
  • Occasional rest breaks
  • Task variation
  • Proper lifting techniques

“Common sense measures can go a long way to preventing these types of injuries, “Andrews adds.

If you want to attract and retain talented employees, having an office in the right location, with the features that today’s workers want, is more important than you may think.

The world of work is ever-changing, and employers who don’t adapt risk getting left behind. In an era when the boundaries between work and social life are becoming ever more fluid, reward packages and career progression are far from the only things that make for happy employees, as we discovered when we asked more than 1,000 workers across the UK about the features that make up their ideal office. The results point to a clear link between these ideal features and talent recruitment and retention – and some of them may come as a surprise.

The good news is that the workers we surveyed believe they would be 36% more productive at work if they were working in the ideal office. Moreover, 86% say they’d stay longer with an employer that had the ideal office location and features.

The other side of the coin is that 80% believe that companies that don’t offer their employees a convenient location and attractive features are more likely to lose them. And that’s not an empty threat, as younger workers in particular – the people who will be staffing the country’s offices for the next few decades – are markedly more likely to move jobs to find a working environment that suits them.

That can be costly for employers; consultants Deloitte estimate that, when an employee departs, a company loses two to three times their annual salary in terms of lost intellectual capital, client relationships, productivity and experience, plus the cost of recruiting a new hire.

Prime location

So what does this mean for employers? How they can they ensure that their office environment and facilities help to keep their current workforce happy – and attract the top talent they need to thrive in the future?

One thing’s for sure: employees are looking for – and expect – more than just smart decor. Our research reveals a wish list that includes a great office location and easily accessible transport links – but also, less predictably, communal meeting areas and social events in and around the office.

It’s no great surprise that the overall location of an office was rated firmly as the most important feature, with 70% of those surveyed saying this was very important – but only 42% claiming to be very satisfied with their current office location. An easy commute was also high up the list, with 62% rating public transport links as very important and 44% wanting car parking facilities.

Generation gaps

What really jumped out from the survey results, though, was the diversity in responses from the different generations that make up the working population in 2016.

Millennials (those aged 18-29) and Generation X (30-49) demand the most from their employers and – tellingly – are prepared to move to find what they want. Among Millennials, 53% claim they have previously changed jobs to improve the location and the features on offer, and 39% say they will definitely change jobs in 2016. This is a generation of workers with strong ideas about what they want from an office.

And what exactly is that? As working styles change, open and connected environments, with Wi-Fi and communal meeting areas, are very important to these two groups. Being in a location that has a ‘buzz’ about it is also high on the wish list for 90% of Millennials and 82% of Generation X.

Given that 68% of all respondents agreed that the line between work and social time is becoming increasingly blurred, activities and events at the office – or near it, on a campus for example – are also popular. Three quarters of Millennials said they valued such activities, compared with only 45% of Baby Boomers (those aged 50 or over).

Future workspaces

With Millennials predicted to account for 75% of the UK workforce by 2025, employers are already thinking hard about how to bring in the most talented of these workers – and how to keep them. Our survey suggests that planning workplace moves or improvements should be playing a significant part in businesses’ overall recruitment strategies, given the impact of the working environment on recruits’ decision-making.

When planning your next move, it’s worth considering the features listed above alongside the obvious things such as geographical location. Employees’ needs are changing: they are prepared to move to find the right working environment, and providing an office with the features they want could make a significant difference in being able to attract and retain the talent your business needs to succeed.

Source: www.officeagenda.britishland.com

In today’s age, the sustainability of the environment has become something everyone is, or should be, concerned with. It’s the norm to be eco-conscious about the food we eat, the products we purchase and the waste we recycle but it doesn’t just stop there. It extends into the workspace, something that veteran designer Giant Leap is well aware of.

Creating the green workspace and maximising both the economic and environmental performance of the space is a part of the process when you create an office space with Giant Leap. As a member of the Green Building Council, Giant Leap always recommends products in line with environmental regulations. All materials used (woods, paints, finishes) are volatile organic compound (VOC) free.

“We prioritise new materials that are durable, cost-effective and less harmful to human and environmental health. We also make sure we focus on interior solutions that consider energy efficiency and the use of recyclable products.”- Giant Leap.

“We also have a Green Building Council South Africa Accredited Professional who can ensure that our fit-outs are rated through the Green Building Council’s Interiors tool. The benefits of this are tremendous. Not only do organisations get a very prestigious certification that highlights their dedication to sustainability, but offices that are sustainability-rated have been shown to increase productivity, improve well-being and increase staff satisfaction.

“There is also a real return on investment, as research in South Africa has shown that Breen Star SA buildings enjoy energy savings of between 25% and 50%, compared to buildings designed to SANS 204 standards. In addition to this, Green Star buildings are showing higher rental rates of between 5% and 6%.”

But Giant Leap doesn’t just stop there a part of their philosophy is to support local too. They have a great working relationship with local manufacturers and help to upkeep local job stability. Ensuring that they are both socially and environmentally responsible.

Giant Leap is the right choice for creating cutting edge workplaces that are eco-conscious and have the best quality materials. From a company that works to bring you a design you will love to work in, and superior interiors that inspire innovation, Giant Leap makes people happier and business better.

Dutch furniture brand Lensvelt is producing a collection of “boring” office furniture intended to “restore the balance between work and play” in the workplace.

The Boring Collection was conceived as a comment on the “ugly” appearance of affordable contract furniture and the distracting designs being added to some workplaces in the wake of the Google office.

Created in collaboration with Amsterdam architecture studio Space Encounters, the collection consists of a plain grey desk chair, visitor chair, acoustic panel, low and high cabinets, and four types of desk. The team also created a “boring” bin and clock.

Each piece is made up of simple, archetypal shapes in order to help the furniture be less conspicuous.

boring-collection-by-lensvelt-and-space-encounters_dezeen_sq

“The looks of affordable office furniture are pretty much dictated by legislation and therefore often detonate with the rest of the interior and surroundings,” said the design team.

“The Boring Collection does not pretend to be more beautiful, in fact the Boring Collection does not claim any attention,” they told Dezeen.

The team’s opinion on modern-day office design is similar to that of expert Jeremy Myerson, who told Dezeen that the Google-inspired fad for slides and ping-pong tables has had a damaging impact on the workplace.

“Partially thanks to Google, the modern day office is nothing like it was before,” said the Boring Collection team. “Office cubicles were torn down and replaced with open-plan floors, dimly lit meeting rooms turned into cappuccino bars, and damp office buildings abandoned in favour of spacious warehouses.”

“These are all meaningful improvements, but somewhere in the process we went too far,” they continued. “When slides, brainstorm mattresses and ping-pong tables started appearing we lost sight of what offices are actually meant for work.”

“With Boring Collection we want to give designers the tools to restore the balance between work and play again.”

Dutch artist duo Lernert & Sander, who are well known for their moving image campaigns for fashion brand COS, were enlisted to create a video and a series of interesting images of the pieces.

One of the images shows the furniture pieces stacked on top of each other in a shape inspired by Ettore Sottsass’ Carlton bookcase.

“We can totally relate to the idea that furniture should not demand too much attention,” says Lernert Engelberts. “For this project, we worked with the most iconic gesture of boredom: the attempt to throw a ball of crumpled paper into the trashcan until the clock turns five.”

“The office people steal the scene even though they are surrounded by the designs of Boring Collection. Just like the architects intended,” he adds.

Lernert & Sander’s concept will be repeated for the furniture collection’s debut at this year’s Milan design week with an installation at Ventura Lambrate.

The furniture will be placed in a clock-like formation, and will stand in an artificial landscape of 150 000 paper balls made from leaflets about the collection.

Source: www.dezeen.com

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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