(Re)Designing the Workplace, Strategically

imageAs stated by Gina Berndt, Principal at Perkins + Will, in an IIDA Perspective issue, “people and an organization’s culture trump the physical environment. The environment can reinforce culture, but it can’t create it.” This idea lies at the root of effective workplace strategy, which must “encompass an organization’s goals and values.”

Work Design Magazine recently published an article outlining the elements of strategic design. The first point of strategic design requires designers to evaluate the “corporate vision and values” of a company to determine how they can be manifested in the office environment. When the environment is designed to reinforce these ideas, the physical space has the potential to maximize performance and boost “employee engagement, loyalty, and innovation.”

To develop an effective workplace strategy, designers must gather cultural information, business objectives and note challenges the company faces “through observation, focus groups, surveys, and interviews.” This information will allow designers to “address the physical space and technology issues needed to achieve the desired employee behaviors… and greater business results.”

Once the strategy is determined, it must be reinforced among the employees who are “the key” of every organization. By sharing the company’s mission and strategy, employee engagement can be boosted and cultivated through an effective, well-designed workplace. This, In turn, “foster[s] a culture that makes it easier to attract and retain an engaged workforce.”

Asking the “right” questions will lead designers to helpful answers for crafting a “people-centered and strategic approach” to workplace design. As outlined by Work Design Magazine, these include:

- What are the organization’s goals and values?

- What can companies do to energize and engage the workforce?

- How can the workplace impact productivity?

- How can design innovations help improve quality of life and work?

- What does success look like?

Please check back next week for some common design challenges and their strategic workplace solutions, which can help boost employee happiness and output, thereby increasing business results.

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Ring in the Spring

Thanks to all the industry friends who came to the New York Showroom to celebrate the coming of spring with Innovant!

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See what makes Innovant a renowned industry leader: 
- Intelligent, adaptable furniture for the modern workplace
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- Thought leadership on workplace design trends 

Want to get Innovant’s latest product news before anyone else? Sign up right now for our newsletter: http://bit.ly/1dOQNo4

See what makes Innovant a renowned industry leader:

  • - Intelligent, adaptable furniture for the modern workplace
  • - Collaborative design & development process with clients
  • - Exceptional products in terms of aesthetics & functionality
  • - Unique capability to tailor standard products to solve a problem
  • - Thought leadership on workplace design trends 
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It’s About Time You Get a Standing Desk

imageThe latest issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine provides a brief chronicle of the history of standing desks. In the article, standing desks are introduced as “nothing new. Nor is their use as therapeutics.”

Though the increasing mounds of data compiled in recent studies “warn that time spent sitting correlates with heart disease and early death,” it appears that these health concerns go back centuries.

According to Presbyterian minister Job Orton, “a sedentary life may be injurious. It must therefore be your resolute care to keep your body as upright as possible when you read and write; never stoop your head nor bend your breast. To prevent this, you should get a standing desk.” If Orton’s language sounds dated to you, that’s because it is. He made these comments 217 years ago in 1797.

In 1836, American minister and professor of rhetoric Ebenezer Porter also joined Orton’s pro-standing desk team, arguing that “the standing desk was a good remedy for ‘those who have the animal vigor to sustain the exhaustion it occasions.’” Even earlier, Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot outlined some of the ailments brought on by too much sitting: “Deskbound intellectuals, he wrote, suffered from poor circulation and engorgement of their innards. Bad posture and lack of exercise made them susceptible to dropsy and hemorrhoids.”

According to the article, “office life in the 19th century involved much less sitting than it does today.” In fact, before the advent of such technological devices as the typewriter and computer, most professionals “practice[d] penmanship on their feet… at standing desks.” Even once these writing aids became popularized, people founds ways to work while standing, like Ernest Hemingway who propped up his typewriter on a bookcase “even though he had a ‘perfectly suitable desk in the other alcove.’”

It’s time we take these old practices to heart and find more ways to get on our feet while getting work done - out health demands it.

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The Not So Open Plan

imageMaking the change from cubicles to open plan office environments is a major shift for any organization. Two of the biggest concerns we often hear from clients are related to retaining sufficient storage and privacy. When shifting to more densified, open environments, the application of multi-functional solutions, such as storage elements that provide separation or privacy, can help address these concerns.

One main motivator behind this densification is the desire among companies to reduce their real estate portfolios, which leads them to look at the most efficient practices for working with less space. Corporate real estate and facilities managers ask how they can give their employees the tools to be productive, collaborative and focused, while reducing their allotment of space per person. One effective solution is to utilize furniture that serves multiple purposes, to create division and provide extra surface space; we call this, “storage as separation.”imageIn addition to space reductions, there has been a rise in corporate social responsibility initiatives, which include sustainability and LEED certification strategies. These often translate to open furniture plans, which have inherent sustainability benefits because they use fewer materials. Open furniture plans also minimize or eliminate such elements as panels, walls, and high storage that tend to obstruct lines of sight and access to natural light. As a result of these programs, more employees are sitting in the open environment, with senior management joining them outside their private offices.

By adding tailored privacy panels or storage units to Innovant’s workstations, privacy can be achieved with full utility and an enhanced aesthetic impact. What results is a “not so open plan” environment that balances privacy and interaction in the workplace.

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Innovant Launches FORm_AV, Revolutionary Video Conferencing Suite

imageFollowing 18 months of development in collaboration with some of the most prominent global tech giants, Innovant is proud to launch its FORm_AV Video Conferencing Suite.

“Designed in partnership with some of the world’s largest tech firms, Innovant’s FORm_AV products are particularly suited for high growth, global companies with intense video conferencing requirements.” – Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development at Innovant

Video conferencing is rapidly expanding in the workplace, demanding more sophisticated, yet flexible solutions to accommodate this technology. Innovant offers an especially apt solution that eliminates the high construction costs of technology mounting and cable routing through floors and walls. With all cabling housed directly within the technology stand and accompanying conference tables, FORm_AV provides superior utility with zero disruption of the physical environment.

FORm_AV stands are also uniquely engineered to deliver high-capacity display support for either single or dual monitors (up to 80” wide). When configured with Innovant’s FORm_AV conference tables, the product creates a fully integrated conference AV platform that provides unparalleled flexibility and speed of assembly or relocation for the fast-changing conference environment.

FORm_AV conference tables (available in a variety of shapes and sizes) offer intelligent power & connectivity management and access for technology-intensive clients with special requirements. Desktop power, USB, laptop charging cords, and other connectivity options are all available through easy access panels in the tabletop. Standard desktop finishes include high pressure laminate and wood veneer with Innovant’s proprietary Greenlock™ finish (tailored materials available upon request).

Innovant’s FORm_AV Conferencing Suite epitomizes efficiency, balancing a minimalist aesthetic with the super strength of its function. Now available to customers, the product will be formally unveiled at Neocon 2014 in Chicago.

For more information about Innovant, FORm_AV or any other conference products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

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The Monuments of Tech

Last week, the New York Times probed the rising trend among big internet companies to construct “workplaces that memorialize their products and values.” Gone are the nostalgic days of Silicon Valley companies “building world-changing technologies from the humble garage, or the nondescript office park.” Instead, tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and Amazon are seeking to craft workplaces that “fuse their values of speed, change and productivity with their perceived corporate smarts and quirkiness.”

image                                                   Image: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

In most cases, these personalized workplaces subscribe to the common design trend of open plan office environments. This workplace type is not only suited for fluctuating office teams and sizes, but also helps move “work and information as quickly as possible” – a quality particularly suited to fast-moving tech companies.

By injecting their “ethos” into the design of their workplaces, tech companies have begun to create not “just offices… [but] monuments.”

Facebook’s Menlo Park, CA headquarters is one example, boasting a “Disney-like” design modeled after “Main Street, USA.” At Facebook, there are no permanent offices as employees are often moved around based on “new short-term projects.” Such elements as plywood boards hanging from the ceiling provide the space with a “visual ‘under construction’ reference meant to reinforce the company’s ethos.” Considering that doors act as an “impediment, slowing the making of something new,” the open plan office is designed to “change thinking” and inspire creativity.  

Twitter’s San Francisco office also uses its architecture to influence employees, with quirky design elements – like the front desk computer housed “inside a faux birdhouse” and nest-like twigs on walls – that reference the company’s iconic logo. Informal meetings often take place in the @birdfeeder cafeteria, in the hopes that “this low-stress setting… will help foster new ideas.”

All of the design decisions and uses of these tech offices are in service to the idea that “nothing is permanent, that any product can be dislodged from greatness by something newer. It’s the aesthetic of disruption: We must all change, all the time.” The flexibility and utility of open plan offices is particularly suited to this type of disruption and temporality that defines the tech industry.

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A New Kind Of Grind

imageIn last month’s issue of Interiors & Sources, one feature explored the question about where America’s independent laborers will be working as their numbers rise from roughly 25-30% to almost 50% of the workforce in the next few years. According to the Intuit 2020 report, both large corporations and small businesses will develop larger networks of contingent workers, “minimizing fixed labor costs and expanding the available talent pool.”

As independent workers “begin to account for a large chunk of the American workforce, they’re going to need a place to work that isn’t Starbucks… Enter the co-working space.” Gone is the simple co-working space with the requisite power access; this has been replaced with “full floors providing all the amenities one could ask for.”

Apart from the physical attributes of new co-workings offices, the intangible benefits are significant. The collaborative community that is housed within modern co-working spaces has rendered these offices “open-sourced knowledge banks… based on collaboration rather than self-interested competition. On a purely psychological level, co-working spaces are healthier, more productive, and more in line with a healthy society than traditional work spaces.”

Interiors & Sources learned three valuable lessons from visiting Grind and Fueled Collective, two co-working office space brands. The first lesson is that “designing a successful office share is about designing a culture as much as a space.” This idea takes shape in the offices’ “highly designed professional” aesthetics, which not only create a pleasing work environment, but also serve to “curate a lifestyle.” As a result, members are stimulated to cement both professional and personal connections with one another.

The second lesson, “let your end-user be their own layout specialist,” promotes flexibility and choice among members. By eliminating walls, barriers, and partitions, co-working spaces like Grind encourage “collaboration [through] proximity.” The office therefore “does with furniture what most people do with walls,” by allowing members to adjust the space and layout of the office to suit their own needs.

Finally, lesson three warns designers that “the end-user is [their] new competition.” Business owners and end-users have developed such a strong voice and influence on their work environments that they are “sometimes the ones designing the space themselves.” With the “market’s growth potential being an exponential one,” these lessons could prove very valuable for designers and manufactures alike.

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innovantgallery:

Excited to share these progress photographs of a multicolored installation of Innovant product. 

Client: Technology & Music Company

Location: New York, NY

Featured product: FORm_office

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Innovant + TPG Architecture Wine & Cheese Event

Last week, a team from TPG Architecture gathered at Innovant’s Manhattan showroom for a cocktail reception and product review. This event marks an exciting moment for both companies as TPG will be moving to its new NYC office, which has been specified with Innovant’s FORm_office product.

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INNOVANT INFOGRAPHIC: 2013 By Numbers - A Year of Record Growth
As we jump into 2014, we look back on some memorable moments from last year. Looking forward to the new year ahead!

INNOVANT INFOGRAPHIC: 2013 By Numbers - A Year of Record Growth

As we jump into 2014, we look back on some memorable moments from last year. Looking forward to the new year ahead!

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Innovant: The Trading Pros

Scroll through for a sneak peek at our new Trading brochure.

imageFor financial institutions, the trading room is the major profit generator for the company. 

imageAttracting and keeping the highest quality traders is often attributed to sophisticated investments in trading technology combined with cutting edge, ergonomic design in the furniture and work environment.  That is why more and more prestigious financial clients choose Innovant to deliver a winning solution for their trading desk needs.

imageAt Innovant, we promote purposeful design and clean lines in all of our products.  Our development team processes extensive design prototypes so that no performance element should offset the overall beauty of the desk.  As a result, Innovant is the top choice of designers and clients seeking a manufacturer for projects incorporating bespoke design elements.

image

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Happy 2014! We wish you all the best in the year ahead!

Happy 2014! We wish you all the best in the year ahead!

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Season’s Greetings from our team at Innovant to you and yours!
Consider sharing personalized, hand-drawn cards like these by our very own Marketing Designer, Deborah Herr.

Season’s Greetings from our team at Innovant to you and yours!

Consider sharing personalized, hand-drawn cards like these by our very own Marketing Designer, Deborah Herr.

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8 Unique Gifts for Coworkers

In honor of the holiday season, we’d like to share this funky list of gift ideas for your work family (read: coworkers).

image                        Image: Amazon

Surely one of the best parts of the holiday season (heck, of the whole year) is the white elephant office gift exchange — if for no other reason than watching your colleagues struggle to come up with ideas that don’t involve socks or gift cards. Even if your office doesn’t participate in such an exchange, you’re likely attending some kind of holiday party or function for work this year — and you won’t want to show up empty-handed.

Exchanging gifts with coworkers can be tricky. After all, you spend a crazy amount of time with these people — but what do you really know about them? Unless you’re close with your coworkers outside of the workplace, it’s always better to stay on the safe side when it comes to gift-giving. And there’s nothing safer than quirky, funny or useful office decor.

Here are a few ideas to ensure that you aren’t dubbed “The [One] Who Gave a Toaster” for yet another calendar year.

1. Bubble Wrap Calendar

If everyone at your workplace loves bubble wrap (a given), and everyone is looking forward to counting down the days until next year’s holiday vacation (also a given), this bubble wrap calendar is the perfect gift for anybody in the office. Pop down the days until New Year’s Eve in style, all the while tapping into your inner 4-year-old. Price: $29.99.

2. The Pivot Power Genius

A more practical gift option, the Pivot Power Genius is an office essential. It’s about time somebody brought power strips into the 21st century, and this innovative, app-powered product does just that. The power strip is fully adjustable, so it curves around desk or chair legs and corners with ease and enables you to plug in any awkwardly shaped adapters (without wasting any outlets). Two of the outlets can be synced to and controlled by your mobile device, giving you wireless power from your fingertips. Price: $79.99.

3. Briefcase Business Card Holder

This adorable mini briefcase means business; never be caught without a business card on-hand again. Store 20-25 business cards in this miniature aluminum case — a great gift for a coworker. The case is roomy enough to hold credit cards, cash and a driver’s license, too. Price: $12.

4. Tiny Functional Cannons

This tiny cannon looks like something straight out of the Jim versus Dwight feud on The Office. These little guys actually work, too, firing.177” cannonballs. User reviews claim the tiny weapons pack a surprisingly powerful punch, so use caution — and perhaps consider using them only as paperweights. Price: $34.

5. “Smart” Magnetic Putty

This "magnetic thinking putty" is nothing short of amazing, and it’s a great office accessory. For your messier coworkers, this cleaning putty can be extremely useful for keyboards and other office tech. Better yet, an entire “office or desk cleaning kit” might not be a bad idea. Price: $14.99 (smart putty), $8.50 (cleaning).

6. Minimergency Kits

These little kits have everything you need to take care of minor office emergencies, such as Monday morning bed head. The kits come in “his” and “hers” versions (as well as kits for special occasions), and include everything from mini sewing kits to breath spray to earring backs — even a miniature bottle of hairspray for the ladies. Most of the items in the kits can be refilled or reordered on the Pinch Provisions website, in case you run out. The best part is that this tiny little kit easily fits in a purse, briefcase or desk drawer. Price: $13-16.

7. Breaking Bad Cuff Links

Business casual has never looked so Bad. (Or good, in all honesty.) With the final season over, a little daily dose of Heisenberg is just what your coworkers need to keep them on their toes. A perfect gift for any serious fans of the show, or for anyone who needs a reminder that their current day job could be worse (and illegal). Price: $29.95.

8. Tetris Stress Blocks

When stress levels rise at work, it’s important to have an outlet to take the pressure off. These Tetris stress blocks are just what your coworkers need to keep calm and carry on. There are five different stress blocks (sold separately) that can be used to play your own desktop game of Tetris, or you can collect multiple sets with coworkers for an office-wide competition. These stress blocks are officially licensed Tetris collectibles. Price: $5.99-$9.99.

Originally published on Mashable, November 21, 2013.

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