Monday, March 30, 2009

b2b mag covers coworking

b2b mag covers coworking

Triangle B2B, and online business magazine posted an article on the growing trend in CoWorking.

Over the last year, a trend called co-working started picking up steam. From Citizen Space in San Francisco, California all the way to right here in the Triangle, co-working centers are sprouting up faster than you can knock down a cubicle. LaunchPad Café opens in Austin Texas soon (the hometown of yours truly), Office Nomads is up and running in Seattle, Washington, and right here we have spaces such as SoCo Studio in Apex and Carrboro Creative CoWorking in Carrboro.

More evidence that this is the next big trend in workspaces. We are sending a wake up call to the maker's of office furniture and implements: You need to study this trend and shape your product to serve it.

You really can choose your co-workers in Triangle B2B

big table desking for hackers?

big table desking for hackers?

Big table hacking? An interesting article in Wired today about the workplaces of collective hacker groups - akin to CoWorking. They have shared spaces with shared resources, workbenches, spare parts, etc - CoHacking? Incredibly they share a big work bench Big Table Desking style!

Hacker Spaces at Wired via boingboing

Sunday, March 29, 2009

enlite tables by ki

enlite tables by ki

After finding the Relax lounge chair from KI last week I kicked around their site a little more and discovered this great line of mobile desks called Enlite. Perfect for a vertical desk set up, but what makes them really useful is the unique table top shapes and the way they let you gang tables together for different activities.


enlite tables by ki

enlite tables by ki

Enlite Tables by KI

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

scheduling for coworking - skimming the surface

This is a bit of a departure for us here, but its meant to hit on a larger idea that I see coming about to be a big issue surrounding CoWorking. CoWorking is a new concept of workplace with unique patterns of activity that come from the culture of CoWorking - the hybrid of cafe and workplace, and the interactions and collaboration that supports. CoWorking is also growing rapidly with new sites popping up in cities across the country. But here is the point: As a new workplace paradigm there are not really any products or services on the market yet that are aimed at supporting the unique factors of CoWorking. Scheduling products is a perfect example of this quandary. As CoWorking grows will supporting industries realize there is an opportunity to target the particular needs of this paradigm?

scheduling for coworking - skimming the surface

There are a lot of products for scheduling on the market, however none of them are explicitly made for CoWorking. Hotels and Inns, salons and hair studios, all these businesses can choose scheduling software products designed for their specific needs. Do they translate well to the scheduling tasks needed for CoWorking? There is also a class of web based scheduling solutions that are trying to be a solution for any business that schedules. Can these do the trick for CoWorking? There are scheduling products aimed at corporate users managing a range of assets. Can these big guns scale down for a modest CoWorking site? And there are some CoWorking sites brewing their own solutions. Will they unleash these for other sites to use?

Now we can't evaluate these for you. But we will point you to the resources, and we want to hear back from you coworkers looking for solutions.

There are literally dozens of scheduling solutions for hotels, inns, B&Bs, and the hospitality industry. I am not convinced that the lodging model will translate well to CoWorking. Lodging tends to juggle many different rates, often for the same accommodations, where as CoWorking is more membership based, with different classes of members. CoWorking also often requires an hours and minutes granularity for scheduling meeting rooms that hotel software may not be able to handle. You will probably be able to find these as readily as we have but here are a few that we looked at on the web:

Easy InnKeeping by GraceSoft They offer packages scaled to different size operations.

RezStream is again a hotel/rental property based package.

BlueClaw creates custom solutions for Charter and Tour operators, not quite hotels, but related industry.

MindBody offers a package for managing spas, salons, health clubs, and other personal service industries.

Next there are a range of web based scheduling solutions aimed a range of business types. Can these adapt to CoWorking? Sometimes by trying to generalize too much you lose the ability to handle specific details critical any individual business type. There are CoWorking sites using some of these now and they offer the advantage of a degree of self management. There does not need to be anybody working the phone taking reservations. Web based interfaces that can be embedded directly in the CoWorking group's site allow members to check availability and reserve space through the web site.

GenBoook appears to be oriented towards services and appointments.

Divvy includes reservations and billing, and promises its customizable.

Shiftboard is more oriented towards the internal scheduling of a business or hospital.

Google among others, offers collaborative calendars. Some CoWorking groups manage with this combined with a twitter alert.

Then there are enterprise level software publishers that create custom packages for corporations to manage all manner of assets. This crosses with our interest because along with scheduling work shifts, or employee schedules, they also schedule meeting rooms, and desk hoteling for on the road sales people, and other work paradigms used in the corporate world.

PeopleCube customizes solutions for big users, but have products for smaller businesses. These are likely to be capable of being customized for CoWorking's specific needs.

NetSimplicity makes a smaller product aimed just at scheduling rooms called Meeting Room Manager. But they have other products that are for hoteling of office workers as well called Mobile Workforce Manager, which may also be suitable.

Rolling your own has got to be a tempting option for many coworkers, as many seem to be in tech, web, or programming. If so you have the distinct opportunity to craft something that really works for CoWorking. If CoWorking continues to grow at the rate it has so far then I could imagine this option becoming a viable product for other groups to use.

LaunchPad, a CoWorking group forming in Austin TX is writing their own management and scheduling package.

scheduling for coworking - skimming the surface

Well, thats it for now. I'd love to see what other groups are using. And we look forward to other players - furniture makers, landlords, everybody making products for work - to begin aiming products straight at CoWorking.

office space coworking, akron ohio

office space coworking, akron ohio

I'm pretty sure at this point that CoWorking is exploding in the US. This seems to be a new and rapidly expanding work paradigm and wondering how behind the ball the industries serving office workers will be before they finally note this and jump on the bandwagon with CoWorking specific products and services.

But anyway - Office Space CoWorking in Akron, Ohio. Located in a great old industrial mill building they appear to be running a wide range of events for their members. From seminars on backing up your data, to meetups with jazz, it looks like they have a strong work community going. Check them out.

Office Space CoWorking

Office Space on Flickr

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

pad chair series by dynamobel

pad chair series by dynamobel

Dynamobel is a Spanish office furniture manufacturer, and the Pad series of chairs were designed by Alejandro Zaera Polo of Foreign Office Architects. Unfortunately the Pad chairs are not visible on the Dynamobel web site as of the time I am writing this but I'll provide a link to their site anyway as it should appear in the future. Links and more photos below.

pad chair series by dynamobel

I'm intrigued by this chair as it seems to be willing to break with the conventional two-pad configuration for the sake of ergonomics. The seat pad has a saddle like profile with a raised center - tractor seat style I call it - something similar can be seen on the Hag Capisco. And the back bad is split into discreet shoulder and lumbar pads. I have no information yet about how the chair adjusts, but I think it has potential to be very accommodating and comfortable. In the side view we get a bit of a clue about its construction - the back member appears to have some flex built into it, as well as being part of a hinged mechanism that resolves below the seat pad. If so that would be a bit of a hybrid - taking a different approach to get to the same place reached by suspended sling type chairs where you have very controlled tilt mechanism, but flex introduced by the stretched fabric.

pad chair series by dynamobel

No idea if it will be available in the US.

Dynabmobel

Pad Chair at Dezeen blog with designer interview

Thanks to Justin as always for keeping his eyes peeled for me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

i'm outta here: book on coworking

Picture 1.png

A new book "I'm Outta Here! How coworking is making the office obsolete" is a book about the people and places that make up a workplace revolution. Written by a trio of authors, Drew Jones, Todd Sundsted, Tony Bacigalupo, the book is being published through Lulu.com an online publishing house, and is also available as an e-book.

I think this is the first book dedicated to the CoWorking movement, and its history as its happening. They also have a great website and blog to promote the book where you will find coverage of news in the CoWorking world.

I'm Outta Here at Lulu

I'm Outta Here web site

btw way they have a great post about the growth of Philadelphia CoWorking site IndyHall posted on 4Mar09

Saturday, March 21, 2009

meridian is the reconfigurable file cabinet

meridian is the reconfigurable file cabinet

Lets face it. I hate filing cabinets. They are unavoidable. I try to keep my project files brief, and store as much as I can in my project files on the computer. But some projects just generate more paper than others. And the truth is for some businesses there is no getting away from paper trails. So when it comes to filing cabinets I love Meridian. Meridian is the filing cabinet brand owned by Herman Miller, and what makes their filing cabinets unique is that they are completely modular. Each cabinet consists of a base, storage units be they drawers or cabinets or flipper doors or shelves, and a top. You can stack them high, or stack them low, and if you need to move you can re-arrange them and change their height.

meridian is the reconfigurable file cabinet

The upshot of this is that you can adapt them to your workplace. Instead of file cabinets as a liability for your space - where are we going to put this foreboding wall of drawers... Now they can play a positive role in the way you define space in your office. A low partition, a high privacy wall, a display niche, you decide.

i'm outta here: book on coworking

Meridian Files

Thursday, March 19, 2009

moral life of cubicles

moral life of cubicles

In this article published in The New Atlantis in 2008 David Franz explores the history of the cubicle, the origins, and what it meant for office life. He traces the transition from walled offices to cubicles as first a utopian development, one that held great promise for office life, and yet ended up in the banal oppressive work landscape of Dilbert.

He describes how at the outset the cubicle seemed poised to resolve problems of the workspace, to flatten the hierarchy and improve efficiency, not only be reducing space, but by reducing barriers and empowering workers to manage themselves.

Offices in the 1970s and 1980s seemed to their critics burdensome remnants of an older age, symbolic shackles of bureaucracy—a system as inhuman as it was ineffective. Cubicles, by contrast, seemed to lack the fixity, and the constraints of bureaucracy of the old office. Moreover, cubicles eliminated the hierarchical distinctions between managers and workers; every cubicle had an open door, everyone was equally a worker. Empowering and humane, cubicles seemed to create a workplace with a soul.

Separate offices encouraged self-importance and unproductive groveling before the lordly egos of bosses. They created insular silos of knowledge and turf battles between them. Paperwork gummed up tasks that would better be handled with a little common sense and informal conversation. Good ideas were stalled in the system of procedures. In short, bureaucracy hindered human agency.

But as we all know, the story did not end this way. He goes on to examine the outcome.

The utopian visions of the cubicle have been crushed by reality. However, while the cubicled office no longer seems brave or new, an aspect of its original moral impulse remains. Indeed, the experiential facts of cubicle life are not so much in contradiction with the ambition to humanize the office as the revelation of the dark side of this effort.

Somehow current moves to even more open offices seem to make the same promises, but we wonder if they will arrive at the same troubles.

The Moral Life of Cubicles

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

dupont's move out of private offices

This is an interesting article from 1997 in the New York Times reporting on DuPont's migration of workers out of private offices and into a landscape office system. Cubicles were not exactly cutting edge in 1997, yet it seems they met with the same kind of resistance that I've heard associated with a move from cubicles to wide open offices.

When the Fluoro Products employees learned that the company would be taking away their traditional offices there was ''nearly a revolt,'' Mr. Kokjohn said. ''They viewed it as treading on their personal rights,'' he explained.

To help in the transition, Du Pont flew employees to the Grand Rapids, Mich., headquarters of Steelcase, which is outfitting Du Pont's new workplace. At Steelcase, the workers learned a new language. They found out they were in the ''migration'' process (moving from a private office to an ''individual screened workstation,'' i.e. a desk). They learned about ''collaboration zones'' (meeting rooms), ''docking stations'' (a workbench) and ''free addresses'' (space not assigned to a particular worker).

From the sound of it they were also transitioning sales staff that were not in the office full time away from having dedicated workstations, and into some kind of hoteling arrangement. All of these moves reflect a trimming of real estate cost by condensing the office into less sqft, using the space more efficiently.

Research has shown that when people work without walls communication is more rapid, managers are more accessible and productivity rises. It has been estimated that a 30 percent increase in density in an office will result in a 5 percent increase in worker productivity, Mr. Kokjohn said. The total benefit to the company is about 10 times greater than the money saved on real estate, he said.

A source of the research is not quoted, but I suspect this is coming from Steelcase, the vendor for the new office system. I'm trying to reconcile this with the research quoted in the Michael Brill book. It seems private offices can be as much of an impediment as completely open offices. Again I think giving the worker control over their privacy is the key.

Du Pont Shuts the Door on Its Private Offices in the New York Times

visionaire publishing, ny, ny

visionaire publishing, ny, ny

The offices of Visionaire Publishing are sporting Big Table Desking in a big way. I'm not sure from the photo but I suspect it is one of the several big desk systems from Vitra. They are also using Eames Aluminum Group seating for their task chairs, and a combination of direct down lighting and indirect up lighting.

I'm still not sure what to make of the frequent instances of Big Table Desking. While this kind of workstation arrangement is no doubt a new trend, the no-privacy work place is a throwback to the 1950s office pool, a line up of identical desks classroom style. Is it the peer to peer seating position that overcomes this? How would it? By building community? As opposed the pilot and passenger 747, catholic church model of everybody facing "forward". Does the Big Table Desk break down this heirarchy by facing people towards one another, sharing a big desk instead of staking out territory? Is the big table desk a microcosm, a representation of a healthy organizational structure?

I'd love to hear from people working in an office environment like this. What are your experiences?

Visionaire Publishing's web site I'm afraid there are no photos of their space here, but its a nice web site!

Visionaire was designed by Loadingdock5 where you can see a few photos.

Monday, March 16, 2009

backpack drawer by knoll

backpack drawer by knoll

Many of todays workstations have no drawers, nothing, no place to stash a pencil and some paper clips. Hence you can find a lot of third party drawers. This is a clever add-on drawer that you can mount under any work surface. The best part is that it includes not only a small pencil drawer, but a small file drawer as well. In the back of the drawer are two hanging file bins. By locating the deeper file bins at the back of the drawer they don't interfere with your knees. Bingo - now you have small stash for your pencils and a place for files that you don't need to leave out.

backpack drawer by knoll

BackPack drawer by Knoll

Saturday, March 14, 2009

the office as a tool 1.7 - some surprises no surprise at all

In our last installment summarizing Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool he was reviewing surprising results of their research into the workplace. In the last time they found surprisingly that windows don't matter that much, and that everybody can benefit from good ergonomics, not just the intensive computer users.

The next surprise, which I more and more find is no surprise at all, is that designer's ideas of what makes good space differs from worker's ideas of what makes good space. Now the most obvious example of that is the Open Office. We saw in an earlier installment that workers were more productive when they had a sense of enclosure. We saw that some degree of privacy could actually increase office communication - completely counterintuitive to what you would expect from an open office.

So why is this? I have to plead guilty to this one. I've always thought that open space and direct connections between people would promote communication, teamwork, and productivity. But its clear that while that may happen for some people, in most cases it makes people feel exposed, reserved, and self conscious. Enclosure and control over your privacy is more likely to promote behaviors that foster communication, teamwork, and productivity. Behaviors don't work on a line of sight basis.

Then why is it that most of the photos we see of creative workplaces are open? Big table desking, putting everybody at the same big desk cafeteria style seems to be the pervasive arrangement in many of these workplaces. Just scan the agency offices at This Aint No Disco. Is this the misunderstanding of designers at work? Or the surveillance imperative by management? Is it just the least expensive way to fit out the office? Is simply that the open office photographs better? Is openness simply easier to tolerate in a small office? Is there some line you can cross where the open office is so big you gain anonymity back?

One thing that is clear - if you work with a designer to layout your space, talk this issue through with them. Let them know you are focused on behavior and the experience of the workplace over award winning photos. Give your people the control over their privacy that empowers them to do the best work for you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

relax lounge chair

relax lounge chair

KI, yet another manufacturer of office furniture, desks and chairs, also has not one, but 4 lounge models fit out with work surfaces. My favorite is this one, the Relax. I like not only its funky profile, but there are some clever details. the tablet arm you may notice in the photo folds in half to get out of your way. The undersurface has a small upholstered pad attached so it becomes a padded arm for the chair. Also I like its front legs/rear wheels arrangement. This way when you sit the chair is solid - no rolling around. But when you want to move it around, just tilt it holding the back, and like a little hand truck you can scoot it around.

Relax chair by KI

and FYI there are links to their other tablet lounge chairs are on the bottom of that web page.

facet by thonet

facet by thonet

Another hybrid chair, this time by Thonet. The Facet chair has a removable tablet arm that can be switched to either arm of the chair - giving those lefties a fair chance. This chair is part of a collection and includes matching sofas, and ottoman pieces.

Facet by Thonet

Thursday, March 12, 2009

impromptu lounge by geiger

impromptu lounge by geiger

Digging out more hybrid lounge chairs/workstations for you. Here is the Impromptu by Geiger. In their own words:

Impromptu™ lounge seating flourishes in today's fast-paced environment of creativity. The new economy requires that all office tools, including furniture, be prepared to serve in multiple capacities. Impromptu lounge seating is up to that challenge. With the pivot and lift of its occasional tablet, Impromptu changes from a classically designed, contemporary lounge piece to a powerful workstation. Available on casters with either a large or a small tablet in either right or left variations, Impromptu is also available on feet and with or without a tablet.

impromptu lounge by geiger

Two different tablet sizes is great so you can get the chair as you need to fit a laptop, or just a pad. And check out that mesh pocket on the side of the chair. This hybrid seating is a whole new class of chair for the workplace. Its come out of the need to accommodate new activities in the office. Team meetings, brainstorming, casual meetings. Putting these in your reception area gives your visitors a place to use their laptop during otherwise idle time.

Impromptu by Geiger

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

belize lounge chair by teknion

belize lounge chair by teknion

Now this is what we're talking about. Check out the Belize. We have a tablet arm for your laptop. An open storage shelf/cubby underneath the seat to stash your bag. You can get it on wheels - easy to move about. And there is a handle built into the seat back so you can grab it and tote. And, ready for this - cup holder option. For your coffee. I swear.

This is definitely a new class of workplace seating. The manufacturers are aiming this not only at the traditional reception areas, but team spaces, training areas, and other casual meeting areas. I like that this acknowledges that we likely have a laptop with us, and other associated stuff that we need to stash somewhere. But most importantly these hybrid chairs are setting out to accommodate us in new scenarios that have developed in the workplace; people are working in new and different ways, and hey - we're going to try to make furniture that facilitates that. Right there - thats a microcosm of making your workplace work for you.

Belize Lounge by Teknion

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

Izzy Design makes a great collection of tables in their Clara line. There are over a dozen shapes that you can use to put together desks in different shapes. They even have 120deg angled desks that allow you to layout in the honeycomb pattern that seems to be more and more popular. More images follow below the fold.

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

Here is the 120 degree bend table. I also like their edge detail with the contrasting color.

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

This oval table makes a nice side table besides your desk, for meetings or your cup of coffee a safe distance from your laptop!

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

And there is a Clara storage line too with all manner of cabinets, both mobile and fixed, and an accessory line with screens and power receptacles, off desk accessory rail and more.

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

And here is a screen, very much like a medical screen.

clara tables (and storage) by izzydesign

Monday, March 9, 2009

hybrid lounge seating

hybrid lounge seating 

I am seeing this hybrid furniture pop up pretty frequently so I'm going to start tracking it. I'm looking at small lounge seats, not too soft or comfortable, but with tablet arms or fold away surfaces to hold a laptop or other work. This one is from Gunlocke and is called Meet & Greet. We looked at another chair from Metro that fell into this category back in Aug08.

Gunlocke, Meet & Greet

bloggers elsewhere on coworking

I came across a couple of blog posts about CoWorking at the Nework Solutions corporate blog. They have a good summary of what CoWorking is, and some advice on turning your surplus office space into a CoWorking site during this economic downturn. The first article includes some comments by Alex Hillman, one of the founder's of Indy Hall in Philadelphia, previously covered here on workalicious.

Thoughts on Coworking: What is it and is it for you?

Thoughts on Coworking: Can you use it as a way to subsidize your empty office space?  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

village wall by tellus furniture

village wall by tellus furniture

The first thing I have to tell you about this desk system is you can't get it anymore. Tellus was an independent company owned by Paoli who was primarily a maker of wood office furniture, desks and casework. At some point they took the Tellus product line in house, and now I'm afraid its just gone. Too bad, as this was a very interesting desk and storage system. Continue to see more photos and description.

village wall by tellus furniture

Village Wall is a combination bookcase/storage wall and desk. The storage wall is used to create division between two back to back workstations. So your shelf system backs up to your neighbors desk, and the back of you neighbors shelf system is a tack board above your desk. Along with the tack board there is a sliding white board that can be positioned over the tack board, or alternatively in front of your shelves, hiding the contents.

You desk is connected to the shelf system, but it is on a large pivot which allows you to rotate your desk, to either make it more open or more enclosing. Your file drawers are in a low cart, that can park out of the way under your shelves, or be kept at your site, giving you a second low surface to place active work on top of.

village wall by tellus furniture

I like the uniqueness of this workstation. I like the way it can define space and create a little bit of privacy in an open office. And I like the moving parts that make it feel more dynamic than a fixed desk. Darn! Why does stuff like this have to go away when so much boring furniture with limited function floods the market! I think a good wood worker could recreate much of this for you if you were determined to fit out your office this way.

Normally I'd give you a link right here, but there is no place to link too. :-(

Friday, March 6, 2009

citizen space coworking site moves to larger space

citizen space coworking site moves to larger space

Citizen Space is a CoWorking site in San Francisco which we covered in Aug08. Well they have moved to a larger space and have posted images of it in all its lofty goodness on their Flickr site. More photos and link below the fold.

citizen space coworking site moves to larger space

citizen space coworking site moves to larger space

Citizen Space photos on Flickr

Citizen Space website

topo desking system by Metro

topo desking system by Metro

I like Metro because they always make products that are difficult to categorize. Topo is just such a product - a system that has elements of traditional panel based systems, desk systems, and casework lines. The results are not cubicles, yet they can build the enclosure and privacy that you usually gain from a traditional cubicle. More pictures, discussion, and link below the fold.

topo desking system by Metro

Topo's work surfaces are desk like, with legs and a freestanding appearance, yet they are integrated with storage pieces and partition walls. All of these elements take on a transformed appearance. Storage is not the usual file cabinet or desk pedestal. They mix open shelves with doors and drawers, hang suspended from partitions. The partitions feature obscuring glass panels, and sliding expanders pull out of the partitions to make more privacy.

topo desking system by Metro

The mobile elements introduce a day to day re-configurability that really is ideal for some office workers who feel confined by a static workplace, and its not a jumble of rolling parts for others who work better in a stable setting. The visual appearance of the system reads like an assemblage of separate parts so it overcomes the negative vibe of endless bland cubicles. As with most system furniture from the big manufacturers there is an extensive line of accessories, many of which by fastening to the panel allow the worker to get some items off the work surface - something I always feel is key to allowing you to spread the work at hand.

topo desking system by Metro

Do visit the website and look into the details. There are more interesting bits and pieces that I've not posted here.

Topo desking system by Metro

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

teneo storage furniture by herman miller

teneo storage furniture by herman miller

This is a really great line of storage pieces by Herman Miller designed by Ayse Birsel (who designed the unconventional Resolve System for H.Miller) and Bibi Seck. All the pieces are based off a aluminum frame, which in different heights makes for storage units of different sizes. They can also be ganged side to side to make longer credenzas, cabinets, or book shelves. Very cool considering the smaller pieces can be made mobile on wheels.

teneo storage furniture by herman miller

They come in an interesting range of materials, wood veneers, cork face, felt faced, perforated metal, as well as the usual laminates. Boy, it seems I post an awful lot of Herman Miller, but they do consistently produce compelling products by good designers. Teneo is perfect for the small office that needs to be flexible, and reconfigurable to make the most of smaller spaces.

teneo storage furniture by herman miller

Teneo Storage Furniture

caroline collective, houston coworking site

caroline collective, houston coworking site

Caroline Collective is a CoWorking site with a campus like setting. From their site:

A unique combination of private workspace, public art space, and open collaborative desk space, Caroline Collective provides a place where citizens can work in collaboration or privately, with a conference room and individual desks. Furniture, ample power outlets, secure broadband internet access and the general amenities of an office environment will be provided according to need.

Caroline Collective is more than collaborative work space. It’s also a collaborative meeting space. After hours, Caroline plays host to some of Houston’s regular technology happy hours and meet-ups which provide technologically minded people the opportunity to re-up their knowledge base or to provide their services to others who need technology consulting for their non-profit organizations.

Additionally, the space will host movie nights, book club meetings, non-profit events, seminars, salons, art openings, and product launches.

Caroline Collective goes way beyond the provision of shared work space, hosting a range of activities that build the community that gives CoWorking its value.

Caroline Collective's website

Caroline Collective on Flickr

the office as a tool 1.7 - more surprises

In our last entry in this series summarizing Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool he was reviewing surprising results of the research into the workplace. If you remember they found that enclosure was beneficial to productivity, and even to communication. Lets continue looking at some of these surprises and see what other assumptions we can overturn.

The next surprise is that windows are not that important. While most people will express a strong preference for windows, the findings show that a window does not have a great impact on productivity or job satisfaction. The reasons people like windows has to do with sunlight, seeing the weather, feeling not closed in - strangely in conflict with enclosure being preferred! But status falls low on the list of reasons. Brill indicates that this may be a good reason to layout the workplace with windows in common spaces and circulation spaces rather than the private offices. This way all benefit from encountering the windows during their day at the office, rather than being only in private offices of more senior staff.

Another surprising finding had to do with ergonomics, or lack there of. Usually there is an emphasis on proper ergonomics for workers that have intensive use of the computer or other equipment. Repetitive use and motions are more likely to cause injury. And this was borne out by Brill's research. But the surprise was that a majority of other workers outside of intensive computer users also suffered from pain or discomfort brought on by the workplace. In the end it appeared that all workers justified the ergonomic focus. This is indicative of a common old school office paradigm. Clerical staff may get an advanced task chair, meanwhile the manager sits in an old fashioned wing chair with brass tacks styled "Managerial" seat. This kind of seating is meant more to convey status than it is to bring comfort. Thankfully that paradigm seems to be passing. If not so for you, then ditch the arm chair along with the Fox Hunt scene and get yourself a decent task chair.

More surprises in our next installment.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

my studio cubicle system by herman miller

my studio cubicle system by herman miller

My Studio is an interesting office cubicles system made by Herman Miller. Instead of the usual fabric covered panels, the partitions in My Studio are made of combinations of translucent or solid panels available in different heights. It leaves me with the impression of an old office fit out from the 30s or 40s where framed glass panels often made up the walls of what were considered modern offices of those times.

my studio cubicle system by herman miller

The partitions also allow the cubicles to have doors which is a very interesting extension of the usual cubical. A door allows you to signal privacy or availability, something you can not do in a conventional cubicle. To me this really lands somewhere between a private office and an open office landscape.

my studio cubicle system by herman miller

The book rail for active projects is a nice detail.

My Studio by Herman Miller

shuttle system flexible furniture

shuttle system flexible furniture

Shuttle System is a manufacturer of flexible mobile furniture marketed towards educational use, but guess what? Its also fantastic for your small office. It has a nice spare and modern appearance, its available in a bunch of different configurations including tables, desks, and mobile storage cabinets.

shuttle system flexible furniture

These tables could definitely be part of a vertical desk set up too.

shuttle system flexible furniture

Shuttle System

shuttle system flexible furniture

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