Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Office interiors and ergonomics, flexible office space

ergonomic office chairs furniture social spaces leisure security lighting furniture
A comfortable and flexible office space adds to the productivity of staff and efficiency of the organisation.

Today, office designs have to come to terms with newer challenges and opportunities. Organisations are increasingly seeking open, technologically-advanced, flexible, and comfortable spaces which they consider necessary to attract and hold on to high-calibre workforce, and to increase productivity. "The physical work environment impacts an individual's productivity. Issues like ergonomics, spaces for leisure and designs that enhance interface are of prime importance today", says Hemant Sharma, Head - Human Resourses, Sun Microsystems. To attain this ambience, several trends have emerged in contemporary office buildings.

Advanced technology

"Technology has come a long way in helping us create better workspaces", says architect Reza. Today, workplaces feature convenient access to data and telecommunications systems and audiovisual presentation options that include video conferencing, DVD/CD/VCR. They offer broadband Internet access with accelerated e-mailing, browsing and download. Wi-fi networks that offer wireless Internet access all over the facility is also trendy. High-tech conference rooms are especially in vogue. They have features like video conferencing, flat screens and plasma screens that offer brilliant images. Liquid crystal display (LCD) flat screens, although pricey, are gaining in popularity over the standard CRT monitors. LCDs take up less space and power, and also offer clear graphics.

Social spaces

"Organisations are constantly encouraging designers to create engaging social spaces. They believe that increased collaboration between employees will enhance productivity", says Kiran Kapadia, an architect. It is seen to be extremely important that the design of the office provides places for people to think and talk. Highly flexible spaces like the immersion room are being designed to support a variety of group activities including brainstorming, socialising, presentations, or formal meeting events. Companies also encourage semiprivate enclaves such as chat rooms where small, casual breakout groups can interact spontaneously without having to reserve a formal conference room. The productive use of space adjacent to the conference room by virtue of breakout social spaces is also popular.

Leisure spaces

"Programming is very important in today's office. There is a definite emphasis on establishing interesting spaces and incorporating leisure spaces effectively into the work environment." says Kapadia.

Corporate office campuses set up comfort spaces and amenities that allow hard working employees places to relax and de-stress. Sports, yoga rooms, saunas, gyms, video games, pool tables and bowling alleys are showing up in new office projects because they translate into increased productivity, lower attrition rates and strong
team building. Cafes and outdoor lunch areas are also extremely important. "Colours should be used effectively in office spaces, as they act as mood enhancers and curb monotony", says Reza.

Security features

Many office designs now incorporate highly advanced security systems. Offices boast of systems like mini-cams, access cards and ultra-sensitive alarm systems, x-ray and screening stations. Some super hi-tech offices even feature state-of-the-art biometrics, which involves thumb, hand and retina scanning; proximity cards, which track employees and monitor access; and specialised ventilation systems at mail distribution sites. These mechanisms are controlled and monitored from a central security station.

Lighting

Natural lighting continues to be popular due to higher efficiency and enhanced productivity. Designs open up a space with as much natural light as possible, incorporating taller windows, skylights, and atriums. In terms of artificial lighting, up-lights and LED lighting are popular bec a u s e they are more energy-efficient.


Furniture


High-performance workstations that offer optimum flexibility, comfort and durability are common. Ergonomic furniture also continue to be in demand due to reduction in employee stress and injury, as well as enhancement of comfort and good posture - both of which can translate to the organisation's efficiency. Ergonomic furniture units should maximise individual comfort with height-adjustable work surfaces, wristfriendly edge profiles, and good knee clearance. Also, furniture systems must allow the user freedom to personalise his space, and to move elements around freely as needed.

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