Living Green Walls Bring Nature Inside the Workplace

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The concept of bringing nature inside is circling back around as an important piece of workplace design. As cities grow larger and the push for healthier environments continues, elements of nature are being brought back into our workspaces and communities.

One example of this is the living green wall. Also known as vertical gardens or ecowalls, these vertical panels of plants help restore the natural balance while also making a powerful design statement.

*from Kimball SPARK


5 Steps to an Ergonomic Workstation

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1. Neutral Spine – Feet on the floor or footrest, hips level with knees and back supported on chair, ear in line with shoulder.

2. Elbow Height – Keyboard at or slightly below elbow height, mouse adjacent to keyboard, keyboard tray level or negative tilt.

3. Desk Height – 1-2″ above elbow height for desk work or at elbow height for keyboard use, raise chair if needed.

4. Monitor Height – Monitor aligned so first line of type is directly across or slightly below eye height.

5. Organize – Documents should be inline between monitor and keyboard, telephone and essentials within easy reach.

Bring Your Pet to Work [Every] Day

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With increased work demands and longer commutes, the workplace is becoming a home away from home. Many companies are moving to employee-centered work atmospheres by providing new wellness initiatives and other amenities to help make employees feel comfortable and enjoy the environment they work in. But even with healthy food options and exercise classes, many employees still rush out the door at 5:00 p.m. to spend time with the beloved pets waiting for them at home. This challenge is now being recognized by today’s employers, and many are seeing mutual benefits to inviting employees to bring their four-legged friends along with them. Power of Pets Decades of research have shown that pets provide numerous health benefits, from lower blood pressure, reduced stress and anxiety, boosted immunity, and prevention of asthma and allergies. Even a quick pet can calm and reduce subconscious tensions. And when you’re less stressed, you’re generally happier, more creative, and more productive.

*Excerpt from Kimball Spark

Workplace Trends That Are Here To Stay

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Today’s employees have higher expectations than ever of the environments their organizations provide. These expectations – that workplaces be inspiring, that workplaces promote wellbeing, and that workplaces provide seamless access to technology – have proven to be crucial to employee satisfaction and retention.

So, while beer on tap and ping-pong tables in the office may be passing fads, these are the considerations will shape the offices of the future. Because the workplace isn’t just the place where work gets done- it’s the place that enables us to reach our full potential.

Read on to learn how to create workplaces that will stand the test of time.

7 Spaces for the Ways We Work

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While mobile technology offers connected convenience, it makes it harder for companies to ensure their people receive the support they need from their remote working environments. For employees, working off-site long-term can create feelings of alienation and loneliness. It also separates them from the company’s community and culture.

Here are 7 types of spaces your company can use to support the new ways people are working:

1. Gig/Coworking Spaces

2. Activity-Based Spaces

3. Multi-Use Spaces

4. Social Spaces

5. Well-Being Spaces

6. Mobile/Agile Spaces

7. Virtual Spaces

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We Need Spaces that Inspire Us

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If you ask an HR department what its biggest challenge is today, more often than not, the answer would be attracting and retaining top talent. As Millennials and GenZers continue to flood the workforce, they bring with them a unique set of workplace expectations that vary from their predecessors’. As a result, a workplace that offers a calming space for inspiration and that “wow” factor has made its way to the top of the list.

Furniture designed for architectural needs fosters this atmosphere by metaphorically (and perhaps literally) tearing down the walls of hierarchy and creating an atmosphere where everyone feels relaxed and like equals. For environments that strive to even the playing field, this is a cultural win. But for companies that still prefer the traditional hierarchy of staffing, there’s still value in curating spaces designed for individualized tasks, and the office atmosphere can respond to the design as it sees fit.  Furniture designed for architectural needs shapes not only the environment surrounding us but also the mood we feel while we are in it.

In a day and age where business moves fast and people move faster, creating signature pieces we can take with us and flex up and down depending on our needs allows us to leverage our resources wisely. We’re seeing spaces that mimic the unique attributes of our brands and the humans that occupy each building, while simultaneously offering an intriguing element of excitement to the next generation of workers.

Excerpt from Haworth Spark

Why Are Task Chairs So Expensive?

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Take a minute to consider the number of hours most office workers sit at their desk each day. Now multiply that number by weeks, months, even years.

In order to accommodate different body shapes, sizes and weights, designers and engineers have to research and test a variety of functions in each chair to meet comfort and ergonomic needs.

Shapes, heights pneumatics, angles, optional functions all play a part in creating a chair that withstands daily use for hours on end; while materials, finishes, aesthetics, design all play a part in creating a chair that will appeal to a wide variety of consumers.

Taking all this into account, it’s no wonder task chairs are so expensive. Purchasing a well made used task chair is a great option that cuts down on cost and helps save perfectly good, functioning furniture from being sent to the landfill.

Innovative Spaces

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Workspaces that foster innovation consist of a variety of places to collaborate as well as areas to focus and block out distractions.

Collaborative spaces oftentimes include loose furniture, white boards, an area with refreshments, space for large team meetings as well as huddle spaces, often with video conferencing capabilities.

Varying the space for different tasks enables team members to easily transition between group and individual tasks, which contributes to innovation.

5 Ways to Improve Focus at Work

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So … what can you do to help people perform better? As the Vice President of Sales, Architecture and Design at a workplace furniture company, I’ve found that the following elements can help improve focus and productivity:

1. Give people autonomy over how they work. The amount of concentration people need for focused work can vary. Some of the factors include how skilled a person is at the task and whether they and the task can tolerate disruptions. Some workers may need quiet places away from distractions, while others may not—even for the same task.

2. Create quiet zones or spaces. You can make these with partitions to block visual distractions and with sound-masking products to cover speech and absorb noise. Quiet zones should be set away from areas with a lot of activity, like cafés, lobby areas, or other social zones. Instead, they should be positioned near an intermediary zone. I have seen companies provide a library-like space where talking on the phone is not allowed. The design of these spaces can give a clear indication that they’re intended for focused work with minimal distractions.

3. Offer a choice of workspaces. Give people different kinds of spaces where they can do specific kinds of work. Make sure there are enough rooms—whether they’re private spaces or unassigned offices. You can also create quiet zones in an open area for people to do heads-down work. It’s important to provide the correct ratio of these quite rooms, as they are frequently in high demand.

4. Provide time flexibility. In his new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, author Daniel Pink explores how biorhythms impact focus and energy levels throughout the day. People hit their peak periods at different times of the day. And they need to be able to take breaks, whether it’s by daydreaming or getting out of their seat to move around or step outside.

5. Allow for some individual control. Lastly, give people some say over how they adjust to their surroundings. This can range from letting them wear headphones to using slide panels that can block access or act as a social cue that says, “I’m busy right now.” It beats the option of putting a handwritten piece of paper on the back of a chair that says, “Do not disturb.” Yes, I have seen people do this. full article