What better time to upgrade your office workstations than now, providing for social distancing and improved visual aesthetics?
Did you know, for 30 Years we have specialised in fitting office workstation systems into new and existing offices, providing expert design advice and quotes in 24 hours. Working one-on-one with your dedicated account manager, our friendly team will take the pressure of you by booking a free online consultation to dive deeper into your project and create a plan which works best for your team.
Topaz Furniture provides free space planning and design advice, providing mood boards, colour palettes and workstation recommendations all to fit your personalised workplace culture, timelines, and budget. An easy-to-use online proposal document will be provided for you to view online, and interact with to change QTY or furniture options, and then approve – all within a few clicks.
In the past 30 years we have worked with major brands around Australia, partnering with them to provide office workstations and full commercial furniture packages for companies such as Dulux Group, Bunnings Warehouse, Victoria Police, Domaine Chandon, Amazon, YMCA and Holden – just to name a few!
Our professional office installation team can be ready as soon as tomorrow to install your workstations and commercial furniture, depending on stock levels and lead times. They are there to install and assemble the office furniture safely and efficiently and are on call to come back to site if any issues are raised.
Our office workstations are stocked in Melbourne, with the worktops being locally made in Australia in our standard 45 Laminex colours.
If your company is looking to make the investment to create a state-of-the-art modern workplace, contact us with your project today to get started! 1300 66 85 66
Menzies International were after a full office furniture fitout for their office located in Mulgrave. Topaz collaborated with Zircon Interiors to design and deliver a vibrant open office environment that was perfectly aligned to the Menzies workplace culture
Menzies employs over 4,000 employees today and turns over almost $300 million annually with operations across all major Australian cities and regional centres.
Menzies is one of the largest privately owned provider of cleaning and related property services in Australia and have been operating since 1969.
We want to challenge your perspective on the workplace, exploring every possibility to make your office a space where people can thrive. Get in touch with us today to start reimagining your office with new office furniture.
There’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and work—perhaps forever. And if you’re a manager or business owner overseeing the transition back to the workplace post COVID-19, chances are, you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. With the situation changing on a daily basis, it can be hard to keep up with the current rules, regulations and best practice guidelines when it comes to preparing your workplace for a return to the office.
For the majority of organisations, the transition back to work will require a combination of short-term fixes to meet the legal obligations of a post-COVID workplace as well as a longer-term strategy that involves rethinking the space to ensure it’s better equipped to manage future challenges.
Prioritising the health and safety of your employees, clients and stakeholders should, of course, be front of mind. However, it’s important at the same time to ensure that the investment made in refining and transforming your work environment also represents ROI, to ensure the ongoing viability of your business.
There’s no doubt this presents a serious challenge. But the good news is, that with the right knowledge and support, you can find a solution that allows your workers to return to work with confidence.
Whether you are looking to implement a small scale refit or are ready to create a strategy for a complete refurbishment, our experienced team can offer expert advice. Contact Us today to discuss your unique workplace requirements and find out about how we can solve your workplace problems.
Read on to discover the key considerations (and strategies to combat them) for creating a workplace that is COVID-secure and pandemic ready.
Meeting Social Distance Spacing Requirements
One of the most important factors to get right in any office refit or refurbishment is maximising your available space to allow you to meet the guidelines of 1.5m social distancing. This needs to be carefully considered across all areas of the work environment— from individual workstations and desks, to shared spaces such as lunch rooms, boardrooms, bathrooms, corridors as well as entries and exits.
Flexible Working Arrangements
One thing the pandemic has taught us is that flexible working arrangements can be an effective way to operate, even under the most difficult circumstances. If we can make it work while juggling home-schooling and competing for available workspaces in the home, just imagine the outcome if we have a well-designed space and no interruptions! There has been a growing movement for a more widespread adoption of flexible working arrangements over the last decade and it seems clear that after experiencing it firsthand, both employees and employers may look to continue with work from home arrangements on an ongoing basis.
The New Normal for Communication
During times of restrictions, closures and lockdown, we have spent much more time communicating virtually, and have universally embraced video calls as an effective way to stay connected at work while apart. Online video communication platforms such as Zoom , Skype and WeBex have kept us in touch with clients, coworkers and even our family virtually while face-to-face meetings have not been possible.
Taking Hygiene Seriously
While a short-term solution to tackle hygiene may involve supplying hand sanitiser on every desk and installing a dispenser at entry points and shared spaces, there are some companies who are thinking of the bigger picture. As part of their long-term strategy and refit, they are incorporating design features such as permanent hygiene stations found in hospital office buildings to encourage hygiene practices can continue indefinitely.
Wellbeing Comes First
Supporting your team during these challenging times is a must to alleviate possible ongoing mental health concerns and assist your team in a smooth transition back to work. Whether your employees have been directly impacted through financial stress, illness or have struggled with isolation, prioritising positive mental health as they return to work is essential. For some, they will be itching to get back among their coworkers, while others may have thrived in a more peaceful home environment and be a little more reluctant. Understanding the differences and offering flexible solutions will go along way in creating a happy, loyal and productive team.
Finding ROI is a Must
For many businesses, the pandemic has seen profits take a hit, so getting ROI on any major expenditure is more important than ever. In the case of implementing COVID-safe measures, it’s a good idea to work with a complete strategy that addresses both the short-term requirements and long-term needs of the organisation. Making changes cohesively, as part of a complete strategy offers more value financially than leaving it open for ongoing issues (and subsequent expenses) to arise.
With the Right Strategy, a COVID-Secure Workplace is Achievable
While the challenges of a returning workforce can at times seem overwhelming, with the right approach, transforming your workplace into a COVID-secure environment is highly achievable. What’s more, with the right strategy in place, the physical transformation of your work environment can potentially lead to an invigorated workforce with an office that is designed especially to meet their changing needs.
Whether you have a vision of what you are striving for, or need guidance to bring it all together, partnering with the right interior design and fitout team allows you to make the most of this opportunity for change and create a new workplace that is not only pandemic ready, but also perfectly suited to maximise the productivity and wellbeing of your team.
Otherwise known as modular wiring, Softwiring is a plug-and-play system which supersedes the labour intensive method of hardwiring by utilising an interconnecting modular backbone which enables a versatile and tool-less installation between the ceiling, workstation and floor.
Softwiring has transformed the building industry by adding flexibility and modularity whilst reducing installation time, waste of material and overall cost. Softwiring (or modular wiring) enables the easy re-use of wiring when re-configuring workstation power distribution, without the waste associated with hard wiring. This not only saves time and increases productivity during on-site installation, it also gives the designer maximum flexibility for future expansion.
Included in a Standard Soft Wiring Kit:
Wall Starter Socket
Quad GPO Unit
Soft Wiring Kits
Also known as modular wiring, Soft-wiring is a plug and play system which enables a versatile and tool-less installation of power between the ceiling, workstation and floor. Soft wiring enables the easy re-use of wiring when re-configuring workstation power distribution, without the waste associated with hard wiring.
Say goodbye to stainless steel–and hello to outdoor gardens.
The coronavirus pandemic might have some long-term effects on the way we design our offices. As companies look to incorporate better sanitation and implement some of the things they’ve learned during the crisis, many aspects of the office could change–from the materials used for upholstery to the overall layouts of floor plans.
“People are asking existential questions like, ‘What is the purpose of an office?’ ” says Nabil Sabet, engineer and group director at international design firm M Moser. “Some of the habits that we thought would take years to overcome are changing overnight.”
The office as a whole
Keeping the office as germ-free as possible will require some material changes. Surfaces like unfinished wood, soft stone, and stainless steel can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria, says Nina Etnier, co-founder of New York-based interior designer Float Studio. Offices might turn to furniture made of antimicrobial synthetic materials like Crypton, plus metals like copper and brass for door handles and other high-touch surfaces, she adds.
Other touchpoints, like keypads and control panels for lighting, climate control, and A/V systems, might be replaced with apps on employees’ personal phones, says Kim Heartwell, senior vice president at architectural firm CallisonRTKL.
Ultraviolet lights installed in ducts could purify air before it’s blown out onto the office floor, says Sabet. Architects might even make tweaks like curving the place where the floor meets the wall. This can eliminate corners that collect filth and germs, a practice that some hospitals have been using for decades.
Larger-scale changes may also be coming. With more employees working remotely, some desk space could be converted into more thoughtfully designed open spaces, says Melissa Shelton, president of Swiss design firm Vitra’s North American operations. And companies will seek out offices with more access to outdoor space, says Etnier, both as a means of social distancing and a way of making them more inviting to employees whose alternative is to stay home.
“The office will be purposely designed to be more than just a workplace,” says Shelton. “It will be a community place, a cultural place, a place of learning.”
For the sake of cleanliness, companies might have to reconsider the long-held tradition of assigned desks. Forcing employees to remove their belongings at the end of each day will allow for more effective cleanings that can’t happen when desks are covered with clutter, says Sabet.
An alternative to that approach is to keep the dedicated work station but implement a “clean desk policy”: Each employee gets a cubby or locker in which to store things at the end of each workday, and desk surfaces are cleaned each night.
“The employee is the only one in that space,” says Shelton. “There won’t be this introduction of another person sitting in that chair or touching those surfaces.”
Adding more separation between workstations–something being done out of necessity in the short term–might become a long-term trend meant to give employees more privacy.
A more extreme measure: Rapt Studio co-founder David Galullo says the firm is working with a client to design enclosed pods to replace traditional workspaces. The structures will have four walls, some made of glass and some opaque.
The remote-friendly workplace
Many companies are considering alternating work schedules when they return to the office to help enforce social distancing. That fact, combined with the realization that employees can be just as effective while working from home, might make remote work much more common in the long term, says Galullo.
“For the longest time we’ve been talking about choice in the office: You can sit in a lounge space or small huddle room or the outdoor patio, depending on what allows you to do your best work,” Galullo says. “I think in the future, we add the home workplace to that list.” That might mean employees come into the office on days when they have collaborative work and stay home on days when they’ll mostly be operating on their own.
Making that transition might require some technological changes. Companies are likely to move their systems to a centralized location or the cloud so that work can be seamlessly picked right up from home, says Sabet. It’s an undertaking that for many companies has been sped up given the current crisis.
Of course, working from home is possible to varying degrees given each employee’s home setup. As such, some companies are granting employees technology stipends. Twitter recently announced that all employees–in addition to being able to work from home indefinitely–will receive credits of up to $1,000 to upgrade their work-from-home setups.
Heartwell points out that laptops meant for gaming can serve as affordable solutions for employees in roles, like engineering or architecture, that use programs requiring high processing power.
“Something a lot of companies have discovered is that where things break down is in the technology capabilities of the person in their own home,” says Heartwell. “So the very first step is making sure everyone has transportable technology.”
The millennial generation is arguably the most talked-about and publicized generation we have seen in our lifetime. Their activism and unique perspective on social issues have brought notable changes in business and the workplace. Some easy to implement ideas are:
Having open spaces.
Millennials like open spaces that allow them to team up and work with others instead of conventional desks or cubicles, which feels restrictive. They prefer an open layout in which their surroundings and co-workers are visible and accessible to interact with, which improves collaboration and gets better results.
Incorporating natural lighting.
The positive health benefits of sunlight are innumerable. According to a recent study, incorporating natural light in an office space reduces eye strain and improves mood. In fact, fewer complaints of employees about feeling drowsy or having headaches were reported.
Plants clean the air, help to reduce stress, increase productivity, and make workspaces more attractive to new millennial job applicants. Plants help make your office space a more desirable place to work as it is filled with positive vibes. Get low-maintenance plants that can thrive in medium-low light such as peace lily. Some other common office plants include Devil’s Ivy, aglos, weeping fig, snake plant, dracaena, and a variety of cacti plants.
Using bright colors.
Conventionally, the colors gray, beige, and white have been associated with office space and millennials find it to be quite dull and boring. Research shows that office space needs to have bright colors that uplift your employee’s mood to get their creative juices flowing and generate peak performance. Graphics and artwork is another way of adding bright colors to the workplace if the current theme does not allow you to change wall paint.
Allowing for a ‘Dogs at Work’ policy.
While not exactly an office design strategy, this employee perk in the infographic caught my attention because having pets at work is especially popular with millennials, forcing the hand of decision-makers to be more inclusive of pets. Google, Amazon, and Ben & Jerry’s are a few large companies with Dogs at Work policies in place. “Employers are starting to realize that having a millennial bring … a pet to work, you wind up getting a more focused employee, you get someone more comfortable at the office and a person willing to work longer hours,” said Bob Vetere, president, and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, in an interview with CNBC.
Finally, you might be surprised to learn that about 20% of millennials reportedly mentioned poor office design the reason for turning down a job.
Companies are constantly looking for ways to streamline operations, increase productivity and ensure employee satisfaction. The struggle to find the balance between these factors led to various arrangements like open layouts, flexible hours and remote work opportunities. From these innovations came an approach to work which promotes optimal flexibility in the office: agile working
Address the Changing Needs in the Workplace
Also known as activity-based working, agile working boosts productivity and employee satisfaction by altering the norms of work culture. The changes range from something as simple as switching traditional workstations with collaborative pods to something more radical like allowing employees to come in for a few hours of collaboration and then allowing them to leave the office to continue their work elsewhere.
However, there is more to creating a more collaborative environment than just throwing people together. The flexibility of an activity-based workplace comes with a high level of trust between the company and its employees. Companies are banking that giving employees the autonomy to do their job with less supervision, will lead to an increase in their employees’ ownership of their tasks and that creative solutions will be found for challenges.
What makes agile working so powerful?
For a younger generation, workplace flexibility is a much more tempting option than a traditional nine-to-five in a cubicle. It is also an attractive option for employees who are 55 years old and above as well as those who have to care for a school-age child or another member of their immediate family.
The arrangement is a win for businesses because it improves staff morale and reduces staff turnover. But it is only as powerful as the implementation. It requires some ground rules.
As such, here are the golden rules for implementing successful agile working:
Share information as early and as frequently as possible.
Team members have different assignments — some might have client-facing tasks while others might need to conduct market research. It is important to share these findings with each other to streamline the workflow. Sharing is made easier by the agile working setup.
Make the whole team accountable for the results.
An agile working setup encourages team support and collaboration while maximising flexibility. Teams have all the resources to work together and be jointly accountable for the results of any campaign or project. When so much free-flowing exchange has happened before a success, it’s difficult to attribute that success to just one person. Likewise, when things don’t go so well, group accountability means that no one person is likely to be unfairly singled out.
Critique but never criticise.
When a team works closely together, the members inevitably learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If the free flow of ideas and information is done in the right way, there should a levelling up of everyone’s competencies as the best ideas from different people surface.
Frequent sharing, collective accountability and constructive criticism are sure-fire ways to get a team to collaborate and make the agile working setup work.
Transition to an Agile Working Environment
An activity-based working environment is not for everyone, especially when different roles require varying levels of interaction and flexibility. But most businesses should be able in some ways to implement agile working to a greater or lesser degree.
Topaz Furniture helps with the transition to an agile working setup through activity-based furniture that promotes maximum workplace efficiency. Contact us for enquiries.
Activity-based working has become a popular solution to the problems that come with open office layouts. By giving employees a variety of spaces to work in, companies can increase collaboration and productivity. Activity-based working also allows for maximum use of office space. It also improves employee focus and enhances employee performance.
Today’s offices are rapidly changing. Companies have knocked down physical walls and removed cubicles in favour of open office layouts. However, open offices come with their own sets of problems. Teams are easily distracted by noise.
So, what is activity-based working?
Activity-based working is a work methodology that focuses on the use of space and office furniture to create different types of work areas. In an activity-based work office, employees are not limited to one specific area or desk. Instead, they are able to move around the office as needed in order to complete their tasks.
If you have friends over, you entertain them in the living room. It’s the same with the activity-based working setup. It recognizes that each employee has different roles to play and they need diversity in work settings to do their tasks efficiently.
They could start their day in a private space to finish a presentation and then move to a meeting pod or a conference room to share it with their colleagues. This flexibility provides employees with more autonomy, improves their productivity and allows them to feel more stimulated in the workplace.
How can you design an office layout that works best for your company?
There are a few things to keep in mind when designing an activity-based work office. First, you’ll need to create different types of work areas that cater to the various tasks your employees will be performing. This might include private spaces for individual work, collaborative spaces for team projects, and social spaces for networking.
You’ll also need to consider the layout of your office. In order to encourage movement and collaboration, you’ll want to create an open floor plan with plenty of communal spaces. You should also make sure that there are enough private spaces for employees who need to focus or take a break from the noise and distractions of an open office.
Activity-based working is quickly becoming the new norm in the workplace. By creating a flexible office layout that caters to the needs of your employees, you can improve collaboration and productivity among your team. Not only will this increase efficiency in your office, but it will also make your employees happier and more productive.
Major Benefits of Activity Based Working
Maximum Use of Office Space
Whether it’s a small organisation pressured to design a cost-efficient space or a large company occupying several floors, an activity based work environment allows them to achieve maximum use out of every space in their office, especially as headcount increases.
With an activity based working strategy, companies can have their employees share desks and the alternative spaces in the office. From soft seating areas to long tables and corner high tops, employees have a vast array of options for heads-down, productive work.
Better Employee Performance
According to the Harvard Business Review, employees with greater flexibility and collaboration are generally more productive and happier with their jobs. Collaboration tends to increase in an activity based workplace due to the fluid nature of unassigned desks and shared seating. Employees from different departments become exposed to one another often, opening up opportunities for knowledge sharing that’s hard to come by in a fixed setup. Shared desking also allows employees to develop friendships with people they don’t normally interact with.
Enhanced Employee Focus
Open plan offices offer many benefits to the modern workforce but sometimes, employees may find background noise distracting. Activity based workplaces typically have1 ‘focus rooms’ that allow employees to escape from the hustle and bustle of open plan offices to concentrate on time-sensitive tasks.
What are the disadvantages of an activity-based working environment
While activity-based working is often seen as the ideal work methodology, it also has a few disadvantages. First, it can be difficult to focus in an open office environment with constant noise and distractions. Employees may also find it difficult to concentrate when they are constantly moving around the office.
Second, not all employees are comfortable working in a flexible environment. Some employees may prefer to have a dedicated desk and workspace where they can focus on their tasks uninterrupted.
Finally, activity-based working can be expensive to implement. You’ll need to invest in different types of furniture and office spaces to accommodate a variety of work styles. Additionally, you’ll need to provide training for your employees on how to use the new office layout.
Despite these disadvantages, activity-based working is still a popular choice for many companies because of the numerous benefits it offers. With the right planning and execution, you can create an activity-based office that’s perfect for your employees and your business.
Activity-based working is a popular choice among employers because of the benefits it offers. However, there are also disadvantages to having an open office space that requires employees to be constantly moving around and collaborating with their colleagues. We hope this article has helped you understand more about activity-based working and how it may or may not work for your business!
The cubicle-farm office of not so long ago has become a punch line in modern office design but the open office setup — the darling of start-ups and companies that seek better collaboration, communication and camaraderie — also has its fair share of problems.
For some employees, it’s hard to focus on a time-sensitive task when there’s an animated coworker on a client call on one side and a trio of football fans discussing last night’s game on the other. Not to mention the constant stream of colleagues moving through their line of sight at any given time of the day.
Based on research conducted by the University of California, Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes for an individual to return to their task after experiencing sudden interruptions. This is where meeting booths and pods come in to save the day for employees who just want a little bit of privacy from the hustle and bustle of the office. Employees can pop into the pods for calls, quick virtual meetings or distraction-free sessions that won’t hinder their productivity.
Here are the top benefits that your employees and office can gain from meeting pods.
In an age where employees experience information overload on a daily basis, pods can help them find their flow and get them ‘in the zone’ or the optimal state where they can perform and feel their best. Employees do their work best when they are given private space where they can truly focus.
For instance, the Fracas Meeting Pod’s panels have an NRC rating of 0.76, which means that 76 per cent of sound waves entering the material will be captured and converted. This makes it an excellent temporary workstation in the office for employees who want to get away from the noise of an open plan environment to finish their tasks quicker. A place where they can go to escape audio and visual disruptions will help keep the concentration of employees and their productivity up.
Space for collaboration or quick calls
Not all meeting pods are designed for private work. Some pods act as meeting spaces, providing offices with a convenient multi-use space for ad hoc meetings that don’t cause disruption to the entire department.
Meeting pods are also the ideal solution for employees who only need a small space for conference calls. It eliminates the need for one or two people to hog an entire room when they can make do with a small private area for their confidential phone calls.
Efficient and flexible use of office space
Unlike building a new part of your office, meeting pods are budget-friendly and they’re quick and easy to install. Their modular designs allow you to slot them into whichever space you see fit, saving you a significant amount in construction costs.
Evolve Your Office with Modern Meetings Pods from Topaz Furniture
According to an article posted by the Centre for Conscious Design, providing a variety of different space types in offices, from shared workstations to single-occupant areas for focused working, is vital for work environments that are highly collaborative in nature.
Allow your business to ebb and flow with the evolving demands of modern offices with our range of meeting pods and other activity-based working furniture. A solution as simple and straightforward as a pod can be exactly what your office needs to build a workplace that thrives in collaboration but also provides employees with interruption-free spaces to focus on their private tasks.
For more information and enquiries about our products, call us on 1300 668 566.