Working Together

According to furniture manufacturers, the continuing trend in office furniture relates to something called "open environment." Once upon a time, everyone stowed away in his own cubicle, but today it's more usual for office workers to be arranged in pairs or even in fours around a conference table. One popular modern office furniture design features a round table that can be segmented into four quarters that can be pushed together to create a roundtable.

Key Elements

The new alternative office furniture focuses on setting the stage for an environment conducive to more productive work hours. Communication between the workers is seen as a key element in this, but there are drawbacks. If an employee should need to have a private discussion with a specific worker, or if a worker needs more quiet and alone time to create a special project, the open environment becomes problematic.

Generational Thing

Another problem inherent in the open environment is powering workstations. In the usual situation, wires are mounted on divider panels. However, as the electrical needs of companies grow, many of them are turning to the solution of floating power stations, located above the workstations. This gives employees the freedom to work anywhere they like within a space that is multifunctional. Some companies even have drop-down power mini-stations for workers to plug into wherever they have need.

For workers in their 20's or so, all of these solutions seem very natural. Technology is there to be used. But for employees in their mid-40's or so, it's a toss-up—some take to these alternative means of furniture and design in a passionate way, while others just can't relate. It's a generational thing.

Creating an office space to suit the needs of those who will be working therein is termed "officing" in the jargon of the industry. But there is another way of tackling office space, called "hoteling." This is useful for the traveling consultant who wants to reserve space in the company's home office as needed. While this sounds a bit temporary, these consultants gain permanency by having individual lockers in which they can store their paraphernalia. Hoteling was begun during the economic downturn experienced almost a decade ago in an effort to save on square footage in the workplace.

Yet another buzzword in office environments is "moteling." Traveling workers, who are in town for just a short visit, can reserve a simple, no-frills workspace at a regional branch office.