Office design trends: bring on the boomerang-shaped table.

Author:Tricker, Jennifer

SUCCESS IN TODAY'S business climate requires office design to adapt to the changing technology, workforce size, demographics and work-style trends of tomorrow. Office design must keep pace with ever-changing technological advancements and evolving business landscape. Modern trends reflect a push for wide-open tracts of office space that are more conducive to teamwork and group collaboration, reserving fewer private offices that are progressively smaller than their predecessors. Fewer wires, less space ... more productivity?

Less is more, "The big corner work surface is the first to come to mind," when considering the latest office changes, explains Barb Mackling, interior designer and director of Office Interiors' design department in Granger. Now that personal computers are getting smaller and laptop use is steadily rising, the corner work surface is wasted space and money Instead, boomerang shaped and cockpit-style work surfaces are becoming more popular. Smaller breakout areas for impromptu meetings are taking over some of this cubicle field, she explains.

"Gone is the standardized maze of cubicles," echoes Carol Payne, vice president of design and customer care at Business Furniture LLC, Indianapolis. "We are seeing more teaming and interaction in the workplace. Workspaces are more open to allow conversation to take place. Team spaces are integrated into the general work areas to allow meetings to take place on the fly."

The need for storage space is one area that has not changed, according to Dave Pillatzke, president and CEO of Short Elliot Hendrickson, a full-service, multidisciplined consulting firm with an office in Munster. "When computers came into play, people felt they could just get rid of storage, since they thought we were going to become a paperless world," he explains. "We've found that we need just as much space because we keep hard copies of everything."

Taking the LEED. Sandy Horton, director of product-line management for Kimball Office, Jasper, cites a growing need for smaller offices as floor plans are optimized for occupancy. "Across the board in all categories, workers in U.S. offices have had to adapt to progressively less space," she says.

"Businesses are focusing more attention on the green building standards known as LEED, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design," says Horton. Since the standards were published in 2000, the advent of environmentally conscious design has prompted federal agencies...

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