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Seven insights into workplace tech

BACHMANN’s James Peckitt shares seven considerations when looking to make spaces truly functional.

Feature in partnership with Bachmann

23/04/2021 4 min read
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When looking at new ways to make the workplace more agile, flexible and engaging, there are some great furniture manufacturers, designers and planners in the market that can help you to achieve amazing spaces. However, one aspect that can often be overlooked is the functionality of solutions or spaces. Having a space that is engaging and inspiring to work in is fantastic, but if it’s not functional from the aspect of power or space management, it can often be neglected or frustrating for the users. So, how can we make spaces truly functional?

1. Building Infrastructure

This is so important to get right from the outset because it will help build the backbone to a flexible workspace for now and the future. How often do we see situations where a client would like to have a refresh and move furniture around to create something new, only to be told that it can’t be done because there are no floor boxes in that location or there are no network cables? Or, as a designer, you want to achieve something, only to be told by an engineer that it can’t be done due to the infrastructure of the building. More than ever, there are some fantastic products on the market to help create futureproof, flexible office infrastructures, allowing facilities to make the required changes as and when needed. No1 most important consideration: always think of expansion, as it will save you in the long run

2. Power and Connection Panels

There are lots of different options when it comes to outlets, floor boxes, wall sockets, perimeter trunking, under desk, in desk and on desk power options. From a functional aspect, more is better – however, from a design perspective, less is often more and finding the right balance can be hard. We are constantly trying to bridge this gap from infrastructure to design by creating aesthetically appealing connection panels and outlets. Consideration No2: look to futureproof where possible, especially when looking at charging and audio, as developments move fast in these areas.

3. Wireless Charging

Over recent years we have seen fantastic developments in wireless charging, enabling users to charge a whole range of new technologies. Something to consider when specifying or purchasing would be the quality and durability of the device. Within high footfall areas, these devices are going to take some hammering and therefore need to be durable. With this in mind, look for something with a good warranty period and a method to exchange if necessary.

4. Battery Technology

As we see the demand for flexible office spaces increase, the need for flexible power will also increase. There are already several solutions available and it can be difficult to identify the right one for your needs. To help, consider these aspects: 1. Look for the batteries’ nominal capacity – this will indicate how long the battery would last under a certain load. 2. Identify the batteries’ total charge life and the reduction level – this will tell you how many charges the battery will take in total and the level the battery will drop over a number of charges. 3. Another consideration is to look at what else can be powered, items like monitors, lighting, chargers and ventilation.

5. Independent Presentation Solutions

The range of independent presentation devices is limited at the moment, but certainly a great way to create flexible spaces. These products can also create a nice ‘wow’ factor when working with or presenting to clients. Another great thing about these products is that they become a centre point for colleagues to engage and collaborate, enabling team building. The only aspect that needs to be considered when looking at such a device is to think about third party add-ons as these will open up more options on the market and enable you to find a solution that meets your requirements and budget.

6. Workplace Management Tools

As the need for workplace management increases, especially with more businesses looking to adopt a hybrid working model and thus reducing office space, workplace management has never been needed more than today. There are several solutions on the market, but within any emerging market there are potential pitfalls. A couple of considerations to help and look out for: 1. Does the product exist? This may sound silly but so often we see presentations of solutions that don’t actually have any tangible software or hardware yet. Always ask to see the solution working, preferably at a location of your choice. 2. IT and Networks. If you are going to invest in a solution, first identify what infrastructure is needed – you don’t want to get trapped into the ‘it’s not us, it’s your network’ merry-go-round. 3. Identify what support services you will receive if anything goes wrong – these are technical solutions that will, from time-to-time, glitch or even fail, so you need the reassurance of support if anything was to go wrong.

7. USB C

Where do you start with this one?! USB C has so many use applications and comes in several different options that it can often be difficult to know what the best solution is, especially if a client is looking to implement because ‘it’s the future’. Ultimately, you need to ask what are you using the USB C port for and this will then enable you to select the correct equipment. Also, just take note of the cable type, as some may not actually be suitable for the application. If you find yourself in this minefield, raise your hand and seek assistance.

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