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Flexible friends

Sam Rylands of Durable explains how flexible storage solutions are helping employees to adjust to the new era of agile working

Out with the old and in with the new – this expression is becoming more and more relevant when talking about the furniture and accessories that sculpt our office spaces. Over the past 20 years we have seen computer, mobile and internet technology develop rapidly, which has enabled staff to work flexibly around any workspace.

Collaboration spaces are now designed into offices alongside areas that stimulate employees to be more active when working. The working spaces themselves are created with flexibility in mind. In short, the ability to pick up your laptop or tablet and move to another desk or workstation in a matter of seconds exemplifies the modern office.

So, the need for big clunky desks and partition walls is slowly becoming a thing of the past as businesses move towards more flexible open-plan workspaces. But is every part of the office environment adapting to this change in working practices?

Traditionally, the average office worker would spend over 245 days of the year at their desk, and their workstation was therefore furnished with everything they needed to do their job.

In a traditional single-use desk space, you are likely to find letter trays, pen cups and note blocks on the desk, and a large cumbersome drawer unit tucked underneath. Along the walls you’ll see large filing and storage units which don’t fit into modern workplace design.

For as long as the concept of paperless offices remains a pipe dream, there remains a need for somewhere to store paperwork. With growing concerns about security and new legislation around data protection, secure storage for confidential documents is more important than ever.

Similarly, workers still need practical tools to do their jobs. Simple items such as pens, paper, charging cables and USB devices need to be stored somewhere – and not all of these items can be shared. In a recent study by Raconteur, only 56 per cent of workers stated that they were satisfied with the level of personal storage available to them in their workspace.

So, although businesses are moving towards agile workspaces, are they really furnishing their employees with everything they need to do their jobs?

We know that our working environments have a huge effect on us. We’re aware that sitting at a desk all day has a negative impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. But did you know that 85 per cent of workers feel that the design and layout of their workplace is important to them, or that 57 per cent believe that a well-designed and modern office helps improve their productivity and creates an enjoyable atmosphere in which to work (‘What workers want’ report by Raconteur).

It’s clear that employees value the working space they inhabit, and that it has a significant impact on their efficiency, daily enjoyment and motivation. However, not all staff are happy with the transition to agile workspaces. While their tools aren’t changing at the same pace as the rest of the environment, the need for them will continue to hold back the transition from old to new.

So how can businesses keep their staff happy?

New solutions are being developed to bridge the gap between the traditional and modern workplace, enabling businesses to fully embrace new working trends while maintaining productivity and staff morale. Manufacturers recognise the need for flexible furniture and equipment to help workforces embrace agile working. Luctra, for example, produces desktop lamps which staff can control using an app. Regardless of where they choose to sit in the office, they can take their lighting preferences with them.

Manufacturers of workplace products are proactively analysing the gap between the tools workers have and the tools they need. Super-flexible solutions are being developed by workplace product manufacturers such as Durable – a German company that specialises in innovative concepts to meet changing work trends. Sean Starkey, Managing Director of Durable UK, comments: “In the last 12 months we have seen a real spike in the demand for flexible storage that will help aid agile working. We introduced our range of Varicolor Smart Office solutions back in 2014 to help prepare us for this change in the landscape of workspaces.”

A wide range of ultra-flexible solutions is now available to the modern office worker.

Lightweight desktop drawer sets, for example, are set to replace the need for big, clunky metal drawers. These solutions may be more functional than traditional floorstanding units with colour-coded drawers to aid organisation and lockable drawer options allowing confidential documents to be safely stowed away.

Small, stylish job cases enable employees to take familiar accessories such as pens, notes and charging cables from workspace to workspace. The employees retain ownership of their working tools, and the cases protect their items in transit.

These new flexible solutions are helping businesses to transform a workspace into a vibrant modern office, and encourage agile working and collaboration to flourish.

About Sarah OBeirne


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