Archive for the ‘Architects and Designers’ Category

How to Add Privacy to Your Open Plan Office

open plan office designs lack privacyWhen you take a look inside some of the country’s top companies, you see rows of employees plugging away at their computers. You see gorgeous glass offices that exude daylight. You see cool lounging areas filled with bright colors and comfy furniture.

What you won’t see are dark walls, closed doors, wood finishes, or big offices. Move over old corporate America; there’s a new kid in town. And who is that new kid? The open plan office.

The Biggest Complaint About Open Plan Offices

Open plan offices have done a lot of good for employees. Studies have shown employees are happier when there is more daylight and they can freely collaborate.

But there is one major complaint about the open plan office: no privacy!

When Privacy Matters in Your Office

Sharing a small workspace with your coworkers is great when you want to collaborate, but what about when you need to have a personal conversation. It’s not very exciting to talk to your doctor’s office in front of your coworkers; nor do they want to know the details of your blood work.

And it’s even more painful when you’ve screwed up at work and get called into the boss’ office – and that entire office consists of glass walls. It’s always so nice when everyone can both see and hear your boss reprimanding you…not.

The reality is that open plan offices are here to stay. But instead of telling employees to just deal with the lack of privacy, it’s a chance for you to flex your creative muscles and think of ways to adapt.

Try Different Wall Material Solutions

increase office privacy with frosted glass wallsOne place to start is with the walls. Instead of using clear glass, think about other options. Could you use a frosted or textured glass instead? Does the entire wall need to be clear glass or can you just have a portion of the wall made from clear glass?

If you are using movable or demountable walls, making these adjustments to your design should be easy. And it’s especially easy with demountable walls to change out panels. That way you aren’t committed to just one option.

Find Out How Employees Get Work Done

Another solution is to take the time to find out how people are really working. Would some employees benefit from working at home? Could you incorporate a designated work area just for sales reps that are constantly in and out of the office?

For example, sales reps are rarely in the office. Most of the time, they’re out meeting with clients or attending events. On the rare occasion they’re in the office, does each sales reps need their own space or can they share?

If they can share a space, you can have a certain amount of private office space dedicated for sales reps. Each rep can put in a request to book the space when they need time in the office.

This solution gives sales reps the privacy they need to make calls and have meetings, instead of putting them on the floor with everyone else. It also reduces the number of private offices you need if the sales reps are sharing the space. And if a sales rep isn’t using the space, you can offer up for employee meetings.

A flexible furniture solution allows you to do many different things in just one room. If you are making private rooms, use mobile workstations that can be connected together to create different types of space.


There’s no doubt the open plan office is here to stay, but the lack of privacy doesn’t have to. Investing in creative solutions like different wall materials or taking a closer look at how your employees get their work done are just some of the ways your business can adapt.

And if you need help implementing or finding additional solutions to make your open plan office more private, we’ve got your back. Give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message explaining your issues, and we will help you find the right solution.


5 Strategies for Improving Space Efficiency in Your Office

existing-space-increase-efficiencyWhen discussing office space efficiency, an article in Digit Magazine sums up this topic very well. “Even though government bodies are approving more building planning works, the options are still very limited: build up or build out. But a cheaper, faster, and more resource-effective solution is to simply use the space we already have – just use it better.”

Now, there are a lot of ways to make better use of your current space that range from large scale projects to a few simple changes. But before you get started, you have to find the right solution that matches up with your company’s resources.

Listed below are five different strategies that will get you thinking about what’s possible for your office. And just know that whatever you do to improve space efficiency – no matter how big or how small – its effects will be felt throughout your entire organization.

1. Use Versatile Furniture

Instead of the old cubicle that pretty much only has one function, think about choosing furniture you can use for multiple activities. For example, use a benching system in your conference room instead of a table.

When the conference room isn’t in use for meetings, it can double as a space for temporary or freelance workers or even as a training area. The idea is to think about how people work, and buy furniture that helps them accomplish each of their tasks.

2. Implement Spring Cleaning

Most of the time when we think about spring cleaning, we think about our house. But you can do the same thing in your office. Those old file boxes you’ve kept well past their retention date? Send them off to be destroyed.

Setting aside time to clean reduces clutter and gives your employees a task they can take ownership of. And if you can offer lunch and make it a fun activity, it’s an even better bonus for them.

3. Chose Modular Components to Retrofit Your Space

A more global solution to space efficiency is to use an existing building for your office instead of constructing a new building. Not only does this promote sustainable design, but it helps the environment as a whole.

However, if you’re worried that retrofitting the space will be difficult, look into modular components like movable walls and casework.

retrofit-office space-efficiency

4. Try Flexible Work Schedules & Hoteling

Do you have sales reps that are hardly ever in the office? Writers that could do their jobs anywhere? Then it’s probably time to think about flexible work schedules and hoteling.

If some employees can work from home and others can share workspaces when they need to be in the office, you can dedicate much less space to personnel. In fact, you might be able to reduce your space requirements enough to relocate to a smaller office with less leasing fees.

5. Don’t Forget About Storage

With all the different dynamic storage systems that exist, there’s no reason to rely on lateral cabinets or static shelves in your storage area. What’s more, your storage area could be one of the best places in your office to increase space efficiency.

Because if you can reduce the amount of space required for storage, you can use that extra space for activities that actually generate revenue.

Need Help Making Your Office More Space Efficient?

If you need help making your office more space efficient, we’ve got you covered. Our strategies and solutions range from document management consulting and high density shelving to mobile workstations and movable walls.

Get in touch by phone at 1-800-803-1083 or contact us online, so we can get to work devising a plan to increase space efficiencies in your office!


Designing Ambulatory & Outpatient Care Centers with Modular Interiors

modular interiors for ambulatory and outpatient care clinicsHow we think about healthcare is changing. And with barriers being removed, access to preventative care is on the rise. Millions of people will be searching for places to receive this care. Knowing this, hospitals and health systems are transitioning to leaner facilities like ambulatory and outpatient care clinics that can be dispersed throughout the community.

The Rise of Ambulatory & Outpatient Care Centers

Data from the American Hospital Association supports this new facility model. “Outpatient visits rose from nearly 1,700 per 1,000 persons in 1996 to more than 2,000 visits per 1,000 persons in 2009.” Additionally, “research firm IBIS World, New York City, reports there are 29,440 total emergency, outpatient and ambulatory facilities in the United States today. To meet the anticipated demand for more outpatient care, the number of those facilities is projected to grow to about 31,400 by 2018, a 6.7 increase over the next five years.”

Uncertainty Creates the Need for Flexibility

Because this trend is so new, there is still a great deal of uncertainty in how people will use and work in these facilities. Flexibility in design is paramount to making sure the needs of patients and staff will be met today and into the future. Coming up with solutions to add this flexibility to ambulatory and outpatient care clinics is the hurdle that architects and designers face. And it’s where modular interiors make the biggest difference.

Modular interiors are the inside features of a building that are pre-fabricated off-site, instead of built during construction. They can be adapted as the design and construction process is carried out, saving both time and money. And because modular interiors are not built-in to the facility, they can be reconfigured and reused. This also makes them a very sustainable design choice. A health center director quoted in Health Facilities Management agrees with this sentiment stating,

Prefabricated construction achieves the all-important speed-to-market objective by reducing construction time by up to 30 percent, cuts cost and improves quality control. It’s sustainable, too — it nearly eliminates any construction waste because the materials in the units are sized to fit.

Contact Us for More Information on Modular Interiors

We provide modular interiors including walls, workstations, casework, lockers, and storage systems for use in ambulatory and outpatient care centers. To learn more about modular interiors and how you can incorporate them into your design, contact us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message.


How Storage Affects Commercial Green Building Design & Construction

commercial green building design and constructionAt its core, green building design and construction is about reducing environmental impact and increasing sustainability. Usually the focus is on the big things: building materials, amounts of daylight, air quality, water efficiency, etc. However, there’s one major feature of a commercial building you might not have given much thought to, but it will greatly affect sustainability – storage.

You might be wondering how storage – something that’s usually an afterthought – can make such a big difference in designing and constructing green commercial buildings. Well that’s what we are here to tell you…and surprisingly it all starts with houses.

What Do Trends in House Sizes Have to Do with Commercial Buildings?

According to the National Association of Home Builders, in 1950 the average single family home was around 1,000 sq. ft. The current Census Bureau for 2013 has the average single family home sitting at about 2,600 sq. ft.

Why do we need so much more space? It’s not because we are having more children; in fact, we’re having less. What’s changed over the years is consumer spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publication 100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending (a very long, but extremely interesting read) shows how over the years our spending habits have changed from strict necessities to other items. And at the very end the authors make this statement in their discussion:

In the 21st century, households throughout the country have purchased computers, televisions, iPods, DVD players, vacation homes, boats, planes, and recreational vehicles. They have sent their children to summer camps; contributed to retirement and pension funds; attended theatrical and musical performances and sporting events; joined health, country, and yacht clubs; and taken domestic and foreign vacation excursions.

So again…why do we need so much more space in our houses? Because we have so much more stuff to store!

Examples of Changes in the Workplace that Have Affected Storage

But of course you’re wondering, how does this relate to commercial buildings? Well, businesses have mirrored the same trends: changes in the workplace and how we work have affected the amount of items that need to be stored.

Here are some examples:

Since the advent of the copy machine and the printer, corporate offices are required to store all kinds of records and documents that didn’t exist before.

Police departments store property and evidence for years. And with new developments in forensic technology, there’s more evidence than ever.

Hospitals are able to diagnose and treat illnesses better than ever, but that requires more tissue and blood samples in addition to the ever growing medical supplies that need to be kept on hand.

Distribution facilities are bigger than ever with the rise of e-commerce and internet shopping. Keeping a massive amount of items stocked for quick shipping is not optional in today’s fast paced environment.

The Storage System that Will Keep Your Building Greenthree principles of sustainability for storage systems and building design

With all this stuff to store, it’s tempting to do the same thing to commercial buildings that we’ve done to houses – increase the size. But that goes against the very definition of green building design and construction mentioned earlier: reducing environmental impact and increasing sustainability. So how can you store all of this stuff while trying to remain green and not increase the size of the building?

The answer is simple. You do it with the right storage system. And one of the best is a Kardex automated storage and retrieval system. These systems focus on three principles of sustainability known as the triple bottom line: planet, people and profitability.

Planet/Environmental Stewardship

A big part of environmental stewardship means protecting the air, water and land while conserving resources, including fossil fuels. One way to accomplish this task is to construct smaller buildings, which you can do with the help of a Kardex automated storage and retrieval system.

Using a Kardex system, you can save up to 85% of the storage space that you would typically use with file cabinets, drawer systems, static shelving, or pallet racking. And overall, you can reduce the total building construction footprint by up to 15%.

People/Social Responsibility

Improving the quality of life and equity for individuals, communities and society as a whole sounds like a lot to ask from a storage system, but that’s exactly what the Kardex automated storage and retrieval systems do. And it starts with the “goods to person principle”.

The goods to person principle means that items (goods) are delivered to the operator (person) rather than the operator retrieving the items. What is unique to the Kardex systems is that the counter where the items are delivered can be adjusted. This means each employee can work in an ergonomically correct or ADA accessible position and still have 100% access to any stored item.

Profit/Economic Prosperity

For any organization remaining prosperous is vitally important. Reducing costs, adding value and creating economic opportunity ensures people stay in business. But can a storage system really help? The answer is yes.

With a Kardex system, operator productivity increases up to 66%. Optimizing the amount of labor required to perform certain tasks helps to reduce the building’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.

A Kardex System for Every Application to Keep Buildings Sustainable

learn more about kardex automated storage and retrieval systems

There are many different types of Kardex automated storage and retrieval systems including horizontal carousels, vertical carousels, and vertical lift modules. Depending on what’s being stored, adding one of these systems to your building will help to reduce your environmental impact and increase sustainability. And that’s what green building design and construction is all about.



Computerized Day Lockers Designed for Hoteling

Hoteling is the Latest Trend Among Businesses

Easily Access Computerized Day Lockers on Multiple FloorsA big trend popping up lately is hoteling, and it is being used by all types of businesses including real estate agencies, consulting firms, law firms, manufacturers’ representatives, telecommuters, and flex-time workers. Hoteling is where employees, especially traveling employees, don’t have a permanent office space, so they reserve a space as they need it. The employee might only be on-site for one or two days to complete their work; then they move on to the next location.

But the problem these companies and employees are facing is what does everyone do with their stuff while they are on-site? An employee might have a change of clothes, tablet, laptop computer, various chargers, important papers, etc. That’s where we can help. We provide businesses with Computerized Day Lockers that are designed specifically for hoteling.

Computerized Day Lockers Designed Specifically for Your Office

Computerized Day Lockers for Hoteling are Available in a Variety of SizesThe Computerized Day Lockers are more than just a place to keep stuff; they are high quality, aesthetically pleasing product that will enhance the look of your office while providing your employees with the peace of mind to know their valuables are safe and secure. The Smart Day Lockers can be designed to meet your exact specifications. In addition, the lockers come in multiple different finishes including wood, laminate, and wood veneer that can be customized to your liking.

Numerous Types of Locks AvailableKeypad Locks Make Hoteling Simple and Easy for Businesses

The best feature of the Computerized Day Lockers is the numerous types of locks available. This is what makes our lockers truly unique. You can choose from proximity locks that open and close with an RFID card, bracelet or key; keypad locks that 4-digit code to lock and unlock the locker; or coin operated locks that use a coin as the trigger to open and close the locker. (Learn more about the different locks)

Contact Us for Computerized Day Lockers with Keyless Locks

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for Computerized Day Lockers. We will help you every step of the way; planning the type locker you want; helping you choose the right keyless lock; and installing the finished product. Give us a call today at 1-800-803-1083 to speak with a representative.