Archive for the ‘Architects and Designers’ Category

Office Millwork: 5 Things You Don’t Know (But Wish You Did)

office millwork cabinets furnitureYou might not realize it, but your physical office space says a lot about your business. You want to create the right environment to project a certain image. It’s competitive out there and everyone from start-up tech companies to healthcare facilities needs to entice potential customers and employees.

You might be tempted to choose custom millwork for your office’s furniture and cabinets. But resist the temptation! As pretty as it may seem, there are many hidden costs and problems. Here are five things you don’t know about office millwork, but wish you did.

1. You Can’t Move or Reuse Millwork

Once workers install the millwork, it’s not going anywhere – except maybe the landfill. If you wanted to move it from the mailroom to the breakroom, too bad. And when you outgrow your office space faster than you planned and need to move, your millwork isn’t going with you. That investment stays put. And speaking of investments…

2. Millwork Has a 31 Year Depreciation Schedule

Because millwork is classified as a real asset and not personal property, it’s subject to a longer depreciation schedule. Which means over time, millwork will cost you more money.

3. More Construction & Down Time

And speaking of money, millwork construction will disrupt or even shut down your office – for weeks at a time. Not only are you paying for the construction and installation, but now your whole office might have to close. At the very least the noise, dust, and random construction workers will disrupt your employees and make them unhappy.

4. There’s a Lack of Quality Control

As much as we wish we could replicate things exactly the same each and every time, we just can’t. That’s why we made machines to do it for us. With custom millwork, you’re relying on humans, and humans make mistakes.

5. Limited Design Choices

Unless your business is made of money, you’re stuck with limited design choices. Oh you wanted a curved façade added onto the cabinet; that will be thousands of dollars more than you wanted to pay. Fixtures, handles, drawers, and all the little details will add up fast.

What to Choose Instead of Millwork

If you’re not going to use millwork for your office furniture and cabinets, then what should you use? Modular casework – all the benefits of millwork, without any of the drawbacks. In fact, modular casework:

  • isn’t permanently attached to anything, so you can move it, re-arrange it, and take it with you wherever you go.
  • has a short depreciation schedule of just seven years.
  • is pre-assembled for quick, no mess installation that takes days instead of weeks.
  • is manufactured exactly the same way every time for increased consistency and replication.
  • includes standard design options that won’t break the bank.

Visit our website to find out everything you need to know about modular casework. Or you can give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 and speak to one of our experts.


Removing Floor Loading Challenges from High Density Shelving

high density shelving floor loadingOne of the main concerns architects and interior designers have about using high density shelving on upper floors is floor loading. Many times, the weight of the storage system requires you to reinforce the floor structure, which creates additional work and headaches. But we’ve developed a solution that removes these floor loading challenges when installing high density shelving on upper floors – magic rails.

How Magic Rails Distribute the Weight of High Density Shelving

Magic rails use the following four steps to distribute the weight load of high density shelving:

  1. Addition of supplementary rails that distribute the system’s weight load
  2. Using structural “I beam” rails
  3. Positioning high density shelving rails directly over the building’s beams
  4. Using L/360 automatic braking system

Why Use Automatic Brakes on Upper Building Floors

Automatic brakes help eliminate the need for costly building floor reinforcement under the high density shelving. All carriages are equipped with a UL listed 12VDC automatic brake that has a holding force sufficient enough to prevent carriage drift on floor systems deflecting up to L/360.

Benefits of Using Magic Rails to Remove Floor Loading Challenges

  • Elimination of costly modifications to the building’s floor support structure
  • No disruptions to building tenants on the floor below
  • No project delays while waiting weeks for the building structure to be modified
  • Savings on tenant improvement dollars
  • Magic rails weight distribution system works 75% of the time in buildings with a 70 lbs. per square foot floor rating
  • Minimizes time spent dealing with structural engineers

Get More Information to Solve Your Floor Loading Challenges

Southwest Solutions Group® has been working with architects and interior designers to design and install high density shelving since 1969. We even offer a CE seminar/luncheon specifically focused on understanding and overcoming floor loading challenges.

To learn more about how we can help with high density shelving on your next project, give us a call at 1-800-1083 or send us a message. We will put you in touch with the high density shelving expert in your area.


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.