Attitudes regarding the value of the open office concept are undergoing changes being led by the realization that collaboration is essential to a company’s success. HR departments and top management are taking a closer look at new ways to better promote collaboration and socialization. Attention has turned to creating attractive, functional work environments that enhance the work experience to attract the best employees and keep them working at their optimum performance throughout the entire workday.
One great example is the transition of the traditional office kitchens and break areas into attractive combination spaces in the open office area, to encourage employees to “stay in” for lunch and thereby remain more focused and productive, and to encourage collaboration throughout the rest of the work day.
Two recent examples come to mind:
An article in The New York Times noted that the tourist crush in the Times Square area was discouraging office employees from navigating the throngs when going out for lunch, and that the 30 minute lunch is nearly impossible because restaurants are jammed with visitors. One way to counteract this was put into play in a Broadway skyscraper where a cafeteria and gym were installed encouraging tenants’ employees to stay inside.
A Los Angeles Times article on collaborative workspaces noted that plush kitchens doubling as workrooms are impressing employees, recruits and visitors alike, and that designs call for natural light, great food and coffee, and comfortable furniture.
Collaboration without Distraction: ALUR Wall System
Numerous research studies have shown, there is a fine line between collaboration and unwanted distraction. Too much of one or the other can seriously inhibit worker satisfaction and productivity. In the early years of open office design the conversational “noise” spilled over into adjacent cubicles causing great distraction to the entire office. One solution was to create solid modular floor-to-ceiling walls with the intent to diminish noise distraction and provide the ability to reconfigure workspaces at a later date. While accomplishing the goal of increased flexibility, this solution often resulted in occupants feeling both “closed in” and suffering the loss of natural light from exterior windows, – a very important consideration noted in the LA Times article.
ALUR demountable glass wall systems provide a perfect and elegant solution to promote collaboration and equally important socialization among employees without the downside of the traditional open office and solid walls. The ALUR wall system is being installed in today’s high-technology companies, marketing firms, law partnerships, and in any other organization where sharing ideas is essential to success.
Interior glass walls are also ideal for individual offices where staff members must have a place to get away and be alone for quiet think time. In fact a major benefit of ALUR movable glass walls is that they can be reconfigured at less cost than drywall and its associated construction debris and downtime. This feature allows business owners and landlords to implement floor plan changes that accommodate changing space requirements.
Open and Private Thanks to Advanced Sound Management
Natural daylight and outside views are highly prized in workplace environments and for years were among the benefits of being in upper management. Now all company personnel can enjoy these “bennies” because of the sound management properties of ALUR walls.
Below are two tables offering a synopsis of the effects of typical office walls and partitions. The upper portion of the accompanying table describes sound transmission class (STC) ratings and the effect on privacy. The lower portion compares STC ratings for typical walls and partitions. ALUR ½” tempered glass provides an impressive STC 36 rating. The ALUR solid dividing wall increases this to an STC of 42. They are often used as sidewalls to divide private offices and allow the attachment of furniture components such as desks and cabinets, or support marker board and AV components. Sound masking products are available to provide additional sound management solutions.
Ratings and Privacy
- STC 25 – Normal speech is easily understood
- STC 30 – Normal speech audible but unintelligible
- STC 35 – Loud speech audible & understandable
- STC 38 – Normal speech inaudible
- STC 38 – Loud speech audible but not understandable
- STC 40 – Loud speech audible but unintelligible
- STC 45 – Loud speech barely audible
- STC 50 – Shouting barely audible
- STC 55 – Shouting not audible
STC Ratings for some typical office walls and partitions
- ½” Tempered Glass – STC 36*
- ½” Laminated Glass – STC 38
- 4″ Drywall (5/8″ each side) – STC 35-39
- ALUR Dividing Wall – STC 42
*Tempered glass is stronger and better resists deflection than laminated glass
A greater sense of visual privacy, without reducing the sense of openness, can be achieved by covering portions of the clear glass walls with frosted, graphic and patterned window films. Another option is ordering ALUR frosted tempered glass or white laminated annealed glass.
“De-Isolate” Reception Areas with Glass Walls
Customers, vendors and potential employees like to see what’s going on behind the reception area. What better way to provide this insight than glass walls between the reception area and action central where things are happening. A well-thought-out office plan will provide reception area guests a broad vista of private and collaborative spaces, socializing areas, the kitchen/café and other office amenities all supported by ALUR demountable glass walls and, where appropriate, ALUR dividing walls.
Reception area glass walls (as with all glass front offices) can be fitted with locks and custom after market electromagnetic locks for extra security
ALUR Glass Walls Promote Imaginative Thinking
Tremendous progress is being made in creating imaginative office layouts by installing open, airy glass wall offices supported by attractively furnished kitchens, break areas and reception areas. The Office of the Future is here today, thanks to ALUR demountable glass and dividing walls along with desking systems and sound masking. Combined they create an environment that promotes imaginative thinking by staff and management alike and an atmosphere that suggests to visitors that “this looks like a cool place to work.”
By: Mark Bassil, President and Founder of Modular Architectural Interiors (MAI)
Contact Mark Bassil if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of modern glass walls and architectural accessories.