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Designers riding to managers’ rescue

INTERIOR designers increasingly are being seen as the knights in shining armour for corporate managers juggling technological change and staff satisfaction, while maintaining a healthy bottom line.

Under pressure to produce greater levels of efficiency, corporate clients have had to get smart about what they want from an office fit-out. With this aim they are looking to interior designers as soothsayers of the efficient and flexible offices of the future.

Drawing on latest global trends, technology and available products, interior design firms are able to both reduce overall office space and create more staff-friendly space, resulting in increased productivity and real dollar savings.

Woodhead International BDH regional principal (and manager of the interior design business unit) Jacqui Preshaw said technology was driving most change, which in turn was changing the look of workstations and office furniture.

“The trend is certainly towards flexibility and the maximum efficiency every client can achieve,” she said. “However, movable furniture on wheels is not the answer for everybody, not everyone will embrace that change.”

Ms Preshaw said wireless technology would be the driving factor in office space design in the next five to 10 years.

“If providers and carriers can produce an improved product it would mean you don’t need ducted skirtings to provide cable space in work stations,” she said.

“It would make movable furniture much more appropriate.”

Wireless technology would enable employees to work online, communicate and download documents in a radius of 20 to 30 metres of the wireless box.

As flat screen technology became more affordable and organisations absorbed the technology, work-stations would shrink, Ms Preshaw said.

“Workstation design won’t need such a deep space because of the big monitor; the flat screen will mean workstations will need less space,” she said.

As organisations became more team based, office flexibility was becoming incredibly important, Ms Preshaw said.

“Staff need to be able to pack themselves up and shift around the office with ease,” she said.

Blake Thornton Smith principal Ben Blake told

WA Business News corporate work spaces had become less rigid with a shift between personal space and communal space.

Mr Blake said that, in addition to hub areas or break-out areas, spaces called quiet rooms were being implemented.

“Quiet rooms are small areas that can be used for a few hours or a few days by individual staff members and are used to compensate for the loss of privacy in the open-plan style office,” he said.

Ms Preshaw said work cafes also were becoming increasingly popular.

Interiors Australia associate Murray Simcock said security had become a big issue with corporate firms.

“We are doing security not just into the building but into the tenancy as a whole integrated approach to an office fit-out,” he said.

Mr Simcock said wireless technology would throw up a lot of data security issues that would have to be resolved to implement the technology at a macro level.

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