Smart solutions for zoning the office are more important than ever in the age of the modern open-plan workplace. Openness has become essential for collaboration and innovation, but it remains important for many companies to be able to visually differentiate the various areas of the office, limit the spread of noise and break up the space for the benefit of visitors. Doing so can seem like a conundrum: just what is the right balance to strike between openness and division? There’s no universal answer; the right balance is different for every business, and depends on a number of factors. From the physical characteristics of your workspace to high-level design decisions about the overall feel of the office. Getting the balance right requires you first of all to think carefully - and creatively - about these factors.
Even the most open spaces will often have preexisting features that form natural division points, such as support pillars and exposed beams. Whether you intended it to or not, all of your office furniture will form divisions too. Banks of desks, meeting tables and sofas will all impact the flow of people and ideas. As a result, all of these furnishings can be used to help you build a well-zoned environment. Arrange desks in formations that encourage collaboration, position collaborative hubs such as coffee-break areas in places that can be easily accessed by every team member, and devise a seating plan to maximise knowledge sharing both within and across teams.
USM Haller pieces in all sorts of shapes and sizes can perform this role perfectly. Waist-high credenzas allow for the subtle control of the flow of movement in your office without decreasing visibility. Ceiling-high pieces can fully divide areas while maintaining openness with the inclusion of open or glass modules. Alternatively, make use of USM Privacy Panels for sturdy freestanding partitions that can be moved at a moment’s notice to wherever they’re needed in the office.
Room dividers allow you to take control of the flow of people and ideas in the workplace, enabling you to maximise collaboration and efficiency. Use room dividers to cut down on bottlenecks in the flow of movement around the office, create attractive paths to meeting areas, and create natural-feeling informal meeting areas. In offices where space is at a premium, room dividers can even be used to create the feeling of more space. While less permanent and more easily moveable than walls and cubicle partitions, room dividers built on the USM Haller system can be similarly used to maximise small or awkwardly-shaped spaces.
In larger companies, it can be invaluable to provide different teams or areas of the office with unique visual identities. This helps new employees and visitors to find their way around, provides essential visual differentiation and can help to create or build team identities. Do this by not only giving each unit their own space, but also their own colour, selecting a unique hue for each team.
Use bigger pieces to limit the flow of noise between teams, minimise workplace chatter in reception areas and create more tranquil break areas. USM Privacy Panels, with a noise dampening felt finish, are ideally suited to this purpose - create chest-high dividers to limit the flow of noise, or build them ceiling high for near-total acoustic control. USM Haller units are also ideal for this purpose; select specially created panels for maximum acoustic control.