In our Information Age, the question as to how we securely store, organise and retrieve material has never been more relevant – in the digital sense and outside of our computers.
The introduction of space saving initiatives and the move towards agile and flexible working has created new issues in how we store work materials. Cluttered offices and poor storage facilities create obstacles in the way of employee performing efficiently and effectively. This in result directly impacts your business by slowing productivity and increasing the margins of error. Further to this it can impact employee wellbeing by leading to higher levels of stress, while also weighing negatively on the company image.
When designing an office, it’s crucial to ascertain not only what’s being stored, but also think about how and when the materials are accessed and retrieved. In order to understand your current storage capacities and the room you have for future growth, we have split these divisions into four different groups based on their functions.
Archival space is seen as the traditional office storage space where the bulk of supplies, files and equipment are stored. These are usually static areas where different departments can access and retrieve materials and information quickly, but generally less frequently than personal or collaborative storage areas.
When we talk of ‘paperless offices’ these are the areas that most companies imagine replacing with offsite warehousing to minimise taking up costly real estate. However, these units are often essential for storing non-paper items, such as DVD and CD media, charging devices and binders.
Further to this, archival storage can act as acoustic panelling. This creates privacy when working in these spaces, and can reduce distractions from those walking or working nearby.
In the move from private desks to digital; agile environments, personal spaces can be shrunk to the size of lockers and personal storage units. These provide staff with a private and secure place to change from home to work mode and vice-versa, while reducing the real estate costs associated with an extended floorplate.
Including personal storage in your office design helps ensure only necessary items are kept in the office and irrelevant materials are stored elsewhere. Also, when placed away from busy walkways or entrances, they become gathering points, inspiring further interaction and communication between employees.
Workstation storage occurs around the employee’s centre of activity – the reach area of the seated worker and are usually specific to their daily tasks. Materials need to be readily accessible so that they are integrated into the work process. When items are outside this proximity, they require more effort to access and use; breaking concentration and pulling attention away from the immediate task.
Solutions such as pedestals are often used in these environments, but even these require employees finding their unit and wheeling it to their desk. More recent innovations for the modern environment include ‘hot’ boxes; lightweight carrying cases which can be stowed in lockers and taken to desks for daily use.
In group spaces such as conference rooms, training rooms and breakout zones, storage serves a dynamic function. In these spaces interaction and creation are the primary goals.
The ability to quickly and casually document and record information is key to these group areas, as is that information’s simple retrieval. Visual tools that encourage sharing and participation such as whiteboards, magnetic surfaces and versatile technology (e.g. plug-and-play projection units) will aid the groups’ tasks through the display of their project work.