Movable Wall Systems and the Modular Office

Office planning for today’s multitasked workplace environment requires a carefully planned and tailored blend of workspace layouts and floor plans to accommodate personnel employing a wide range of skill sets. Experience, sometimes painful, has taught us that there is no one solution to a modular office system – spaces must be tailored to the tasks being performed.

“While open offices remain as a popular design concept, there are clearly instances where privacy enhances productivity,” says Mark Bassil, co-founder and vice president of MAiSPACE, a Mt. Olive, NJ, based manufacturer of modular office furniture systems. “There is no doubt that open office designs prove their worth in workspaces that require teamwork and collaboration – such as in a call center or advertising agency. But studies by the Buffalo Organization for Social and Technological Innovation show privacy can improve productivity by up to 250% for task-intensive knowledge workers.”

Because of this and other reasons, leading edge companies are blending open plans with private offices. This trend is expected to accelerate as menial office tasks are automated. Moreover, companies are increasingly aware that skilled knowledge workers are not in unlimited supply. Companies viewing skilled personnel as a valued resource provide the facilities that attract the right people and then support their contribution to the success of the organization.

Modular Full-Wall Systems – Privacy without Isolation

Movable wall systems are a key element to knowledge worker satisfaction and productivity, Bassil says. “MAiSPACE movable full-wall systems, for example, solve the privacy issues necessary for thinking but when combined with low-sound-transmission glass panels accomplish this without imparting a feeling of isolation. Properly constructed and installed they provide up to a 39 – 42 STC (sound transmission coefficient) rating.”

Structural elements liberally enhanced with colors, textures, coordinated work surfaces, cabinetry, shelving and technology support typify the new worker-friendly approach to movable full-wall office systems. Supplementing these desirable features are those relating to accommodating reconfigurations typified by the moves, adds and changes (MACs) characteristic of today’s constantly changing workspaces.

“The contract furniture industry has come a long way from when private offices were constructed of plasterboard or sheet rock over metal studding and firmly attached to floor and ceiling structural members,” Bassil comments. “The dirt, disruption and disposal challenges resulting from initial construction and remodeling have evolved to modular panel segments that can be moved or reconfigured overnight at one-third the cost of drywall systems. They are attached to floors and ceilings using non-destructive fasteners to assure no damage will occur to carpeting or ceiling tiles, and they fully integrate with MAiSPACE open office modules to provide a harmonious visual appearance across the officescape.”

Because they are installed primarily to meet the privacy and productivity needs of task-intensive knowledge workers, movable wall systems incorporate standards-compliant cable management systems for voice, data, Internet and video requirements as well as for electrical requirements. Work surfaces, computers, printers, storage bins, shelving, A/V components and other interior elements can be positioned at will by the occupant. As needs change these offices can easily be reconfigured as conference or special purpose rooms. Or moved completely to another location.

Affordable Privacy

MAiSPACE revolutionized the contract furniture industry by offering superior quality modular office systems at price points averaging 40% below some of the oldest names in the business. “Unencumbered by outdated manufacturing techniques, we’re able to completely furnish offices of any size at prices from $12 – $15 per square foot installed,” Bassil reports. “This includes full wall private offices and conference rooms integrated with open office elements.”

Initial cost savings are only one part of the affordable privacy offered by MAiSPACE. “The panels can be moved or reconfigured overnight, compared to a lengthy tear-down and rebuild required for fixed wall systems,” he says. “And the economics become even more attractive because they may qualify for furniture depreciation schedules and more favorable real estate taxes.”

Other economic advantages include MAiSPACE providing free AutoCAD and GIZA design software to ensure that furniture and floor plans are virtually fault free, fast installation supervised by on-site MAiSPACE personnel, a lifetime warranty against obsolescence and a lifetime performance guarantee.

“Office design and furnishing packages offered by MAiSPACE can put business owners in a good bargaining point when dealing with landlords,” Bassil suggests. “They may be receptive to more favorable lease terms when they understand they do not have to be involved in working with myriad outside contactors to fit out the tenant’s floor plan.”