Open Source Furniture

Open source software is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone for any purpose.  Open source software may be developed in a collaborative public manor.

What if we developed our workplace furniture the same way? So many companies are trying to solve the same problems.  How do we make our desks better for employees, how do we improve the chairs they use, how do we make conference room tables better (cable management, point of sight, etc)? What this results in is everyone creating a random half solution and only solving part of the problem.  How can we use the OSS model to drive better solutions in shorter periods of time?  My thought process on how we can achieve this is as follows.

What if you could quickly create new furniture solutions for your teams?

What if you could quickly create new furniture solutions for your teams?

1.  Select a furniture partner who’s willing to create a custom solution with you and works with many other similar companies.  

This first step is truly important.  There are many furniture dealers in the world, and not all of them want to be involved in custom solutions work.  Many of them just want to provide the systems that they have always offered from their major partner (i.e. Steelcase, Herman Miller, Haworth, Knoll, etc etc etc).  However, a good furniture partner will be willing to create custom solutions for you.  You also want them to be working with companies who are scaling or building offices at the same pace you are.  That will result in more iterations on your initial design, faster!  The next step is setting up a session with your furniture partner and their industrial design partner.

2.  Identify what solutions you need, what parameters they need to meet, and how much you want to spend.

Let us say for example, you want to create a better workstation solution for your team.  Your goals are to save money, improve ergonomics, and have something that can be rearranged by employees.  Once you sit down with your furniture partner and their designer, they will be able to take these parameters and create a first round of a solution for you.  Once you go through this phase and create a base prototype solution, and then a few more iterations of design to get your initial product, you can then create your first version, “V1.”  You will likely want to create a physical prototype, to work out the final kinks, and then order a true set of the V1.

3.  Order Your Initial Product and Allow Your Furnituref Partner to Use The Design For Other Companies

This step is crucial.  You will have given your furniture partner permission to use the design you created, V1, for other clients.  Those companies can then take the V1 edition and customize it, and make iterations of it.  Each time the product will improve, and each time there will be something added that you might not even have known you needed to solve for yet.  Depending on how many companies your furniture partner is working with, this can really speed things up.

4.  Try out V4

If your furniture partner is doing a lot of projects (lets say each one takes 4 months) and they did 3 versions of this system in a year, you should end up with your V4 the following year.  V4 might look mostly like what you initially created, but it will have gone through many functional iterations since you began your efforts. Enjoy the fruits of the thought / design processes of others! 


Shorten the Process

Typically this kind of process would take a much longer time.  Companies spend years sweating over the details of a furniture system.  They do focus groups, committee meetings, more focus groups, surveys, testing, and other methodologies to get a “perfect product.”  However, many of these still only meet some of the criteria for a client.  You will wind up mashing together systems that aren’t from the same company just to meet the base needs of your teams.  By short circuiting this process, you can get a better product in a shorter period of time, and everyone benefits from the design processes of eachother.






The Workplace Experience Job Titles You Should Retire In 2018 And What You Might Replace Them With

What’s in a name?

While it might be a popular trend for companies to say that “titles don’t matter,” unless you’re staying at that company forever - your previous title might matter  to your next employer.  However, there are a lot of titles in Workplace that simply no longer apply.  If your title is Receptionist and you run a catering program, it might be time for a change. Read below for a rundown of titles to change out to progress your Workplace team into 2018. 

Take a moment and think about where your org is headed and what your team members do. 

Take a moment and think about where your org is headed and what your team members do. 

Old title: Office Manager

New Title: Workplace Experience Manager  

 The Difference:  There are definitely office managers in the world, and they’re great.  They might run a medical office, dental office, or they may work at a larger corporation.  That said, the job specifications in forward thinking startups and other fast scaling companies does not translate to “office manager.”  Workplace Experience professionals run events, design spaces, establish norms, and help keep company culture strong. 

Old title: Facilities Manager

New Title:  Physical Ops Manage

The Difference: Facilities management is a field unto itself, and deserves more respect.  That said, when talking about FM at younger companies, the FM teams typically get handed a whole plethora of jobs that don’t fit a typical FM role.  Just a few examples; educating users on why things went wrong and how they’re getting fixed, researching and integrating new forward thinking solutions  to better improve indoor environments, and creating nationally used standards and processes (and updating them every year as the company grows 2-10x).  There’s a lot more customer facing burden out on these teams at young companies.

Old title: Receptionist

New Title: Concierge Services

The Difference:  Every company I’ve worked at or had close colleagues head off to in the past 8 years have had roles called receptionists or front desk coordinators, but does this really cover the scope of what those team members do?  No!  Today these team members manage programs from the desk.  They do all the hard work behind the programs and wind up with a plethora of odd assignments from different parts of Workplace.  It can be a great learning experience for the right person.  All the while, they’re expected to greet guests, work with vendors, and give candidates a great experience.  They’re the first and last person people interact with, and their position should be seen as vital, not just someone who “receives” people.

Old title: Likely Does Not Currently Exist 

New Title:  Wellness Specialist

 The Difference:  Over the past decade there’s been an increase in awareness of health in the workplace.  This includes not just physical, but mental health as well.  Think beyond ergonomics and “health week.”  These future teammates will help build mindfulness programs, fitness programs, and even help develop healthy standards for internal food programs.  Remember, healthy employees are productive and happy. 

 Thanks, We’ll Keep Our Current Titles

I am of course just one person and have a particular point of view about where the future of workplace is headed. However, all these titles are is suggestions.  I would propose that if you want to create a workplace that is progressive and cares for employees (and cares for those who care for your employees) you will at least consider looking at your current org.  Think about customizing your teams titles to their actual roles and your company culture.  It might just make a difference.