February 2015 archive

Why Steve Jobs Obsessed about Office Design (oh and Bathroom Layout)

We wanted to share this article with you from Linked In, it shows how even the greatest Entrepreneurs and business owners of all time OBSESSED about the important of their office layouts. They understand just how crucial it was for successful and effective workflow as well as employee relationships:

Creativity is a collaborative process. As brilliant as the many inventors of the Internet and computer were, they achieved most of their advances through teamwork. Like Robert Noyce, the founder of Intel, some of the best tended to resemble Congregational ministers rather than lonely prophets, madrigal singers rather than soloists.

Twitter, for example, was invented by a team of people who were collaborative but also quite contentious. When one of the co-founders, Jack Dorsey, started taking a lot of the credit in media interviews, another co-founder, Evan Williams, a serial entrepreneur who had previously created Blogger, told him to chill out, according to Nick Bilton of the New York Times. “But I invented Twitter,” Dorsey said.

“No, you didn’t invent Twitter,” Williams replied. “I didn’t invent Twitter either. Neither did Biz [Stone, another co-founder]. People don’t invent things on the Internet. They simply expand on an idea that already exists.”

Therein lies another lesson: the digital age may seem revolutionary, but it was based on expanding the ideas handed down from previous generations. In 1937, Howard Aiken decided to build a digital computer at Harvard. In the attic of the university’s science center, he found a fragment and some wheels from a device that had been built a century earlier, Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine. He also discovered the notes that Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who was Babbage’s friend and programmer, had written about that machine. Aiken made his team, including his lead programmer Grace Hopper, study what Babbage and Lovelace had produced and include it in the manual for the Harvard computer.

Even though the Internet provided a tool for virtual and distant collaborations, another lesson of digital-age innovation is that, now as in the past, physical proximity is beneficial. The most productive teams were those that brought together people with a wide array of specialties. Bell Labs was a classic example. In its’ long corridors in suburban New Jersey, there were theoretical physicists, experimentalists, material scientists, engineers, a few businessmen, and even some telephone-pole climbers with grease under their fingernails. Walter Brattain, an experimentalist, and John Bardeen, a theorist, shared a workspace, like a librettist and a composer sharing a piano bench, so they could perform a call-and-response all day about how to manipulate silicon to make what became the first transistor.

There is something special, as evidenced at Bell Labs, about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally. The founders of Intel created a sprawling, team-oriented open workspace where employees all rubbed against one another. It was a model that became common in Silicon Valley. Predictions that digital tools would allow workers to telecommute were never fully realized.

One of Marissa Mayer’s first acts as CEO of Yahoo! was to discourage the practice of working from home, rightly pointing out that “people are more collaborative and innovative when they’re together.”

When Steve Jobs designed a new headquarters for Pixar, he obsessed over ways to structure the atrium, and even where to locate the bathrooms, so that serendipitous personal encounters would occur. Among his last creations was the plan for Apple’s new signature headquarters, a circle with rings of open workspaces surrounding a central courtyard.

Another key to fielding a great team is pairing visionaries, who can generate ideas, with operating managers, who can execute them. Visions without execution are hallucinations. One of the great visionaries of the digital age was William von Meister, a flamboyant entrepreneur who launched a dozen companies and watched all but one flame out. The one that succeeded became AOL. It survived because von Meister’s investors insisted he bring in two people to execute on his vision: a former special forces commando named Jim Kimsey and a young marketing whiz, Steve Case.”


So it’s not just us at Rap Industries that believes Office Design and Layout is crucial to your business success, some of the FOREFATHERS of successful business and ingenuity were as passionate about it as we are today!

Omega Desktop Screens

Can you improve your office acoustics?

Can you improve on your offices acoustics? Open plan offices are considered the ‘norm’ here in the UK. Designed in the 1960’s to encourage openness and the sharing of information, open plan offices now dominate. However with the surge in IT development and the ability now to communicate quickly and effectively via numerous technological devices, it’s easy to see how the effectiveness of open plan offices are being questioned.

Studies have shown that more and more employees find it difficult to concentrate above the noise and with constant interruptions from their colleagues. Similarly data protection can be compromised when there is no ‘safe’ area to hold a private and confidential conversation. Employees report they find themselves unintentionally over hearing their colleague’s conversations on a regular basis. Workers have also admitted that they’d be more productive if they had more privacy.

So what can you do about it? How can you improve your office acoustics? Here at Rap Industries we have the answer. We are proud to be the leading UK Acoustic Screen manufacturer with over 35 years’ experience of providing high quality partition screens that can grow with your business and our range of Acoustic Office Pods are no different.

There are many benefits to having an acoustic office pod and as outlined earlier not having one can cause you serious problems. Offices that have had our Acoustic Office Pods installed have reported higher levels of staff satisfaction and higher staff retention, saving advertising and recruiting costs. Higher productivity in the work place, increased profits and a safer working environment created by added privacy and a feeling of security.

In addition employees told how they felt valued and appreciated by their employers. This made them feel loyal and committed to their organisations, another benefit to investing in your work space.

Here at Rap Industries we have the ability to customise many of our products so that you can give your business or brand the best image from the very beginning. Contact our friendly support team today to discover how we can help you fill your office needs.

Elegance Acoustic Pod

Customer Testimonial: Omega Pinnable Desk Screens

We often talk to customers who come up against the following issues when they’re looking at their office layout:

How do I create privacy for staff but still maintain an open plan office?

  • How do I have something that isn’t going to date quickly?
  • How do I create more space by putting something else in?

It’s a problem we get time and time again, and the truth is, there are some really quick and easy (not to mention cost effective) solutions that we offer our clients that really do sort out the issues.

One of our clients took our exact advice, as you will see from the image below!

With quite a narrow room, with only 1 window letting in the light, the challenge for this client was to create space, let in the light but STILL give each employee a ‘space of their own.’

Buy joining all the desks together in 1 giant rectangle, they’re making use of the space by not having all 4 sides of 1 desk open, HOWEVER they needed to create some sort of partition system so that employees could have their space and privacy when needed…

Omega Pinnable Desk Screens

The solution?

Our Omega Pinnable Desk screens! Cost effective (prices start from £53) easily attached to the desk, leaving no marks or hampering with the structure of the desk itself, and the Omega Desk screen comes in a variety of 18 different fabric colours to choose from!

You can see from this client that the height of the Omega desk screen also didn’t affect sunlight coming in, as the height allowed plenty of natural light to stream through the window!

Do you have a team of 2 or more and are looking for a solution to space saving and privacy without compromising openness? Why not try our Omega Screens? We actually have them in a variety of different options, from WAVE shapes (see them here) to Acoustic screens (very important for that hustling bustling sales office) you can see our range here  and then the standard Omega Pinnable Partition screen here

The options really are endless, in a variety of fabric colours, shapes and sizes- talk to one of our dedicated consultants today who will help you with your choices and what’s right for your business.

Omega Pinnable Screens

An office within an office?

Rap Industries has been around for more than 35 years, and as a proud partition and screen manufacturer based in Peterborough we love using our combined experience and knowledge to come up with new, innovative and exciting products that will revolutionize the office space as we know it….

And we’ve done it!

We’re so proud to introduce to you our latest most innovate space saving solution for your office…

The Acoustic Pod!

Acoustic Pod

In 5 different varieties ranging from the Esteem to the Elegance, the Acoustic pod is perfect for any office looking for that private area, either for sales call, one to ones, managers meetings or simply somewhere to take clients away from the hustle and bustle of the normal office.

Each Acoustic pod can be tailored to fit your every business branding need and idea, from glazed screens, branded screens, open window, a variety of fabrics, sizes, shapes you name it!

The best thing about them? They’re completely soundproof…. so it really is like you’ve built a brand new office inside your office at a fraction of the cost, and you can pack it up and take it with you when you expand into bigger offices.

There aren’t really any restrictions as to where the Acoustic Booths can go, so they are only limited by your own imagination. Our Acoustic booths can be delivered in under a month, so you could have your new breakout area up and running by March!

Our Acoustic booths are made of a strong Aluminium frame, and the Acoustic screens have all been tested in at the sound and research laboratory.

Why wait? Come in and speak to one of our Acoustic booth experts today for some advice on how you can transform your office space!

Elegance Acoustic Pod

Is noise bad for business?

Is noise bad for business or could noise actually increase productivity? Open plan offices have become increasingly popular. An increase in knowledge and the emergence of mobile technology during the late 20th Century led to an evolution in open plan offices. Many companies experimented with designs that provided a mix of cubicles, open workstations, private offices, and group workstations.

Acoustic Pods from Rap Industries

Let’s take a look now at the pros and cons of noise within an open plan office space.


Energy increases and so does productivity. When you put people in the same space they create energy or a ‘buzz’ This energy increases productivity in the team meaning that more work ultimately gets done.

Working together. Team and group work encourages open communication and helpfulness amongst office peers. This creates a tight knit and committed team that work nicely together with the organisations best interest at heart.

Mutual respect. As the office is open, conversation content can be easily picked up and this helps the team understand how their role impacts on others. This creates a knowing mutual respect in the work place. Quality is also high because the bar is constantly being raised in a competitive yet friendly manner.

Management mixed in. With management roles integrated rather than separate it creates an ‘open feel’ within the group that is more than just physical space. This means that staff can feel more valued and consulted within the business.


Distraction affecting concentration. With conversations going on all around, it can be very distracting if a team member needs to focus on a single specific task.

Ill feeling/resentment. Ill feeling and resentment can creep in as relationships are open and whilst team bonding is good, if it causes a split or unevenness within the group this can lead to problems.

Privacy compromised. Conversations and projects can be heard or viewed easily; this makes keeping something private almost impossible. Having an open office is only great if the organisation is open and transparent too.Economy Screens

High staff turnover, low staff satisfaction. Having to work harder to concentrate and avoid distraction, working very closely with your peers and having your privacy compromised can create low staff satisfaction and ultimately a high staff turn-over rate. This in turn can affect the overall staff morale within the office.

There are both pros and cons of how noise can affect productivity in open plan offices. Here at Rap Industries we feel it’s down to each business to make their own unique decision as to which option works for them. Here at Rap Industries we offer partition walling to provide an unobtrusive barrier between departments to minimise noise disruption in an open plan office space. 

Customer Testimonial: Glamour Beauticians

Your office, studio or work space might need a refresh. Or perhaps you’re just moving into a new space and the decoration possibilities are quite limited?

So what do you do?

For many, that’s simply where it stops, the fear of making the wrong decision and wasting money is often too great. So instead of moving forward they simply just…. do nothing.

Which is why from today, we’re going to be bringing you Rap Industries customer testimonials, showing you the endless possibilities with our screens and partitions.

Today we would like to share with you Akbar Ashfari’s ‘Glamour’ Beauticians partitions. Now what we’ve done for Akbar is actually very interesting, because we’ve actually created an entire workspace out of our Morton Glazed Screens…. using Akbar’s branding, we’ve created glazed windows, with a complementary material covering the bottom.

Customer Testimonial: Glamour Beauticians

The whole effect is quite powerful for Akbar’s branding, coupled with the fact that we have been able to create an entire beauty room for Glamour Beauty out of the Morton Screens. This is a fantastic method of saving money as you don’t need to worry about renting out space you won’t need AND you don’t have any major costs with this, simply purchase your branded Morton Partition Screens and away you go! Literally, a business in a bag!

Customer Testimonial: Glamour Beauticians

With prices starting from as little as £154 and with an acoustic surface on both sides of the upholstered screen, you can rest assured you’re getting the best sound proof quality screens money can buy!

How could you use a Morton Partition Screen in your business? Not sure? Why not give one of our consultants a call and find out? (01733) 394 941

Office Layout- Have you really thought about it?

Your office layout can have a considerable effect on both your team and business productivity. There are some interesting facts and considerations to make to ensure your new office layout is going to be effective. Here are our top 6 suggestions…

  1. Open plan or closed office. Studies have shown that open plan offices can cause stress with added distractions and noise. However some creative and techy roles seem to flourish in an open plan environment. Closed or partitioned offices help increase concentration. Sales targeted or advisory roles are best in closed offices.
  2. Storage. People perform better when they are not searching for documents and stationary or buried underneath clutter! Ensure there is adequate out of sight storage for your teams. Even consider a safe space for coats and bags so that they are not littering the floor space.
  3. Shapes. The effect of shape in the office is subtle but important. A rounded layout encourages togetherness and creative working. Straight lines or rows of desks encourage individuality and conformation.
  4. Comfort. Ensuring your team are happy and comfortable in the workplace shows them that you care and are committed to them. A sole-less office with hot-desk policies will make them feel unvalued and easily replaceable. No matter what the role, privacy is also a big consideration. The positioning of a computer screen to protect private data and even to allow a telephone call to be taken privately.
  5. Your team. Think about it, your team spend more time at their desks than they do any other space, including their own homes! Make sure they are consulted on the changes and allow their ideas and concerns to be listened too and considered.
  6. Culture. Consider what you offer your team. Do they have regular breaks? Plenty of training and development opportunities’? Are they asked for their contributions and listened to? Do you hold team building sessions or out of hours socialising events? These little touches can help to pull your team together and create a tight knit loyal team. The benefit is increased productivity.
    Acoustic Pod from Rap Industries

How your office space can boost productivity.

There are many ways you can improve and boost productivity in the work place. Staff training, accountability measures, performance reviews, KPI’s, targets, bonus schemes, marketing strategies and much more. However one of the simplest, yet perhaps the most overlooked is by looking at your office design and layout.

Too often offices are left as last thoughts. Drab grey walls and faded carpets. Uninspiring, dirty windows – some even having bars at the windows! Is it any wonder that your team are struggling for inspiration and motivation if this is their work environment?!

There are 5 simple things you can do this week to turn your office workspace around:

  1. Lighting – Invest in some new lighting. Light focussed in the right places can enhance an area and make it seem bigger or cosier – depending on the type of business and size of office you have. Spotlights or even replacing the light bulbs can have a big impact.
  2. Storage – Make sure you have adequate storage available for your teams. Getting rid of clutter makes for more efficient working. A separate place for coats and bags is essential.
  3. Wall Colour – An easy ‘quick fix’ and cost effective way to completely change the ambiance of your office is to paint the walls a different colour. Choose light colours for increased space and light. Colours are known to affect mood in different ways so spend a little time choosing the best colour for your business and space.
  4. Desks & Chairs – The size and shape of the desks and their layout makes a big difference to the productivity of your team. Observe their working patterns and consult with them to agree a suitable and productive layout. Ensure chairs are ergonomically designs for both health and comfort.
  5. Segregation – Consider partitioning walls between departments to minimise noise and disruption. Consider reception or sales roles, a private area for consultations and visitors and a separate eating/rest area for your team. (We have an EXCELLENT solution for this…so stay tuned.)

Here at Rap Industries we offer a variety of office screens and partitions to cater for every office space, every budget and every expanding company. With quick and easy movement, a selection of colours and fabrics and practical screens, your business will no longer need to worry about lack of productivity.

Morton Vision Screens from Rap Industries