Examining the Future of Office Furniture and Office Design

Office Furniture

Using Office Furniture to Respond to Evolving Ways of Working


The way that we work is constantly revolutionised by advancements in technology and changes in human habit. How we work compared to say, 20 years ago, has developed considerably. Back then, computers were installed in just a few offices. Now, the desktop is slowly becoming obsolete. With wireless technology and the Internet of Things, many office workers do not even need to be sat at their desk. Remote working is on the rise for several reasons, which is why the office is increasingly being forced to adapt to the changing requirements of workers.

Just because working from home can be more convenient does not mean that it is the most effective way available. The main advantage of staying in the house is the comfort it provides. No distractions, refreshments within 100 metres and pleasant surroundings. Environments such as these will help with concentration levels, enabling workers to produce more effective work. However, a key drawback is a lack of connection with the business. Barring video calls, the worker has no face-to-face contact with co-workers and the opportunity for collaboration is severely reduced. So, on a core level, the future of office furniture needs to create something which is comfortable and situated at the headquarters of the business, while incorporating collaborative spaces into the design.


Office Furniture

Office Pod


Using Big Data to Peer into the Future


In the past, office design has been based on this idealised vision we have of how our offices should work. With a pair of rose tinted glasses, designers saw workers happily working away in their pods. However, this severely overlooks privacy concerns, lack of physical activity, and distractions from others working in close proximity.The resulting health issues, both mental and physical are well documented. This is why leading manufacturers are now collaborating with research institutes to get to the core of what should be prioritised in an effective office design. The aim is to create solutions which are moulded around how people really behave.

This means creating environments which are genuinely comfortable. Spaces which are completely free from distractions. A common misconception is that the working playgrounds of Google and Facebook are the future. While they may work for the coders and creative minds of those businesses, the same cannot be said for other fields of work. Some tasks require a more individualistic approach while larger group projects will need a larger, contained space.


Using Office Furniture to Make the Office Comfortable and Enjoyable


As discussed earlier, one of the key factors holding back office design and a host of businesses is being unable to make it an attractive proposition to employees. Not only does this affect their happiness, but it also influences the chances of retaining that member of staff. Many factors now need to be considered when hiring employees, otherwise, there is the risk they may join a competitor. Combined with a daily commute, creating a setting which is better than the comfort of their own home is a considerable challenge.

10 years ago, considerations such as privacy and comfort were only just being introduced to the design of office furniture. We began to see ergonomic chairs, wrist rests, monitors with varying heights, and much more. These addressed some of the more apparent physical health issues. However, they did very little to touch upon the mental strain which the office can have. The University of California established that humans can on average only concentrate for 4-5 hours a day before becoming exhausted. In fact, office workers were reported to become distracted every 3 minutes and it often takes another 23 minutes to regain full flow.

The solution is to create dynamic office furniture which allows different tasks to be completed in various environments. Rather than a static desk, workers are being equipped with a laptop and then given the freedom to pick out an environment which suits them. Need to concentrate? Individual acoustic booths provide the perfect escape from the rest of the office. Require the input of a colleague? Larger acoustic office pods are excellent for enabling collaborative activities without disrupting the remainder of the office.


Creating Privacy Within Open Plan Offices


The ‘cubicle farm’ which became the staple of most offices worldwide is finally being phased out. To address growing concerns about privacy, workers are being given greater freedom in the office to decide where they work. This has led to innovative new designs which adopt the features of an acoustic pod and integrate them into a succinct and individual pod. Equipped with acoustic screens, this cuts down on both visual and audible distractions. The result is a private workstation which makes the most of the space which is available.

The combination of collaborative pods and individual pods provides complete freedom for workers to pick out the best environment for the work they are doing. Including acoustic foam into the panels as well as the walls is effective at absorbing sound waves. This dampens the ambient background noise of every office, making it a more peaceful environment to work in. These then include ergonomic seating while providing consideration for other physical problems than can arise from sitting in an office for 8 hours and more a day.


Office Furniture

Modern Office Furniture Design – Credit: BAKOKO


Rap Industries designs and manufactures bespoke office partitioning and acoustic pods for clients from a variety of industries. Established over 40 years ago, our designs are inspired by the needs and requirements of our clients. To find out more about how we can enhance your office, please get in touch. You can either call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

4 Ways an Office Pod Can Enhance Your Environment

Modern Office

Enabling Open Plan Offices with Modern Design


The open plan office is something which most white collar workers can sympathise with. Barring a career path working for a slew of forward-thinking companies, chances are that at some point, we have all experienced the ‘cubicle farm’. Packed in tight like sardines and equipped with a desk and computer, the hum of offices like these can be deafeningly depressing. Studies have lamented this now 50-year old design for its propensity to ‘dehumanise’ humans, rather ironically. Fortunately, some bright spark in the last decade decided to find out what would happen when people were given freedom. Unsurprisingly, the result has been overwhelmingly positive and the office pod is the result of such thinking.

Rather than focusing on figures, statistics and the bottom line, corporate management is finally having its eyes opened towards alien concepts such as; innovation and collaboration. Rather than trying to squeeze every bit of life out of an employee, they’re starting to see the value in allowing people to be creative. Innovation and inspiration are the only way we move forward and stifling it has held many businesses back over the past half-century. Office design continues to evolve with modern innovations such as the office pod, paving the way to a brighter future for office workers.


Modern Office

Modern Office Design – Credit: Complete Interior Design


1. The Future of the Modern Office is in Fluid Design


The ‘cubicle farm’ is notoriously structured. Strict regiments of workers, contained in fabric boxes, with only a computer and a few possessions to accompany them. Hardly the kind of setup which is going to convince people that company is going to be worth working for. Modern office design needs to introduce fluidity. The structured approach strangles innovation, although, it’s important to note; full freedom will lead to a business losing sight of its goals. Therefore, any office design should seek to strike a balance between the two. Forward-thinking office designers envision this taking place in the open plan layout, with clearly defined neighbourhoods.

Teams are increasingly scattered in clusters, allowing group discussions to be contained without needing to be bellowed across the office. The design should consider the type of work taking place. For example, if you have a customer service team on board, consider the audible distractions they produce. Situating them next to designers will cause more problems than you are trying to solve. Collaborative and spoken tasks should be contained in one neighbourhood, reducing further disruptions for the rest of the office. This creates a comfortable environment for each team, allowing them to concentrate and ultimately, produce more effective work.


2. Office Pod – Tailored for Meetings


We discussed the office pod briefly before and to expand, it is increasingly being considered as a cornerstone of modern office design. Equipped with an innovative design, these can provide an additional layer of fluidity in an open office. Sometimes collaborative group work will need privacy and the freedom to express itself and the main office is no place to thrash out ideas or practice presentations. So, the office pod can become an adaptable space, separate from the office and acoustically equipped to cope with audible distractions.

Whether it is for group meetings or meetings with clients, an office pod can provide privacy for anyone without requiring a permanent room. Even for individual workers, the office pod is effective at providing peace and quiet when working to close deadlines. The traditional open office is renowned for becoming a cacophony of noise and distractions. Therefore, separating these groups enables creativity and innovation to flourish.


3. Conduct the Ideal Interview with an Office Pod


The clear majority of modern start-ups are incorporating these fluid concepts in their own designs. Nowadays, the design of your workplace has become a reflection of the company culture as a whole. Blanket white tones and a rigid layout set a more serious tone. Meanwhile, floods of colour and savvy technology strike resemble a more positive and relaxed company. For many of these start-ups, the goal is to attract the newer generations. Ideally, those with fresh ideas and a firm handle on whatever social media is. Even at the interview stage for prospective employees, a candidate is often assessed for how well they could fit in with the team.

Turn up for an interview at a ‘fun’ company wearing a suit and you may actually risk costing yourself the job as you do not fit in with the culture they are trying to achieve. Once again, it is no longer the bottom line (CV) which seals the deal, but the characteristics which make you human. In terms of office design, an office pod provides an ideal environment for such interviews to take place. Separate from the main office, yet with an insight into how things operate, this is designed to provide flexibility. As the business grows with new employees, should you need the space again, the office pod can be packed away or simply moved.


4. Learning without Distractions


As one of the main features of the office pod is its ability to create private space, this means that its usefulness extends outside of the office. To be specific, when learning is taking place, whether that is of children in school or new employees, creating the right conditions will help to provide them with a head start. In an office, you may be fortunate enough to use headphones. However, without a block on external distractions, the distractions caused by open plan layouts will undermine the learning process.

Considering initial training will almost always be the first thing a new employee does, it is still important for you to make a good impression as a business. Simply throwing them on a spare desk and leaving them to their own devices hardly strikes of a considerate business. Employee expectations for working conditions continue to grow in tandem with evolving office design. Therefore, as competitors continue to adapt, failure to do so makes your business a less attractive proposition to potential candidates.


Office Pod

Acoustic Office Pod


The office pod is a key innovation in modern office design. Here at Rap Industries, we have manufactured office partitioning and exhibition stands for over 40 years. Throughout this time, our products and designs have adapted to meet the evolving requirements of our clients. To find out more about the office pod as well as our other products, please get in touch. To do so, either call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

The History of Open Office Design: Inspiring the Future

Open Office Design

The Cubicle was Inherently Flawed, But the Future is Bright for Office Workers


When office workers sit at work like drones, churning away at a computer which grumbles whilst trying to run Excel in tandem with a web browser, it’s rare they take a moment to absorb their surroundings. The office is synonymous with clocking in at 8:58, sitting at a desk and staring longingly at the clock as it ticks towards twelve ‘o’ clock. It’s generally perceived the life of the office worker is full of misery, brightened once a year when Christmas is a few weeks away. Why this is the case is surprisingly easy to track, but the designers of the open office never intended it to be this way. Feel like a walking zombie when you walk into the office? Yeah, you can thank corporate suits for that.

The layout which adorns the vast majority of offices worldwide is 52 years old in 2017. The ‘Action Office Plan II’ as it was known back then has been so successful, that it has only undergone a few minor tweaks and changes since. We’ll get onto why the second iteration was such a longstanding success, whilst its predecessor barely got a sniff. To put things into perspective, George Nelson, one of the designers who assisted in the design of the action office, reflected on the creation. Simply put, the action open office design was “for employees, for personnel, corporate zombies, the walking dear, the silent majority. A large market.”


Open Office Design

Cubicle Farm – Credit: Chris Campbell


How the Cubicle was Born and How it Set Out to Revolutionise Open Office Design


The open plan office has been around since architect, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Larkin Administration Building in New York, in 1906. Its design took inspiration from factories of the time by incorporating as few walls as possible. Workers would sit in lines of desks, surrounded by their managers. The idea being there was a constant figment in their mind they were being watched. For sixty years, office workers were merely seen as cogs in the machine. If the cog does not work efficiently, the bosses at the top simply pop out the ineffective part and replace it with one which does work. The concept of humanisation was hardly popular at the time.

George Nelson and Robert Propst finalised the designs for the ‘Action Office I’ in 1964. The result was a combination of their theories of how the office should operate. This design was the first to consider that flexibility and freedom might have some place in the office. It was well known at the time that Nelson and Propst rarely saw eye-to-eye. However, they collaborated to create an office which would promote productivity, privacy and health. Unfortunately, these factors come at the cost of space efficiency and the ever-important tipping point; money.

Early reviews raved about this modernist approach to open office design. It was supposed to mean liberation for workers who were trapped in their classroom style layouts. However, for corporate managers, even during a period of economic boom, the revolutionary design simply was not worth the outlay. As offices grew, they wanted a design which would cram them in tighter. Nelson was removed from the project after refusing to accept this, but Propst finished the product. What became known as ‘Action Office II’ would forever burden him with the tag as the ‘Father of the Cubicle’.


How Open Office Design is Changing in 2017 and How Those Ideals Are Finally Being Realised


The Action Office II sacrificed style for sustenance. While Propst managed to incorporate privacy and adaptability into the design, it’s unlikely he realised the human cost. Corporate managers loved it, cram them in like cattle, cut the cost over a long period, with the only offset being that they must give employees a bit of privacy. So here we are today, victims of a demand for a ‘cubicle farm’. The Action Office was conceived to help people enjoy the office environment, rather than being racked by stress, anxiety and depression which the mundane nature of the work often induced. While the design was certainly a great solution for corporate bosses, both Nelson and Probst knew that it failed to achieve what they set out to create.

52 years on and there may be light at the end of the tunnel for white-collar workers. Led by start-ups and forward thinking businesses, the new generation of corporate bosses are beginning to realise the value of developing a happy and healthy workforce. While it is elementary now, it is baffling that for nearly 100 years, nobody latched on to the idea that keeping people happy and healthy would lead to better results, more efficient results and increasingly innovative results. Who knew that treating employees like humans would lead to a more productive business, boosting the flow of money into a business’ coffers?


How the Office Pod is One of the Key Tools in Realising These Ideals…


Courtesy of new technology, modern open office design is finally starting to achieve the ideals of freedom and flexibility which the Action Office never could. Being anchored to a desk is becoming a thing of the past. Rather than all employees being clumped into a large cattle-grid, offices are now being laid out into ‘neighbourhoods’, keeping relevant groups together. For noisy group work, separate spaces are even being created to maintain harmony in the wider office. It all sounds so simple, but the effect it can have is substantial.

Acoustic screens, adjustable desks, ergonomic chairs, the office pod and glass walls, all just a snapshot of modern furnishings. 50 years ago, office furniture was manufactured to be cheap and needed replacing every few years. Now, quality is at the heart of modern designs and they are produced with the future in mind. Rather than being viewed as a constant outlay every few years, businesses are now realising the value of designing offices as an investment. With adaptability at the core of the design, the office can flex and grow in tandem with the business.


Open Office Design Innovations

Office Pod


At Rap Industries, we have manufactured office partitioning to meet client’s demands for over 40 years. During this period, we’ve seen the market shift and all of our current products are designed with this mind. For many information on the products we produce, 05please get in touch. Either send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com or give us a call on 01733 394941.

Behind the Design: Acoustic Pods

Acoustic Pods

How Acoustic Pods are Revolutionising the Modern Workplace


Acoustic pods are an emerging trend in modern office design and this has happened in tandem with the integration of wireless technology. As tasks are no longer restricted to the static workstation, people now have greater freedom to work more efficiently. Collaboration is the latest buzz word being bounded around as the key to inspiring innovation. While this statement is not absolute, the potential for ideas to be created from multiple minds, rather than just one, increases the chance of a well-rounded result. However, individual work remains essential and acoustic pods can play a key role in maintaining harmony in the workplace.

The open place office sets the standard for any modern office design, however addressing its issues is vital to creating an efficient workplace. Open plan designs commonly struggle with escalating volume levels and a plethora of distractions. Fortunately, the cubicle layout is in the past, but the idea at the heart of that design is driving modern innovations. Acoustic pods are a key development in this. Equipped with acoustic technology, these pods excel at dividing office space and providing an area for collaborative work to take place.


Acoustic Pods

Acoustic Pods


What are Acoustic Pods? 


The design of acoustic pods has undergone extensive development over the past decade. At the core, the concept of the pod is to create separate and private working spaces. While the cubicle attempted to create privacy for every individual, acoustic pods succeed in creating working spaces which are separated from the main office. When equipped with acoustic foam in the panels, this creates the ideal environment for collaborative work. Importantly, this feature enables the acoustic pods to be used for meetings, presentations, interviews and other group work.

In theory, acoustic pods are simply just another room, however, it benefits from being free from several strings attached. Importantly, when the pod is being installed, there are next to no disruptions. No building work and no logistical nightmares ensure they are incredibly practical for businesses looking to keep the momentum going. Being simple to set up also ensures they can adapt if the office design changes in the future. This should be an important consideration if you expect the size of your team to grow.


Why are Acoustic Pods Worth the Investment?


Acoustic pods are designed to accommodate the important changes of thought behind office design. With modern technology, the nature of work has drastically changed over the past 15 years and as the result, the way we think about where we work has subsequently adapted with it. Having our own workstation is still common, but the tasks we complete there are changing. A growing amount of work undertaken is now seen as collaborative and it is these tasks which the office pod is targeted towards. If meetings and group discussions take place in a fixed office design, the amount of audible and visual distractions is considerable, causing issues across the office floor.

Acoustic pods address this by containing both these audible and visual distractions. This allows the static office work to continue to operate without interruption. Because of that, group discussions have the freedom to take place without risking a few grumbles from those trying to concentrate in peace. Flexibility is a key issue now being incorporated into office design. Importantly, this looks at giving employees the freedom to choose where they work to be the most efficient. When an employee is happy with where they work, their morale and job satisfaction will steadily improve and as a direct result, so will the quality of their work.


Flexible Options to Enhance Any Office


Many manufacturers of acoustic pods out there, Rap Industries included, will create every product bespoke. This means designing around the existing office layout, company culture as well as the thoughts of those who will be using it. As such, there is a huge range of materials available, with fabrics, woods, glass, Perspex and much more on offer. Like the result which the acoustic pods are designed to provide, flexibility is at the heart of every project. Individual pods can be designed to integrate into any corner of the office, with various sizes, shapes and finishes.

If there is plenty of open space to spare, then pods can even be designed to be partially closed. As such, it is possible to divide open plan layouts to incorporate break rooms and individual meeting areas without disrupting the rest of the office. Often, this is achieved by introducing acoustic office screens. Their stylish design can be manufactured in a straight or curved panel, allowing the area to be customised in any way required.


Acoustic Pods

Partially Closed Acoustic Pods


Integrating Acoustic Pods into your Open Plan Layout

All the acoustic pods are unique and because of this, it is easy to find a design which fits in with the existing aesthetic of the office. Colours, accessories and final touches of detail can all be included to add your own stamp to the pod. For example, the acoustic office pod from Rap Industries is available with a huge range of fabric colours. If you opt for a Perspex screen, we can even add printed graphics. This enables the pod to be completely customised with branding, therefore helping to embed the company’s ethos.

Three Tips To Cut Down on Sick Days Through Workplace Design


Safeguarding the Workplace As the Winter Bugs Set In


While we are all getting festive during the Winter months, bacteria which harbours the common cold, flu and potentially more harmful illnesses are just preparing to thrive. Whether business is beginning to wind down for Christmas or it is in fact the busy season, it’s integral to keep staff fit and healthy so that productivity is not hampered significantly. Protecting against any infection whatsoever is obviously unattainable, but introducing safeguards from the start and aiming to prevent the spread of any illness can stop an outbreak which could potentially grind the business to a halt. From simple solutions such as making tissues and anti-bacterial soap available to integrating more intricate mechanisms into the design of your office, there are a variety of options available which can be used to keep employees in peak condition during the festive season.


1. Starting Small


Preventing illnesses from spreading stems back to what you were probably told as a child all those years ago. Tissues and covering the mouth when sneezing is a great starting point to stopping bacteria from spreading in the office. While no incentive you could introduce will force people to remember to abide, it always helps when tissues are provided and necessary information is laid out which informs employees of how to the keep the space clean. Generally, the problem is easier to address in smaller spaces, as the early onset of any cold or flu can be identified; so in larger offices, it can be necessary to introduce anti-bacterial soaps and gels. Again, you cannot hope to force everyone to abide, but having these available at key points in the office can provide ample opportunity for employees to clean their hands when they require.


2. Eating Healthily


Sounds fairly rudimental at this point, however eating a balanced diet is more important than ever during winter. As our immune systems become weakened by the cold weather, we gradually become more susceptible to the effects of the elements. While the immune system in general can be left to its own devices; boosting it with a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables can help to make it more effective when protecting against invasive bacteria. Encouraging all employees to lead a healthy lifestyle throughout the year is always encouraged, but regardless of whether you have a scheme in place or not, it can be beneficial simply to lay out a bowl of fresh fruit which employees can use to keep them going throughout the day.


3. Attacking the Areas Where Bacteria Likes to Hide


Anti-bacterial surfaces can be a wonderful thing in the fight against bacteria. The reason being, rather than trying to fight the bacteria, they instead create conditions which do not allow the bacteria to grow. So even if a nasty strain is released into the office, if it lands on an anti-bacterial surface, then it will not be able to spread, grow and potentially infect one of your employees. Now, applying this everywhere would be a very costly investment, so instead, applying it to select areas where bacteria is likely to head is a great way of addressing the bacteria at the source. For example, implementing anti-bacterial fabric into Safeguard Office Partitions helps to provide unsustainable environments for bacteria across your office.


4. Addressing the Nooks and Crannies


As bacteria cannot be seen by the naked eye, it can hide pretty much anywhere. But thanks to some testing done over the years, we do know the places in the office where it often can be found. Telephones and keyboards are renowned hotspots for where bacteria can thrive and keeping them clean can prevent unnecessary colds and flu cases from being contracted. Whether you have a cleaner in house or require staff to do this themselves, provision of anti-bacteriaal wipes is a quick and effective way of keeping these clean.


With all of these provisions in place, you can hope to start protecting the office against the spread of nasty bacteria. By reducing the number of illnesses contracted as well as the amount of sick days taken, it is possible to keep productivity at an effective level throughout the festive period. As well as the practical benefits, its also an ideal way of keeping morale up, especially as we move towards the end of the year.





Behind the Design: Practical Solutions for Modern Offices

Office Design

Harnessing Office Design to Boost Productivity in the New Year

The office. The environment that millions of Britons (and many more worldwide) get to endure and enjoy for at least eight hours a day, five days of the week. The office, witness to drama, despair and elation and the setting which a few of us love but the clear majority of us outright hate. The office design which featured in the satirical television series of the same name is a stereotypical yet in most cases, genuine representation of how our own four-walled offices appear. Whitewashed walls, cubicle-styled desks and tapping, endless and monotonous tapping on keyboards. Work can become stressful and frustrating, but this ebbs and flows. But the office seemingly never changes, the same frustrations emerge and grow every day, slowly chipping away at the productivity, creativity and probably sanity of everyone who works within one.

Fortunately, modern start-ups and design companies in particular are taking the lead in creating offices which are tailored to actually help and encourage people to work. These designs take inspiration from when we design our own homes; everything from the colour of the walls right down to the fine details are selected by us and carefully tuned to make the space as comfortable as possible. Traditionally, the idea was that we should be setting up our desks with little treats from home to help ‘re-create’ that feeling, but ultimately it just made us hate the office more as we realise what we are missing out on. But modern office design is evolving that theory. Modern offices are increasingly adapting to the needs of their employees, setting up spaces and surroundings which create comfort and eliminate distractions which help people to focus.

The Cubicle is Dead, Long Live the Cubicle

Simply searching for office design will reveal some pretty crazy designs, but there is logic behind the madness. Admittedly, many smaller businesses cannot accommodate the lucrative costs of some of the professional designers used, but the practical elements behind some of the design decisions can be employed in any environment. One of the most striking features of modern office design is that the cubicle design is gone (sort of). Desks are no longer tightly knit together is small clusters on this basis of collaboration. Instead, we are now being taught to make the most of the space which we have available. With the advent of computers, there is no need for filling rooms and hulking filing cabinets anymore, so additional space is opening to allow people to spread out and create the areas they need.

The actual size of your office will play a part in this and while adapting is often the case, a small and compact office size could become a permanent hindrance on productivity. Reason being that small areas amplify small niggles. Noisy colleagues can be easily blocked out if you are sat 15 yards away. However, if they are a foot away, their pet peeves can be inescapable, further escalating stress levels and reducing your effectiveness. Furthermore, small offices suffer from acoustic issues, especially when multiple people are cramped inside. The rattle of keyboards in use, telephone calls escalating in volume as everyone tries to talk over each other and general chit chat are all emphasised, leading to distractions and the loss of valuable minutes and hours in the day.

Clever Use of Colour and the Hidden Benefits

The layout of the office makes the most significant visual impact on anyone who walks into the space. However, when you are sat in such an environment for multiple hours every day, you start to pick up on all of the fine details at hand. In traditional designs, you begin to pick up on how dull and dreary the colour scheme is as well quickly discovering how rigid and depressing the whole environment can be. The aim of the modern office design should be to change this perception. Colours when used in moderation can boost an office both visually but also psychologically for the employees. Bright colours promote happiness and calmness, while intense shades such as reds are designed to motivate and get people fired up about what they are doing.

One of the tactics employed at Google is the idea that the office should constantly change. Every week, seating areas would be re-arranged, promoting the concept that the nature of the work they do is constantly changing and therefore their staff should be constantly prepared for this. Now, admittedly this is probably unattainable with a static office space, but the idea that things need to be constantly changing is something that we can all learn from. The best way of doing this, is through nature. Flowers, plants and more tap into the pastoral part of our mind, they develop and grow alongside the employees which mirrors the development which you will be hoping for within your business.

Office Design Should Be Tailored to Your Company as Well As The People Within It

Finding a practical solution for your office can actually be very simple. On a one-to-one basis, find out from your employees what makes them tick, how they like to work and what really gets on their nerves about the office design. If your design team is struggling to concentrate with noisy neighbours, then it is time to consider giving them the privacy as well as the resources to be as creative as possible. Drab, noisy and distracting environments stifle productivity, decrease the wellbeing of your employees and ultimately harm your business.

Gauge what colours they would like to see, the kind of layout they wish to work in and the finer details which they believe can improve their working environment. An office design should be dynamic and in turn, provide space for your business to grow, but it is important to remember that overstuffing the space can and will cause considerable issues in the future.

Rap Industries have been designing and manufacturing office furniture for over 40 years. We take great pride in applying the feedback of our clients in all of our new furniture designs. With office screens, room dividers and acoustic pods available, we have a wide range on offer to enhance your office. For more information, please call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.


Office Design

Anti-Bacterial Office Design: A Clean Approach


Integrating Anti-Bacterial into Your Office Design Has Benefits for Your Business and Employees

Aside from the elections and referendums dominating the news this year, there has been another story rumbling under the surface which we should be taking notice of. In recent years, emerging reports have begun to cover the issue of resistant bacteria which is not affected by the anti-bacterial hand wash that everyone started to get obsessed with a few years back. Now the issue is becoming more prevalent and more resistant bacteria means a faster spread of illness and the inevitable increase in sick days

This especially applies to classrooms and offices which have a reputation as hotbeds for spreading illness and disease. While cleanliness obviously plays a factor in this, it also includes the amount of time that large groups of people spend together in this environment. On the other hand, hospitals can mitigate this by adding anti-bacterial surfaces throughout while providing anti-bacterial gels and soaps throughout the site. However, the same cannot be said for other public places. If we are going to be more vulnerable to illness, then both businesses and educational facilities should be more aware about healthiness in the design process to keep the number of sick days down and thus, boost productivity and the wellbeing of those who occupy these environments.

Offices Have a Chequered History with Employee Health

Any environment which is inhabited with a large group of people over an extended period is going to be vulnerable to the spread of illness and infection. As our office designs strive to encourage communication and teamwork, the open and collaborative nature of the modern office can subsequently become a major factor in the quick and efficient spread of nasty bacteria. The problem, as is always the case with bacteria, is that we cannot see the effect without the use of a microscope, so cleanliness and general wellbeing often fall down the list when new office designs are being drawn up.

The most recent government statistics (http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/sicknessabsenceinthelabourmarket/2014-02-25) from 2014 revealed that people in the UK, took 131 million days off sick with common illnesses often cited as being the reason for the absence. As we have explored in the past, one major contributor to this is the growth of environmental stressors such as audible and visual distractions which lead to heightened stress levels and weakened immune systems. In total, the study estimates that sick days reported by businesses across the UK resulted in a deficit of approximately £16bn per year.

Attacking the Issue at the Source

The minute nature of bacteria means that the issue needs to be addressed at the source. Here at Rap Industries, one of the ways we are tackling this is to begin introducing silver ions into our office products which helps to quell the spread of bacteria. When we think of silver, we can be quick to conclude that silver is a bit of a luxury material, often used to make currency. However, silver has a unique quality that simply cannot be found in any other material on earth. On a particle level, silver ions can interrupt and completely prevent bacteria from growing and spreading. In fact, silver nanoparticles can now be found in cosmetics, socks, food containers, detergents and many more to combat the spread of illness and infection. Technology firms are even introducing it into the touchscreen of your phone, so are modern interior designers taking bacteria into consideration when designing the spaces which we spend the majority of our lives in?

Implementing a Healthy Office Boosts Productivity

Introducing anti-bacterial throughout your office does not have to constitute a complete overhaul of the design. With plenty of healthy bacteria out there which helps our bodies to thrive, it would be overzealous to begin coating every wall, phone and pencil with silver ions simply because we are trying to prevent the common cold. However, one solution which has been developed at Rap Industries, a leading manufacturer of partition screens for over 40 years, is to integrate the anti-bacterial technology into office screens. These incorporate the flexible design of partition screens, which are traditionally used to combat those audible and visual distractions which we touched upon above.

An anti-bacterial fabric is then applied and silver ions are integrated with the framework to help prevent bacteria from spreading. What makes this solution ideal is that the screens can be used to apply a partial divide in the open plan environment, allowing collaboration to continue while providing privacy to those who thrive in it. Then, by making the partitions anti-bacterial, this helps to protect colleagues and co-workers when a bout of the sniffles begins to break out in the office.

On their own, anti-bacterial screens are not being utilised to their full potential and achieving this requires consideration towards other elements of the design. In the study cited earlier, alongside illness, a major contributor to the sick day is back and neck strains which are commonly caused by poor posture and a lack of information regarding staying healthy while working at a desk. Anti-bacterial may be great at stopping you from catching the flu, but it is going to have no impact on whether you strain your back by slouching all day.

The Clean Approach to Managing Office Design

Workplace safety is something which we commonly associate with primary jobs such as agriculture and construction. Only in recent times have we started to realise the impact that office environments can have on our health and fortunately an increasing number are exploring the impact of issues which we simply cannot see. For example, acoustics and bacteria can both have a significant effect both short term and long term and as such, it is important to factor these in when creating a fresh design. Healthy workplace designs significantly boost the productivity of employees and help to make the business more efficient on the whole.


Rap Industries have been developing and manufacturing office furniture and partition screens for over 40 years and our designs are moulded by the feedback of our clients. One of the results of this is the Safeguard Screen which integrates anti-bacterial fabric into a partition screen, helping open plan environments to address issues concerning privacy as well as health.



Re-Vamping the Office Design: 4 Ways to Rejuvenate

Office Design

Breathing New Life into Office Design for the New Year

With the new year approaching, it’s around this time that we begin to consider changes we hope to make whilst blocking out the incessant ring of Christmas songs. As we all start looking towards the fresh start which the new year brings, the dull and drab surroundings of the office often begin to rear its head. Okay, it hardly falls within the usual category of a new year’s resolution, however rejuvenating the office design can have significant and long-lasting effects for your business. A few splashes of colour or replacing the squeaky chairs alone can go a long way to boosting productivity and re-invigorating your employees in the new year.

Office design is often more complex than it first appears and many modern layouts are often sculpted by professional designers, however with careful planning and consideration, it is still possible to achieve a similar result on a much more agreeable budget. The layout of your office does not have to be fancy and elaborate, instead, removing some pet peeves and making the overall environment more practical can help to breathe new life into the business.

Integrating Practicality into a New Design

Upon entering a room, the first thing which we are struck by is the visual appearance of what we are looking at such as colours, lighting, furniture and so on. However, the foundations of any great design are built upon the practical side of things; natural light, sound and visibility. Without professional help, these aspects are often the ones which get overlooked and therefore ultimately hinders your new design throughout the year. It is important to remember the people who will be working within the environment and tailoring the space to adapt to them. While opening the space up to freedom and collaboration may appear like a wonderful idea, this may not be the case for many of your employees.

While the aim of a rejuvenating office re-design will revolve around how it appears, factors such as the acoustics of the space and how much privacy employees are afforded will have a more substantial impact on employee productivity. Frequent distractions, whether caused by persistent noise or visual interruptions can mount significantly over time, leading to frustration, stress and even potential health issues in the future if left unaddressed. A comfortable design on the other hand creates favourable working conditions, which enables staff to focus and complete tasks in an effective manner.

Finding the Right Blend of Colours

Crafting a new office design provides a great deal of creative freedom to style the surroundings to your own tastes, but it also means they can be tailored to your business. Colours have a subtle yet important impact on mood and the right blend can help to encourage creativity, calmness and even passion when integrated correctly. Traditional offices favoured whites and cream shades which appeared clean and pristine, yet created an atmosphere which resembled more of a prison cell than a working environment. Instead, take the opportunity to look around at other modern offices for inspiration and to see how they make the most of colour to create welcoming and comfortable spaces for staff.

So, if your industry is tasked with creating and designing, then shades of yellow and orange are ideal for encouraging creativity as they trick the mind into the feeling of cosy summer days. Alternatively, if you are looking to push a certain department, for example a sales department, shades of red are excellent for evoking passion as crimson shades inspire emotions which we may commonly associate with anger. Finally, if you aim to simply calm everyone down and keep stress levels under control, then shades of blue evoke the calmness and serenity of water and blue skies.

Peace and Quiet Matters More Than You Think

The most successful office designs are those which can integrate the ideas and opinions of those who will be working within them; the employees. Over the past few decades, all theory has pointed towards the development of ‘collaborative’ work environments which naturally encourage individuals to work together. Therefore, many conventional examples which you can see have these hubs of desks, holding separate departments together in close proximity and quite literally forcing them to work together.

Excellent in theory, a potential disaster in practice. It is true that some people will thrive in such conditions, provided with the social stimulation which leads to a melting pot of ideas while still being able to concentrate despite all the activity revolving around them. Yet for many others, the situation is the exact opposite. Distractions, especially audible and visual, constantly interrupt the workflow, severely hampering productivity and ultimately increasing agitation and frustration.

Consider Beyond What You Can See

As an alternative to conventional designs, an option worth considering are anti-bacterial furniture such as Safeguard screens. Adopting the conventional design of partition screens or portable screens, these serve a dual purpose within modern office designs. First and foremost, they are excellent for providing privacy and an area away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the office, ideal for those who require space to concentrate. As an added benefit, they also provide protection against the spread of nasty bacteria. Especially in larger environments, it can become incredibly simple to spread illness and infection, which ultimately results in expensive sick days and time taken off work.

With any luck, these tips should provide more context on some of the finer details of office design. If you have an idea in mind and are considering creating practical office environments, then as manufacturers of partition screens and more, there is a bit more which we can do to help. Either check out the Rap Industries website to explore some of the furniture we produce, or give us a call on 01733 394941 for more bespoke advice.


Office Design

How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Office Design

Identifying the Issue

The office is somewhere that we spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week for over 300 days a year. For most of us, we end up spending more of our lives in an office than relaxing at home. What a wonderful thought. This fact is made altogether worse when the office is cramped, too hot, noisy and whatever else grinds your gears. When the first offices started to spring up, they looked to adapt the model of industrial revolution factories. Rows upon rows of workers, furiously working for hours while being overseen by the head of the company. Some modern-day companies may even still run this way, but for the majority, times have changed and office designers are showing a bit more concern for the people who must sit in them all day.

When you spend time in the same environment repeatedly, you will begin to notice the tiniest of details. Cracks in the walls, mysterious smells and creaks in the floorboards, your brain naturally begins to process everything around you. When you work in an office, the same process happens. When the job starts out, everything is fine as you try to absorb the new surroundings. But after a few days, weeks or months, you will unwittingly begin to identify all the sights, smells and noises all around you. The colleagues who you try so hard to get along with can quickly become associated with their mannerisms and these will grow ever worse day by day, unless they are resolved.

Addressing the Prominent Issues with Office Design

With no signs that the open office layout will be fading away any time soon, modern offices are increasingly looking to adapt to some of the major issues which arise from these ‘collaborative workspaces’. The whole idea behind them in the first place is that by placing employees next to each other in a block design will help them to collaborate more as they never have to leave their desk. It serves that purpose fine, but what happens when deadlines begin to loom and pressure starts to mount? How collaborative do you think people are when stress levels begin to reach an unbearable amount? If you have worked in an open office, then you will already know the answer to this.

While open style, collaborative spaces have their benefits, it is still necessary to create areas which allow people to have privacy and the conditions to concentrate. Fortunately, it is not necessary to create permanent, separate spaces. Instead, modern furniture and technology can help to transform existing spaces, making them more effective and ultimately more productive. These also need to take into consideration that individuals will often have different work styles. While some may thrive in busy spaces, others can begin to feel overwhelmed and it is important to have those quiet areas where they can retreat to.

Distractions, Distractions, Distractions

There are three main factors which drag the concept of the open plan office down; noise, privacy and comfort. One of the main reasons why the trend of working from home is on the rise is the fact that it directly addresses these three issues. Unfortunately, the nature of the work that many office workers do means that this arrangement is not always possible, which is why interior designers are increasingly working towards replicating the same conditions of a home into the office. In essence, this means cutting down on both audible and visual distractions.

One of the major flaws with a lot of solutions that you find online is that they call for modern office design to create separate areas which are adapted to either a collaborative space or a private space. This is fine for organisations with large offices, but as a result, this hardly leaves many options for small businesses. Fortunately, with products like desk dividers and partition screens available, it is possible to recreate the conditions without making a large investment.

Noise is perhaps going to be the trickier of the two distractions to combat, especially in small spaces. Considering that sound by nature is very unpredictable, creating an environment which combats it can take some testing to perfect. The solution to combating this is to introduce soft surfaces and if your budget can extend so far, ensure they incorporate acoustic foam. This innovative material is increasingly being used in desk dividers, wall panels, padded flooring… you get the picture. On a basic level, sound reverberates by bouncing off hard surfaces, so if you fill the area with soft surfaces equipped with acoustic foam, this will actively combat reverberation time, effectively reducing ambient background noise.

The Benefits of Perfecting Office Design

The perks of creating an effective workspace can often be hidden, however it will begin to reflect on your business long term. While it is perhaps unreasonable to expect all your employees to be giving 110% as soon as the new design installed, the biggest difference will start to appear once crunch time begins to hit. With a work space, which promotes collaboration while still providing privacy, this provides employees with more freedom to concentrate and get on with their work. If working with colleagues is required, then the proximity means that this is easy to achieve. Yet if they require peace and quiet to focus, they can retreat behind the desk dividers and block the most prominent distractions.

For over 40 years, Rap Industries have been designing and manufacturing office furniture which is tailored to meet the changing needs of clients. With partition screens, desk dividers and much more available, each is extensively tested to ensure they can improve any office environment. For more information on the services provided, please visit the site, give us a call on 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.


 Office Design

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Find the Perfect Office Partitions

Office Partitions

How to Get the Most Out of Office Partitions

Okay, we’ll admit, office partitions are not going to be the most exciting part of re-designing your office or open plan space. That said, they do serve a crucial practical aspect of office design which you cannot afford to ignore in the long run. Why? Because lacking due care and attention for the practicalities of the design can lead to major issues in the future concerning stress, health and wellbeing. Quite important considering these have occasionally been enamoured as a ‘glorified sheet of wood’. Most offices, classrooms and meeting rooms appear to the naked eye as a naturally forming collection of chairs and desks, so it might come as a surprise that some interior designers get paid thousands to design these things.

So why? Assuming you have ever worked in an office, then you are probably already quite aware of some of the perennial issues. Chatty neighbours who have yet to find the mute volume; colleagues attempting to block everyone else out in the room with headphones, yet inadvertently annoying everyone else with that tin-like crackle escaping from the pods and your boss who spends the majority of the day, furiously rattling out e-mails by punching the keys into their keyboard. Each environment is unique and everyone has their own pet peeves, but once we latch onto one of these, they are nigh-on impossible to escape.

What Is the Point?

If you were around in the 70s, 80s or even 90s then you might have had the pleasure of working in what is now affectionately known as the cubicle. This represented the first and what we now know as a misguided attempt to address noise and distractions which grew horribly out of control in plain open plan environments. Rather than going back to that open design, reform is required in order to find a balance between the idyllic, collaborative workspace and a private area which provides the conditions which humans need to concentrate and thrive.

Office partitions feature many tailored designs which are aimed towards addressing this exact issue. Their main purpose is to create privacy in areas where it is not normally found. While the screen itself is effective in addressing visual distractions which are commonplace in environments such as these, it is the options available with them which enables them to be incredibly effective in a variety of different spaces. Productivity is one of the main beneficiaries of successfully installed office partitions, however they can also be effective at boosting wellbeing and even happiness.

The Fine Details:

Thinking of stereotypical partition screens and often one of the first things which comes to mind is that murky looking fabric, available in miserable greens and depressing shades of red. Fortunately, some scientists also did some research into how our surroundings affect our brain, so now they can be customised in a number of ways which is going to ‘stimulate our minds and get the creative juices flowing’. The possibilities do not stop there either, instead, many suppliers can finish the screens with a variety of different materials, which allows them to adapt to different environments. Safeguard medical screens for example incorporate an anti-bacterial fabric, which actively combats the spread of illness and disease. Modern day office partitions offer substantially more to your business now; epitomising the term, multi-purpose.

One of the options which is incredibly useful, but you would never notice is the introduction of acoustic foam. If you have ever set foot into some fancy offices, then chances are, there is acoustic foam integrated all around you. Into wall panels, ceilings, screens and more, acoustic foam which is traditionally used in recording studios is increasingly being used in offices to help create more productive work environments. So why bother? We’ve already identified that audible distractions are one of the biggest nuances in the modern day office and acoustic foam is designed to directly address that. It is never going to be able to block out the sound of your noisy colleagues completely, but it is incredibly effective at soaking up soundwaves, which reduces the reverberation time and altogether ‘dampening’ the noise in busy offices.

How Can I Make the Most of Them?

Start by looking around at the options available as many manufacturers will create them in different styles with a myriad of options. Office partitions should be viewed as a long term investment, so be on the lookout for good quality screens which you know will actively be able to improve your office. If you wish to reduce the ambient background noise in your environment, then be sure to find acoustic screens which are legitimately tested, tried and proven to work. Then once they arrive, experiment with how they integrate in your environment. Soundwaves are incredibly unpredictable and completely invisible, so while a layout may look great, you may not be getting the best acoustic result.

Most of the office partitions which you will find are available in three different styles; free-standing, desk screens and desk dividers. Free-standing screens are ideal for completely separating a space, essentially creating the illusion of two separate rooms while allowing them to be merged back into one of it is ever required. Desk screens on the other hand do the bulk of the work when combatting noisy colleagues. These simply stand in between desks, allowing the design to retain that open office style whilst installing an acoustic-proof panel which in the long term will be able to help your employees to concentrate. Finally, there are desk dividers, these will simply clamp to the desk and offer a more convenient if slightly less-effective solution for creating office partitions.

If you are looking for a place to start when it comes to office partitions, then we manufacture a wide range high quality screens which will give you a good place to begin the search. With fabrics such as anti-bacterial and acoustic screens included, as manufacturers we can tailor office partitions to ensure they actively improve your office environment. For further guidance on the service we provide, you can either give us a call on 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.


Office Partitions

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