How Room Dividers Can Be Used to Solve Your Privacy Crisis

Acoustic Pods

How Room Dividers Can Be Used to Solve Your Privacy Crisis

Why Privacy Matters So Much to Us

Every business relies on its workforce to succeed which means that every business is always striving to find the means to squeeze every last bit of effort out of them. The past century has seen some innovative and creative ideas implemented while others borderline the ridiculous. However, often the factors that many designers and business owners overlook are the simple necessities in life. If your open plan environment is still rife with stress, discomfort and bears no resemblance to a productive workspace even after a re-design, then chances are you need to look between the lines to find a solution.

Rather than blaming workplace inefficiency on employees in a whim, take step back and look at the environment as a whole and if necessary, call in an objective voice to help. While many modern office designs can look stunning and more than enough to feature in your monthly newsletter, the real root of their success runs much deeper. If you were to hire a professional interior designer, chances are they would begin to explain the concept of human needs. While open plan environments can look remarkable, they are often built around the idea of keeping employees warm, well fed, well-watered and ultimately comfortable within their environment.

Prioritising Effective Work Spaces

When you are hearing about these wonderful new offices that Silicon Valley start-ups are creating; the idea that having food within 100 metres of every employee sounds like a ridiculous luxury. But it should not be. The fact is that this is a feature that we enjoy at home and it is that atmosphere which modern day design is attempting to re-create. Rather than moving our living rooms into the office, the aim is to create environments which are comfortable for people to work in. Once they are satisfied and devoid of distractions, this is when they can work efficiently and effectively.

There was once a stigma over working from home, that it provided the opportunity to slack off and rush whatever work had to be done in an hour. The reality has been very different. By working in a comfortable environment, the benefit for employees has been comfortable surroundings which allow them to operate at an effective level throughout the day. Rather than procrastinating in the office, waiting for the ambience of the surroundings to die down, instead they are able to work, distraction free for short and frequent intervals.

Common Invasions of Privacy While Working

Now, the issue is finding the right balance between the comfortable environment of home and integrating it with the often manic style of the modern day office. Other than creating individual, private offices, there is no way of removing distractions completely. Larger companies tend to work around this with completely separate workspaces tailored to different moods, but we understand that this kind of setup is incredibly unrealistic for smaller businesses. Therefore, the solution needs to be a compromise, creating a pseudo-private environment with all of the perks of a collaborative workspace.

This is what room dividers and acoustic screens are tailored towards. The nature of their design is focused towards cutting down on some of the more common distractions that you tend to run into in any office. The drone of conversations and seemingly perennial phone ringing are a couple of the worst culprits. Meanwhile, visual distractions are a regular disturbance, even if you rarely notice. I would wager that at some point whilst reading this post, you will have glanced up for some reason, whether to look out of the window, checked out what your colleague is harking and raving about and so on.

Using Room Dividers to Create Privacy in Any Environment

At which point, you are probably wondering why room dividers have any impact at all considering distractions are often an issue in close-knit environments. Well, firstly their obvious design focuses on diving open plan spaces, creating this idea that the space is separate, without the need for a brick & mortar wall. If you consider why homeowners use room dividers in their home, then chances are there is a more practical element behind the decision, rather than just a stylistic one. In terms of office design, room dividers come in many different shapes and sizes, some allow natural light to flow through, others are completely mobile and many can even be finished with a variety of different materials.

Where room dividers and office screens really come into their own is the introduction of acoustic foam. This is a material which you may commonly associate with fancy recording studios, equipped with that strange triangular material on the walls which supposedly block the noise and prevent it from escaping. Well, that last part is somewhat a myth, but acoustic foam is incredibly effective at absorbing soundwaves; not entirely, but enough to regain control of volume levels in open plan office environments. If you are constantly being harassed by a particularly boisterous colleague across the room, then acoustic room dividers can be extremely effective at soaking a lot of it up, before it becomes a constant niggle.

Resolving the Privacy Crisis

Creating environments which are comfortable for employees can take time and a little bit of investment. While large organisations may be able to afford to bring in an acoustic engineer, small businesses would be better off experimenting with soft furniture and soft surfaces which are naturally effective at absorbing ambient noise. The issues with each office will be unique, so there will need to be extensive self-examination to determine which solution will work best in your environment. On a basic level though, room dividers and office screens can go a long way to creating a degree of privacy for employees as they are able to address both audible and visual distractions.

If room dividers and office screens sound as though they could be effective in your office, then we do design and manufacture a variety of styles here at Rap Industries. We’ve been in the industry for over 40 years, which has allowed us to develop extensive expertise in the sector while working with clients to address the issues in their workplace.

 

Room Dividers

Why Acoustic Screens are the Future of Modern Office Design

Acoustic Screens

Creating Workspaces Which Optimise and Energise Employees

Office design has been the subject of a great deal of study over the past few decades and for good reason. Considering millions of us spend up to and beyond eight hours a day sat behind a desk, it makes sense that we try to understand that environment as much as possible. Our careers and the job we do is often about much more than the work involved and employers as well as designers are constantly trying to find ways to make employees more productive and more effective. Some may take a traditional approach of bonuses and prizes, while others take a more practical approach and attempt to find the means to help employees enjoy their job.

While the design of the office may seem unsuspecting, it can actually have a major influence on employee satisfaction and productivity. The reality is, if we hate the place where we work for just one of a number of reasons, then this crushes motivation and begins to decrease efficiency. Ultimately, it can be a revolving cycle unless the route cause is addressed. Distractions are one of the major causes of disruption, especially within open plan offices and these can often spawn further complications with stress and anxiety further along the road.

The Key for Managing Distractions

In recent years, there has been a huge upswing in the number of people working from home and according to them, this has made them more efficient. The main reason for this is that there is more privacy in the home. You are not constantly interrupted by the constant hum of background chatter or regularly interrupted by a telephone crying out to be picked up. Instead, they are able to take work at their pace, without the constant distractions and this has actually led to improvement. The result has seen modern office designs try to adopt what makes this approach to working so successful; comfort.

Cutting out distractions altogether in open plan environments is pretty much impossible thanks to physics, which is why many of the modern offices that you read about today take a slightly different approach. Often this is to create separate areas; one for communal work, where employees can communicate and liaise while working on a project and then another which encourages silence, privacy and the space for employees to concentrate when they really need it. Sounds simple enough, but for the majority of small businesses, being able to integrate this is not feasible. There is no room for a huge office, instead employees are housed in enclosed spaces which can become a cacophony of noise.

What Makes Acoustic Screens So Effective?

This is where Acoustic Screens are becoming such an effective solution. The cubicle office design of the 1960s may have been an unmitigated mess, but it did strike upon a few key points which have a positive impact for employers. Modern day acoustic screens often come in three different forms; as standalone screens, desk dividers and as wall panels. On a base level, these help to create partial partitions in office environments, which when used correctly, can drastically reduce the number of visual distractions and creating an element of privacy for employees. In particular, this can reduce a common worry of people looking over your shoulder at what you are doing as well as becoming distracted by what others are doing across the office.

But what really sets them apart compared to other elements which are part of modern office design is their introduction of acoustic foam. Tackling acoustical design is often one of the hidden demons in any open environment. It is pretty easy to make it look glamorous when you use your eyes, but protecting against sound waves presents a completely different challenge. They cannot be seen by the naked eye, they are unpredictable and they can niggle away at you every day before they simply become too much.

At the core of solving this is introducing soft surfaces which absorb some of these sound waves, rather than letting them bound from surface to surface until they run out of energy. So if you were considering a stylish hardwood floor for your new office, perhaps reconsider unless you enjoy listening to recurring echoes for eight hours and more a day. Instead, acoustic screens ensure you don’t have to cover the walls with carpet as the acoustic foam integrated within the screen is clinically proven to help absorb soundwaves and reduce reverberation time. While it is impossible to block out ambient noise altogether, an acoustically controlled environment can make life easier for everyone when they don’t have to hear every word of every conversation throughout the day.

Integrating Acoustic Screens into a Modern Design

So acoustic screens can be remarkably effective in busy open plan environments, the next step is to fit them in with the design you have in mind in the first place. Options such as acoustic wall panels are clever ways of introducing the acoustic foam without having screens scattered through the space. While they may struggle to absorb noise coming straight towards you, they will help to absorb ambient background noise which is bouncing across the office. Alternatively, acoustic screens excel the most when used in between desks. Creating a collaborative workspace requires tender balance, and quality screens help to achieve this. They soak up soundwaves heading towards you from across the office, while they also provide relief from visual distractions when you are trying to concentrate.

If you approach a specialist manufacturer, there are a huge number of variations available which can be tailored with your office space in mind. This includes straight or curved panels; fabric or glazed panels and a wide range of customisations such as colour and size, meaning they are able to enhance the office environment. Especially in smaller spaces, acoustic screens are an increasingly effective way to create privacy and comfort for employees, providing them with a solid foundation from which to work and concentrate.

As a manufacturer of acoustic screens and room dividers, here at Rap Industries we have a number of ranges which are tailored towards making your office environment more practical. You can check them out online, or alternatively you can get in touch with our advisors who can provide additional information. They can be reached by calling 01733 394941 or by sending an e-mail to sales@rapdind.com.

 

Acoustic Screens

 

 

How to Create an Eye-Catching Display

Display Boards

Display Boards Are Versatile, So They Can Be Used Anywhere

When it comes to creating displays, some of us are more creative than others, let’s be honest. If you have ever been to a craft fayre or an exhibition, there are often beautiful displays that leave us wondering; “how could I make one like that?”. Fortunately, it does not have to be that tricky and in fact, with some time and attention, we can all create majestic exhibition displays which we can be proud of. There is nothing fancy involved, just some simple guidance on how to clean up the content and bring your most important pieces to the centre of attention.

Rather than fiddling around on the day, do all of the design work before-hand, experiment with the positioning of your content and the most important thing to remember are different perspectives. When your display is set up, chances are visitors will not be stood right in front of it like you are, so consider where they will be approaching from and whether your design caters for that. The designs that really do well and stick in the memory are those which really stand out and this is where a great design is crucial.

High Quality Graphics

Regardless of what your content is or where you are exhibiting, chances are you will be using some form of graphics. Whether it is artwork, text or an image, there is one simple rule to keep in mind. Ensure it is a high resolution image! Any professional designer will tell you that their pet peeve is graphics which have essentially been pulled off of the internet and look terrible as soon as they are printed. This is especially important if you are printing your own work and use a low resolution as you will never be able to do it justice.

Nothing in your design is going to come across as cheap and as haphazardly made as images and text which are pixelated. These need to be clean, crisp and even printed properly to help them to stand out. Look for high quality paper and use a proper printer (no, not an inkjet!). If you do not have this kind of image to hand, then I would suggest either finding one, or getting some professionally made. At the end of the day, this will be the core of the display so it needs to set an example.

Positioning of Content is Crucial

There is a lot of theory that runs behind great designs and unsurprisingly professional designers are not just pulling it out of thin air. Any design you see, whether it is an advertisement, glossy magazine or a fellow exhibitor’s display, is supported by a few key theories as to how content can stand out more. One of these which you will want to consider is how to direct the viewer’s eye through your design. We never notice it when we are doing it, but there are small details in designs whose main purpose is to tell us where to look.

The simple explanation behind this is to emphasise the elements which you want to feature prominently. If there is a piece of content which you want to highlight, then make it bigger than the rest. If you want to draw their attention to a piece of text, then change the font and adjust the size slightly. To your viewer’s brain, these are cues which are telling them to look there and then take a look over there. You may only have a few seconds to really engage someone’s attention, so put your best piece at the forefront to entice them to engage with the rest of the display.

Comic Sans Looks Awful, Really.

Text will feature in your display at some point, which means you have the unenviable task of picking out a font. There are thousands and thousands out there to choose from, so there is a lot of potential to find something unique. However, going back to what we discussed at the beginning, consider the perspective of your viewer. If you have opted for a radical font for your three paragraphs of content, who is even going to bother trying to read it? While a font may look exciting, remember that people will actually want to read it. In this scenario, keep the more interesting fonts for titles and headers to grab their attention and then use a slick serif font which is effortless to read for larger pieces of text.

Less is More, More is Less

If you have ever been told to keep it simple, then the precedent is the same here. When you look at great designs, are they packed with information, crammed from corner to corner with text, diagrams and images? Hopefully, the answer is no. While people are willing to read through a huge amount of content when they are interested, there is nothing quite as off-putting as a wall of text. Your eyes have no idea where to look when all you want to do is absorb the majority of the content in just a few glances.

While you may have plenty of space available, using every last thread of it is never going to work. Leave space where necessary and then if you still feel like there should be something there, add small details like ribbon which can brighten up the display without taking the viewer’s attention away from the content which really matters.

There Are More Colours Than What You See on the Rainbow

The final detail to consider is which colours to pick out. This means the colour of your large display boards, the content, fonts and fine details. This one is completely up to you, but it is worthwhile noting that loud and abrasive colours, such as primary reds, blues and yellows are quite wearing on the eyes. There are a ridiculous number of colours out there, so choose something easier on the eye such as pastel colours which are far more enjoyable for viewers to consume.

Ultimately, the best advice for creating a great design is keeping it simple and not over-thinking things. At the end of the day, viewers just want something easy on the eye which is going to strike them. If you already have great content, then place it on the centre stage. Use all of the other aspects to support it and people will be going away talking about how great your exhibition was.

If you are in need of display boards, then here at Rap Industries, we design and manufacture high quality displays for clients from a variety of industries. From folding display boards to more permanent designs, we can create a display stand which brings out the best in your content. For more information, please have a look at our site, call us on 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

 

Display Boards

Why Exhibiting Does Not Have to Be a Waste of Money

Trade Shows

A Riposte to Criticism Towards Trade Shows

In recent years, there have been more and more articles springing up, warning against the perils of trade shows and how they are going to destroy your finely balanced budget. They speak of how wonderful inbound marketing can be and the potential it has. Now, there is very little doubt that this kind of marketing approach is beneficial, but the idea that exhibitions should just be thrown to the wayside is a little overblown. It’s true, trade shows can be expensive, but only if you walk into it, cheque book in hand and willing to write one out to anyone who says they can help you to make it a success.

Exhibiting at trade shows is a challenge and there is no doubt about it. Those who fail and ultimately waste money are the inexperienced, newbie exhibitors who believe a fancy backdrop and a few glossy leaflets will equate to mega-money deals. The reality is that experienced attendees who have spent years on the circuit have learned about how to make a return on their fairly significant investment. For the relatively uninitiated, there are pitfalls in the exhibitions industry, however the case is the same for other forms of marketing and it is through skills and expertise that these can be overcome.

Quality Over Quantity When It Comes to Outreach

One of the major criticisms directed towards exhibiting is that your audience is limited. Even if you attend a major trade show where a few thousand people will be in attendance, this is short change in comparison to the millions which are available online. On the surface, this is true, so why then do so many businesses return to trade shows when there is a such a disparity in audience sizes compared to online? Simply put, it is because every attendee has the potential to be relevant. If you are attending the same event, then you can be sure that there will at least be some common ground for you to work from.

Online marketing can be like fishing in an ocean. Sure, there are millions of potential interested individuals out there, but being able to entice them is a significantly harder task. You can spend weeks, months or even years developing strategies to attract those 1% of individuals who actually want to do business with you. Even then when you get them through to your site, the whole deal hinges on the infrastructure you have laid down. If a page is poorly laid out, all they have to do is press that little red cross in the corner and that potential business is gone forever.

Trade shows provide you with the unique opportunity to interact with these clients, something which online marketing is still light years away from achieving. You might be a small business, but a bright idea and your passion showing through could be all that is required to secure a deal which will drive genuine growth in your business. Before you attend, arrange meetings with industry professionals you wish to meet in person. When doing business, a tweet or a short message just are not going to cut it.

Make The Most of the Experience

Exhibiting at trade shows will require you to be pro-active. If your planning consists of spending thousands on a fancy exhibition stand and then just standing next to it waiting for people to approach you, then you would be better off not attending at all. Trade shows consist of much more than just attendees milling around and chatting to stand owners. There are presentations held with leading experts in the field, meetings can be made beforehand to have a one-to-one conversation and frankly, the attendees simply do not have time to stop and chat with each stall holder.

While exhibition stands do their part to help you stand out somewhat, the crucial aspect of converting is going to come down to you and your team. There is no guarantee that everyone you talk to will be interested in your product, but having a conversation of what you do and how you do it can open up potential avenues which you may have never considered before. It is important to remember that trade shows are about much more than just sales.

Be Prepared

The biggest mistake that many businesses make which leads to a negative experience is not putting the necessary preparation in beforehand. Admittedly, it would be unproductive to commit months of your year to a single event. However, committing a large portion of your budget to an event, only to spend a few days working on your strategy is a good way to end up wasting it. At the end of the day, the style of your backdrop is not going to win you much business, so look towards large display boards, which are a much more versatile display which can then be re-used again.

Instead, commit your time and your budget to researching the event. Find out who is attending and shortlist potential businesses and clients who you think you will be able to work with. Waiting for this type of person to walk up to your stand is hardly going to harbour many results, so get yourself in front of them and pitch your ideas.

Like any kind of marketing, these methods take time and practice to perfect. Due to the up-front cost of exhibitions, it can be deterring when the first event does not go quite as planned. However, there is a good reason why exhibitions and trade shows continue to thrive and that is because there is a great deal of potential to be found. When done in moderation while you learn, exhibitions do not have to be a waste of money and can just as easily be done in conjunction with inbound marketing, rather than as a separate entity.

 
Trade Shows

The Ultimate Guide to Display Boards

Display Boards

The Everlasting Popularity of Display Boards

Display boards have been an essential tool for businesses, schools and charities alike for decades. The simple design has been tweaked and adapted over the years, but at the core is a platform for content. Display boards are used to celebrate achievements, exhibit the fruits of people’s labour and teach students in a manner that textbooks never could. Modern display board designs have moved away from the wall based ancestor and instead, many are now mobile, being employed when and wherever they are needed.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are manufactured with a range of different materials and suppliers are constantly coming up with different ways to enhance the content. With so much to think about, we understand it can become a little bit overwhelming. Here at Rap Industries, we have been manufacturing display boards for over 40 years and have pioneered a variety of design changes which you can see featured on our display boards today. With that in mind, we are going to take you through what to look for when looking for display boards.

Display Stand Fundamentals

Searching for display boards will begin at face value. I’m sure you will already have an idea in mind of what kind of display you are looking for, so it is simply a case of using that idea to narrow the search down. First and foremost, assess how much content you have and how much space you are going to need. Display boards are available as little compact kits or as huge displays, so you want to find a foundation which has just the right amount of space for your content.

Next up is to pick which kind of design you need and that will require you to take your environment into consideration. Folding display boards can be used pretty much anywhere within moderation, however remember that these do not include stabilising feet, so they’re hardly going to be suitable if they are being bumped and bashed all day. The alternative is the panel & pole display boards. Equipped with what are usually metal poles and some form of stabilising feet, these are designed with the prospect of people milling around them in mind. Finally, if you need a companion to have on hand when you require a compact display, then table top display boards are much more manageable and are easy to take anywhere!

The Nitty Gritty Details

Here is where you need to consider your environment and research the supplier to find out if they are going to be able benefit your situation. At the heart of the display boards, there is a central core which the remainder is built around. This core will contribute significantly to the overall weight of the system, so if you are planning on travelling to different events and your display system is incredibly heavy, then this is a recipe for a bad back and a frustrating journey. Here at Rap Industries, our display boards introduce an innovative core which ensures it is extremely lightweight but also stable and secure whilst in use.

Once you have found the design which is perfect for your content, the next decision is to pick out whether you want pinnable or Velcro friendly panels. The pinnable design is traditionally how display boards were produced, with content being able to be applied using pins. The downside of this is that frequent use causes the panel to degrade and your content will have pin holes placed through them. This is where Velcro friendly fabric steps in. Using Velcro dots or Velcro strip, the content can be added quickly and easily without any damage to it or the panel itself.

How Can They Be Customised?

So that is the more technical aspects taken care of, now for the more exciting part. Display boards can be customised is many more ways nowadays than they could in the past. Colour, accessories and some more niche products can be included to help your content to stand out and make the display overall more pleasant. For example, the fabric is often available in a myriad of different colours, so you don’t have to be stuck with those dull colours which your school used to pick out.

In terms of accessories, these are often available as additional extras, so only pick these out if you are going to be able to find value from them on a regular basis. One such example are the display spotlights. These are ideal if you are exhibiting in a dimly lit room or you simply need to draw attention to particular pieces of your content. Alternatively, one of the services that we run here at Rap Industries is the printed posters. Many of our clients utilise these to create high resolution replicas of their content, or to create a brand new design which can make the display significantly more eye-catching.

The Finishing Touches

These elements are pretty much everything you will need to know! As a final note, the price of the display boards should be considered before committing. While a low price might be great for your budget, there is the risk that the display boards are cheaply made and therefore will not last for many events, so be wary before you buy. For additional validation, check the guarantee which is included with the display boards. A longer guarantee suggests better materials have been used and you are more likely to see a return on your investment in the long term.

If you like what you read, then have a look at our display boards as you begin your search. We have been designing and manufacturing a variety of ranges of display boards for over 40 years and we produce each with the requirements of our clients in mind. This means we use high quality materials to create a display which is designed to last. For more information, you can have a look at our site, give us a call on 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

Display Boards

 

Why Exhibiting is a Valuable Experience for ANYONE

Trade Shows

Exhibiting Is Not Confined to Major Trade Shows

When we talk about trade shows, the obvious image which pops to mind are the corporate trade shows hosted in sprawling halls and crammed with companies both big and small. These types of events have generated a bit of a bad reputation in recent years for being a waste of money. Admittedly, this is the case for some. However, exhibiting is not just about throwing your budget at a stylish exhibition stand just to feel good and pat yourself on the back for a day. Exhibitions come in all shapes and sizes and some of the most valuable do not require an ego-boosting and overly expensive display stand.

Think Small:

For smaller businesses in particular, with stricter budgets and more tangible goals in sight, it is important to note that there are such things as exhibitions which are not your stereotypical trade show. Look locally for craft fayres, gatherings of local businesses and networking opportunities. While trade shows are prone to becoming a ‘who has got the biggest and best stand competition’, smaller events are geared towards making sales and creating partnerships which will last beyond the evening meal. In a smaller setting, you have more time to interact and ultimately, everyone has the same goal; they want their business to grow.

Larger events can become a bit of a frenzy without careful planning, which is another area where businesses are prone to leaking potential revenue. If you are just starting out with this whole networking and building relationships business, then starting small is always the way to go if you want to learn and actually make it a success. Plenty of new exhibitors make the mistake of reading a few guides, looking at a few photos and then deciding they’re ready to throw themselves in at the deep end. Is it any wonder then that some exhibitors walk away from these events disgruntled and complaining that they wasted their time?

Build on Success:

If trade shows and exhibitions are your ideal location, then you need to learn how to find value in the little things first. Fayres and conferences might not bring in that multi-million-pound deal, but they provide the opportunity to hone your sales patter and get genuine feedback from people who are not just going to palm you away. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that you do not need to invest thousands for a high-spec exhibition stand which you end up using once or twice a year. Display boards and banner stands are just as effective in smaller situations and at a fraction of the cost.

Often with large exhibitions, while they may be relevant to your industry, that does not guarantee that everyone will hold something in common. It is true that thousands of people may be in attendance, but if only a small percentage (and there is no way to get an exact number) who attend are interested in your products and services, then the opportunity to see a return on your investment is severely diminished. Smaller events are often much more focused and assuming you pick out the right one, that percentage of interest parties is likely to be significantly higher. While you may not find that big fish you were hoping for, there is far more potential to make smaller and more frequent gains. Combine this with a cheaper investment and this kind of exhibition experience is more likely to be worth your time and money.

Time is Equally as Valuable as your Budget:

As any small business owner can appreciate, while the budget is always a factor in decisions such as these, time is often more valuable. Large exhibition stands can take weeks or even months of preparation and that can consume valuable hours, days and weeks of your time preparing for an event which you may not even see a return on. As much as fayres and local events still require preparation, they allow you to maximise your efforts in other areas while still committing enough time and effort towards the event.

Afterwards, if your approach has been a success, then it can be picked up and implemented with a new event in the upcoming months. A few adaptations with what you have learned here and there and before you know it, exhibitions are not quite as time consuming as you had originally thought. As an added benefit, you will not even need a new display. Banner stands and display boards are designed to last and their compact design means they can be neatly tucked away in a storage cupboard until they are needed again.

Be Smart and Exhibitions Can Be an Extremely Worthwhile Venture

If you were to attend a large exhibition and ask what their key to success would be, chances are their response would be something along the lines of ‘try and try again’. Much of the disillusionment associated with exhibitions stems from new attendees with only a hint of what they are supposed to be doing seeing all their effort return very little in the ways of results. Top exhibitors have been doing this for years and will continue to do so for many more to come as they have been able to understand what is required to make the experience a success. Rather than throwing all of your eggs into one basket; start out small and learn how to schedule events such as these. The returns may not provide a huge boost for your income, but they can open up new opportunities and avenues for your business to grow.

 

At Rap Industries, we have been working with clients both big and small for over 40 years, so we have gathered invaluable experience in how clients make their exhibition a success. If you are looking at a more cost-effective display stand for your exhibit, then have a look at the Large Display Boards or visit our site for a wider collection. Alternatively, you can get in touch by calling 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

 

Trade Shows

How to Make the Most of Your Open Plan Office Space

Open Plan Office Screens

Whether we are at home or at work; architects, business owners and home owners alike are very attached to the idea of open plan office spaces. Many of us may have grown up in homes with multiple rooms, sealed away by doors in order to provide privacy from parents and siblings. Nowadays, the situation is quite the opposite. We seem to love the idea of these collaborative spaces, which allow rooms to mingle and creates this sense of a collective group, rather than a handful of individuals. Of course, this kind of design has its drawbacks, which is why many of the stunning designs have undergone meticulous planning in order to strike a balance between collaboration and privacy.

Why Do We Love a Open Plan Office?

Across Europe in particular, the trend for an open planned home is a mark of our changing lifestyles. No longer are we hosting fancy dinner parties, secluded from the rest of the home. Instead, we crave more social gatherings, families tend to sit and spend time together. Traditional designs restricted the home to the labyrinth style which became so synonymous with Victorian and Edwardian era homes. With open plan homes, the removal of walls creates this perception of more space and allows more natural light to flow through.

This is ideal especially in smaller living spaces where the amount of space available is already severely limited as is often the case with older homes. The same idea is increasingly applied to office design. Many businesses have now moved away from the idea that employees require complete peace and quiet in order to work efficiently. Instead, modern design now looks towards collaborative spaces which enable staff to work as a team rather than a group of individual cogs. To achieve this walls have been torn down and collaboration is on the up, but there a host of side-effects which need to be addressed before a design such as this can work.

Arrange Furniture Creatively

With so much space at your disposal, there is no need to go back to the rank and file furniture layout which makes the office resemble a classroom. One of the key factors which needs to be considered here is the amount of distractions possible with each design. There is no point clumping employees together as noise will become an issue. Meanwhile, seating everyone opposite each other or by main doors will provide visual distractions which will become a regular and persistent issue.

Open place offices create the freedom to develop a unique design in order to enhance the efficiency of your employees. It is possible to create hubs for different teams, allowing the space for collaboration while separating it from distractions across the rest of the office. If the space is available, then there is also the potential to create separate areas which are tailored to encourage group work as well as other zones which allow employees to concentrate without the hassle of persistent distractions.

Make The Space Adaptable

One of the major benefits of an open plan office is the freedom it provides to chop and change how it is setup. If you are still in the planning stage, then look into integrating flexible office screens which can be moved and setup as and when required. The major benefit to these is that they can help to reduce the audible and visual distractions which are often a common issue with open plan offices. As teams tend to expand and grow, the ability for the office to adapt is important to being able to make the most of the space which is available. Screens can be easily moved for more desks and more seating.

The Space Needs to Work for Introverts and Extroverts

If you are perplexed by what the title means, then this is a very important issue to factor into your office design. Generally, people are split into two categories; extroverts who thrive in team situations, are often more outspoken and are more likely to thrive in collaborative spaces. On the other end of the spectrum, introverts appreciate exactly the opposite, they work more efficiently when given privacy, often keep thoughts to themselves until absolutely necessary and generally would rather have their own office rather than a desk in a busy environment.

Your office design needs to take these into consideration. While your open collaborative space may be fantastic for some, it could be a nightmare for others. Introverts will value more private, quiet spaces, but this can lead to extroverts feeling agitated, further hindering their efficiency. The solution to this really boils down to how much space you have available. The ideal is to be able to create two separate types of areas, one which is more collaborative and helps teams the bond and grow. The other is a quiet space, which provides the privacy for employees to get on with their work without audible and visual distractions.

Striking the right balance between freedom and privacy can prove a masterstroke. If your environment can enable all of your employees to work comfortably and efficiently, then the overall productivity of your business will increase. Open plan offices are great in theory, but many have made common mistakes which result in disaster. This is often because open offices become too noisy and you find everyone just trying to talk to each other, or there is so much going on in the office that there is no space for everyone to concentrate.

 

Open Plan Office Screens

8 Factors You Must Address When Re-designing Your Office

Open Plan Office Screens

What Makes the Design of the Office So Important?

Chances are, if you are looking into re-designing your office, then you have already begun to understand the impact that it can have on the efficiency of your business. From the colour of the walls to how big the windows are, there are a range of different factors which can influence how effectively employees can concentrate and the length of time in which you can expect them to remain focused. Some of the greatest office designs are simple in theory, but in the planning phase, the design must be tailored and adapted to the space in order to make it as effective as possible.

The key to creating an ideal office design, is being able to balance privacy with a collaborative work space. This means ensuring the means are available for staff to press on with work when required, while still having the means to communicate with others when their schedule permits. Such a setup is challenging to establish, but with the necessary due care and attention taken beforehand, an ideal design such as this is attainable and can provide significant benefits in areas which you may never have considered before.

Lighting

If employees are going to be sat at their desk for the majority of the day, then this first factor is important to consider. While it is necessary to have light of any type in the rooms to stop eyes from becoming strained, it is even more integral to allow natural light to flow through. Large windows, glazed screens or even skylights are all different tools which can be used to allow natural light in. Being exposed to this as opposed to synthetic light helps employees to sleep for longer, concentrate more, think more creatively, thereby helping to improve their mood and reduce stress. All in all, a lot of benefits to be had here.

Comfortable Furniture

If your office is still equipped with rickety old chairs, then they should definitely be the first thing which you throw out. Especially in situations where staff can be sat down for up to 8 hours a day, the prospect of doing so on a seat which is firm and squeaky is hardly going to get their mood up. Ergonomic desk chairs and comfortable seating in break spaces are hugely beneficial long term. Your employees are less likely to have issues with back or neck problems and it can also help to boost concentration as that perennial squeaking noise will finally be thrown out.

Keep The Space Clean and Tidy

It does not take an individual with OCD to become stressed out at the sight of a cluttered office space which makes it impossible to find things. With the advent of computers, there is no excuse for having paper lying around and for offices to be looking like a dump. Encouraging employees to keep their work space tidy can further benefit them as it helps to keep the mind tidy and focused on the task at hand.

Colour

As you are reading this, you probably have not been taking much notice of the colour of the environment around you. The walls, office partitions, and even your mug may appear minor, but colour can have a significant impact on the mood of your employees. Shades of red can help to bring out passion and aggression, while yellows are much better in creative spaces. It all boils down to what we associate colours with. So for example, when we think of green, one of our initial responses is grass and the countryside, which we immediately begin to associate with being calming and soothing. So while your company logo may be red, splattering that around the office whilst people are trying to be creative is less likely to result in the fantastic designs which you may have been hoping for.

Temperature

Temperature is quite obvious and there is no trickery of the mind involved. If the office space is poorly ventilated, then staff will begin to get too hot, stress levels will rise and before you know it you will regret having that fancy floral centrepiece over an air conditioning system. If the temperature is monitored and maintained throughout the day, then that is one thing less for employees to worry about.

Noise Levels

Noise levels are a factor which we feel very strongly about. There is nothing more frustrating than having to listen to the IT guy (or whoever else for that matter!) clicking a pen for 6 hours a day. This is particularly an issue in open office spaces where it is very easy for sound waves to bounce around and when there are over 10 people sat in an office, this just causes volume levels to rise and rise throughout the day. The unpredictable nature of sound waves also makes it one of the harder factors to address. While there are some more elaborate suggestions available, as a rule of thumb, introduce lots of soft surfaces like carpet and office screens for example, which can help to soak up the ambient office noise before it becomes too much of an issue.

Ensure The Space is Organised

If your business is growing, then this is great news for your company but bad news for your office design. More employees as a result leads to increasing noise levels, further distractions and it could potentially slow your growth levels down. So when re-designing, consider where desks are going to go, are one team going to be crammed into a corner when the space can be more effectively used by someone else? These are the types of issues which will only arise when the re-design is all said and done.

Brand The Space

Finally, you should treat your office like a showroom, even if you are only having visitors once a month. Having your branding visible creates the perception that you are established, trustworthy and that ultimately they are in the right place.

 

Office Screens

 

 

Why Privacy Should Be a Crucial Consideration in your Office Design

Office Design

When we think of modern office design, the first image that comes to mind is an expansive white space with light bouncing across the room. Picture perfect. The actual practicality of an environment like this is up for debate however. As we have moved away from cubicle style offices as well as series of individual offices, it is hard to escape the fact that the open plan office remains the most popular design available today. For one, it’s incredibly cost effective compared to other designs, all that is really required is a large open space which can be given a lick of paint. But while it seems an easy solution, there are a number of drawbacks which are hard to escape.

The whole idea behind having an open office is that they are supposed to ‘foster collaboration’ and make employees more productive. All your staff, working in close proximity, giving each other gentle encouragement with friendly pats on the back. Idyllic. So what happens when stress levels start to rise? Your account manager’s ‘unique’ laugh was a novelty when you first moved into the office, but now it is grinding you down every time you can hear it bounding across the office. You can’t escape the fact that colleagues flanked either side of you keep rearing their heads to see what you are doing. All of a sudden the idea of working as part of a team goes out of the window as you begin to suffocate from the restrictive nature which a poorly designed open plan office will deliver.

Why Do We Value Privacy So Much?

If you have ever worked in an open plan office… and if you are reading this I would wager that you have, you will probably be well versed in the pitfalls of the bullring style ‘collaborative work space’. If not and especially if you are re-designing your office, please listen in closer for the sake of your employees. Privacy is not something we are thankful for every day, but it is something we very much notice once it is taken away. In a wider context, imagine if your medical records were leaked, your issues at home spreading like wildfire at work or that *thing* you did when you were 18 years old and thought it would never the light of day again. How would that make you feel?

Having a colleague peering over your shoulder at work for 6 hours a day isn’t quite as drastic as these examples, but while it is manageable for a couple of days, the frustration of it all builds up. While you are trying to meet your deadline, all you can hear is the laughter booming from the other side of the office and phones ringing off the hook. When this happens, all you can hope to happen is to block out your surroundings in the hope of actually getting some work done. But simplistic open plan office designs do not facilitate this, they forget the intricacies of human relationships and they neglect the fact that everyone is different.

Office Design Needs Balance

By this point, you may be wondering how large companies such as Google which has set the benchmark in recent years for open office design, has been able to subvert some of these issues. Quite simply, they provide a variety of spaces for staff, some where they can sit with others and collaborate while they work. Then there are others which allow employees to sit in private, shut out the world around them and get on with the task at hand. Okay, so you don’t have a multi-acre estate to create a layout like this, but examples such as this highlights the importance of creating environments which allow staff privacy while still having the option to interact with others.

Headphone usage has been on the rise recently as bosses allow their usage so staff can focus, but this does not eliminate the issue of visual distractions. One solution for this can be to introduce Office Screens. These can add a splash of colour to the space especially if it has been whitewashed and more deluxe versions even integrate acoustic foam which can help to soak up some of that frustrating ambient noise which keeps bouncing over from the other side of the office.

What Should Be Considered…

Every work area is different, so this will require some thinking on your part. However, there is a fine line between giving someone privacy and simply just placing an employee in a box. Ask someone who worked in a cubicle what they thought of that. Open spaces are great when they are tempered with areas where staff can focus on one task at a time. Just because of all the space you have does not mean you need to fit in a desk wherever possible. Crowded offices become very noisy at peak times and can you seriously expect efficient work when teams are constantly trying to talk over each other?

Before you start, it would be beneficial to find out thoughts of those already working in the office, what is their pet peeve with the current design? To enable your employees to work at their optimum, it is important to integrate a design which allows them to get on with work at their pace. It is perhaps unrealistic to expect everyone to work 100% in every minute of the day, so the conditions need to be created so that when they are working, they are not constantly distracted by audible and visual distractions.

Office Design

 

Privacy and Why It Is Crucial for Concentration – Next Day Screens

Office Design

If you are reading this at work, then take a minute to look around you. Chances are that if you are reading this, you are probably procrastinating. No worries, we have all been there, but consider why you are procrastinating? Is the work mind-numbingly dull? Are you looking forward to going on holiday next week? Or are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by the buzz of chatter emanating from across the office? Whatever it is, it’s safe to say procrastination is often the direct result of becoming distracted.

The best working environments are those where we can get on with work in peace and quiet, not having to listen to what your colleagues did on their weekends or the seemingly perpetual phone ringing. This is a very common issue with the most popular design of office space – the open plan office. When interior designers first conjured this idea over 40 years ago, the ability to combine semi-private spaces with collaborative work areas appeared like a stroke of genius. The reality has been quite the opposite, in fact, in the UK alone, approximately 1.5million of us work from home as a result.

What is Privacy?

Privacy is quite a broad term and it means to be able to seclude yourself and then express whatever information as you please. In the world of CCTV cameras and supposed tracking over the internet, the whole idea of privacy has come under threat. That’s a whole can of worms which we won’t be looking into, but the same premise which causes us to feel unease at the thought of being watched, is the same reason why privacy is so important for concentration. Unless you have a magic switch which can flick off the environment around you, chances are your productivity is being hindered by loud voices, slamming doors, phones ringing, children screaming, and a whole myriad of other factors.

While many people claim to be able to multi-task, the fact is that while it may be possible to do two things at once, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on one without neglecting the other. Being able to focus is something which some are able to grasp better than others, and it is the others in particular who are most affected by audible or visual distractions. Whether you are studying, working or even just planning, the ideal environment would be a controlled space with nothing but you own thoughts.

So Why Do We Become Distracted?

Distractions and concentration are complexities in the brain which we are only just starting to get to grips with. Just like a machine, everything we do takes up resources so when we start to get hungry, those resource levels are low and we lack the necessary fuel to complete what we are trying to do. For example, if you slept less than usual last night, then as a result you are more likely to become distracted as your body has not had the chance to rejuvenate those resources and you are being hindered because of it.

Another major issue outlined by David Rock, explores this ever connected world which we live in. While workplace designs are gradually improving to help individual efficiency, things we may consider minor such as our mobile phones and the internet are soaking up a huge amount of our time. This all leads to a pretty vicious cycle; lack of resources means we struggle to focus, which then leads to becoming distracted, but by the time we get back to working, we have exhausted a lot of those resources on time wasting activities such as social media.

What Can I Do About It?

Just because you regularly become distracted easily does not mean there is no hope for you. As mentioned earlier, there is a growing number of people working from home who can control the environment around them, cutting down on the number of temptations and distractions. Therefore, providing an optimal environment for concentrating. Unfortunately, many of us do not have the luxury of completing our work whilst sat on the sofa wearing pyjamas. So, the trick is to plan ahead to attempt to stop the distractions before they begin.

If you can’t help but look up the instant there is movement in the office, then look into adding Office Screens to help keep your mind focused on your work. If the noise around you is simply becoming too much, then try out listening to music through some headphones (calming music with no lyrics, the latest hit single or your favourite 90s track are going make the distractions even worse). If your phone keeps vibrating all over your desk with all those group chats you regret joining, then now is the time to switch your phone off for an hour or two so your mind can focus on one thing at a time.

There are many tools out there to help you to stay focused. If you have ever found yourself searching for a blog online only to find yourself mindlessly logging into social media every day like you have done for the past 365 consecutive days, then there is help out there. For example, StayFocusd can be tuned with all the sites you visit and once you have spent long enough browsing through Twitter, the app will block you for the rest of the day. Pretty handy when you are used to watching hours slip by in a day!

So to put things simply, identify those factors which constantly leave you distracted and learn to ignore them or get rid of them altogether. Some are unavoidable, so look at your options to cover or mask them and with any luck, you should see your productivity soar!

If visual distractions are becoming a constant thorn in your side, then we can help. Here at Rap Industries, we manufacture Next Day Screens which can provide instant relief in the office so you no longer have to have your concentration broken by activity in the office. If you need any more information, you can give us a call on 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

Next Day Screens

 

 

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