December 2016 archive

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-bacterial 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 [email protected].


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 ( 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