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Air in your office space

In our first article, “The top 6 must-haves in your office space” we deemed air the second most important aspect in your office space for maximum health and productivity.

Air quality can be very difficult to control, especially when you are in a building that doesn’t have any operable windows to allow that fresh air flow. When you are indoors for 8-10 hours a day, you need good quality air, that helps your energy grow throughout the day. In an environment with poor air quality, adding toxins and pollutants to the air will cause stress, headaches or even respiratory problems.

There are a few ways of getting great, fresh air, into your space, even if you can’t open the windows.

Growing fresh air: 

Adding greenery into your space not only makes the space more visually pleasing, but it also allows you to control air quality.

The three easy to find, local house plants that will actually improve the air quality within your space are the Areca Palm, Mother-in-Laws Tongue and The Money Tree. All three of these plants convert the Co2 in your space into Oxygen, and therefore create a cleaner healthier, fresher space.

Here is a great Ted Talk by Kamal Meattle, explaining the technical aspects as to why these three plants are the best and most efficient in creating cleaner air indoors.

https://www.ted.com/talks/kamal_meattle_on_how_to_grow_your_own_fresh_air?utm_campaign=tedspread–b&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

This is a great solution for businesses that cannot open their windows or have control over the HVAC system they have within the building.

In some offices, we have created moss art (created a logo out of moss) which acts as a design element, perpetuates the branding as well as reduces the Co2. Moss is very little maintenance and can last for years if spritzed regularly.

We created this logo ourselves for a client, however there are many companies that will create any design at any scale using this versatile moss.

Cleaning:

Having your space cleaned professionally on a regular basis will reduce the airborne allergens within the space and make the overall space more hygienic and healthier. This includes cleaning the air returns and supplies and getting the ducts cleaned on a regular basis. Make sure that the cleaning products are not causing more pollutants in the air, and that they are all natural with zero volatile organic compound (VOC’s). Use cleaning products with little to no odour so that people sensitive to smells are not affected.

Air purification systems:

Many offices have opted on having an air purification system added to their existing HVAC system or having portable units within the space. This will ensure tiny unhealthy airborne particles will be caught and eliminated within the space, causing the air to feel fresher and more energizing. Make sure those filters are changed regularly in order to keep that air fresh and filtered.

Accessible Outdoor Space:

If there is an option to have an outdoor space accessible to everyone for breaks, lunches or even working, this is one of the best ways to promote movement, fresh air, and health. This could be a spot on a roof top, an area blocked off in your parking lot, or a specific deck created for staff. As long as there is enough shade in the summer, and good outdoor seating, this will be a welcome area for anyone needing to get a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air.

Using Low or zero VOC materials:

When designing a space or changing out a material, always pick the lowest volatile organic compound material (VOC). Source flooring finishes, wall finishes, furniture materials, fabric materials and millwork, all with low to zero VOC’s. This means that the space will not have a huge chemical smell upon entering it and the space will be usable right away without any harmful residual particles.

If you have any questions about improving your workspace, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to visit your space, make recommendations and suggestions. Looking forward to connecting. design@studioforma.ca

** Please note all projects shown, were projects designed by Studio Forma Interior Design; www.studioforma.ca, photography; www.wanderingeye.cawww.studioforma.ca***

YOUR WORKSPACE ENVIRONMENT

Transforming (modifying, altering, improving… ) your workspace environment is the most effective way to update your space.

You can make a huge impact by doing something as simple as changing the colour of a wall. Warm and cozy however, may not be the best approach for an office. Crazy fluorescents and blinding colours, probably not a good idea either. Ultimately when we are talking about colours in an office, we need to land in that middle ground. The ideal colour solutions reflect your brand, evoke creativity and create a calming effect. The colours you choose always need to be sophisticated and professional.

There are many tricks and creative solutions you can implement within your space that would transform your static stale workplace into a dynamic and collaborative space. A trick we like to do is adding moveable, configurable furnishings. One of these items would be partitions. Moveable partitions allows for impromptu breakout sessions as well as additional planned meetings. With moveable partitions you can take a single room and make it into several rooms all of which may serve a different purpose at the same time. This allows employees to be more efficient ( do training sessions, meet with a client, brainstorm a new idea or hash out an old one, all in the same space) When you integrate moveable partitions you are really converting your space into a dynamic, practical, multi-use space that is effective and productive. No more waiting for the meeting room!

Integrating flexible workstations and accommodating different styles of working is also a great way to make your space more collaborative and customized. There are people who need to work alone, but not all the time, so having a quiet area or telephone booth style office where they can go and work for a few hours, allows this style of work habit the flexibility of being around people or being in solitude when they require quiet and focus. Having areas with a combination work surfaces such as, hi-tops, adjustable height or typical, allows many different types of work environments for employees to move around throughout the day. This decreases the afternoon exhaustion and allows people to be more comfortable while working.

 

Soft seating is another way to make your space more comfortable and productive. You can add in some modular furniture that can be re-configured, add in benching or even bean bags depending on your culture. Sometimes sitting behind a desk all day just doesn’t cut it.

Having the different work areas is great and all, but do not forget about the acoustics! If you are integrating your space into multiple spaces, even if only for the day, be sure to accommodate for the sound that will inevitably occur. There are many different ways of approaching acoustics, so be sure you are aware of the best solutions.

The work environment has changed and your space needs to reflect this. This will increase your employees productivity as well as make your space a destination to work and thrive. Accommodating peoples needs will make your business grow quicker and people will be happier!

** Please note all projects shown, were projects designed by Studio Forma Interior Design; www.studioforma.ca, photography; www.wanderingeye.ca,  www.studioforma.ca.

Lighting in your office space.

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In our last article, “The top 6 must-haves for your office space” we listed lighting as the first, most important must-have for an office space. Without proper lighting many ocular issues and even health problems can occur. It is critical that lighting be well thought through and considered in each space or area.

Poor lighting can be defined as:

Insufficient light – not enough light for the need, makes productivity inefficient.

Glare – too much light for the need, creates headaches, body aches and loss of productivity.

Improper contrast – when you are required to squint for any task for any length, it is unhealthy and can cause long term problems.

Poorly distributed light – shadows can be a safety hazard, and just feels unsafe.

Flicker – Flickering might cause anxiety in people. You combine that with a fluorescent fixture and you will have a headache and stress sooner then you can get a second cup of coffee.

We can probably all identify poor lighting, but what does good lighting look like? 

A properly lit office space (or any space for that matter) will have layered lighting. This means it will have many different types of lighting throughout the space, specifically designed and structured for the task at hand.

The three main types of lighting include:

Overhead lighting – This will provide overall general lighting. This is meant to light up the space so that everyone can see without harm and create an overall pleasant feel.

Task – Task lighting is more specific to the task at hand. If you are at a desk, perhaps there is a desk lamp or pendants overhanging to provide an extra layer of lighting at your workstation.

Ambiance – Ambiance lighting can work as a two-fold solution. You can create really dramatic and exciting effects that really infuse that brand and culture into the space. It also helps with late night working when your eyes would be to strained to have all the lighting on.

When you are choosing your lighting, many criteria have to be considered in order to make sure that it is the correct lighting for that space and that task.

Items to consider when sourcing lighting:

  1. Is there any natural light that will need to be considered?
  2. What is the size and shape of the room?
  3. What colour is the room?
  4. How tall are the ceilings?
  5. What are the materials of the room? Will there be glare of reflections?
  6. What are the tasks done in that room?
  7. Is it a multipurpose room?

What to consider when it comes to choosing the correct luminaire (a complete electric light unit):

  1. What is the purpose? Is it general, accent, task or decorative?
  2. Who is the user?
  3. What role does the luminaire play in layering of light in the space?
  4. Is it the focal point or meant to blend or be hidden?
  5. What is the quality of the product?
  6. What is the photometric data?
  7. Is it economical?
  8. How is it installed?
  9. What are the lamp characteristics?
  10. How is it maintained?
  11. How does it look?

Factors affecting the distribution of light are the shape of the luminaire, its material and finish, the location and size of the opening and the mounting position of the luminaire.

Direct – at least 90% of the light is directed downward.

Indirect – at least 90% of the light is directed upward.

Semi direct – most of the light is directed downward and some of the light is directed upward.

Semi indirect – most of the light is directed upward and some is directed downward.

Diffused – distributes illumination in all directions.

When you layer lighting, different styles of luminaires should be considered:

  • Suspended Luminaires
  • Track Luminaires
  • Structural Luminaires
  • Cove Lighting
  • Cornice Lighting
  • Soffit Lighting
  • Wall Bracket Lighting
  • Furniture Integrated Luminaries

Technical terms that are critical to understand when choosing the correct luminaire:

Kelvin – This is referring to the colour temperature of the lamp (the light bulb). Kelvin indicates the amount of red or blue in the light being supplied. 3000K lamp would be a warm yellow, where a 4500K lamp would be cooler white. Red represents warm and the warmer it is, the lower it is on the scale. Blue represents cooler and the cooler it is, the higher it is on the scale.

CRI – The CRI (Colour Rendering Index) measures how accurately a light source reveals the true colours of an object and is also supplied by the manufacturer. The index ranges from 1 to 100. The higher the CRI, the better the light rendering quality.

Lumens – Lumens measure brightness. A standard 60-watt incandescent lamp, for example, produces about 800 lumens of light. By comparison, a LED lamp produces that same 800 lumens using less than 12 watts.

LED vs. Incandescent

As most of us know, nowadays, there is really only one type of lamp to be purchased, the LED. (Light Emitting Diode). Although we have still met a few clients that are not convinced that this is the best way to go. We have to say that there is no other way to go!

Just for quick comparison:

60W Incandescent will have a yearly operating cost of approx. $13.00, energy use is 60W, lumens is 800, kelvin is 3500 and the lamp lifetime is 750 hours. 

12W LED will have approx. $2.50 yearly operating cost, energy use is 12W, lumens is 800, kelvin is 3500 and the lamp lifetime is 50,000 hours. 

LED lights can be both dimmable and accessible everywhere. However, not all LED’s are created equal, watch out for theCRI (Colour Rendering Index) as that can vary on less expensive lamps which means a poorer quality light.

Be reassured, when you are choosing a proper luminaire that is commercial grade, all of this technical information will be listed on the specification sheet or package. It is critical that your fixture is CSA, cUL or cUL/US approved. This will mean that all of the testing had been passed which will ensure fire safety at your office.

Lighting component of workspace design can be overwhelming and expensive. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that you know what you need for each individual space so that you are choosing the correct lighting for your office.

If you have any questions about improving your workspace, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to visit your space, make recommendations and suggestions. Looking forward to connecting. design@studioforma.ca

** Please note all projects shown, were projects designed by Studio Forma Interior Design; www.studioforma.ca, photography; www.wanderingeye.cawww.studioforma.ca***