The template designs reinventing collaboration spaces

European enterprises will need another 31 million square metres of office space by mid-decade. Tim Kridel explores how template-style designs could help meet demand for collaboration spaces.

If you’re in the business of providing collaboration solutions, business will be brisk through at least the middle of the decade.

European enterprises will create 3.1 million office-based jobs over the next five years, according to Oxford Economics.

Paris, for example, will add 90,000, Madrid 125,000 and—Brexit notwithstanding—over 182,000 in London. If each new hire has about 10 square meters to work in, European businesses will need to find another 31 million square metres of office space, according to Savills, a UK-based property agent. That won’t be easy, considering that in Europe’s central business districts, rents rose an average of 6.2% over the past year because vacancy rates dropped by roughly the same amount.

Collaboration vendors and integrators stand to benefit from how the tight real estate market and job creation trends are at odds with each another. Fore example, most enterprises won’t be able to afford to have all or even most of their employees in a single building or even the same city. So those businesses will need collaboration technologies capable of making distributed workforces productive.

Template for success?

Can AV firms meet that demand? One way is by developing a portfolio of design templates—covering AV systems, furniture and more—that clients can choose from. Their choices then can be deployed quickly because the integrator has their installation down to a science. For clients, another benefit is that employees have only one or a few room designs to learn, so they don’t waste the first 20 minutes of every meeting trying to figure out how to connect to the display, dim the lights, drop the shades and so on. But one concern is that the design isn’t ideal for every workstyle that the client has.

“Having been on both sides of the fence—integrator and consultant—there are certainly circumstances where this style of approach can be beneficial to a client,” says Mark Twisleton, Hewshott operations manager.

“On the flip side, this can also bean integrator/consultant trying to make their own life easier at the detriment of the outcome. ”This concern is why Twisleton prefers the term “room standards” over “room templates.”

“Templates imply a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach, often attempting to make a single selection of hardware perform in all types of spaces,” Twisleton says. “This leads to poor performance and substandard results. Often a particular brand or product is blamed for a room not performing when the hardware itself is incorrectly specified.

“Room standards, however, puts the emphasis on minimising the number of differing products and creating the same front-end interface fora user. Rather than utilising the same template for all spaces, sticking to one brand’s suite of products, particularly for the displays and touchpanels as these are what the end user sees. This creates a familiarity for anyone operating the space, ease of serviceability and often stronger buying power by purchasing more through the one manufacturer.”

Traditional AV integrators have tried to use pre-designed systems for many years with mixed results - George Fournier Jr., dancker

Workspace specialist dancker also sees limitations with the template model. “Traditional AV integrators have tried to use pre-designed systems for many years with mixed results,” says George Fournier Jr., dancker design engineer for workplace technology. “We are finding the ‘build it and they will come’ methodology may bring clients to the table, but through the discovery process the actual systems designed will become client specific.”

dancker offers pre-designed systems, such as for clients that want systems that are repeatable, easily deployable, scalable and remotely manageable. “These systems are generally fluid,” Fournier says. “We work with the clients to discuss newer technologies that they may want to integrate into their designs to enhance the collaborative experience as new technologies come to the market.

“When analytics are a part of the design, the data that is gleaned from the system will influence future design changes because the client will now have hard data, which helps them understand how the users are utilising the space specific to frequency, capacity and what technology features are being accessed and which ones are not used because of complexity or lack of application to their actual requirements.”

dancker has what it calls a “design guide,” which it uses as

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