Classroom Design for the Modern World

The "Lampe de Marseille" is a characteristic lighting fixture by Le Corbusier, and shows the importance of aesthetic illumination in office and classroom design.
The “Lampe de Marseille” (1949-52) is a characteristic lighting fixture by Le Corbusier, and shows the importance of aesthetic illumination in office and classroom design.

“Modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan, both for the house and the city,” famous Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier said in 1923. His words are still relevant today not only for the home and the city, but also for classroom design and office design.
Le Corbusier was among the pioneers who developed a relationship between interior design and architecture. Many of his furniture designs have become hallmarks of 20th century architecture history. Although he worked before the ubiquitous presence of computers and technology, his prescient view of furniture design and organization applies to the thinking behind cutting-edge classroom and office environments of the 21st century. Le Corbusier’s seamless integration of lighting fixtures, shelves, cupboards, and cabinets into their surrounding environment parallels the best contemporary classroom designs, where those elements are accompanied by comprehensive wire management systems, podiums, computer tables, and collaboration furniture.
High quality classroom design, complete with computer desks, computer tables, and collaboration tables, falls into a category that Le Corbusier called “human limb objects” — physical things that extend human capabilities and productivity.  In the world of furniture and classroom design, his words apply to tables and chairs as artwork of their space: “Certainly, works of art are tools — beautiful tools. And long live the good taste manifested by choice, subtlety, proportion, and harmony.”
The careful balance Le Corbusier articulates is one of aesthetics and functionality. It forms the core of sound classroom design and ergonomic desks and chairs. The versatility and flexibility of convertible computer tables are the key components of an advanced technology center or modern learning space. Architectural efficiency was one of the Le Corbusier’s most prominent ideologies, and it still plays a vital role in classroom and office space planning.
Here are a few tips and guiding questions to keep in mind when designing for efficiency in your own classroom.
1. Before beginning the planning phase, brainstorm all possible uses for the space. Does your classroom design need to include ample space for breakout activities and modular-shaped furniture, or are lines of computer tables for a more traditional approach most suited to your needs?
2. Computer tables and conference tables come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Which accommodates your existing technology infrastructure best, and/or what is the technology infrastructure you would like to change or develop?
3. Consider the scale of your room(s). From K-12 environments to higher education to the corporate boardroom, the size of your furniture will define your space and the activities within it.
4. Similarly, what is the maximum number of people who will need to occupy the space? How can you choose furnishings in a way that makes the room feel as open as possible?
5. Chairs should encourage both comfort and good posture. This is most easily achieved through ergonomic design, which enable people to accomplish their work with greater ease and sharper focus.
6. What limits need to be placed on the available technology for your classroom design or office design? If participants will partake in both computer based and paper-and-pencil pursuits, your computer tables must offer sufficient ergonomic design to accommodate both.
7. Aesthetic and flexible wire management is an important part of designing any modern working and learning environment. Do you need moveable outlets, or would you prefer a more static arrangement? Careful consideration of technology needs will show you where and how flexible to need your computer cable organization options to be.
8. Finally, how long do you need this classroom design or office design to last? Will it be updated in the next ten years, or sooner? Think about building a space that incorporates the timeless element of high-quality furniture materials with the flexibility to update technology, such as computer monitors and smart boards, as each new model is released, and before your next major renovation.
If you’d like more ideas for designing your space, feel free to call us at 1-800-770-7042 without cost or obligation.
 

Secrets to More Productive Meetings

It’s Friday at 3pm. The clock is ticking, employees are fidgeting, and everyone is glancing at the clock. Voices drone and no one’s listening…
Every businessperson knows the importance of meetings, but most companies don’t take advantage of the time they have with their employees. Long meetings with little productivity result in wasted money and time for the business. Here are three tips to help you maximize your time in the office.

  1. Keep your meeting to 15 minutes, max.

Have you ever been in a 2 hour meeting? Regardless of the topic — which may be crucial to a project’s success — the mere duration can drain your energy. The human brain is not designed to process information continuously for that long of a time span.
Carmine Gallo, a professional coach and personal trainer, recently released an article on “The Science Behind TED’s 18-Minute rule.” TED Talks, a popular webinar series, limit their speakers to a mere 18 minutes.
TED Talk curator Chris Anderson offers his reasoning behind the rule: “By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say.”
Did you know?

  • Most business people spend approximately 25 percent of their working hours in meeting.
  • Studies show 20 minutes is the average attention span before people lose focus.
  • Middle managers spend at least two days out of every week in meetings.

Don’t think you can hold a meeting for 15 minutes and get everything done? It takes planning and efficiency. These famous speeches of history only took about 15 – 20 minutes.

  1. Planning

To get your point across in a shortened amount of time, you must hyper-plan every moment of your meeting. If not, you company could lose money for the time that could be spent elsewhere.
For example, let’s say you have a meeting of 10 people and the meeting lasts over an hour. With 10 people in the room, that meeting is equivalent to over 10 hours of time utilized by the company. A 15 minute meeting, on the other hand, takes just over 2 hours total.
The first step to planning is to make sure you actually require a meeting. Keep the end goal in mind. Does the meeting require action items? You may find that you can accomplish the meeting goals with an email discussion or distributing the news in an email newsletter. Typically, reoccurring meetings are superfluous.
Globalization – If you are planning meetings that require meeting with people in different locations, consider using a conference table with smart technology to bring everyone together virtually. This eliminates travel costs and enables worldwide communication.

  1. Scheduling for Success

Never plan meetings for Monday or Friday. These two days are the most common for employees to take long weekends and and be the least focused on their work.
The online meeting scheduling service “When is Good” conducted a survey of 34,000 events and determined that Tuesday at 3 p.m. is the most “available” spot for a meeting.
Not only are more people typically in the office on Tuesdays at the standard office, but 3 p.m. is early enough not to impede with the average workday and late enough to be after meal times. Moral of the story? Always pick a time that works best for your team.
So, are Mondays and Fridays non-productive days in the office?
They are only non-productive if you allow it. Mondays and Fridays may not be good meeting days, but if you delegate deadlines and tasks for those days, employees will be motivated to get the job done.

Workplace Productivity? Try Community + Engagement

Results from a 2013 Gallup study provided a surprising (and rather dismal) statistic: of 25 million workers polled, only 30% were actively engaged in their work, and the other 70% fell short of their productivity potential. According to the same study, employees who are engaged in their work are enthusiastic, committed participants in their company whose creativity generates new ideas, attracts customers, and contributes positively to their organization as a whole.
This chart from the Gallup poll shows that since 2000, employee engagement levels across the US have barely changed.
Screenshot-2014-06-28-22.49.05-624x667
So, what is to be done?
Assuming that employee engagement levels are tied to feelings of (1) personal satisfaction, (2) balance, and (3) enthusiasm in their companies, it makes sense to examine how spatial design can improve these three aspects of their working lives.
(1) Personal Satisfaction
Easy-to-work-in office settings are crucial to a developing a sense of personal satisfaction among employees. The instant-gratification of younger office workers can see one another and easily interact, the same way they do with the instant technology-based communication that they use in their daily lives.
(2) Balance
Environments that foster interaction among employees — whether friendly or professional — are likely to improve company morale and willingness to work. A physically balanced space in the office can guide employees to a sense of psychological balance in their own lives. According to this blog post from WorkDesign magazine, breaking down walls in the office in favor of open architecture can drastically improve employee performance and productivity. Removing barriers between office also removes barriers between employees and enables them to connect on a personal level.
(3) Enthusiasm
Spatial design, coupled with charismatic leadership, boosts employee engagement tremendously. Settings that offer the possibility for both individual and group work, as well as welcoming meeting spaces, build community and camaraderie in the workplace. Flexible furniture offers the option to work individually or in groups – employees have control over their workspace, whether they’re problem solving on their own or as a team.
And not to be forgotten…company management / leaders also play a key role in defining workplace engagement (see this Huffpost blog).
Did you know? “Employee engagement” is such a hot topic right now that it has its own Wikipedia page. It also has increased significantly in relevance in Google’s search engines (based on a growing number of searches) according to the graphic below.
Emplyengagetrend-624x371

Top 10 Ways to Use a SQWeezel

The SQWEEZEL, a universal tablet mounting system, is revolutionary for hands-free support for many activities. In the office, on the job, or even at home, we look at the top ten ways of how to use the SQWeezel.
1.      In the Kitchen
Tablets have a wealth of space to store recipes and with easy access to the internet it provides millions of recipes at your fingertips. Clip the SQWeezel on the kitchen counter keeping it away from the mess of the food or the heat of the stove, but within sight.
SQWeezel
2.      While You Exercise
Don’t trust the SQWeezel on an unsecure magazine rack that is part of your exercise bike or treadmill. Clip the SQWeezel to the machine and start burning calories. You can read, listen to music or answer email while doing your daily workout. Just make sure you don’t clip it to a road bike; that could be dangerous!
SmartDesks SQWeezel
3.      On the Job
Whether you are in an office, lab, or working with your hands in an industrial setting, the SQWeezel can help by providing you instruction or helping you record your data.
SmartDesks SQWeezel
4.      At School
Educational technology is a leading trend in the 21st century in schools for children of all ages. Whether you are teaching a concept through visual learning, maintaining your class attendance list, or reading a story to the children, the SQWeezel is a great tool!
SQWeezel SmartDesks
5.      In a Hospital
Both doctors and patients can benefit from the SQWeezel. Medical facilities have been incorporating tablet technology through the United States over the recent years. Patients who have extended hospital stays can clip the holder to a chair or hospital bed for entertainment.
SmartDesks SQWeezel
6.      As a Store Check-Out Option
With credit card technology, restaurants and stores are beginning to adopt the tablet check-out style. Stores can outfit their check-out location with tables to clip the mount and save space and money on bulky outdated machines.
SQWeezel SmartDesks
7.      In the Car
While we don’t advise the driver to use a SQWeezel while driving, unless they want to take advantage of GPS directions on their tablet, parents can add SQWeezels to their cars for children entertainment and learning.
Children in Car
8.      By the Couch or in Bed
Get rid of the arm strain of holding a tablet to your side or above you to watch a film or read a book. Just clip the stand to your nightstand or a table near the couch and turn the screen horizontally.
Woman in Bed iPad
9.      Outside on a Nice Day
Want to enjoy the great outdoors while reading an eBook? Clip your tablet with your SQWeezel to the chair and soak up the sun!
SQWeezel SmartDesks
10.  While on an Airplane
Depending on the length of your flight, entertainment may be a necessity while you travel. By attaching the SQWeezel to the tray table in front of you, you will free up space for food or additional materials you may need out during the flight.

Airplane Tray Table  

 
 
 
 
 
Want to learn more about the SQWeezel?
Visit: http://www.smartdesks.com/ipad-holder-stand-sqweezel.asp

Quick Tips: Organizing your Workspace

According to this Esselte study, in 2004, 48% of American executives admitted to having a messy desk but claimed to know where everything was. In contrast, 12% said that although their desk appears organized, they had no idea where anything was. Ten years later, the problem persists; with increasing distractions from Facebook, online shopping, and smartphones, it’s even harder to keep everything organized.
Today let’s take a look at some efficient ways to organize your desk. Undoubtedly you have to balance an unwieldy assortment of papers and folders alongside either laptops or desktop computer monitors. That’s not to mention sticky notes, tape dispensers, staplers, pens, business card holders, empty Starbucks cups, the list goes on and on…Here are three quidk tips on how to manage your workspace.
1. Eliminate clutter on a regular basis. Anything that you aren’t using, either file or recycle if you can. When you approach your desk, you want to keep your space and mind cleared of extraneous objects.
2. Invest in a simple desk organization system. Nothing is more frustrating than shuffling through crumpled letters and dead pens. Keep a simple pen cup for your writing implements, and perhaps a wire holder for letters and papers for immediate follow-up. File more long-term projects for later access.
3. Keep your technology separated from papers and other unrelated items. Make sure to separate your laptops, tablets, keyboards, and other technological paraphernalia from file folders and other “old school” items. You can use laptop stands and tablet stands to keep more mobile pieces of hardware off your desk surface. It’ll help keep you focused and on task when you’re having “tech time” and when you’re having “paper time.”
SMARTdesks can help you organize your laptop computer arrangement with our LaptopSafe station! And for when your on the go, there’s no better multi-use laptop case/laptop holder than the Higher Ground Gear cases
quark laptop safe
In your opinion…what are some of your favorite desk organization methods and laptop holders?