The Year in Review – A Storage Knowledgebase

The new year is almost here, full of exciting possibilities and the fruition of well-executed plans. It’s also a great opportunity to consider the knowledge gained in the previous 365 days. With that in mind, here’s a selection of our most popular posts of 2016.


The Ultimate Document Management Guide

Tracking and storing reams of paper documents can be an exhausting paper chase, but with planning, consistency, and a great storage system, you can relax and get on with your business.

Fashion Designers’ Workplace Storage: An Update

How do design-conscious fashionistas incorporate great storage design into their workplaces? Here’s the low-down.

Your Cell Phone Is Zapping Your Self-Worth

Good posture leads to good self-esteem. With phones or with adaptive office furniture, take posture into account for better self-esteem, assertiveness, and productivity.

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Gun Storage

For safety, police are required to confiscate guns in cases of domestic violence complaints. But overcrowded, insecure gun storage in police property rooms then becomes a safety problem itself.

A Lab Design Space-Planning Checklist

Planning for future lab needs is always the most challenging part of any lab design space plan. Modular casework gives you flexibility for the future as well as usability for today’s needs.


We’re looking forward to assisting you in the New Year!


Photo © Marek/

Change to Thrive: A Lesson from Your Mall

At the Christmas season, it may be hard to believe that malls are becoming scarcer, but it’s a trend that has been going on for the better part of a decade. A combination of overbuilding, online shopping, and demographic shifts has led to the demise of nearly 1/3 of America’s malls.

But there’s a silver (or green) lining in the retail cloud. Rather than let these massive malls stand empty, owners are following the green re-purposing movement and transforming old malls into new housing, new offices, and new types of retail. Retailers are downsizing their storefronts as they change from their traditional ways of doing business, opening up space in the malls that can be reconfigured into new forms: healthcare facilities, off-campus university learning centers, government offices, libraries, and housing ranging from low-income apartments to chic upscale condos.

Transformation is part of today’s design vocabulary. Warehouses become lofts, malls become community centers, and even the furnishings in offices, like the popular Swiftspace workstations, are reconfigured into whatever form suits the needs of the user at that particular time. Designing and planning for transformation adds longevity to an investment in almost anything: buildings, furnishings, even people. How is your business incorporating transformation into its long-range plan?


Photo © Minerva Studio/

6 Team-Building Tips for the Collaborative Workplace

Today’s workplace designs emphasize collaborative spaces – flexible, reconfigurable work areas where staffers come together as a team to address specific tasks. Leading a collaborative team takes some special skills; without them, the best results are hard to achieve, no matter how well-designed the collaborative space may be. Management advisor offers these six insights to help build a collaborative team environment:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Clearly communicate the team’s goals, the individual members’ roles, and the reason for the team’s existence.
  2. Build strong leadership. Leaders who are flexible, supportive, and focus on relationships as well as tasks, will produce great results.
  3. Create an environment of trust. Respect and integrity are essential to building trust among all team members.
  4. Support a community spirit. Opportunities for team members to socialize informally outside work will foster a cohesive “family” feeling.
  5. Invest in team members’ skills and expertise. Continuing education supports continuous improvement and makes team members feel valued and valuable. Knowledgeable teams are more productive.
  6. Invest in collaborative technology. Streamlined communications support all of the team-building tips above. Collaborative technology can be electronic devices or specialized software. It can also be adaptive office furniture that facilitates face-to-face interactions, while allowing for a quick change to individual task execution. Whatever form it takes, collaborative technology is vital to a smoothly functioning team.

If you’re adopting a collaborative management style in your business, talk to a design expert about finding the right collaborative technology for your business.


Photo © boggy/

The Benefits of Going In Over Your Head

It has been a design trend for a decade or more – transforming old factories and warehouses into chic modern office space. These old buildings are often convenient to the city core and they make appealing workplaces for companies seeking to attract hip urban employees. High tech, fashion, creative services, and media are among the many businesses relocating to these upcycled structures.

While each of these vintage buildings is unique, they share one thing in common: high ceilings. The buildings’ former function required a lot of headroom which most of the service-oriented businesses of today don’t need. Designers often make a feature of the extra volume, as reviewed by Karen Kroll in “Building Operating Management.”

The in-town location and industrial-chic look come at a price, however, when compared to more mainstream commercial space. Those high ceilings represent a lot of wasted space when volume is factored into the square-foot rental cost. But there’s good news, in the form of vertical storage. Motorized storage lifts can be adapted to store almost anything, from documents to bicycles, in overhead spaces. Warehouse-style steel mezzanine structures add a second level within a large space. Both of these storage options are comparatively inexpensive, and they fit right in with the urban-industrial look favored by today’s tenants.

If you’re considering a move into one of today’s super-hip repurposed warehouse spaces, discuss overhead storage with your designer. You’ll keep your real estate costs on track, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the design aesthetic.


Photo © denisismagilov/

Healing the Healthcare Waiting Room

Sitting in a healthcare waiting room usually rates quite low on the good-times scale, and quite high on the stress scale. With today’s trend toward “patient as consumer,” designers are looking at ways to make waiting rooms more user-friendly.

A recent study at a major healthcare facility defined the shortcomings in waiting room designs, including:

  • Seating that blocked views to information sources (reception personnel, exam room entries)
  • Little space for personal belongings
  • Insufficient access to power sources for tablets and laptops
  • Lack of privacy and seating for family groups

The researchers recommended re-designing waiting rooms to:

  • Accommodate a variety of activities – work, rest, etc. – that might vary over time
  • Improve privacy while adapting to large and small family groups as needed
  • Increase space for personal belongings
  • Enhance access to power plugs for all our modern e-devices.

Reconfigurable furnishings have a big role to play in the new patient-centered waiting room designs. Seating and tables that can easily adapt to changing needs, even multiple times in a day, will go a long way toward creating an ideal patient-centered atmosphere. This video shows how one healthcare provider transformed their waiting room with reconfigurable furnishings:



Photo © WavebreakMediaMicro/


A Lab Design Space-Planning Checklist

We all know the old saying: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” When you’re getting ready to invest in new lab space, the failure to plan can turn into expensive cost overruns.

A good checklist is a vital planning aid. Lab Design News has developed a space planning checklist to help determine your spatial requirements, including:

  • Current and future headcounts
  • Existing equipment inventory and future purchases
  • Venting and mechanical needs
  • Clean room requirements

Another way to guard against planning failures is to build flexibility into your space plan. Modular casework is a highly effective hedge against unanticipated demands on lab space. These cabinets can be reconfigured in dozens of ways, saving the cost of expensive new casework. This video demonstrates how one institution used modular casework to adapt to new space plans.

Plan ahead, avoid costly surprises, and talk to a storage specialist about maximizing flexibility in your casework design.


Photo © Nastassia Yakushevic/

How Office Clutter Affects Your Creativity

A recent study by Kathleen Vohs at the University of Minnesota discovered that messiness may actually assist the creative process. Disordered spaces seem to encourage people to think outside the box. In direct contrast is author Marie Kondo’s recommendation that you throw out anything you don’t absolutely love – minimize to the max. Can your office find a middle ground between stifling tidiness and creative disorder?

Organizational expert Brooks Palmer says it comes down to definition: Clutter amounts to the things we keep on our desks that do not serve us – for example, papers or equipment we don’t currently need. He suggests that his clients assess whether each item is something positive. Is it something needed for the task at hand? Is it something for emotional uplift (a birthday party hat, a photograph)? Or is it something that’s been there so long it has become part of the background – negative, because it doesn’t serve the task at hand. If the item isn’t positive, then dispose of it. If it will be needed in the future, store it appropriately.

Palmer’s approach doesn’t advocate minimalism or arranging your books in alphabetical order. Messiness is fine, as long as everything in the mess serves you for the current task. Let the disorder spur your creativity, and talk to a consultant about a high-density storage system for all the “clutter” you need to save for the next task.


Photo © Rawpixel – Fotolia

Feeling Poorly? Maybe It’s Your Efficient Space Plan

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it may not be the healthiest way to go. Australian insurance company Medibank constructed an office building that is, in many ways, spatially inefficient – all for the good of its employees.

Medibank and architecture firm Hassell theorized that inefficient spaces would force employees into physical movement. In the new building, a meandering office plan wrapped around an atrium, and in the atrium was a spiderweb of linked staircases. To have face-to-face interactions or retrieve documents, employees had to take many more steps than they would have in a typical office – a FitBit user’s dream.

A flexible mix of collaborative areas and private workspaces promotes mental well-being, another important aspect of the balanced healthy design. Hassell’s principal designer Rob Backhouse says they sought balance throughout the design, recognizing that there are certain efficiencies that are vital for the smooth operation of any business. And adding inefficiencies to space plans doesn’t have to mean higher real estate costs. Super-efficient high-density storage can actually reduce the overall footprint, making an inefficient space plan easier on the budget in every way.

After two years of being design guinea pigs, Medibank’s employees were surveyed, and the results were encouraging: 79 per cent said their new building made them feel more collaborative, 70 per cent felt healthier and 66 per cent felt more productive. Balancing efficiency and inefficiency turns out to be a surprisingly beneficial design choice. Learn more in this video:


Photo © michaeljung / Fotolia

Keep Your (Workplace) Options Open

Choice – it’s what employees want in their workplace environments. Businesses that build flexibility into the workplace are able to hire and retain top talent, and keep productivity at a high level. Choices can take a variety of forms, from flex hours to telecommuting to benefits. Offering tangible choices is a big part of the equation, too; creating a physical workplace that people are happy to come to on a Monday morning is every bit as important as a good 401K.

Old-school cube farms and new-style open plans can both be inflexible in their own ways. By using well-designed modular casework and reconfigurable workspaces, facilities managers can easily add choices to office environments, creating an adaptable balance between open and closed workspaces. Modular, reconfigurable workspaces are re-arranged as choices shift. Work “zones” for privacy or collaboration let employees choose which kind of environment they need for maximum productivity at any given time.

Writing in Facilities.Net, Naomi Millan states, “space is not a one-size fits all proposition.” In the choice-oriented workplace, the commitment is to employees, not to the built environment. The result is a happy, productive team and a successful business.

How are you adding flexibility to your workplace? Share your story with us, and we’ll share some insider tips we’ve learned from our experience as storage consultants.


Photo © Rawpixel/

Planning for the “Next-Gen” Lab

As science and technology advance, research facilities are having to decide how they will adapt – do they have the built-in flexibility to modify their laboratories, or will they have to do a top-to-bottom redesign? Writing in Lab Design News, Jeffrey R. Zynda, describes a “next generation” laboratory, one that is reconfigurable to meet the increasing need for computational research, as well as promoting the well-being of researchers themselves through social, collaborative environments.

A flexibility plan is essential to an effective next-gen lab. Reconfigurable casework and movable benches are a good step toward flexibility, as Greg Muth discusses in “Flexibility – It Takes A Plan.” Without good planning, however, the flexibility rarely lives up to the expectations.

Muth notes that a good flexibility plan defines who modifies the space – the users, the maintenance staff, or an outside vendor – and how long the modifications will take. He points to the example of Genentech, who developed “SWAT teams” of contractors who know the casework systems well and can make frequent modifications quickly and easily.

Creating a sound plan with the assistance of a knowledgeable vendor will help next-gen labs maintain their usefulness for years to come.

Photo WavebreakMediaMicro © Fotolia