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.
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.
How do design-conscious fashionistas incorporate great storage design into their workplaces? Here’s the low-down.
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.
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.
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!
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Congratulations! Your company has just acquired a sleek, compact high density storage system to replace that bulky, unattractive space hog of a “filing farm.” Now what? How do you organize that new system to reap the maximum benefits for you, your co-workers, and the business?
- Use your imagination – Close your eyes and imagine where you would instinctively look for certain files. Do some files need to be in a special “ready access” section? Can others go into a deep archive?
- Purge – Moving from old file cabinets to a high density system is the perfect time to ditch unneeded, outdated documents, non-functioning office equipment, and that super-size box of floppy disks from 1996 (we’re not judging!).
- Communicate – Unless you’re the only person who uses the storage system, your colleagues need to know how to file and retrieve properly. Post the instructions where everyone can see them, so your beautiful organizational system doesn’t fall into chaos.
- Be consistent – Speaking of chaos, maintain a consistent filing schedule (daily? weekly?) to avoid the filing nightmare of unsorted, unfiled documents stacked on every flat surface.
- Measure your success – Keep track of how much faster you and your co-workers are able to find essential documents, and file them again when the task is completed. If the system needs to be tweaked, you’ll know where to adjust. Most important, you’ll be able to chart the cost/benefit of your new, efficient filing system.
Organizing your organization system takes forethought, communication, and methodical consistency, but it’s well worth the initial effort. And the payoff – efficiency, lower real estate costs, better document security – goes straight to your company’s bottom line.
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We reported on this trend a few months ago, and it seems to be gaining traction everywhere: Law offices are downsizing. The vast acreage of partners’ offices is being reduced to something more human-scale, and associates may spend as much time in shared collaborative spaces as in small private offices. Why the trend, and how are practice managers coping with the reduced storage space?
Writing in National Real Estate Investor, Robert Carr points to market economics that encourage the downsizing trend.
- Mergers – when two firms combine their operations, they can achieve economies of scale in their practice infrastructure, including libraries and staff.
- Fees – downward pressure from competitors such as online legal services is forcing many firms to reduce fees by lowering overhead.
- Connectivity – many tasks can be performed at home offices or via distributed support staff, reducing the need for full-time office space and on-site staff.
But when a law office is jumping on the downsizing bandwagon, its storage needs don’t magically downsize too. In fact, some practice managers find that there are more documents to file, and more back-up hard drives to be stored, than ever before. Many of them are expanding their storage capacity with high density storage systems. These mobile filing systems condense large quantities of paper or objects into a small storage footprint, right on the downsizing trend. If you’re a practice manager considering smaller offices, contact a storage professional for advice on high density storage.
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Most of us want better work-life balance, and most of us feel we are failing miserably. Time management is key to work-life balance, and office organization is a big part of the “work” side of the work-life equation.
Royale Scuderi, writing in Lifehack.org, gives tips for organizing your office to give yourself more lifestyle time. A few of the tips:
- Purge your office of furnishings, equipment, and documents that are non-functional. When was the last time you used that 20-year-old fax machine?
- Set up a streamlined filing system that gives you good proximity and access to items you need frequently, and archive less-used items further away. Does that secret-Santa file need to be on your desk year-round?
- Create a meeting folder containing all the items needed for a meeting, and a Waiting-On-Response folder for actions you need to follow up on. You’ll stay on top of activities without last-minute panics.
- Sort through your mail the minute it arrives, and sort it for action: read, delegate, file, act on, or toss. No need to hold on to that year-old catalog!
- File weekly, to keep the desktop piles manageable.
Scuderi emphasizes that you can treat your organizational changes as an ongoing project. You don’t have to devote 24/7 to getting organized – and that certainly fits in well with the philosophy of work-life balance!
We’ll add another tip of our own: A space-efficient high density storage system will help you streamline your filing. Take a look at how one space-challenged organization used high density storage:
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The classic idea of a librarian – a pedantic person who is always shushing people – is giving way to a high-tech version that isn’t perturbed by chatty patrons. By combining high density storage systems with robotic storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), large libraries are expanding their collections without slowing down the retrieval and re-shelving of the millions of publications in their charge. Now libraries can take their storage to architectural extremes without losing document retrieval efficiency. See the remarkable photos here.
And when you have 157 miles of shelving condensed into an ancient building like the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, fetching one particular book could exhaust a human librarian. As reported by Attila Nagy in Gizmodo, efficient robots free up librarians’ time to do what they do best: curating publications and assisting readers in identifying the ideal resource for their needs.
Despite this move toward automation, nothing can replace a librarian’s ability to categorize and connect disparate topics and arcane sources. No one can better encourage a young reader by offering exactly the right book. Librarians are uniquely situated to collect and preserve countless publications and make sure they are stored safely, ideally in a modern high density storage system.
And even though they may dispatch a robot to retrieve your favorite book, librarians will still discourage loud talking.
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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.
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If you’ve watched the TV show “CSI,” you know that the police property room can play a vital role in establishing guilt or innocence. Proper storage – climate control, contamination control, and custody — is an essential part of a well-run property room. Occasionally, however, property room managers have to find storage for unexpected items, far beyond the usual blood samples and weapons.
In Sarasota Springs, Florida, for example, a tour of the property room uncovers:
- A statue of the Virgin Mary
- An odd-shaped sculpture affectionately known as “Dominick.”
- A stone lawn jockey
In Los Angeles, the UCLA campus police are storing, among all the lost purses and unidentified dorm keys:
- Frozen poisoned fish
- A bicycle with a hidden sword
The Los Angeles Police Department has equally odd items:
- A stuffed armadillo
- Fruit and nuts
- Garden hoses and fishing rods
Police departments have to keep track of everything stored, and maintain it all in exactly the same condition it was received. This is where the storage experts come in, with custody-tracking systems and high density storage that can accommodate all the odd shapes, sizes, and types of property or evidence that is collected as part of a case.
No matter what is stored, each item tells a story. We’d love to hear the story behind the poisoned fish, and we’d love to hear about your unusual storage challenges too. Let us know what your story is!
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“If your uniform isn’t dirty, you haven’t been in the game.” Coaches deliver this quote, attributed to baseball player Rickey Henderson, to countless athletes of every kind in college locker rooms everywhere. And college equipment directors cringe whenever they hear it. Cleaning, tracking and storing all that sports equipment and all those innumerable athletic uniforms may be the world’s number-one dirtiest job.
Team gear ranging from chlorine-steeped bathing suits to mud-coated football cleats has to be cleaned and ready to use again the next day, or sooner. And it’s an enormous task – the University of Wisconsin, for example, turns over 10,000 pounds of athletic laundry each week. (Don’t try this at home, kids.) According to UW athletic department director of equipment Terry Schlatter, efficiency is essential, and high-density storage is part of the efficiency plan.
Schlatter has customized his facility’s equipment storage system with a variety of hanging racks and shelving designed for the individual needs of each sport – shoulder pads, lacrosse sticks, javelins, etc. To ensure that each student-athlete’s uniforms and equipment are returned to the right person, an inbox/outbox locker system has been added to let students drop off laundry before morning classes and retrieve it in time for an afternoon workout.
Storage specialists are adept at designing space-efficient systems that fit odd-shaped athletic equipment into compact spaces. Athletic laundry and equipment storage is something the average sports fan never thinks about, but it’s all part of “keeping it clean” in the world of college athletics.
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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.
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Last year’s post about fashion designers’ work spaces was a reader favorite; this year, a new book examines the topic in depth.
From conservative to outrageous, fashion designers incorporate whatever materials work best for their unique wearable designs. That same approach carries over into the design of their workspace, according to IA Interior Architects’ director of design John Capobianco.
Like many other professionals, fashion designers find that a mixture of private space and collaborative areas works best for them. Unlike some other businesses, however, fashion designers have a need to store objects that are irregular-shaped and bulky. For this, they turn to high-density storage systems with adjustable shelving, accommodating everything from boots to blouses.
Designers also need transformable modular storage that can display dresses one day and shoes the next. As Capobianco puts it in a recent blog post, “It has to be much more user customizable, where you don’t have to hire someone to facilitate the transition.” And when the designs go into production, designers use RFID to track the source materials and finished products, and create databases for their catalogues.
When it comes to practical storage solutions, these wildly imaginative fashion designers have a surprisingly down-to-earth point of view. As with their clothing designs, they find the right storage solutions for their needs and, in the words of fashion icon Tim Gunn, they “make it work.”
2016 update: If you want to see just how they make it work, writer/photographer Todd Selby’s newly published book, “The Creative Selby,” explores the interaction of creativity and work environment through fashion designers’ work spaces. This third installment in Selby’s acclaimed series is filled with photos of designers’ ateliers, along with commentary hand-written by the designers themselves.
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