• Robert Marten

Furniture and technology to allow for smarter, adaptable and healthier workplaces of the future

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

The current global pandemic has brought about the world’s largest remote working experiment and is set to change the face of the workplace forever.

We caught up with Andy Willet, Director SE Asia at Teknion to discuss how early adopters of technology have benefited in the current situation and how furniture and technology will allow for smarter, adaptable and healthier workplaces of the future.

How is the current Covid-19 situation impacting business and how are you responding?

Fortunately Teknion has been an early adopter of technology, not only through product development but also within our own operations. This strategy is now proving itself as we have been able to be nimble in adapting to the new global environment and in support of our clients.

However, we are a company that proudly still makes things, but this itself presents challenges when clients traditionally like to review details and test first hand before making important purchasing decisions.

Are there positives to draw from the current situation?

We expect this to be a temporary situation to a larger extent but the silver lining is that it is driving us hard to innovate around demonstrating solutions and quality virtually. This is actually exciting from a sustainability standpoint, because as a collective industry we definitely need to work towards a more sophisticated and sustainable selection process.

How much is technology changing the design of offices and of this how has this changed the role of office furniture?

Tech is enabling mobility, contributing to workplaces and furniture being organised and planned around activity based work. Software technology is enabling smarter spaces that are capable of automatically adjusting work environments such as lighting, ergonomics or acoustics. Furniture manufacturers are increasingly partnering with technology providers.

How do you find the specific ergonomics of furniture have altered over the past few years?

Furniture is getting smarter. A great example of this is Teknion's latest generation of height-adjustable tables that we call Cerebro.

Cerebro integrates sophisticated technology that is able to optimally adjust the light, table height and monitor arms for the user.

It senses the ambient light and the preferred user working posture to make the optimal adjustments.

How have you responded to the evolution of the communal office space?

Communal spaces are required for workers to socialize, innovate, collaborate and learn from others.

We have responded to this trend by not only developing in-house solutions but also by partnering with companies like Studio TK, Artifort, Alki and Segis.

On specific product developments at Teknion, which one would you consider the most forward-thinking in terms of how the solution answers new ways of working?

The product is known as Zones which is the result of a collaborative effort between Teknion and PearsonLloyd; a highly respected design consultancy firm based in London.

The design and development of this product were highly influenced and inspired by the untethered, modern worker seeking movement, flexibility. Modern workers want options. They want to choose where they want to work.

It is a series of freestanding tables, partitions, lighting, seating, soft seating, storage and other accessories that can be combined in a limitless way.

Is organizational culture still strongly considered in Teknions’s product developments?

Organizational culture together with local culture creates an interesting combination.

A large company in one part of the world doesn't necessarily mimic the same company in a different part of the world.

Regional workplace nuances generate regional interpretations of workplace settings, meaning we need to generate creative interpretations of core products.

What does the future of the workplace look like?

Smarter, adaptable, inspirational and healthier. Workplace can also include remote arrangements which I believe is important to recognise now as the world gets to grips with social distancing measures. This is likely to have a profound impact on workplace strategies in the longer term as I believe we will see an increasing number of employees working remotely now that employers have been forced to test this on a grand scale.

Teknion are sponsors of SPACE APAC, part of SPACE Plus. You can read more about them by visiting https://www.teknion.com/ap

Teknion will be at BWT Asia on 23 Sepetmber www.spaceplus.org/bwt-asia and SPACE APAC Virtual on 15 October 2020. Take a look at the event in more detail here www.space-plus.org/space-apac

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