26 April 2018
Typically the domain of entire office spaces, the idea of ‘agile working’ is condensed into a single table with Schiavello’s new furniture collaboration.
The past two decades have seen an unprecedented level of uncertainty overwhelm commercial practices large and small. The issue of attracting and retaining talent has never been more prevalent than it has been in the millennial generation – but it is not just a millennial issue. A quiet but sure shift in workers’ thinking has overthrown the old, stagnant order of things, resulting in a rethinking of the established workplace formula.
As workers, our days are longer and our expectations are higher. We want to be healthy at work; we want our offices to feel like homes; we want flexibility in our days and our modes. But it is not just a selfish desire that is driving these nascent attitudes. Ultimately, we want a workplace that facilitates better work – and ultimately, end users want that too.
Although ‘agile working’ has emerged as the mindset heralded as the solution to these problems, we have not yet reached a utopian endpoint. Dangerously close to entering into buzzword territory, our designers’ idea of ‘agile’ is itself calcifying at a time wherein there are still many flaws in that model yet to be solved.
As it stands, ‘agile working’ has remained an entire workplace solution. While at first this sounds positively comprehensive, what this means is that there is no in situ flexibility. Granted, most of our ‘agile’ offices today are an improvement on what came before. Typically, the ‘agile’ formula comprises a variety of different places where workers can go to work; places that in themselves fulfil different types of working needs. While one section of the office – say, a conference room or series of open-plan desks – might be designated as a space for collaborative and group work, another series of pods at the other end of the floorplan might allow workers to go to sit and work in isolation.
The problem here is twofold. For workers, the physical act of moving between spaces multiple times a day is disruptive, and comes with an inherent lack of stability. While it is inarguable that having arrangements to suit different mindsets and types of work is beneficial, this untethered application of the concept is less than ideal, and lacks the immediacy of single workplace that fosters a less time-consuming variety of agility.
For end users, this spread-out agile solution requires an investment in multiple types of furniture – something that might be possible for a larger firm who has the requisite floor space and budget, but that is exceedingly difficult for a smaller business who is limited in these regards. And while on the issue of finance: aside from the furniture itself, it also necessitates an investment in additional technology should workers not already be equipped with mobile platforms such as laptops.
These enduring problems have been recognised by Schiavello, a brand that has, from the beginning, been pioneering a more adaptable mindset within the commercial space. Founded 50 years ago on the concept of ‘anything is possible’, the now-global organisation has worked with commercial clients of all sizes and industries to deliver design-led innovation to their problems. By virtue of its experience, reach and multi-disciplinary breadth, Schiavello is uniquely positioned to understand the shifting global landscape of the commercial sector.
In line with their pioneering spirit, Schiavello has delivered a single, attainable solution with the release of their Agile Table. Designed to support the spontaneous forming and reforming of diverse types of interactions, the unique table was the result of a collaboration between two of the top minds in the industry: Principal of Schiavello‘s People and Culture Consulting, Keti Malkoski, and Woods Bagot Principal Amanda Stanaway.
Similar to Malkoski’s full-spectrum commercial exposure as part of Schiavello, Stanaway has worked with a broad portfolio of international corporate clients as one of Woods Bagot’s preeminent workplace designers. Both have played roles in creating some of the most cutting-edge workplaces in Australia.
The table not only redefines what is possible within a single table design, it redefines what is possible within an agile workplace as a whole. By allowing a choice of work modes within a single setting, the Agile Table enables the transition from group work to independent work without disruption.
The table consists of two fixed stations – the Work Table for focussed work and the Storming Table for brainstorming – which, together, encourage impromptu connections within the workplace. For additional flexibility, the Agile Table comes with the option to add multiple work points, tools and accessories, while a dual-height capacity adds an option to increase the ergonomic benefit with standing interactions.