Reconfiguring an Entire Group of Workstations for Only $500

Reusing existing furniture in a remodel is cost-effective, but reconfiguring groups of workstations can be challenging and expensive if the redesign is not tactfully done.

We will be the first to admit that commercial-grade furniture isn’t inexpensive. However, there is a reason for the premium price: it’s built to take a bit of a beating and often comes with lengthy warranties, ensuring it will last for years to come. For most of our clients, replacing their furniture isn’t about a decline in its quality or condition. Instead, the tweaks and adds over the years happen when a company moves to a new space or needs a reconfiguration of their current space for their growing team but still wants to incorporate all of their existing furniture.

 

When we started our showroom remodel, we found ourselves in exactly this predicament. Our workstation configuration needed to change to fit the new layout while accommodating our expanding team. Because our workstations are still in fantastic condition and look great, the last thing we wanted to do was buy an entirely new setup. We knew this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase a service we often offer our clients: a workstation reconfiguration. While our reconfiguration required moving an entire group of workstations into a completely new setup, many reconfigures are much smaller, such as swapping fabric tiles to match new branding, rearranging storage options, or not even touching existing workstations and simply adding more stations to one end. 

A Brief History of the Cubicle Workstation

A helpful starting place for talking about reconfigures is to get a little familiar with workspace cubicles and see just how far they’ve come. The concept of a cubicle has been around since 1964 when designer Robert Propst researched what setups would be the most efficient and productive for workers. For generations, offices had been designed in the bullpen style with rows and rows of clunky, cramped, static desks with no dividing partitions or privacy in sight. Propst discovered that the more customization and variation of surfaces in a work area, the more productive an employee became. Unfortunately for office dwellers, and to Propst’s dismay, once his design hit the market, it mutated from spacious semi-private areas with acoustical panels, height-adjustable desks, and good sightlines into the cubicle farms that most people know and loathe today. His grand design was dismantled into the cheapest, easiest, and simplest version of itself in order to be mass produced and fit the most amount of people in the least amount of space at the cheapest price.

1950s Office Bullpen Desks

An early iteration of the open office concept; the bullpen of wooden desks.

Office Cubicle Farm

The mass-produced, economically-focused, standardized cubicle farm.

Robert Propst’s original design for the office cubicle, known as Action Office.

Thankfully for us today, workstation cubicles are trending away from the farm layout and back toward Propst’s original, multi-layered, customizable, and stylish design. Modern workstations are built with an interconnected, highly flexible kit of parts, allowing for nearly infinite setup and reconfigure options, rather than being a static box that only has a left- or right-handed option. There are dozens of storage solutions, surface shapes, document organizers, and hidden receptacles to make the space as comfortable and natural to work in as possible. Pops of color and mixed finishes (like we did for our new workstations!) are also becoming more and more common as great options for adding branding and style as well as making it a more enjoyable place to be.

To me, the real nature of good design is found in things that have long-term attributes; that you can really live with a long time; that you won’t get jaded with or tired of.

– Robert Propst

How We Reconfigured Our Workstations for $500

As we mentioned previously, a central reason for remodeling our showroom was to make room for our growing team. Before the remodel, there were three adjacent small groups of workstations built primarily from Haworth’s Compose panel system showcasing different configuration and storage options. With the remodel, we wanted to reconfigure parts and pieces from these individual groups of workstations together to create a larger group of eight workstations on the opposite end of our showroom. Since these workstations had been designed for their specific, original layout, we had some reworking to do. We pulled a parts list together to see what we had, built an ideal design for the new layout, and compared to see what was missing to get us from A to B. Ultimately, it only cost around $500 to order the new parts needed to fill the gap.

Our Old Group of Haworth Compose Workstations

The previous layout of our workstations, built around Haworth Compose panels.

A huge benefit of Haworth’s Compose system is its LEGO-like kit of parts structure, which allowed us to rearrange pieces with various measurements to fit together like a beautiful game of Tetris. Within the new grouping of eight workstations, which would be designated for our sales and operations teams, we decided to section it into quadrants that each have two height-adjustable tables and one shared, collaborative surface in the middle. In addition to providing more surfaces to work on, this layout breaks up the direction that people are facing so there is a bit more privacy from desk to desk. We also rearranged the various storage solutions so each workstation had the optimal, efficient storage style for the person who would be working there. As different members of our team have different job functions, they also have different needs for the functionality of their individual workstation.

Reconfigured Group of Workstations in Commercial Furniture Showroom in Boise
Reconfiguration of Workstations in Commercial Furniture Showroom in Boise

Our reconfigured layout of workstations, moved to the opposite side of the showroom.

When it came to the nitty gritty of making this shift happen, our amazing in-house installation team was called on site and got busy. From start to finish, our reconfiguration only took a couple of days with a small team. In a relatively short amount of time, all three groups of workstations and partitions were disassembled, regrouped, and reassembled into the one large group. Our sales and operations teams moved back into the workstations, customizing their slat tiles with paper management tools in the way that worked best for them. Just like Propst had hoped for in his original design concept for cubicles, the individualization of solutions was uniquely beneficial for each member of our team.

Logistically, workspace reconfigurations, at first glance, can be rather intimidating. While it may seem ideal to start with a clean slate and purchase brand new furniture designed specifically for the space, it isn’t always cost effective or realistic for a company to simply get rid of their existing furniture. For us, taking advantage of what we already had and supplementing the pieces that we needed cost significantly less than what an entirely new setup would have been. On top of this, we prevented a truckload of perfectly good furniture from winding up in a dumpster. Because of these reasons, the choice to do a workstation reconfiguration was an obvious one, and one that our entire team was extremely happy with the outcome of. And the timing of it was pivotal; since our remodel finished, three new employees joined our team and we are thankful to have places for them to sit!

Need Help with Reconfiguring Your Office Layout?

We have reconfigured workstations for our office and countless of our clients. If you have a need for a reconfiguration, don’t hesitate to reach out.