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Using Constraints to Balance Office Systems

Saturday, 01 December 2012 23:36 Published in Space Planning

Pretty much everything we interact with in life we function within a system of some kind, from transporting yourself in your car to something as basic as getting a drink of bottled water from the refrigerator. The actions involved may look some like this; walking to the refrigerator door, grabbing the handle, in a pulling motion apply force in the direction of yourself thus opening the door, inserting your hand and securing the bottle, in a pulling motion bring the bottle towards your body, with one hand in a pushing motion close the refrigerator door, with one hand hold on to the bottle’s body, and with the other hand hold onto the cap, with a counterclockwise twisting motion turn the cap, and so on. You get the picture. As stupid as this may sound, these are the steps we go through on a daily bases without realizing we are operating within a system. Leaving out a step or reversing the order of a step may not get you the result you require i.e., try drinking the water without removing the cap, etc.

ConstraintsIn much the same way your office has systems in which it functions as well. Although unspoken or unwritten, these systems help you get your work done. Some systems help work get done accurately, others are designed to increase speed, and still others are created for presentation. Whatever the type of system you design, it should be effective and have built in constraints to make actions limited to the system’s design. By example, system constraints can be built into the space design, as with creating aisles and walkways, whereby directing the people flow in the most effective manner relevant to the system’s design. Walls, barriers, and panels help to show the way to walk and what to do when you arrive at a given space. Walls and barriers are one type of physical constraint. There are two basic kinds of constraints within the office: physical constraints and psychological constraints.

Physical Constraints

Physical constraints within the office systems limit the range of possible actions by redirecting the physical motion in predetermined ways. Whatever the system, and whatever the purpose, you have designed it, and know it works. Therefore planning for walls, door, panels, barriers, or any type of objects that serve as a physical deterrent from taking another action helps to preserve the integrity of the system. Protecting sensitive information, creating paper flow, designing collaborative areas, laying out walk ways, and balancing noise and distractions are some possible reasons to employ some type of physical constraints.

Psychological Constraints

Psychological constraints limit the range of possible actions by leveraging the way people perceive and think about your company or brand. Given your election, you have a preferential way you would like to project your company’s image and the prewired connection one makes when the company is thought about. The idea here is to use psychological barriers to deter negative thinking and influence behavior by communicating through an unspoken language such as office design. By way of example; a company that has a clean, well-organized office with quality modern office furniture may deter images of a typical office sweat shop. The unspoken language here projects forward thinking and contemporary ideas.

Use constraints in design to simplify usability and minimize errors. Use physical constraints to reduce sensitive controls, minimize unintentional inputs, and avoid inadvertent intrusions. Use psychological constraints to improve clarity and intuitiveness of your business model.

Using Avanti modular office furniture as a way to balance both the physical and psychological sides of your office systems provides duel benefits. Use Avanti to create barriers, design walkways, influence collaboration, and at the same time leverage the way people think about your company and perform within your office space.

For more information as to how to effectively balance your office design within your company’s existing systems contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 855-699-0334.

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