Groupe Focus
Spring 2016 - eSpace Magazine

The work environment has become a priority for both worker wellness and corporate performance.

Beyond being obvious, this evolution is an absolute reality. In a job market that has completely changed since the advent of the technology and internet era, office space layout has become a priority investment for both human resources and the environment. The important transformation of today’s work environment, which directly affects their employee’s productivity, motivation, and inspiration, is not lost on today’s companies.


The layout of work stations is now strongly dependent on new factors. On the one hand, environmental factors such as reduced space; exposure to natural light; the mobile office phenomenon – a freedom unavailable to employees in the past – allowing one to work almost anywhere; data proliferation, especially new information technologies, and the awareness of a healthy environment due in part to new environmental and sustainability standards.

On the other hand, social factors, such as mobile companies, mergers and relocation, multi-generational teams, and jobs defined by function rather than by employee status, are growing.


This market reality is already part of our daily lives, and architectural solutions meet this need for constantly changing workspace renewal.

The streamlined, linear design of the architectural walls option is an innovative and economical solution that maximizes office space as well as budgets. Whether built-in during construction or integrated to an existing layout, these walls also take the ever-present sustainability factor into account. Finally, their premium soundproofing ability improves proximity cohabitation under the different conditions required by individual thought or teamwork.

These architectural walls have many advantages over their main competitor, the drywall. These advantages include faster, more flexible installation, better ROI, easy modification of design or functional options, and minimalistic, constant esthetics.


Architects and designers design layouts that optimize space, and work stations that are customized according to changes in personnel, tasks, job organization, and within the company. They also use new durable and long-lasting materials that relate to and match the building’s architecture.

Using these removable walls is a performance-oriented alternative that company executives turn to in order to maximize their investment.

Rather than demolish and re-build, as is the case for drywall, these architectural solutions can be reconfigured using existing materials, without having to hire a general contractor. Installed in existing areas without damaging the original building, removable walls are a much less invasive method of setting up or modifying workspaces while offering a far better ROI than conventional systems.

Furthermore, by taking the concept of durability into account, the ability to re-use removable walls, and the reduction of construction waste set them clearly apart, obviously environmentally conscious. LEED Certification is the sustainable building assessment system, the internationally recognized mark of excellence in more than 150 countries. Globally health-friendly, removable walls can contribute to the achievement of LEED credits in the Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality categories.


There are two types of wall foundation and reconfigurable systems on the market: Stick Built and Unitized. The Stick Built system is normally « built » on site and offers a certain ease of handling that allows customization to variable floor and ceiling dimensions, while the Unitized wall panels are plant-assembled, and shipped to the installation site. Production delays and more flexibility are some of the advantages of the first system, while speedy installation is an important feature of the second. Both systems are an excellent option when flexibility is an important on-site configuration factor.

The installation of architectural walls is often less time-consuming than traditional walls. In addition to framework installation, taping, plastering, sanding, and painting, certain tradesmen, such as electricians and/or inspectors, must be on hand to complete the process. On the other hand, the installation of architectural walls can be planned in different steps to allow for the work of other trades. Another important advantage: better interior air quality due to the absence of dangerous plaster dust from sanding.


Notwithstanding their convenience, they are both decorative and esthetic, no matter the workplace. Glass, wood veneer, laminate, porcelain whiteboard or bulletin board fascias quickly change an office’s, a room’s or an entire area’s appearance and functionality.

The technologically advanced construction of these architectural walls also allows their lower cavities to accommodate the installation of different electrical and telecommunications wiring.

While glass walls open up the visual field, they also offer better soundproofing capabilities than drywall construction. Higher STI (Speech Transmission Index) levels can be achieved using thicker glass or double glazed walls. A class 34 STI means that, during normal conversation, a person’s words can be heard, but not understood. Higher STI levels can be achieved using double glazed architectural walls, while insulation-filled panels offer the best soundproofing performance, thereby facilitating proximity cohabitation for individual as well as collaborative tasks.


In the future, offices will no longer be designed with a definite location where an employee expects to stay all day long. Offices will become areas that will let employees chose the space best suited to the completion of the task at hand, to their personality, and their style of work. In some cases, this can mean telecommuting, be it working from home, at a customer’s location, or even at another place, such as a café.


On the other hand, this does not mean the end of the office as we know it, but rather an evolution that brings the office into the 21st century, always on the lookout for the latest trends.

Glazing, also available in a frosted finish or in different colors, is an interesting choice that favors a certain visual intimacy while allowing natural lighting.   We can see a clear trend toward brushed aluminum frames with colored accents, the color of such accents being even darker. The use of glass with aluminum trim and an integrated door system offer the streamlined, minimalistic, esthetic, and uniform appearance that designers look for when specifying spaces for financial, legal, and corporate offices.

Modern society has a direct influence on the design of today’s and tomorrow’s offices. It is therefore an essential component of workspace reconfiguration. While making the space attractive, the design must retain its corporate identity, making it possible to identify not only the brand, but also its operating mode.


If the trends sense and improve our daily lives, and adapt to continually evolving technology, they prioritize the importance of our wellness even more, especially in our professional environment. Employee health is a major concern. Wellness is the new environmental criterion in today’s work place. Glazed wall systems let natural light into our work environment, and offer a view outdoors, which is known to reduce stress and improve people’s mood.

An employee working in a better environment is more receptive and thus more motivated, engaged, and productive.


A productive and performance-oriented work environment inevitably ensures employee health and comfort. Most companies spend up to 70% of their operating budget on their main asset, their employees. According to a US study involving 28,900 adult workers, 52.7% reported suffering from headaches, back pain, and other musculoskeletal pain, resulting in an average loss of productivity of 5.2 hours per week/employee. It is therefore obvious that the work environment of the future must supply the ergonomic accessories that will allow employees to accomplish their work in comfort, and prevent the appearance of physical issues that defective or unavailable ergonomic accessories could generate.


Driven by new technologies and work-life balance-centric, the office of the future will be people-focused and no more limited to being the place where one spends approximately 40 hours a week. Workspaces will need to be flexible in order to allow worker interaction. We must create a balance between collaborative and individual thought spaces.

Multi-generational cohabitation must account for the often competing ideas of collaborative work. Collaboration is easier to achieve among younger workers, that is, generation Y or post-baby boomers. This not quite the case of baby boomers, who can find « design by committee » a bit difficult. Baby boomers tend to turn towards a solid direction and a unified vision – they then isolate themselves to resolve the problem alone – thus avoiding submitting the question to too many people and see it reappear distorted, diluted or inadmissible.

But today, scales lean towards collaboration, following workspace tendencies on a playing field whose limits and shapes are fluid, and are therefore easy to modulate. A playing field where the walls which previously meant structure and chain of command have been replaced by unexplored territories in which people can create relationships that lead to innovation. Because, contrary to popular belief, lone « creative » spirits seldom generate great ideas; said great ideas usually start taking shape when different creative sparks flash and merge between people who share a common dream or struggle with a common problem. In other words, when people collaborate. Facts supported by historical footnotes and research arrive at the same conclusion: the creation of favorable collaborative conditions.


The office of the future is a dynamic hub where different moods are shared in harmony through human diversity and growing professional multidisciplinarity. Adjustable or changeable layouts on the lookout for the latest technologies that offer a better quality of life to the employees who use them. Mobility that adjusts to change, ergonomic fluctuations, and architectural requirements, along with a compliance with new environmental standards.

Workspace layouts go through an unavoidable, positive mutation/revolution that manufacturers and professional environment designers must allow for. Beyond the size of an area, today’s workspace is the representation and economic symbol of inspiration, evolution, and human and architectural collaboration.