The way we use workspace is changing and so must the design of power supply in these environments says David O’Flynn, Regional Specification & Contractor Manager at Marshall-Tufflex. Here David explains how applying flexible cable management solutions can help meet the evolving demands of office real estate.
Following over a year of working from home, businesses are increasingly seeking ways to cater for new ways of working now demanded by a returning nation of employees. With many still looking to provide physical office space that affords hybrid working possibilities, as well as providing facilities that maintain and attract new talent, agile workplace designs are increasing in popularity as workforce attitudes evolve.
This type of approach not only creates an environment that has been found to foster productivity, it also meets the evolving working patterns catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic: Employees are now increasingly working to different arrangements and schedules, with many now driven by the task at hand – whether it be a requirement for collaboration, team meetings, focus areas, or private thinking space.
As employees move in and out of spaces within the office, they demand a working environment that offers agility to support each task. As such, the requirement for a permanent, assigned desk is significantly reduced, whilst flexible access to necessary power is paramount.
Applying a mix of underfloor and workstation plug-and-play cable management solutions offers the versatility needed to adapt as office environments evolve.
These offer a discrete solution that seamlessly blends with the design of the office, to create a pleasing interior finish that is free of cables and visual disruption. With easy connectivity features for power modules and RCBOs, these can be strategically located throughout the floorplate to provide accessible power and data to working spaces whenever or wherever it is needed. Boxes can be tailored to the office installation, with solutions on the market that are pre-wired or unassembled and feature dividers and additional knockouts for quick configuration and ease of installation.
Power and data cables can also be managed throughout the office at either dado or skirting height with perimeter trunking. This type of trunking removes trialling cables from the floor, allowing occupants to move freely and configure floor space as they wish
In addition, the willingness to return to any office space following the COVID-19 pandemic will, for many, be influenced by the safety and hygiene measures that are in place. Removing concern around commonly touched surfaces can help to improve design solutions for building owners, landlords and occupants and there are perimeter trunking solutions that can help to achieve this objective.
PVC-U trunking with built-in antimicrobial protection is an ideal solution for high traffic environment – specifically, products that have been manufactured with silver ions. This provides one of the most effective forms of continual antimicrobial protection, as the silver ingredient disrupts the key cell functions of bacteria and prevents them from reproducing. In fact, the presence of silver ions in trunking material has been proven to reduce the bacteria surviving on the surface by 99.9%, including MRSA and E. coli.
Look for products where the silver ions have been added during the production process and are therefore integral in the material (rather than post production). This provides a more reliable and long-lasting protection for occupants, as any damage or scratches to the surface of the trunking – which is very common over time in busy environments – does not impair the antimicrobial effectiveness.
To ensure the quality and performance of the product, antimicrobial trunking systems should meet the ISO 22196:2011 standard and be compliant with the European Biocidal Products Directive (BPD).
There is also huge value in writing tighter specifications for PVC-U perimeter trunking that has been manufactured with recycled content. Choosing manufacturers that adopt this approach not only helps to reduce landfill waste but can also improve carbon footprint. Researchers from the University of Manchester found that a PVC-U window manufactured using recycled content has between 17-20 times less embodied carbon that those manufactured from virgin plastic. Using recycled material originating from PVC-U windows in its manufacturing process, Marshall-Tufflex is able to offer a wide range of cable management solutions that on average, use 74% recycled material, saving thousands of tonnes of plastic from going to landfill. This comes without any compromise on cost or quality, so it really is an obvious choice to specify products with lower environmental impact.
At workstations and tabletop areas, desktop modules are ideal for the modern office environment providing each user with individually fused sockets, to enable individual or collaborative working, depending on the task. These modules supply easy access to power and data, with some solutions also offering USB charging, all at the desk surface which is perfect for hot desking situations or conference rooms.
For example, Marshall-Tufflex’s range of underfloor to desk solutions includes desktop modules can be powered with either GST18/3 connectors or Marshall-Tufflex MT32 connectors, (or a 20mm knockout option for hard wiring), as well as compatibility with RCBO modules to offer additional circuit protection if needed. For occupant flexibility, the modules also feature 6C cut-out’s to allow the end user to populate the unit with their choice of data or multimedia outlets.
Agile working is not a new concept, but the pandemic has certainly catapulted its adoption into the workforce’s mindset. Empowering employees to work in new ways with workspace designs that are aligned to agility and flexibility, with access to the necessary power, tools and technology, will deliver real estate design options that are optimised for the future.