Working it

AngelShack News - Working It

Workplace wellness has become a topic at the top of the to-tick list. We look at how you can increase yours.

To tie in with Corporate Wellness Week, 2 to 6 July, we draw on AngelShack’s expertise in how to create office spaces that offer reduced noise and increased privacy – with noise the second most common complaint in offices worldwide. We spoke to the award-winning office furniture and accessories manufacturer about ways to combat these challenges.

Plants, plants and more plants: Well-placed plants have proven effective in reducing noise levels in an open office setting. The larger the plant the bigger the impact (not to mention the obvious aesthetic benefits and overall impact on air quality). Nature and the outdoor environment are far more comfortable from an acoustic point of view than indoor spaces and the trick is to bring this insight into the design of indoor spaces such as offices.

Private practise: Use a high-back ladder frame, such as AngelShack’s GameChanger NXT workstation with a customisable privacy screen so that you can get on with your work, without distraction. Employees can also escape to AngelShack’s HIVE, a semi-enclosed booth for one, complete with an ergonomically positioned slide away tray for your laptop and movement controlled lighting above.

The Speak Easy Booth is another total-privacy solution that employees can use to make calls without outside interference. The booth is lined with acoustic foam, a full-length glass door, internal lighting and temperature control, plus a handy shelf for pens and notebooks.

Listen to the waves: “I love working in an open-plan office and feeling connected with the team,” says David Fish, AngelShack’s MD. “However, while the positives are undisputed, noise – ranging from the hum of air-conditioning units to outside traffic, cell phone ring tones and colleagues’ voices – make working out in the open somewhat challenging.”

Clever design principles that allow for sound absorption and diffusion are key. Spaces need to be properly planned in terms of where to position noisy spaces versus quiet spaces, and the introduction of buffers such as acoustic partition systems, screens and facades that prevent noise transfer from one space to another.

AngelShack’s Focus Booth is a fully enclosed capsule that offers solitude from a busy work environment, making it perfect for confidential phone calls and one-on-one meetings. According to Fish, the booth, which is lined with acoustic foam, features a full-length glass door, internal lighting and temperature control.

Thanks to having an uncle in the furniture business

AngelShack MD - David Fish

David Fish, MD of office furniture company AngelShack

Tell me about your work as AngelShack MD.

I lead a team of energetic and ambitious individuals who collaborate with European designers to create the best locally manufactured office furniture products.

I have to stay one step ahead so am constantly engaging with people building new relationships in the corporate, institutional, education, private and project markets.

How did you end up doing the work you do today?

I started in the office furniture business a decade ago after completing my studies. I am fortunate that my family has been in the business for more than 40 years, and this has given me an understanding about the industry and the pillars it’s built on. In addition, I’ve experienced all aspects of the business and understand what the areas of focus and the needs of each team are.

I started at entry level as a site assistant where I worked on a variety of tasks from unwrapping furniture items to placing furniture components for the installation team, to ensuring the site was neat, all while reporting to the relevant management teams. This hands on experience was the best foundation for the work I do and where I am today.

There can be no better way to start in any industry than learning how products are manufactured from start to finish, as well as building key relations with clients, team members and suppliers. This enabled me to grow into a sales and management position with a strong technical product knowledge and understanding of the local market.

What are the trends in office design and office furniture, and how does SA compare with other countries?

Like the workforce, our workplace is expected to be flexible, productive, well connected and mindful of employees’ health and wellness. So trends being showcased globally and adapted here at home are providing solutions to these needs. Key design trends include tackling noise and lack of privacy in the workspace. AngelShack has developed a focus booth that is a fully enclosed capsule that offers solitude when making confidential phone calls and one on one meetings.

Sustainable interior design is becoming more important for clients, and companies are being more mindful and creative about how they produce their products. We have the largest 3D printer in Southern Africa and can create and redevelop prototypes before a product even hits the production line.

Are we stuck with the open plan office?

We are continuing to see a cultural shift from the traditional hierarchical office set ups in favour of a more egalitarian atmosphere. I love working in an open plan office and feeling connected with the team, and one of the key selling points of open plan offices is that they foster collaboration, communication and sharing to a far greater degree than if individuals were confined to their own cubicle or office.

Open plan is a key design component of offices worldwide, and while the positives are undisputed, there are certain factors, such as noise, that make working out in the open somewhat challenging. Therefore, the onus is on employers to find tools and solutions to any problems that may arise from working in these spaces.