usinesses and organisations are moving away from the open-plan offices that grew in popularity all over the world after being pioneered in Germany in the 1950s. The approach to office design that was intended to encourage collaboration and cooperation has, according to numerous reports, led to a decline in productivity and employee wellbeing.
The new approach to office layout isn’t about losing the spirit of collaboration that made open-plan designs so popular, but it recognises that people require greater flexibility and variety in their place of work now than ever before.
Next generation workplaces
Hybrid workplace designs combine open-plan areas with private offices, cubicle banks, communal spaces and even soundproof rooms, and businesses of all sizes and industry sectors are waking up to the benefits of offering employees a range of workspace options.
Office furniture manufacturers are seeing an increased uptake in modular systems, which enable employees to reimagine and reshape their workplace as and when it suits them.
One of the materials appearing more frequently as these fluid office spaces gain traction is glass.
A material for the future
Magnetic backpainted glass had been making its way into the workplace long before the shift away from open-plan offices began to gather pace. Offices, hotels, leisure complexes, schools and universities all took advantage of the opportunity to use glass to bring colour into their buildings through the use of a stylish, customisable material.
As workplaces are seeking new ways to give employees flexibility and boost collaboration, glass is really coming to the fore. Offices and meeting rooms are the primary destinations for magnetic backpainted glass and large, glossy panels are taking the place of outdated, grimy whiteboards that were installed in many workplaces to provide a visual aid in meetings and planning sessions. The benefits of glass over whiteboards are many, and its popularity is booming as a result.
A versatile visual tool
An easy-to-clean glass surface provides a hygienic alternative to conventional dry-wipe boards – and one that will never wear out. Glass can also be backpainted in any colour imaginable, so panels can be customised to fit with the branding or colour scheme of any organisation and they have the power to look like a piece of furniture when not in use as a visual tool.
When it comes to sharing ideas, visualising plans and documenting meetings, glass offers an evolution of the conventional whiteboard. The experience of writing on glass using dry or wet-wipe pens is a pleasingly tactile experience, and glass provides a sturdy, long-lasting backdrop for all manner of creative splurges.
In the workplaces of the future, where people don’t sit in the same seat every day and instead move around the workplace, ideas scrawled onto glass in a meeting room can be simply photographed and wiped clean, ready for the next person to arrive in the space with a fresh surface to use. Glass is also very effective when used to separate desks, providing people working in focused, private areas with a place to jot down thoughts and ideas.
While often referred to as magnetic glass, the glass products being used in workplaces would be more accurately described as ‘magnetically receptive’. A metal sheet is applied to the back of the glass that turns the whole panel into a giant ‘pinboard’, using super-strong neodymium magnets to attach paper, fabric, blueprints and other items to backpainted glass.
In an era when workplaces are buzzing with social media feeds and online conversations, glass provides a refreshing return to the tactile and the tangible. Creativity comes alive when a surface can be touched, altered, added to and rearranged, and people are turning entire walls of their workplace into galleries that would not look out of place on Pinterest or Instagram.
Magnetic backpainted glass is symbiotic with the way people want to work, giving them a palette for their ideas that contributes to a truly living workspace.