Coworking started as a concept to create a space where independent consultants, entrepreneurs and freelancers could rent a small office, private desk, or shared “hot seat” in a communal workplace. The revolutionary trend quickly hit a thriving target.
Calculations estimate that 1,000 new coworking spaces opened in the United States in 2018, and research shows that by 2020 nearly 40 percent of the workforce will be independent workers. But coworking has gained a new following. This flexible-space concept now appeals to small and large companies too. Connectrac solutions are uniquely suited to support coworking spaces and increase their benefits to independent professionals and companies alike.
Synergy and Strategy
One of the highest values of coworking is human interaction. Those who once worked alone from home enjoy an environment filled with both like-minded and diverse professionals. This offers a sense of connection and community that enhances wellbeing as well as practical business benefits. Individuals are exposed to new stimuli and idea exchanges that boost creativity and productivity, and the surrounding network of potential partners, key players, or even investors elevates business opportunities. In fact, many large companies (including Google, Airbnb, Citibank, and Amazon) have moved teams into coworking spaces to stay on top of groundswell trends and find their next great employees.
Bring in a laptop, and coworking spaces place everything else at one’s fingertips. Power, data, and high-speed wi-fi connections are ready and running, and Connectrac solutions help make that possible. Connectrac delivers exceptional connectivity and reliable power right where it’s needed, be it a perimeter floor-to-ceiling window wall or centralized interior area. Hot seats (or shared desks) in communal spaces require the same services as private offices. Connectrac brings electrical and data services to open areas in an easy-to-install and unobtrusive way. Connectrac solutions can even transform a simple table into a powered workstation, increasing coworking opportunities. And with all the foot traffic in communal hot seat areas, Connectrac solutions’ ADA-compliant profiles are a must.
The shared amenities of coworking spaces (a printer, scanner, photocopier, and high-speed internet) remove purchase expenses and maintenance hassles. As a result, coworkers aren’t bogged down by buying ink and printer paper or hiring someone to fix a broken scanner. Connectrac’s flexibility boosts productivity by allowing this shared equipment to be situated in the exact locale that best serves all coworkers – whether that’s inside a former closet or on the wall of a large corridor.
Economies of Scale
Larger organizations have tapped into several advantages of coworking. These spaces allow remote workers to be in a productive environment without having to set up a long-distance office, and they create opportunities to test the waters in a new market without committing to a long-term commercial office lease. In addition, fluctuating economic predictions make coworking an attractive alternative. Renting coworking office space can be done on a monthly or annual basis, which requires a minimal investment. And it’s easy to rent more coworking space or downscale as needed.
Regardless of size, however, companies demand high performance with fully equipped offices and conference rooms that have uninterrupted power and data service. Connectrac provides multiple electrical options for office workstations with a modular plug-and-play system or by hardwiring the furniture infeed directly to our products. Our solutions create state-of-the-art conference rooms with power, IT/AV, and telecom cable management that can easily be reconfigured to meet a variety of needs.
Thanks to today’s technology, coworking is reshaping the way people work, and Connectrac’s ease and versatility increase opportunities for these new connections, flexible configurations, and high-performance spaces.
A more natural, high-performing workplace – one that fosters creativity, communication and productivity – is the concept of the Living Office. Contemporary Office Interiors’ (COI) partnered with Herman Miller to embrace this new workplace philosophy both internally and for its clientele. COI is Herman Miller’s largest integrated distribution network in Western Canada, and its flagship location in Calgary is home to 10,000 square feet of Living Office space, which is treated as an everchanging landscape.
“To us, Living Office is often synonymous with change,” explains Rory Ellis, principal at COI. “As we change and grow, so must our space. If we do not have flexibility to change power, it inhibits our ability to have our space grow with us.”
So when it was time for COI to quickly change the function of its space, Connectrac’s inherent flexibility and performance capacity was an ideal solution.
Committed to solving workspace problems with innovative and powerful design, COI’s team was impressed with how Connectrac® wireways beautifully correlated with their design strategy. Connectrac’s 3.7 In-Carpet Wireway seamlessly addressed COI’s high connectivity demands for multiple power circuits and cables.
“We changed several work points, integrating Connectrac with Herman Miller Renew height adjustable benching/Herman Miller layout studio, and Connectrac brought a clean aesthetic,” Ellis notes.
Maintaining a productive work environment free from interruption was also essential. COI had been in their Calgary location for 10 years and to obtain the power and data it needed, the company considered core drilling.
“The ability to run power to new workstations without having to create new cores is a tremendous benefit – both in minimal disruption and cost,” Ellis affirms. “Connectrac was an easy process to quote and simple to complete.”
The nature of work is changing with an increasing need for adaptable spaces that enhance collaboration. To provide workplaces that attract, nurture, and retain talent, COI knows the value of creating office environments ready for constant evolution. With their clean appearance, ease of installation, and ability to be swiftly and cost-effectively reconfigured, Connectrac solutions equip forward-thinking companies like COI to evolve.
At COI’s flagship, the 3.7 In-Carpet Wireway helped realize the company’s current objectives and well position COI for its next Living Office iteration. “We wanted flexibility to make future changes and Connectrac was a great application,” says Ellis.
Over the past 20 years, sustainability has grown from a concept for bold, early adopters to a societal expectation. According to a recent Forbes article, Millennials (those born between about 1980 and 2000) are intentionally investing in and working for companies with visible sustainable practices, and this group is forecast to comprise half of the American workforce by 2020. Connectrac® solutions support your organization’s efforts towards sustainability, which will help lower your environmental footprint and appeal to a flourishing segment of your workforce and customer base.
Re-use on a Grand Scale
In the built environment, one of the most sustainable practices is to reuse what exists in the first place. The environmental benefits of adaptive reuse are many – the conservation of raw materials, a reduction in CO2 emissions connected to materials’ production, and fewer building materials in the landfill, just to name a few. With constantly changing preferences and evolving technology, older buildings can seem quickly outdated. But bringing new life into existing buildings demands more than just a cosmetic facelift. Today, technological demands for cutting-edge data, power and ethernet are pervasive in every industry. Because Connectrac can seamlessly provide technology wherever it’s needed, you can accommodate a variety of contemporary interior layouts including open floor plans and flexible meeting areas. Connectrac solutions are more cost-effective and convenient than core drilling, making them an easy option to truly modernize a building. And without core drilling there’s less dust, which contributes to indoor air quality.
Connectrac’s adaptability improves the lifecycle of both the building and the product itself. Buildings designed and operated with components that can be disassembled and reused are both environmentally and economically sustainable. Connectrac’s innate flexibility allow you to literally uninstall the system and reinstall it elsewhere. This optimizes the building’s relevancy over time. Plus, Connectrac solutions avoid potential damages caused by invasive core drilling or trenching to help extend the building’s lifecycle. In fact, within the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system, our design for flexibility can contribute to your performance in the Innovation category. Connectrac’s adaptable, re-configurable systems extends the longevity of the product’s usefulness as well. A prolonged product lifecycle saves new materials and lightens the load on landfills.
In addition, Connectrac’s composition includes recycled content, and our medium-density fiberboard comes from ARAUCO North America. ARAUCO offers cradle-to-gate information through the Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for its particleboard and MDF manufactured in North America.
Connectrac is proud to contribute to sustainable practices. Whether your organization is increasing its corporate social responsibility efforts, committed to protecting the environment, or seeking a green building certification, Connectrac is on your side. Call us to get more information about our sustainability profile.
Emerging trends are sparking creative approaches to commercial, hospitality, and civic buildings. To craft spaces that inspire employee’s happiness and customer satisfaction, designers tapped into building users’ values, interests, and lifestyles. The result raised the bar on flexibility, and Connectrac is helping make most out of these next-level spaces.
Interaction and Privacy
The continuing trend toward open office space took on some refinements, as users want spaces that emphasize social engagement, collaboration, and retreat.
Open plan work environments now include lifestyle amenities that invite social interaction. And while collective work areas increase opportunities for impromptu discussion, true collaboration spaces require dynamic, multi-use meeting areas.
At the same time, Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute’s CIRE Magazine notes an important trend is to balance open office spaces with “shared private enclaves.” These small closed-door spaces include minimal furniture with phone, laptop and data connections for quiet workspace or confidential conversations.
Connectrac wireways are an integral part of making these diverse spaces feasible. In open office layouts, Connectrac unobtrusively delivers power, data and ethernet to workstations in the center of a room without the need to core drill. Because the configuration of amenities, multi-use meeting/conference areas, and shared private enclaves may change over time, Connectrac’s ability to be easily relocated assures connectivity wherever it’s needed.
Talent mobility and coworking
Many employees travel frequently for business or work remotely part-time, making flexible workstations a new norm. These multi-purpose workstations are shared by several employees with varying needs. Companies can keep productivity high by including Connectrac wireways in their new building layouts or retrofits to serve the diverse needs of multi-purpose workstations.
Connectrac’s flexibility also supports another rising trend: coworking, where people from multiple organizations work in the same space. Rather than remain in divided areas, organizations are starting to cowork together in one centralized space to promote innovation and collaboration, and to share technology resources. Even hotels are transforming their lobbies into coworking hotspots.
Both of these shared-space strategies shift as needed. Connectrac solutions blend perfectly into these design trends, as our wireways can be re-used and quickly moved within new layouts for optimal flexibility.
Our current workforce now expects environmentally responsible design and construction, and many projects that receive public funding are required to achieve green building standards. Green building measures protect occupant health with highly functional, safe spaces. Connectrac’s wireways are ADA compliant and conceal all cords and cables to avoid trip hazards, which promotes a safe and accessible environment and maintains a visually aesthetic appearance.
A central premise of green building is to reduce stress on natural resources through materials’ reuse and recycling. Repurposing an existing space rather than building new is extremely resource efficient, and Connectrac is the go-to response for modifying existing buildings. Our solutions provide power and data without the disruption and expense associated with core drills.
Upon a renovation of their 13,000-foot showroom, Interiors for Business, Inc. (IFB) needed a simple solution to provide access to power and data throughout their entire space. The furniture dealership, located in Batavia, Illinois resides in what was originally one of the largest windmill factories in the world. While the industrial architecture serves as the perfect framework to exhibit the company’s extensive catalog of products and solutions, a 150-year-old building presents its own unique set of challenges.
With markets spanning from higher education and corporate offices to healthcare and government facilities, IFB designed a showroom space to display all types of environments.
“We want to provide a holistic solution for an entire space where furniture and technology are seamlessly integrated.” said Alex Carsi, Workplace Consultant at IFB. “We focus on the ways that people work and the settings they need to achieve success.”
While creating a prominent showcase of their products, IFB also wanted the space to serve as a working hub for their sales force and design team. The showroom offers workstations, training rooms, and collaborative areas with power, data, and telecom cable management. These features allow their teams access to power and A/V connections anywhere throughout the space.
“Prior to this renovation, the majority of our connectivity was around the perimeter of our space.” Carsi said. “Many of our settings in the middle of our showroom were missing power.”
When deciding upon a cable management solution, IFB was looking for both efficiency and flexibility. In the contract furniture industry, a showroom must be flexible enough to adapt to constantly changing trends. The continuous introduction of new products means a frequently changing floor plan. Regardless of the configuration, connection to power and data is a necessity to make the space functional. For the best combination of flexibility and elegant aesthetics, IFB chose Connectrac wireways for their cable management solution.
The installation included both the 3.7 in-carpet and 2.7 under-carpet wireways. While IFB has used Connectrac in the past, this would be their first experience with the under-carpet solution. “It was easy to install,” Carsi recalled. “It was essentially the same installation, but a cleaner aesthetic because the entire wireway is covered.”
The under-carpet wireway was installed in one of the showroom’s conference rooms, while the in-carpet wireway provided connectivity to workstations, collaborative spaces, and training rooms throughout the area. The wireway’s flexibility not only translated to future renovations but also adjustments made during the project installation. While other cable management alternatives only come in set lengths and cannot be adjusted, Connectrac wireways can be saw-cut onsite to the necessary length.
“We incorporated Connectrac all throughout the space,” Carsi said. Both the under-carpet and in-carpet wireways gelled seamlessly with IFB’s showroom design. From power and data access for the sales and design teams, to displaying presentations or educational materials on their 65-inch HD television screens, Connectrac provided fully integrated connectivity.
IFB first came across Connectrac years ago and have used the products on a variety of installations, including their own and many customers. With the success of this latest installation, more projects are surely to continue!
“The motto of Interiors for Business, ‘Bringing Life to Work’ is fully encapsulated when you walk into their showroom.” said Clint Strong, CEO of Connectrac. “Their new showroom accomplishes their goal of creating a stellar workplace environment for their employees while providing customers a detailed display of what the company has to offer.”
About Interiors for Business, Inc.
Interiors for Business, Inc. (IFB) has been helping companies create elegant and efficient workplaces since 1995. IFB creates workplaces to help you attract the best talent while providing an environment to maximize their productivity and collaboration needs.
Their corporate offices reside in a 150-year-old building, where limestone walls and exposed beams provide the perfect backdrop to evaluate the alternatives in today’s world.
IFB has project teams to provide the expertise, creativity, and knowledge to bring all phases of a project together from needs assessment, space planning and interior design layouts to product selection, procurement, and professional installation. IFB is committed to providing the best solution for their customers’ unique working environment.
They service major corporations, small businesses, schools, universities, assisted living facilities, healthcare, and government agencies. IFB is a dynamic entrepreneurial organization that uses the best of technology to support the furniture buying process and develops creative value driven solutions.
To provide long-term fiscal responsibility and better serve its 900 staff members, Metro Vancouver (the Greater Vancouver Water District in Vancouver, B.C.) purchased a new office tower in Burnaby, B.C. The organization’s new head office covers 263,000 square feet across 16 floors, and Metro Vancouver looked forward to tenant improvements that would fit its unique needs. Providing audio/visual, data and electrical power in the space, however, became a challenge.
“The extensive amount of post-tension cables in the building’s suspended slabs made it impossible to maintain the architect’s furniture and meeting-room layouts using core drills for cabling,” explains Joe Borsellino, Assistant Project Manager of Turner Construction Company in Vancouver, B.C.
In addition, the slab itself was extensive and provided little-to-no room for core drills, and raising the flooring on 16 of the building’s floors proved cost prohibitive. An out-of-the-box alternative was needed. Turner Construction consulted with AES Engineering for a solution to this problem and their recommendation was Connnectrac.
“Connectrac turned out to be the perfect solution for this job site,” says Sherry Scoular, owner of Vancouver B.C.’s Scoular Consulting. “The interior was designed as open-plan workstations with private offices and meeting rooms on the inside core, and the client was very concerned about aesthetics. The Connectrac systems are unobtrusive while meeting all of Metro Vancouver’s electrical, data and audio/visual needs.”
To dispel client doubts, the Connectrac representative offered samples and mock-ups of the appropriate applications as well as a demonstration, which bolstered client confidence. For Turner Construction, this helped to keep the project moving forward.
“Connectrac’s customer service was fantastic,” says Borsellino. “The demonstrations made it much easier to come to a final solution, and the samples and mockups helped us get timely client buy-in so we could keep the project on schedule.”
Metro Vancouver’s tenant improvement took advantage of two Connectrac solutions. The Connectrac In-Carpet Wireway ran power, voice and data from the walls and window perimeters to the systems furniture in the open-office workstations. In the meeting rooms, the Connectrac Under-Carpet Wireways were used to bring electrical and data access to the conference tables.
According to Borsellino, the project’s electrical contractor was able to install the wireways without complication, and the client and architect were pleased that the Connectrac systems preserved the tenant improvement’s intended space layout. “Everyone was very happy with Connectrac and how it was implemented on this project,” he says. “The systems had the capacity we were looking for without compromising functionality, and they offered minimal visual impact.”
Because Metro Vancouver plans to expand its offices in the building for decades to come, flexibility was another important consideration where Connectrac met the mark. “Connectrac’s adaptability, ease of use and clean aesthetic truly made it the best application for the project,” Scoular asserts.
As a leader in helping companies elevate workplace performance, Archbright knows the value of good teamwork. The company serves employers in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon with everything from human resources and employment law compliance to compensation consulting and employee training. When Archbright consolidated its three offices into one 22,000-square-foot Seattle location to help build a unified culture, their tenant improvements for the new building included furniture and workplace technology from OpenSquare and Connectrac.
Archbright initially considered core drilling to get power and data where it needed to be but JPC Architects and OpenSquare, a workspace services and furniture consultant, suggested Connectrac as a better alternative. “In our market, floor coring is a very expensive option that Archbright wanted to avoid,” says Michael Combs, Workplace Technology Consultant for OpenSquare.
Archbright’s office space is designed for employees to work anyplace they choose and to choose the best space for the work they’re doing. That could have meant multiple floor-cores for access to plug in resources, depending on if employees are sitting at their desks or working in small collaborative areas.
“In addition, Archbright needed to be able to have clients, who come to their offices to train, to be able to connect easily,” Combs explained. “Connectrac allowed them to achieve this without having to pull cords across floors or require multiple expensive and inflexible floor cores.”
Archbright’s open floor plan includes workstations, meeting rooms, training rooms, and a large co-working lounge.
The space has to function exceptionally well to serve employees, facilitate trainings, and host member meetings.
Archbright chose Steelcase media:scape, a synthesis of technology and furniture, which allows people to share content instantly and engage with each other as well as with digital platforms. Because media:scape fosters enhanced collaboration, it is a tremendous benefit to Archbright’s employees and their clients during onsite classes and web-based trainings.
Connectrac was an ideal pairing with media:scape. Connectrac In-Carpet Wireways ran from the wall to the middle of the floor bringing power, Cat6 for fast Ethernet, and HDMI connections to all media:scape workstations.
OpenSquare Workplace Consultant Hal Breier says it’s precisely these capabilities that set Connectrac apart in the marketplace. “The clear difference with Connectrac is the ease to which power AND data can be delivered to areas that go beyond the traditional cubicle,” states Breier.
As for Archbright? Settled into their new consolidated Georgetown neighborhood office, the company is enjoying the collaborative space they desired without the lost productivity and expense involved in core drilling. “Connectrac was not only a cost-effective solution, it also gave use an added advantage in its speed and ease of installation,” Colin Lyons, Director of IT and Business Intelligence at Archbright. “The system is working well. It looks great – it’s very clean and aesthetically pleasing.”
Breier sees Connectrac as a solution for the demands of the contemporary workplace. “Office design today is about choice and control over where and how people work,” Breier notes. “Having the ability to bring power and data to more casual spaces, or spread throughout a training space is really important to our clients.”
Like many institutions, academic libraries grapple with challenges brought on by technology. Formerly the main repositories of knowledge, libraries needed a new assignment now that anyone with access to an electronic device has a wealth of information at their fingertips.
As a result, university libraries have carved out new roles. Now the predominant places of study on campus are hubs for groups to collaborate, library staff members serve as guides, helping students find and select the most credible and relevant information online and in electronic formats. To provide the full range of these services, libraries must provide superior digital accessibility and platform integration to help students excel.
Connectrac helped the Leo F. Cain Library at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) achieve this mission. Recently its five-story library underwent a renovation and 140,000-square-foot addition to double its size. The state-of-the-art construction project included study areas, grand reading rooms, 1,600 reader stations, 250 computer workstations and two dedicated computer labs. But over the past decade, demand for electronic access at libraries across the country has skyrocketed, and libraries need to allow hundreds of students to simultaneously charge and use their laptops, phones, tablets while studying.
A modernist building composed primarily of glass and metal, Connectrac was the perfect response for unobtrusive and economical solutions to maintain its clean architecture. The project’s electrical distributor, Main Electric Supply, has a project management goal to “collapse timelines, increase efficiency and improve communication” to help maximize their customer’s profit, and the company hired Connectrac to ensure these aims were met.
Chris Truelove, inside sales at Main Electric Supply was impressed with Connectrac’s comprehensive services – from our design assistance to customer representatives.
“I appreciated what I saw in your company as you came together as a team from all different departments,” says Truelove.
“The design team was awesome and Connectrac’s Regional Sales Manager gave us support all the way to the end. Even your shipping team provided support on shipping the finished product.”
To layer in the critical technical infrastructure and bring technology to the desk areas, the project consisted of 3.7 In-Carpet Wireway and employed several different Connectrac devices. Depending on the area and the electrical and data needs, we specified PS-I, single-circuit duplexes, PS-M, hardwire monuments and PM-RECM, modular duplexes and quads.
Connectrac was available throughout the project to guarantee success. “The follow up after delivery was so helpful,” says Truelove. “Connectrac sent resources and support to the contractors during install, which saved time. This reflected all the way down the end user and will not be forgotten. I’m confident it added to the value to the project.”
Community-focused, collaborative, adaptable and inclusive – these are the shared values of the Tualatin Public Library in Tualatin, Oregon. The library houses more than 100,000 items and hosts 800+ programs each year. The welcoming civic space features a circular fireplace with comfortable seating and social areas, meeting rooms, and a community room. Serving approximately 29,000 citizens, the library operates under the City of Tualatin.
With a mission to “empower and enrich its community through learning, discovery, and interaction,” the library offers access to online research databases and provides computers with productivity software, wi-fi access, and wireless printing. Adequate connectivity is a must. As such, the Tualatin Public Library’s media station required expansion to serve patrons, but it didn’t want to interrupt access to the important services it provides. “We needed to add more technology and didn’t want to close the library to do so,” notes Cameron Eby, Building Maintenance Technician at the City of Tualatin. “Connectrac was a great option. The system was so easy to install and quiet that I did it during library operating hours.”
The library’s media station needed to supply power and data for internet connectivity from the kiosk’s wall channel to a computer table with multiple workstations located in an area outside the perimeter walls. The building’s construction is slab-on-grade, so no underfloor space was available to run wires. “Cost was a concern and so was the potential mess. That meant that core drilling was not an option,” Eby asserts.
The Library Manager researched under-carpet cable management online and considered other products on the market before choosing Connectrac as the best solution. Eby used photos of the layout to procure a quote for Connectrac’s 2.7 Under-Carpet Wireway. “The under-carpet system was able to conceal the needed wires and the install was quick,” says Eby. “As an end user we often don’t have knowledge of what we need and Connectrac was easy to deal with.”
Removing complications for Eby made him an effective building maintenance technician and kept the Tualatin Library thriving as a place of where members gather, connect, and engage. “We scramble, we fix people’s problems, and Connectrac was an easy way to do that” Eby says. “All you had to do is pull up carpet tiles, stick it down, and you have a solution. We may have been able to do it a different way, but it would have taken time and headache.”
The Connectrac 2.7 Under-Carpet Wireway system proved to be simplicity at its finest for Eby. “It was simple to install and gave us efficiency in a solution without the headache of figuring out how to get it done,” he says. “Connectrac was easy, clean and invisible.”
Spirits were high when 48 Connectrac employees showed up at Trinity View Park on Friday, May 24, for our Annual Community Service Day. The park buzzed with activity as we made park improvements guided by the nonprofit organization Keep Irving Beautiful. Together, we helped preserve the health and social vibrancy of our city.
It was a perfect fit. After all, investing our time and efforts in civic engagement is part of our company’s Core Values. At Connectrac, we:
Our Annual Community Service Day is just one way we put these values into practice. To help less fortunate community members during the holidays, we collect “Shoe boxes for the Homeless,” filled with necessities to make living on the streets a bit easier (such as toiletries and weather protection items). In addition, Connectrac encourages all employees to spend a day each year volunteering with a charity of their choice.
And our foray into Trinity View Park is not the first time we’ve taken to the great outdoors. For the past four years, Connectrac employees spent our Annual Community Service Day working with the Trinity River Authority of Texas. We helped clean a lower part of the Trinity River and associated trails to support habitat and improve water quality.
This year, however, our CEO Clint Strong and Director of HR Tom Boyd-Lloyd thought it was time we adopted a park. It made sense to find a location close to the office and Trinity View Park is only about three miles away. Spring flooding had closed Trinity View Park earlier this year, and the heavy rains had washed in a lot of trash.
We rolled up our sleeves and spent the morning collecting litter. Then, we broke out the brushes and cans and painted the park pavilions. The City of Irvine asserts that “any job worth doing is worth celebrating upon completion,” and we like that philosophy! So once the debris was cleared and the paint was drying, a food truck came to the park and we celebrated by eating lunch together. Then, we headed out to enjoy our respective Memorial Day weekends knowing that we’d made a positive impact.
Keep Irving Beautiful was very excited for us to team with them and is eager to continue this new relationship. There’s no doubt we’ll partner with them again to improve the quality of life in our community.