Demountable Office Partitions… What’s Driving the Need?
Today, if you ask facilities management professionals the value of demountable office partitions you will get a mixed answer. Many will tell you that the demand for speed of change has become greater. Others will tell you that demountable floor to ceiling office partitions are far less intrusive or disruptive than conventional construction. Currently, a fast growing need for this wall solution is driven by the very important push for sustainable building design. Nonetheless, demountable wall partitions are not a passing fad but a way to manage space strategically.
Conversely, when seeking to understand a seemingly logical approach for office walls, facilities managers will tell you the challenges they face to the adoption of a complete and or comprehensive integration of demountable office partitions or wall is two-fold; price and perceived flexibility vs. real flexibility.
The demountable wall industry has long been weighed-down with expensive and inflexible floor to ceiling partitions. Too often expensive inflexible demountable glass partitions that simply and deceivingly take on the name “demountable”, but in reality, only serve as a pretentious alternate to stick built glass fronts. Similarly, these demountable glass front partitions are surrounded with a confusing and inflexible strategy of conventionally constructed glass fronts, only pretending to offer flexibility.
This confusing glass front strategy was preceded by the inflexibility delivered by both the “unitized” demountable partition and the “pre-engineered or pre-manufactured” demountable wall with its huge parts list. This architectural wall strategy fell far short of meeting the flexibility challenges and speed of change demand that was placed on today’s workspace. The complicated approach of producing a fixed panel or a pre-manufactured panel consisting of massive parts and pieces that might anticipate the changes that would be required, has miss the needs of a rapidly changing business environment. These products failed to consider the realities of a facilities manager’s world. The unique building or space requirements have been disregarded in favor of aesthetics alone.
Today, a new and innovative wall approach that delivers a “field fit” or “field adaptable” approach that can help facility manager’s strategically manage space like never before. Demountable office partitions have an opportunity to not only deliver but to redefine “flexibility” that was once only marketed as a flexible solution to fixed construction. Today’s workspaces, demand responsiveness to changing technology and an improved utility of the space. The office space personality has received mixed messages and a change of needs; from privacy to collaboration…. eccentricity to professionalism…low tech to high tech, all while being conscious of the environment.
The drivers of the office of tomorrow and the demountable office partitions or walls are very clear; make it simple, make it real, make it affordable. These 3 drivers will allow companies to support the responsible green initiative with a demountable wall solution that supports their bottom line.
A bottom line is not improved with huge first cost, or expensive life cycle costs accommodating the change of needs. Sustainable building or product design is not achieved when all materials produced come out of plants with a huge carbon footprint hundreds or thousands of miles from the installation site. Flexibility is not achieved with massive inventories from huge kits of parts or inflexible wall partitions made section by section for a specific building or floor all piled high in warehouses collecting dust and costing companies money.
In the end it’s all about “real” flexibility. This includes: simplicity, affordability and aesthetics with a strong consideration and/or bias for the environment. Manufacturers must not be singularly focused on selling product… but rather selling a solution for the strategic facilities management that supports an ever-changing personality and culture of the workspace.