The future of post-coronavirus office design, at least in the short run, will likely involve a lot more separation. Many companies will choose to make working from home permanent for some employees, leaving more space at the office for the rest. Plexiglass and other barriers will be a necessity, as well as lots of other new features like covered outdoor spaces and smart doors that can sense you leaving a room and call an elevator for you.
But the individual workstations we sit at could change, too, and that’s not necessarily such a bad thing. It’s an opportunity to ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and customize these spaces to better suit our needs. Enter “Olli” by Pair, a workspace solution that’s designed to evolve with you.
Made to be as flexible as possible, the Olli system includes modular elements like desks, chairs, meeting tables, coat racks, benches, screens, peg boards, and storage along with “Olli,” a base module with built-in outlets. All of the “Sidekick” elements slot quickly and easily onto the Olli beam (and each other) in hundreds of different ways. Workers can be seated a full six feet away from each other, but still be close enough to chat. Screens slide out of the way and back in place with a flick of the wrist.
They also let you redesign your own workspace whenever you like. Want to add a plant, or some extra books? Block out an annoying bright overhead light? Get some privacy from that one guy who’s always staring at you? Just reconfigure or add new elements to the mix.
The elements themselves are sleek, contemporary, and colorful — a far cry from a lot of the furniture commonly found in offices. “Serif,” for instance, is a simple table for small meeting rooms and communal spaces that comes in a variety of powder coated finishes. “Toast” is a portable sound-dampening privacy screen on a metal tension stand. “EOR” is a lounge sofa with a high back. They’re all perfect for pandemic protocol, even if the designers didn’t necessarily intend them to be when they started.
Pair originally planned to launch their latest workplace collection at the industry’s annual furniture trade show, NeoCon, but was forced to cancel at the outset of the pandemic. All of the company’s employees had to work from home, and there was no room for anyone to experiment with staging the collection in their own spaces. To get around the problem — and show off what the collection can do — they created miniatures of every module, with each product designer building their own configurations at home. The results are pretty cute.
“Companies are still navigating what the future office will look like for them,” says Pair product designer Hillary. “The intent and reasoning for its need will definitely change. I’m confident the office will always hold a place in our future.”
“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘There is nothing wrong with change if it’s in the right direction’ and I am proud to say Olli answers to that,” says Pair product design engineer Samantha. “When we return to the workplace, it will inevitably be a different experience; with Olli’s versatility, organizations can virtually ‘future-proof’ their spaces.”