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Versatile and Space Efficient: The Rise of Modular Storage & Shelving

Facilities Management Journal | March 2020

Versatile and Space Efficient: The Rise of Modular Storage & Shelving

The transformation of office interior design in recent years has changed the shape and purpose of modular storage and shelving. Technology has led to a reduction in the need for paper filing with many organisations aspiring to become paper-free entirely. Remote and agile working have also influenced the type of storage required, as well as the office layout.

Modular storage can transform workplace interiors by providing a flexible and functional way to divide architectural space into large open plan offices to support new ways of working. As before, storage units can help wayfinding by defining walkways, team neighbourhoods and different functions.

Whilst paper filing has declined in importance, the need for personal storage has increased. The move away from assigned desks means people need an anchor in a dynamic office environment to store their personal belongings and work-related materials, laptops and other equipment. Modular storage can be modified to suit these new requirements through reconfiguration and retrofitting, thus reducing costs and environmental impact as compared to built-in storage.

Aesthetic considerations are also important to consider when looking at the relevance of modular storage and shelving. Its inherent flexibility and modularity allow for new floorplans to be achieved quickly and cost-effectively. The storage can also be accessorised with colourful tops, shelves, planters and more to achieve a more homely feel. This move away from the traditional corporate aesthetic is mirrored in the growth of soft seating and breakout areas more akin to a living room than the old-fashioned image of a typical office. Residential-style open shelving can contain curated ornaments, books and plants and act as space dividers whilst supporting collaborative workspaces.

Research has shown that distractions and disruptions in open-plan working environments have a pronounced negative impact on productivity and worker wellbeing. Modular storage and shelving units can help to partition a section of a room with varying degrees of privacy, without compromising the office’s overall open-plan layout. This privacy will give some employees a more conducive and efficient workspace. It can also help contain more lively groups gathered for collaborative projects and meetings. Creating partitions using shelving instead of walls, screens or even storage cabinets keeps the space semi-permeable, rather than cut-off. As mentioned, the additional ornaments, plants and personal effects may also help to keep the office feeling more welcoming. For many people, the personalisation of the working environment is a valuable way to increase a sense of engagement and belonging to the organisation.

Modular storage and shelving additionally help those companies that have awkwardly shaped empty spaces (e.g. under the stairs and around the cores) as they can be arranged in a way that makes the best use of the space; they may also be considered to be aesthetically pleasing as their colours, layouts and decoration can be specified exactly how you want them.

One of the biggest benefits of having modular shelving systems over the custom made fitted units is that they can be moved and rearranged as per your needs or design preferences (or even taken with you should you move office). They are likely to be less expensive than having fitted units as well. To meet the needs of our client’s changing needs, we created the KI 800 Series Modular Shelving. It is compatible with KI 800 Series storage cabinets and allows current users to re-purpose these and combine them with the shelving system. Multiple component options, wood or steel inserts, planter boxes, and the framework in any RAL colour gives our clients unprecedented choices to reinvigorate their working environments.

Jonathan Hindle, KI’s Group Managing Director – EMEA, comments: “Designing agile, highly space-efficient offices can be greatly improved with furniture that is adaptable and can evolve over time. It is increasingly important for organisations to provide an office landscape that is rich in variety and choice for workers. It gives customers extensive configuration options as they move away from traditional filing and paper storage. It provides a more domestic feel to the office environment without compromising on functionality even incorporating fully integrated work surfaces and soft seating elements. At KI we are constantly evolving our flexible product platforms to meet co-creative agendas with our clients under our rapid and cost-effective Infinity service.

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