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A few decades ago , offices were treated like machines , catering only to organizational requirements , with little consideration given to the ‘people’ factor which played almost no role in determining the design of the office. Offices are trying to move away from airless , box-like rooms , to better ventilated , well lit , ergonomically sensitive spaces. Increasingly these are being designed by professionals who , apart from seeing that the spaces work with optimum utilization are able to add an aesthetic touch.

Nowadays offices are considered to be a status of a person. In India ,previously the offices were either a part of the home or the royal court. The equipment that made these function were no more than the pen , paper and ink. The first sign of automation or mechanization came with the introduction of the typewriter in the nineteenth century. Then the second bit of mechanization came with the telephone and the cyclostyling machines. In the fifties and sixties , offices were rather simply organized. A very strong hierarchical system prevailed and the office was divided between the bosses who had their rooms , the junior managers who had their small personal cabins , and the general staff who sat in the hall. Then the revolution started with the introduction of mainframe computer in seventies and then there was no looking back , these were followed by mini computers , then with the arrival of personal computers in early eighties and the office set-up began to change dramatically.

The strong hierarchical system was no longer relevant , and a new office order , namely the open office , came into being. The open office had light , air and privacy for all. Typically low height partitions were erected between pieces of furniture to give visual privacy but they were not able to provide the acoustic privacy and the noise was the biggest hurdle. The open plan system can accommodate a wide range of functions from reception to conference room. Here ,both executives and staff are placed in an open area divided into individual or shared workstations , defined by independent storage units or partitions of varying heights. The heights of the dividing panels will depend on their function. Low panels upto 4’ , create a feeling of privacy when seated , yet allow one to see or reach over when standing . 5’ high panels offer more visual privacy and though the extra tall can still see over are usually high enough for Indian users. Taller panels can be used to define different departmental areas. Partitions can be useful in concealed old unmatched furniture so that this does not clash with modern additions , which would ruin the aesthetic appeal of the office

Then there were so much developments in the designs and now is the trend of modular offices. Designing new offices involves making thousands of decisions . Some of these are easy , others may take more time. Then the difference between a well designed office and a poorly designed one is enormous . get it wrong and you are faced with high overheads , little design flexibility and worst of all – the unhappy staff and in the last the work suffers. Space in the office as always at a premium. The key is to use it as well as you can. By coming up with an adaptable partition system to customize your floor space , and full filling all the furniture needs , the designer can help you maximize the use of the space available. In recent years , India has been waking up to another genre of furniture that has long been popular in the west – well made modular furniture in wood and particle board. So now the question comes , what exactly is the modular furniture ?? Quite simply , furniture that can be broken down into modules and put back together at will. Machine made for the most part , it is devoid of frills . The advantage of this kind of furniture – often referred to in the trade as CKD (Complete Knock Down) are many.

- For the largest segment , going modular is the key to better living.
- Because it can be dismantled , it is ideal for people who have to move a lot.
- It is cost-effective and convenient , and gives one the freedom to play around with color and form.
- It being light and simply structured , is ideally suited to the match box sized dimensions of modern day apartments.

The atmosphere in the office can greatly influence work output and an increasing emphasis is being placed on making the modern office as pleasant as it is functional. This is not always easy , given the increasingly smaller work spaces to contend with. In such a set-up , going modular is a great idea. Stylish , color co-ordinated contemporary and both environment friendly and practical modular furniture is here to stay. Most furniture lines come is a range of models, to be selected as per individual requirements and budgets. With multiple work surfaces and storage areas above and below the working levels , space is used very effectively. One can add draw units , cabinets , display panels and pin boards whenever and wherever one needs them. All these systems are easy to install , upgrade or relocate and they adapt well to all modern communication data and computer equipment.

Thus , Image is a subtle component that is affected by several variables , some of which may not be possible to change; like the location itself. Image also conveys an important message to those who work in the office. Design requirements will vary from office to office , according to function , organizational style , budget and of course , the image the company wants to present to the world. A pleasant work environment is the management’s way of showing that it cares about its people.

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