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Spotlight on Storage Survey Analyst : Liz Dawes

We’re celebrating our storage ranges by speaking to our skilled staff who design, create and analyse storage behind the scenes. We caught up with Liz Dawes, our in-house Storage Analyst, who has been with us for 31 years!

How does storage play a part in the office now that more workplaces are implementing agile working and hot-desking for their staff? 

In an agile working office environment the simple solution for storage was to allocate generic units, which aesthetically fitted with the Interior Design and floor plans, basing capacity on a specific number of linear metres per person. Therefore, the use of one internal storage component to suit all filing requirements, whilst still providing excellent linear metre capacity was a perfect addition to the already vast Flexiform storage component range.

Have you seen many changes in the office landscape?

Of course.  30 years ago we were still seeing plenty of cellular offices, including Typing Pools.  The increased use of desktop PCs with very large monitors led to the addition of desk returns and then the one piece curved workstation, before the introduction of bench desks.  So in terms of desk size and shape, it has almost gone full circle, although the office environment has changed considerably through the introduction of hot desking, agile working and collaborative areas.

lateral storage and freestor tambours in workspace

The Flexiform storage survey service is unique to Flexiform, what exactly is it?

Historically the purpose of a survey is to accurately calculate the number of storage units required and to recommend the most suitable and efficient component for each filing and storage requirement, with regard to client usage and objectives.  Individual CAD storage layouts, quotations and, where necessary, a report outlining reasons for proposals and making any appropriate recommendations are submitted.

A survey is always at the request of a client and a mutually convenient date and time are arranged.  The Analyst is working to the client’s brief and requirements and consideration, therefore, needs to be given to a number of factors prior to the audit taking place.  These include client’s main objective, cost and budget constraints, premises constraints and floor plan layouts, the department concerned, confidentiality and accessibility of files and proposed expansion.

However, the Flexiform storage survey service essentially provides advice, knowledge and expertise to ensure effective storage solutions are provided for all style of office environments.

How does your role interact with our in-house Space Planning department?

The results of the Storage Audit are carried forward to the Space Planning and Interior Design services and help create an accurate plan quicker, that serves the needs of the office staff.  Knowing how much storage is required allows our Space Planners and Interior Designers to see how much space is available for desking, meeting and breakout areas or any additional items.

What relevance do you think storage has in the modern office? – did the paperless office ever arrive?

About 25 years ago I think we all thought the paperless office would be upon us very quickly, but it has actually dragged its heels.  However, I do think we are almost at that point now. There are now far more reasons not to retain paper copies than there are to keep them.  Also, I can’t see the next or future generation entering the workplace wanting to use and retain paper copies, as they’re not currently being educated in that way.  But all that being said there is still a place for storage units within the office. Agile working always requires the use of space effective personal storage, whilst storing what few files remain in the office efficiently and securely has perhaps never been more important.

Personal Lockers and Tambour combination range

How have you seen Storage design trends change over the years? 

Initially we started to see storage moving away from single purpose pieces of equipment, such as 4 drawers, double doored units and stationery units to multi purpose, 2m high lateral units.   With the emphasis being on capacity and floor space saving, Flexiform Fleximetric units came into their own and very quickly became a market leader. Aesthetics then began to play more of a part and different closure fronts, tambours, colours and finishes were brought into play.

Then movement towards open plan offices reduced the wall space available for 2m high units, whilst the increased use of electronic files and data reduced the requirement to retain the high volumes of paper.  Consequently, screen and desk high units became much more prevalent with the use of one internal storage component to suit all filing requirements, providing great flexibility.

In order to complement the open plan agile working environment, secure personal storage became the main requirement.  Personal Locker units in a great variety of sizes, colours, finishes along with different lock options and accessories, replaced the desk pedestal.