We asked Andreas Struppler about the latest trends and the transformation of equipment in the course of New Work. He is the managing director of roomours GmbH, which designs professional tools for hybrid workplaces. We wanted to know where the trends in New Work and in office equipment are going and how they will change our working environment.
1. Mr. Struppler, roomours makes professional tools for offices and for collaborative work. In many, not to say all offices, a lot has changed in the last year and a half. First, many were in home offices, now some are returning to the office - but often differently than before Covid-19. For example, many offices are now increasingly used for teamwork and creative work, less for solo work. How has the pandemic affected roomours?
We were surprised that at the beginning of the pandemic, orders did not change much, especially flipcharts and whiteboards continued to be purchased. Then there was a gradual shift towards redesigning the rooms for video conferencing, and in the course of this we also further expanded and specialized our products, since we needed this digital equipment ourselves and wanted to test it at our company. Especially with virtual team meetings and the use of cameras, we now also focus on lighting and the illumination of the team members.
We are currently developing luminaires for optimal illumination during video conferences. If you can't meet your colleagues or employees in real life, you should at least be able to recognize them very well behind the screen. Many people don't realize how dimly they can be seen through their camera and the unsuitable lighting in the room. For this purpose, we are currently developing a light that can be attached to the edge of the screen and provides optimal lighting during a video meeting.
In cooperation with the University of Zurich, however, we have also developed a monitor trolley that can be electrically height-adjusted to ensure perfect scenery at all times - regardless of whether the video conference is held standing or sitting.
Nevertheless, analog tools such as flipcharts, pinboards or whiteboards are still important.
2. Before the pandemic, of course, you supplied offices with office furniture and tools, how is it today? Do you also deliver to homes?
I believe that the pressure from employees to equip the home office is definitely there. However, not so much with our flipcharts, multiboards and monitor stands. The workspace at home is often set up to save as much space as possible, so flipcharts and mobile whiteboards tend to be less frequently scheduled in the home office.
What's more important at home is a height-adjustable table, a good chair and functioning backgrounds for video conferences. Not even in our company does this always work perfectly, because meetings are often planned and implemented quickly. In the home office, the room often has to be spontaneously switched and the setting looks completely different.
3. You are also setting up coworking spaces, what is the development there?
In fact, we noticed that many of the coworking spaces became a welcome alternative during the pandemic for employees who wanted to escape the home office for a while. A hotel room is not the right solution for this, as it feels like you always want to go to sleep. But rooms in coworking spaces were very popular, at least for us in the Munich area.
I also think that coworking spaces will have to offer more digital equipment in the future. For example, there needs to be flexible stations with monitors, functioning camera systems and solutions such as a Clickshare, with which you can quickly connect wirelessly. Such stations can then be booked as add-ons to the room as needed and do not necessarily have to be located in all rooms, but should be mobile and used wherever they are needed.
4. How do you work at roomours? Is there a specific working model?
Apart from our classic production, our employees can choose whether they want to work remotely, hybrid or with the foreseen security measures in the office. One employee, for example, works primarily from home, while others come into the office almost every day. We want to keep it flexible, but many employees prefer the creative exchange of ideas on site in smaller groups.
5. You design and create innovative products. How do you organize these creative processes? Can these also take place completely remotely?
In fact, quite a lot of our work takes place in analog, we draw on flipcharts and then hold our devices such as iPads or cameras up to the sketches. We simply like to work on paper and then exchange ideas about it as a team. For us, paper and pen offer more possibilities for use in the design area, are more flexible, faster and therefore more efficient. In parallel, a good camera or video conferencing system is essential for teamwork.
6. What does a well-equipped, future proof workplace look like?
From our point of view, it is certainly collaborative. The basis in a room is a height-adjustable table with enough space for several people. Then various digital and analog tools are added as needed: monitors, a flexible camera system, a whiteboard or flipchart, good lighting.
As I said, we really like paper at roomours, so we try to use digital tools for about 20 to 30 percent of content creation, with the rest continuing to take place on paper. Our tools help meet individual needs for work processes and map many different scenarios, both digital and analog.
7. You are in contact with many German companies. To what extent are offices being redesigned? What do companies need and want?
The topic is currently really very much discussed currently. However, I believe that the evolutionary process will still take a while. Companies are still largely in the discovery phase, and uncertainty continues. Although individual products for office equipment continue to be diligently demanded, few still dare to permanently redesign their offices and transform them into collaborative spaces. But perhaps the situation will look completely different in a few months' time - we are looking forward to it.
Thank you very much for the well-lit interview and the interesting insights, Mr. Struppler! If our interview has made you curious about how the innovative office furniture and tools from roomours look and function, you can find great application examples on the website.