How to manage space requirements for fluctuating staff members in open office – Case Study
Katherine Women’s Legal Service
KWILS is a not-for-profit community legal centre that provides free legal services for women in Katherine and the Big Rivers Region (Northern Territory). Their caring and respectful approach ensures dignity is provided to clients, making a positive difference in the lives of women and their families.
The Katherine Women’s Legal Service recently relocated to a new open plan office space. Their challenge was to design an office environment which was flexible, and easy to adapt to accommodate fluctuating staff numbers and spatial requirements.
Additionally, as a domestic violence frontline service, the centre was mindful of creating spaces for staff and clients that allowed privacy while still facilitating a sense of connectedness. It was paramount that clients who visited the centre felt safe to have difficult conversations with lawyers and support workers without being overheard or seen from outside the premises.
Budget was also top of mind, with the expense of building fixed walls not considered to be worthwhile nor practical given the need for flexibility.
Katherine Women’s Legal Service centre chose a combination of modular workstation cubicles, telescoping and folding room dividers to fit out their new office space.
The modular office cubicle systems were an excellent option to create workstations for support workers and administration staff: as the first point of contact for clients, it is important that their space allowed for privacy when speaking to a client, and to facilitate quiet, uninterrupted work. As these workstations can be built with a split panel system, a cloud grey fabric finish was used at the bottom for privacy, with the top panel made in a clear polycarbonate finish to allow light to pass through to contribute to a light and airy feel throughout the office.
A private meeting area also needed to be created as a family interview room used when clients bought children to the centre. The objective was to create privacy for clients and support workers to be able to have difficult conversations without the children overhearing, and to create a warm and welcoming space for children to play in.
We recommended one of our Telescoping Acoustic Portable Partitions which extends and retracts to split one room in two as needed. A clear polycarbonate finish was used to avoid obstruction of visibility so that both children and parents would feel they were still in the same room, while creating a sound barrier to ensure the adults could talk freely. The barrier enables the children to play in their ‘own little world’ without overhearing what is being discussed.
For the waiting room, fabric folding partitions were purchased that could shield visitors who were waiting for an appointment from view. We recommended a fabric 360 Degree Acoustic Room Divider at 2.31 metres tall to ensure that even when standing, no one could be seen.
For the lawyers, it was important that they had the flexibility to adjust their workspaces quickly and easily depending on their workday. The 360 Degree Acoustic Room Divider at two metres tall in clear polycarbonate allowed for the flow of light and visibility, whilst allowing lawyers to fold away some panels to create a more open space for day-to-day work. When working on something that requires quiet, uninterrupted work, they can simply unfold the divider and wrap it around their desk to create a private ‘pod’.
“We ordered a range of partition options to set up our new office space and are really happy with them. They truly are very easy to manoeuvre – we have already changed the lay-out a couple of times as we adapt to our new space, and all staff comment on how light and easy they are to move. The lawyers in particular change the configuration of their 360’s at least twice during the week! The customer service was really great – extremely fast to ship to remote NT, very responsive to emails, helpful in troubleshooting and just lovely people.” – Siobhan Mackay, Chief Executive Officer of Katherine Women’s Legal Service