March 1, 2017 . Workplace, Product Updates

It’s Time to Rethink Personal Storage for the Open Office


The open office is here to stay; that much is a given. Workstations have adapted with height-adjustability, mobility, and modularity. But storage it seems is still stuck in the 90's. 

Hot desking, hoteling, activity based working (ABW) ... these office design philosophies create more collaborative environments in which employees can come together organically to meet and exchange ideas. (It’s a phenomenon we wrote extensively about in our post entitled Chasing Serendipity — From Wall-less Cubicles to Activity Based Working.) As a result, companies are providing less “me” space and more “we” space.

This “we” space allows employees to collaborate, sit where they want, work where they want, interact with whom they want (and when they want!). This greater freedom of choice is a welcome change for businesses and employees alike. It does mean, however, that individual workspaces must get smaller to accommodate additional  meeting spaces.

All this change makes this an exciting time in office design and workplace theory! Desks are changing. Meeting rooms are changing. Workstations can become a meeting area in an instant, and meeting areas can become workstations just as quickly.  Companies are introducing quiet areas, meditation rooms, pop-up meeting rooms, and many other revolutionary ideas. These ideas are great for business entities, but can be a difficult adjustment for individuals  … especially if office designers don’t fully think through one thing:


Where do I put my bobble head?

We all have a lot of stuff, and obviously storing it in common areas is a non-starter. Purses, bike helmets, tablets, coats, pens, paper, hats, backpacks, laptop bags, and shoes … oh the shoes! We need to find a place for all of these things, and as our individual workplaces shrink—or even disappear altogether—companies are turning to many different storage solutions.


open office storage lockers

Centralized locker systems can be a very useful solution. Lockable and spacious, they can store lots of gear. They’re available in everything from small, stackable cubes to tall, traditional lockers. Because they’re not mobile, however, employees need to return to the locker whenever they need something they’ve left there.

Pro: Secure and central
Con: Not mobile
Best use:  Long-term storage for items used once per day



office credenza storage

Credenzas and other fixed storage solutions are spacious but limited. They can store a lot of things and can usually be locked, but their weight and lack of casters means they are definitely not a mobile solution. In some workspaces they can be used as individual storage, but their utility may be more limited when space is at a premium. 

Pro: Spacious and secure
Con: Not mobile
Best use:  Larger workspaces



pedestal style open office storage

Pedestals are typically around 15 inches wide and sit on casters. They are usually designed as a mobile file folder cabinet, although some are split between folder storage and box storage. One of the most mobile individual storage solution available today, they can be somewhat difficult to move because of their low profile and lack of handles. When filled with folders, their weight makes them even more unwieldy.

Despite their drawbacks, pedestals can be a very good storage solution. Some are designed to be used as secondary seating. They are moveable, although calling them “mobile” is debatable since pushing something heavy and short can be challenging.

But pedestals have another issue that is coming to the forefront as workspaces get smaller and smaller: even at a relatively svelte 15 inches, some pedestals are too wide to fit comfortably under modern desks.

Pro: Mobile
Con: Can be difficult to move
Best use:  Storage that is only moved occasionally


A new category of slim storage is needed

slim storage options from Watson

No storage solution is going to encompass every office need, but as workspaces get smaller and “we” spaces get bigger and more popular, a small, truly mobile storage solution is necessary. 

That’s why Watson has created a new category of furniture called compact storage. One example is the new Zo Sidecar. [Link]

Zo Sidecar mobile pedestal storage

Zo Sidecar

  • Integrated tow bar for easier mobility
  • Optional USB charging port
  • Fun design cues
  • Wide variety of finishes and powder coat colors available
  • Narrowest available storage
  • 2.2 cubic feet effective storage volume
  • Top channel acts as additional storage

Sidecar has two major differences from the traditional pedestal. First, it has an integrated tow handle that makes it more like a rolling piece of luggage than a rolling file cabinet. And, second, it is only 10.5 inches wide but still has the same or more cubic feet as pedestals 12 to 15 inches wide.  

That extra 1.5 inches of room may not seem like a lot, but under today’s smaller desks every inch counts. It provides greater leg room and more chair maneuverability.  

Sidecar is a truly personal storage system. It’s lockable, has room for personal items, coats, backpacks, bags, purses, and shoes (of course). It also has an optional

USB charging point to keep devices charged and ready to go.

Finally, instead of a seat, the top of the Sidecar acts as additional storage for small items—pens, phones, iPods, maybe even a bobblehead. 


The future of personal storage

As offices continue to evolve, furniture makers like Watson will continue to create new furniture categories—like compact storage—to respond to the needs of businesses and individuals. We are committed to helping office designers and architects realize their visions, and helping businesses and employees achieve their goals. 

You can learn more about compact storage and the new Zo Sidecar here:

  Learn More  >   


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