casework and workspace

Casework and Flexible Workspace Design

May 5, 2022 3:45 pm Published by

There are two primary ways to design a workspace. The first is to draw up a vision and see if there is casework to fit into the workspace. Second, you can find out what casework is available and then decide how to use it in the workspace. While striving to achieve the vision of the workspace, it is also important that designers are practical. To do so, designers must keep the pros and cons of casework in mind. Modern casework can empower a designer to reach a happy compromise as they meld a vision with the reality of the workspace.

Casework and Flexible Workspace Design

Workplace Design

Workplace design is the process of designing and organizing a workspace to maximize worker performance and safety. This might include a laboratory, office space, or factory.

Historically most casework components were not designed to be moved or reconfigured. In addition, casework was based on a one size fits all principle. This principle suited the manufacturers as it allowed for lower production costs. This is reminiscent of Henry Ford saying “you can have any color car you want as long as it is black.”

Times have changed and casework is changing too. One of those changes is an ever-broadening range of options. Another change is the option to arrange casework to suit both left-handed and right-handed users. Having the drawers on the correct side of a desk and doors that open the right way are big improvements! Think of refrigerators. Modern fridges have an adjustable door so they can be opened to the right or left. The joy of modern workplace design is that today’s workplaces are not just standard one size fits all buildings.


Another word for casework is cabinetry. Casework is literally manufactured boxed cabinet furniture. This includes storage units, utility cabinets, bookcases, shelving units, and desks. Casework is manufactured in accordance with generally accepted industry sizes and norms. The one thing that casework isn’t, is bespoke or custom-made.

Made-to-order cabinetry designs are the special preserve of millwrights and don’t come cheap, unlike mass-produced, ready-made casework which is off the shelf.

Casework Flexibility

One aspect of casework flexibility is that much is now ambidextrous. This helps to make it more ergonomic and also quicker to use. Users should be able to sit at their desks and work at an angle that suits them. For right-handers, the drawers need to be on the right, and vice-versa for left-handers. There are other ways in which casework is flexible: it is modular, can be mobile, and multifunctional.


One true benefit of freestanding modular casework is that it comes in finished pieces or sections (modules). As a result, freestanding casework allows you to add when the need and budget allow, or remove components and use the pieces elsewhere. This makes it easy to reconfigure and retrofit as workplace designs change to meet the needs that arise.

In the case of cabinetry, modular cabinetry is assembled with semi-permanent methods. However, no floor fittings are required. Modern wall-mounted cabinetry is mounted on zip rails for flexibility. Conventionally, desks had to be arranged with sufficient space between them to allow doors to open. However, a key advantage of modern credenzas and filing cupboards is that they have sliding doors or roller doors. This allows interior designers to save on space when designing smaller floor plans with a reduced amount of floor space per employee.


Some casework elements come on castors, which are very useful for ongoing workplace redesign. Tables can be congregated to act as a boardroom tables in conference rooms as well as in collaboration spaces. Heavy filing cabinets are also now much easier to move (to retrieve that pen that fell behind it). Cabling technicians even celebrate mobile casework when they need to retrofit cables behind a cabinet, along the wall.


Modern, modular casework can now accommodate electric wiring, ventilation, and also gas lines. Most cabinetry comes with adjustable shelves which offer more storage flexibility. In individual work environments, you can also pull out under desk drawer units on castors and use the area as extra desk space. This can help you save on having to buy bigger desks.

Additional Reading: Confirmed: Good Workplace Design Fosters Innovation

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This post was written by Contour Construction