There’s no question – the days of drab, monochrome office design are over. Rows of cubicles with identical chairs and tables can guarantee one thing: an uninspired and unhappy workforce. Your employees are your most important resource, and for them to be as productive as possible, they must enjoy the space that they work in.
Luckily, creating a desirable workspace doesn’t have to mean buying the most expensive designer furniture.
Rather, the focus should be on design cues that will make your staff feel comfortable and appreciated. Here are 17 next-level tips that will have your staff excited to step through the office doors every morning.
1. “Homestyle” Office Areas
Even if your office space is a not a true activity-based workplace (ABW), agile workplace or similar concept, it's likely that you provide an area for workers to relax and/or have informal meetings. And if not – you certainly should!
Every study done on the topic has shown that the addition of a purpose-designed place to relax comfortably at work greatly increases employee satisfaction, and as a result, productivity.
A growing trend is to make these areas even more relaxing and inviting by using residential-like décor. Include furniture and fittings like sofas, low-slung coffee tables, plants, and even paintings and other wall decoration.
With this type of design, employees get a taste of the respite they feel on returning home.
2. Old/New Fusion Furniture
This one has proven to be particularly popular with employees around the globe. Perhaps as a result of many older spaces being repurposed as new office space, an emerging design trend is the bold juxtaposition of old design cues and infrastructure with very contemporary ones.
For instance, old solid wood support beams and exposed masonry will find an exciting contrast in black, hyper-modern office furniture.
This fusion can also be achieved by using vintage design cues rather than older infrastructure. Pastel colors, retro-style fittings and furniture (with modern ergonomics, of course) and other vintage design choices create a similar mix that keeps staff stimulated and proud of their workplace.
3. Bright Colors & Bold Patterning
If you ask the average employee to describe the least inspiring workplace possible, they will more likely than not bring up the regular outdated idea of office décor. That is; muted colors, plain walls, and an overall monochromatic scheme.
When considering your office’s design today, consider one of the hottest trends: bold and striking colors and the inclusion of eye-catching patterns. Companies previously assumed that the workplace should be a somber, sterile design environment in order to present an aura of seriousness.
However, we now know that employees want to be stimulated and proud of their workplace. Like old/new fusion, bright and bold décor does just that. In addition to bright colors, designers are including stunning geometric patterns. By using wallpaper, paint, and art pieces, you’ll be able to create a one-of-a-kind look.
4. Increased Natural Lighting
This design tip often shows up as an aspect of larger design concepts. However, we think it’s so important that it deserves its own section. Also, it can be implemented without committing to an entire office-style change!
Surveys have shown that as many as 1 in 3 office workers would like more natural light in their workplace. There is simply no replacement for sunlight. It improves workers’ physical and mental health while connecting them with the outside world.
When choosing a new office space, remodeling, or changing the office layout, you should always keep this in mind.
5. Circadian Lighting Systems
In some office spaces, allowing more natural light to get in is simply impossible. A space far away from any outer walls is an obvious problem.
The construction of certain buildings can make even adding windows to outer walls impractical. And of course, if you’re renting, breaking through walls to add more windows is not an option.
Thankfully, there is a pretty effective alternative. Circadian lighting systems imitate natural light’s changes in color temperature and intensity. As a result, it properly supports natural sleep-wake cycles.
Just like with natural light, your employees will have more energy, find it easier to concentrate, and be more productive.
6. Biophilic Office Design
Information gathered from numerous studies has put biophilic design at the forefront of office design trends that will improve employees’ work lives. What is it, exactly?
This style incorporates things found in nature like plants, water, and organic light into the workplace.
Research has shown there are multiple benefits. Firstly, adding plant life to the office improves air quality. This goes further than the well-known “plants use carbon dioxide and release oxygen.” They also remove harmful compounds while reintroducing water vapor into dry office air.
This keeps your employees healthy. They are more productive and will need less sick days. The same is true for their mental health – studies show that bringing nature into individuals' lives reduces stress while increasing confidence and self-esteem.
When we’re talking about next-level design tips that your staff will love, this is one of the best!
7. Incorporated or Hidden Additional Storage
When designing office space, an often-underestimated aspect is how much storage will be necessary. At the same time, nobody wants office space that is taken up by bulky filing cabinets and unattractive shelving.
A trick your staff will love is extra storage space that discreetly blends into the décor.
Recessed storage spaces with doors that simply look like stylish paneling are always a good choice. Where that isn’t an option, ensure that the space is used as efficiently as possible, and that it blends perfectly with the overall office aesthetic.
8. Repurposing and Upcycling
Incorporating ‘the old’ doesn’t only apply to infrastructure and décor styles. A popular trend right now is actually repurposing old materials within the office. Make beautiful new furniture out of reclaimed wood or the old garage door that was torn down.
The ornate porcelain removed when the bathroom was remodeled can be used as a unique plant pot. And as for the office furniture you were going to throw out – why not reupholster it for a retro look?
Your employees will love both the visual appeal and the environmentally-conscious nature of these design choices.
9. Be Meticulous With Your Metals
Nearly every office space will have some metallic surfaces. Even those that lean to more natural materials (e.g. biophilic design) are likely to have some metallic details. The trick with these is to choose finishes carefully.
Particular brilliant metals polished to a tee are great for small accents. A subtle metallic shimmer on larger surfaces can help give an illusion of more space. This holds true for gold, silver, bronze, chrome and any other metal.
However, going in the opposite direction with your metals can also work. Matte finishes blend excellently when paired with the right décor.
Nobody likes a cluttered space. Employees especially appreciate the feeling of a spacious office. An easy way to achieve this is by avoiding unnecessary furniture, decoration, and other appointments.
For this to work, you’ll have to carefully plan the efficient use of what is in the office. It’s worth it though – for office spaces suited to this design style, you’ll be able to look forward to happy, focused employees. The aforementioned clever storage solutions tie in perfectly here.
All furniture should be small and subtle to meet minimalist design standards.
11. Experiential Office Design
We’ve all heard of the studies reporting that millennials value experiences over everything else. However, it’s not just the internet generation.
One study showed that 74% of Americans prioritize experiences.
That explains why the experience-driven space is so popular. You’ve seen the rock-climbing walls, walking trails, AV rooms and more in many forward-thinking offices. This isn’t just to show off.
These places considerably increase employee morale and wellness. And a happy staff that feels appreciated is – you guessed it – a productive staff.
These have proven to be office additions beloved by executives and interns alike. With the advent of open office spaces, a drawback was the loss of a quiet area to focus on a particularly challenging task.
The invention of activity-based workplaces (ABWs), agile office spaces, and office neighborhoods created tailor-made spaces for different projects. However, total privacy in these spaces is still often hard to come by.
Enter the office pod. These allow employees a truly quiet and secluded area. At Zenbooth, we craft the world’s finest privacy booths. Spacious work surfaces, sound protection, temperature control, total connectivity, and handsome design mean both fashion and function are taken care of.
Manufactured in California, you can be sure that they’re as sturdy as they are stylish.
13. Locally-Sourced Office Décor
With the focus on sustainability, ordering décor from Paris isn’t always the best look for your organization. Instead, consider sourcing furniture, decoration, and other office essentials from local vendors.
Yes, your employees will appreciate the eco-friendliness of the move. But you’ll also find yourself in an office with a unique, conversation-worthy style.
14. Alternative Separators
As office spaces tend to open concept, walls have become less and less part of the workplace. Still, it’s necessary to define spaces and boundaries from time to time. A method of doing this that your employees will love is using unique materials and items.
Wooden lattices with living greenery make beautiful separators, as does a bamboo wall. Combine this design cue with ingenious storage – have a beautiful two-side cabinet double as a partition!
15. Keep Your Brand Identity In Mind
It’s easy to get caught up in chasing trends and forget the importance of designing the workspace that’s right for your organization. Whatever design tips may appeal to you, make sure that they match your “corporate personality.”
This naturally sends the right message to visitors and clients. However, it’s also important for your staff. Every day, they are reminded of the company’s goals and the way it should be presented.
16. Activity Based Working (ABW)
This office design concept has been embraced by many as superior to open-concept offices in regards to getting the best results from staff. In short, ABW offices provide different spaces, tailor-made for specific tasks.
Studies have shown multiple advantages to ABW settings. Just some of these include increased effectiveness, better support for complex tasks, increased creativity, and reduced operational costs. Your employees will love the availability of areas perfectly outfitted for the task at hand. And you’ll enjoy a more productive staff and improved bottom line.
To properly take advantage of this, you’ll need to ascertain what tasks your employees most often carry out and the importance of each. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to design a space that perfectly supports your now-appreciative staff.
17. Smart Office Furniture
It’s inevitable that in this day and age, technology dovetails with our design options. An excellent one to include is that of smart office furniture and appointments.
Smart lighting can create circadian rays that keeps your employees’ energy levels up. Smart chairs and desks can be adjusted for optimal ergonomics. Some can even adjust themselves or let you know how you can improve your posture. Meanwhile, active office furniture allows you to stay in better shape while working.
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