With the overwhelming amount of information on changing office interior trends and technology, we often forget that what makes an office space authentic yet functional is when it is perfectly suited to your specific needs.
It is great that the office on 5th floor has a water feature at the reception but does that fit into what inspires you in the space you and your employees intend to spend eight or more hours every day?
Whether it's a campus-style environment, a hybrid office, a co-working space or a smaller private office space, Iqbal Singh Deogun of Spire Studio Architects Ltd shares some tips on crucial don'ts that you can avoid when designing an office space.
1. Plan your space with layouts based on functional use
It is very common for many businesses to not factor in the number of employees, and employee movement, not map out high-traffic areas, position the coffee station or breakout rooms correctly or forget about smaller collaborative work, meetings or focus rooms.
These are critical in making sure that steps are taken to improve employee face-to-face interaction for better collaboration, and higher productivity as part of an intentional, well-thought-out office plan.
An experienced office interiors team can help design the office space based on departments, meetings, and movement, using a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program or other systems saving hours of notes on what furniture fits where while helping plan with the budgeting especially when it comes to acoustics, furniture, and lighting. As a rule of thumb, trendy is not always best for you.
Planning layouts can help factor in energy-saving lighting, appliances and water-saving sanitaryware at the design stage.
2. Don't sacrifice health and well-being when budgeting
Investing in your employees' physical and mental well-being is proven to pay back in creative breakthroughs, improved performance, and talent retention, all of which also go a long way in differentiating the company and its culture.
While you don't have to go all out for a fully equipped gym and sauna on one floor, basic consideration should be given to biophilic elements including orientation, use of natural materials in ceiling design, and ventilated spaces with plenty of natural sunlight to create a real sense of community.
A study by commercial flooring manufacturer, Interface, found that workers in offices with natural elements such as greenery and sunshine are six per cent more likely to be productive and report a 15 per cent higher level of well-being. They are also 15 per cent more creative than other workplace and office employees.
More and more companies are engaging interior design consultants with a penchant for creating unique green spaces within budget, bringing the outdoors in moving away from the hard, cold, dimly lit office spaces.
3. Don't underestimate the power of a well-designed reception area
Clients will likely be forming an opinion about your company based on your office reception area. And while the reception should feel both welcoming and functional, experienced office interior designers would create unique zones - an obvious desk to approach with a unique, focal feature showcasing the company logo, emotionally engaging branding in the background or walls in brand colours4.
An inviting waiting area with classic, comfortable leather chairs or a sophisticated velvet jungle green seat next to a lamp with possibly some private meeting rooms on one side. Avoid lighting the reception area too brightly.
4. Don't use improper lighting fixtures
Good interior design takes into consideration the desired mood and temperature of a space. Very bright spaces can sometimes cause headaches, fatigue, eye strain and anxiety for employees.
Consider design options with the most amount of natural daylight as the amount and type of light affect your sleep cycle, ability to focus as well as productivity in the office.
Look for poorly lit areas and distribution before purchasing lights as a noticeable difference in light levels means your eyes have to keep readjusting when moving from one level to another, straining your eyes and making it difficult to see and concentrate.
And while fluorescent lighting is great and inexpensive, it tends to get dimmer over time and can be distracting for employees once it starts flickering and making a buzzing sound. A better, more economical alternative long-term, would be energy-saving LED lighting which has a more consistent quality of light.
A good practice to follow is to keep the lighting layered at different heights, from different sources, with different intensities and not rely on overhead lighting alone as the latter makes the office look cold and clinical.
5. Don't prioritize style over ergonomics
There is nothing wrong with adding trendy, stylish furniture to your office space when it is done with the right colour combinations, but more importantly with the comfort of employees in mind. Choose materials that are comfortable yet long-lasting keeping in mind that your office may expand or change in the future.
Most well-known, reputable office furniture brands will also emphasize ergonomics in their products' design. This means that they design their office furniture to specification so that it minimizes stress and increases productivity among employees.