Much To Gain With A New Office Design
Today’s business interiors must be highly efficient, conducive to high productivity, interesting, airy, open and technology friendly. Interior design is evolving and incorporating sustainability and energy efficiency into new or renovated space can represent a sizable investment so there is great emphasis on designing an enduring model.
Employees want to feel a sense of pride in the space in which they work. They want to be able to contribute. Employees want visitors to be impressed and they want their workspace to reflect the enterprise’s work ethic. Businesses have much to gain with innovative designs.
Matt Blain is the principal in the USA-based small business office interior design firm, Hassell. His company won the World Architecture Award at the INSIDE Festival held in Singapore. Hassell won the competition with its design of the advertising firm Clemenger BBDO, a 750 square metre Sydney enterprise.
Blain strongly recommends that designers and management spend time with employees determining what they expect in their new workspace, and also suggests that a certain amount of prominent space be designated to meet employee expectations.
Below is a summary of his comments following receipt of the company’s award.
First Impressions Do Count – The company’s reception area is important. The reception area makes guests feel welcome and definitely reflects upon the quality of the business. First impressions last a long time and for most customers and clients, the reception area is the first physical impression they get of an enterprise.
In the very successful Clemenger design, the reception area was integrated into the workspace. Persons visiting the office walk in to see the staff at work. This breeds a certain amount of civility and professionalism in staff interactions but also gives visitors the opportunity to see elements of how the business works. Guests could also see the kitchen area, pin-up bulletin boards and watch as the creative process unfolds. This new air of transparency was welcomed by employees and clients alike. There is something inspiring about a vibrant workplace.
New Furniture – There is a firm understanding that the goal was an open workspace. “It was all about opening the space up,” Blain told the media. To help open the space and maintain order, they replaced the old desks and tables with new square desks. No more desks in back corners or back rooms. Six to eight employees are seated around these square desks that actually serve as hubs for certain projects and tasks. The space and work environment immediately opened. Employees report exciting interaction, especially on creative projects.
Now the company flourishes with regular face-to-face meetings. Efficiency and productivity have improved immeasurably. There are designated areas where employees can retreat for concentrated projects.
Activity Spaces – Open spaces require certain areas where informal activities can be performed and where meetings can take place. This was a priority for Blain who explained; “The key is having a flexible environment, with brainstorming places.”
To achieve this in the Clemenger design, they used alcoves that could accommodate small teams. A curtain can be drawn to give the collaborating teams privacy. All alcoves feature pin-up boards where creative ideas can be displayed.
Don’t Forget The Kitchen – The Clemenger space features an open-plan kitchen. Lunch orders are delivered to the kitchen every day. This space has a barista for coffee-making. This has turned out to be a hot area for workers, who enjoy having lunch together every day. Many bright ideas surface from these communal luncheons.
Let The Sun In – Light and airy were key words in Blain’s plan. Scandinavian styled furniture and neutral colours dominate the interior. Some timber is used to add to the warmth of the space.
Blain was determined to let natural sunlight warm the space. Windows are not covered or blocked. This gives the workers clear views of the skyline no matter where they are in the space. As we know, sunlight is great for morale and for a healthy workplace.
Blain deployed a simple colour palette to create an upbeat environment.
Staying Within The Budget – Blain accomplished his award winning design on a very reasonable budget. He suggests that many businesses can work with existing furniture. He also suggest looking to eBay and the second hand sources for furnishings. He would rather put money into opening the space, increasing the sunlight, improving the kitchen and using lighter toned paints than buying new furniture.
In any case, Blain believes meeting with management and meeting with management and staff are important parts of the new design scheme. If your business needs a productivity boost and to be more efficient, one of the easiest ways to breathe new life into your organisation, you may not need look to anything more than a new office design.
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