Tips from the pros on designing office space for the work you do

Tips from the pros on designing office space for the work you do

There is so much more to designing office space than just moving some desks around and deciding where the shelving and the plants will go. 

To do it in a way that best reflects the work your company does, is aesthetically pleasing and encourages employee productivity requires design sense and strategic planning. 

Well-designed space also reflects the branding or identity of your organization. 

“The size of a company and type of business and corporate culture will certainly determine the architecture and design of a space,” says Dawn Chapnick, principal designer at Dawn Chapnick Designs. Half of her business is comprised of corporate clientele.

One workplace is not the same as another

Each office environment is unique in its design, form and function, says Simon Mhanna, Innovation Designer at The Moment Inc, a Toronto-based design studio that works with organizations and businesses.

That’s why, to design a workspace well, it is very important to keep in mind the type of work being done at the office, says Jennifer Kudlats, co-founder of the Studio for Architecture & Collaboration, a featured design firm at the 2019 Interior Design Show in Toronto.

“A law office might want to have more moments of isolation and privacy for confidential information, whereas a creative office really prioritizes open workspace and collaboration,” Kudlats says. “We often look to create spaces that can allow intimate and private moments while remaining flexible enough that collaboration and integration can still be achieved.” 

The owners of The Moment like to practice what they preach – the office space they went with reflects their company’s culture. For example, employees like to eat together. It’s almost a ritual, so there’s a big, welcoming kitchen area. They also chose a space with a lot of natural light and proximity to parks to promote health and wellbeing.

Design that fits the work you do

You need to ask yourself what the primary functions are that your office space serves. Mhanna says that, at The Moment, the space was designed with modularity and flexibility foremost in mind. Most of its furniture is on wheels or is stackable. 

“As an innovation studio, our space serves multiple functions and different modes of working: individual work, collaborative sessions, workshops and research sessions,” he says.

For example, if you design an open space with simple, clean white walls and furniture that can be moved around easily, you will have flexibility to rearrange the environment to suit different projects at different times.

You should look at how each of your company’s departments function. Do they work autonomously or collaboratively? Do you need meeting space for staff or clients? What about storage as well as technology and connectivity

“Cloud-based technology is allowing for a much more mobile work culture and that’s definitely shaping the way we design office space,” Jennifer adds.

Also, you should pay attention to acoustics – how sound travels and how it bounces off walls and materials is an important consideration. 

“Too much quiet can be just as annoying as too much noise,” Chapnick says.

Always focus on your people

“Designing an office is mostly about people,” Mhanna says.

Understanding people’s behaviours, their patterns of work, and the nature and details of the tasks your employees have to perform are key points in making design decisions. You might want to consult your employees and elicit their input on what’s important to them in a workspace. 

How do you make décor and colours match your company’s culture?

It’s very important to take into account company colours, logos, graphics and signage when considering your office design. Rugs and entrance runs can have your company logo on it. Furniture can match the colour of your brand, and fabrics can be branded for your company, Chapnick says.

Furniture needs to represent whatever your corporate vibe is and the message your company is trying to convey. Should your office be formal, casual, modern or traditional? Make sure the furniture complements the office design from an aesthetic standpoint. Furniture pieces also need to be selected for functionality and comfort, and should be easy to clean.

Although it might be a workplace, you still want to create “intimate moments within a larger space,” Kudlats says. “Furniture can really help achieve that.”  

By Staples Canada

October 13, 2019