Over the last decade, expectations about what an office should look and feel like have radically changed. Much like the shift towards casual clothing at work and flexible working options, the ideal office is quickly becoming one that mimics our lives outside of work. They’re becoming environments where employees feel more comfortable and more productive as a result.
Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of DBI Furniture Solutions, credits the change in part to changes in technology. “As WiFi and 4G internet connections have become more widespread, workers can work from anywhere, whether that’s a cafe, at home or even from abroad. With so many options available, the traditional drab office is becoming less and less attractive.
“The problem is that remote working has its fair share of issues, so it’s important that employees still feel that the office is the best place for them.”
With that in mind, we asked some interior design experts about what it takes to turn an office into a home and how it can help bring out the best in your staff.
It might be tempting to repaint the walls with myriad colours and styles, but you should remember that this might not feel like ‘home’ for everyone.
Sean Evennett, Managing Director of Bespoke Interiors UK, says: “When it comes to office decor, it’s impossible to cater to everyone’s individual tastes, so neutrals are a must.” Neutral colours create a foundation upon which you can encourage employees to add their own decorations, like photographs or art.
Build your brand
Sean also says that you can add splashes of your brand colours over the neutral base. “Using the company’s colours is a great way to reflect your brand identity. For example, your brand colours could be used to promote your company values in typography on your walls. You could even extend this to the colour of soft furnishings, like your office chairs.”
Layla Chapman, designer and owner of House of Sparkles, agrees. “I believe that your office space should be filled with personality and represent your vision for the company you’ve worked hard to create,” she says. “I felt it was very important when creating our working environment that it was a place of calm, glamour and luxury, which is what I’ve created in our head office.”
For the love of plants
One of the biggest trends of the last few years is the shift towards biophilic design – that is, office spaces incorporating plenty of plant life. And for a good reason, too. “In a recent study, workers in spaces with plants showed 15% higher levels of productivity than those without,” says Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice.
Not only do plants help bring cleaner air into your office but they also help employees feel more relaxed — perfect for establishing that homely feel. Rebecca advises adding small plants to desks or nearby shelves and keep larger floor plants in the vicinity.
A home is characterised by its variety of rooms, each one a space designed for a specific purpose, whether that’s sleeping, eating or entertaining guests.
To reflect that homely feel, Sean suggests that office environments should be more diverse. “Introducing flexible workstations gives employees the freedom to work in different zones, depending on their mood or task. For example, an open space is great for collaborative working and boardrooms are perfect for meetings, but what about those days when you just want to get your head down?”
Sean suggests this ‘third place’ should be a non-traditional work zone where employees can detach themselves from the bustle of office life. These non-traditional workspaces can create non-traditional mindsets, so your team can think outside the box.
Light it up
Lighting plays a key role in how comfortable we feel in any particular space. “Poor lighting conditions can cause you to feel tired, strain your eyes and even result in headaches, all of which detracts from focus and motivation,” says Rebecca from Furniture Choice. She recommends positioning desks near to windows or getting a SAD lamp to inject more natural light into the office to help increase alertness and productivity.
Layla advises using softer lighting too, providing a warm feeling your staff might need to help them through the winter months. “Add some floor lamps for softer lighting, as well as some desk lights with different light fixtures.”
For more tips about office design and how to support your business, check out the DBI blog.