Whether you are a growing firm seeking a larger office space, building new, or are a new start-up setting up setting up your first office, there are so many considerations to a well-designed spaced.
In a series of blogs, Tran + Thomas will guide you through everything you need to know about office design. We will focus on three aspects of office design that you should consider to provide a highly functioning office environment: reception and branding, technology and employee needs, and furnishings.
While appealing to your clients and guest is an important part of office design, considering the needs of the office users is just as valuable, as employees that feel comfortable in their environment are overall happier. Good design results in increased efficiency, employee retention and a decrease in PTO, as employees stay overall healthier and more satisfied.
The open office concept has enjoyed a good, long run as a standard for new office design the past couple of decades. However, this trend is waning, not only due to practicality, but to virus concerns.
The idea behind open concept was to encourage collaboration, create accessibility and offer flexibility. However, studies have found that face-to-face interactions dropped by up to 70%. Because of open concept and lack of privacy, many workers created their own “boundaries” by using headphones, avoiding eye contact and finding reasons to leave their work area in order to avoid an interaction.
When designing your office, evaluate how people actually work and function. Cubicles may be desirable in open spaces by creating individual areas, while other businesses may thrive better with smaller but more private offices. Collaboration can be encouraged in “huddle” rooms, or by the use of new communication platforms.
Light is just as critical in the work areas as it is in the reception. While even and adequate functional lighting is necessary for tasks, access to natural light during the work day has several benefits to employees’ overall health. Natural light exposure can reduce eye strain and blurred vision, leading to fewer headaches and fatigue. As a result, workers tend to sleep better at home, by up to 46 minutes. Employees also report more engaged when exposed to natural light, decreasing depression and even chronic pain. All of this results in happier and healthier workers, which boosts your company’s overall productivity.
Of course, windows are limited within most offices. Strategic design can maximize natural light throughout the space. Skylights, atriums, thoughtfully placed walls, mirrors and translucent glass partitions are all ways you can boost natural light.
Employees feel more valued and therefore more productive when their employers anticipate their needs:
- Break room. Offer a cheery, clean, comfortable and well-equipped break room that away from the work area. Employees need a space to recharge during the work day.
- Refreshments areas for coffee, water and snacks
- Privacy rooms for nursing moms or a place to take private phone calls
- Establish the need for private and public restrooms. A small office with few outside guests may only need a couple of private restrooms. Offices with larger staff and frequent outside visitors may want to consider having a restroom for staff only, and another for guest use. Please also consider a unisex bathroom for use of both genders.
- Adequate storage area. Provide a designated spot for employees’ personal belongings, whether in a coat closet, a locker area or even cubbies. Cleaning supplies should also have a designated home, away from food storage.
To ensure day-to-day office operations run smoothly, consider these elements in the design:
- Security and safety. From wayfinding to adequately lit parking areas, security and safety in design includes elements that either address a person’s personal security or to decrease workplace hazards. Well-marked exit points during emergencies, smooth transitions in flooring, security access points upon entry, durable furniture and materials designed for commercial use, and establishment of private areas both audibly and visually are just a few considerations.
- Conference, collaboration and presentation spaces. Whether presenting to prospective clients, training employees or interfacing with the team, conference spaces with adequate tables and seating, A/V technologies and break out areas are important considerations.
- IT support station. Critical to the function of any office is a dedicated IT employee or team. Whether in-person or remote, the IT team provides the expertise to keep systems running smoothly.
- Office supply and printing station. Either one centralized location, or several smaller areas throughout the office, well-stocked supply locations provide employees the tools they need for job efficiency. Equipment should be current and regularly maintained to avoid costly and ill-timed breakdowns.
About Tran + Thomas
Built on the foundation of a 30-year, family-owned Interior Design business, Jill Tran and Carmen Thomas opened Tran + Thomas Design Studio in 2011 bringing a combined 36 years of experience to their projects. They work on both residential and commercial projects across several styles. Interested in their services? Call (913) 268-9595 or schedule a consultation below.