There has been plenty of research supporting the idea that a more relaxed, collaborative workspace both fosters creativity and amplifies productivity. However, most small businesses don’t have the budgets or resources to make their office the next Google Campus.
At Forster Inc, we firmly believe that great design should be accessible to everyone, regardless of budget or circumstance. Using the big trendsetters as inspiration, we can translate this look into a design that works for single company offices and smaller businesses.
We’ve narrowed down the best ways to bring the feeling of ‘home’ to the office that are achievable, affordable and that work for your space.
Forster Inc’s 5 Top Tips for Bringing ‘Home’ Into Office Design
1. Incorporate ‘café culture’ into your office space.
I once saw a survey that asked office workers to rate the most important things to them for being happier at work. Two answers came up on top: one was air quality; the second was coffee quality.
It’s no secret that ‘café culture’ is everywhere, seen as the best environment for achieving creativity and productivity. However, you don’t need to hire a barista to achieve this look: it’s about having the right seating around a central coffee point or kitchen. While one larger table with long benches encourages team collaboration, a few smaller tables with chairs promotes one-on-one meetings. Choose the layout that best works for your business.
OUR TAKE: WE ACHIEVED THIS ‘CAFÉ CULTURE’ LOOK AND FEEL FOR IDEO BY INCORPORATING DIFFERENT TABLES AND CHAIR STYLES, ALL CENTRED ON A KITCHEN AND CAFÉ BAR.
2. Use decorative elements to enhance personality.
Office spaces are often synonymous with ‘corporate culture,’ with a removed sense of anything personal. However, evidence shows that a more colourful, vibrant and personalised look to an office stimulates employee creativity and engages client interest. It is also a perfect opportunity to visually represent your brand’s values and personality. Try using shelves in an otherwise plain reception area to display company or personal artefacts or use display cabinets to bring the feel of a shop counter to your office.
OUR TAKE: AVISION WANTED A PLACE TO DISPLAY CERTAIN PERSONAL ITEMS THAT WERE IMPORTANT TO THE COMPANY. BY CREATING BESPOKE SHELVING IN THE RECEPTION FOR THESE ITEMS, WE CREATED A CURATED SPACE THAT BECAME AN EXTENSION OF THE BRAND. IT ALSO PROVIDED CLIENTS WITH SOMETHING TO OBSERVE THEY WAITED AT RECEPTION, ENHANCING THEIR EXPERIENCE AT THE COMPANY OFFICES.
3. Encourage breakout spaces.
Breakout areas are important for any business, providing employees spaces to think, collaborate and relax. And yet these spaces are often overlooked or not planned properly. However, you don’t need a separate room to achieve this; even small or open-plan offices can have designated breakout areas.
Try using furniture to block off certain areas and create the sense of space. For example, screens give both acoustic and visual separation from a main working area. Position soft furnishings, such as sofas, in an angle to create a new sense of space. Also, using soft furnishings makes your breakout area more comfortable, serving as a great counterbalance to sitting at a desk all day.
OUR TAKE: THIS PHOTOGRAPHER’S STUDIO WAS A LARGE, OPEN-PLAN SPACE THAT NEEDED TO BE AN OFFICE, A STUDIO AND A RELAXING SPACE ALL AT ONCE. WE CREATED A PRIVATE SPACE THAT COULD BE PARTITIONED USING FULL-HEIGHT OAK AND TRANSLUCENT PANEL DOORS. SOFT FURNISHINGS IN SOFT COLOURS ALSO HELPED MAKE THE SPACE FEEL CALM AND QUIET.
4. Use floor finishes to zone areas.
This tactic offers the move flexibility and interpretation, depending on your company personality and your physical office space. Try using different colours of the same carpet to denote work, relaxing and meeting spaces. Mixes of hard wood floors – for working and walk-through areas – and cosy carpets for breakout areas creates a dichotomy of work and rest.
OUR TAKE: INSPIRED BY A NEW ORDER ALBUM COVER, WE DECIDED TO USE THE SAME RANGE OF CARPETS IN DIFFERENT COLOURS WHEN DESIGNING ACCA’S OFFICE SPACE. WARMER COLOURS WERE PLACED IN MEETING ROOMS, AND COOLER COLOURS WERE USED IN THE WORKING SPACES. THIS USE OF COLOURS CREATED VISUAL ‘ZONES’ THROUGHOUT THE OFFICE.
5. Add little touches that promote employee wellbeing.
Exercise areas, changing rooms, table tennis, bike stands: many of today’s most cutting edge office spaces contain areas or features that are exclusively for employee entertainment, enjoyment and relaxation. You may not want to have a multi-story slide like Google but placing some consideration into how a space can best serve your employees rather than your business is likely to pay off in the long run, increasing staff retention and company following.
OUR TAKE: IDEO KNEW MANY OF THEIR EMPLOYEES CYCLED TO WORK, BUT THEIR PREVIOUS BIKE STORAGE WAS MESSY AND INSUFFICIENT. WE INCORPORATED A TWO-TIERED SOLUTION THAT NOT ONLY BECAME AN INTERESTING AND USEFUL FEATURE, IT ENCOURAGED MORE EMPLOYEES TO TAKE UP CYCLING TO THE OFFICE.
About Rachel Forster
Rachel Forster is an Interior and Product designer who trained at The Royal College of Art and Kingston University, London. She founded Forster Inc, the first design studio of its kind in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch and specialises in workplace and commercial interiors. Co-designer of Hotbox 1 and 2, the collaboration came about because of her expertise in workplace interior design and her desire to find a solution for personal storage for her commercial clients.