Time to Design a Workplace Refresh

Spring has sprung. Now is the perfect time of year to do a full office evaluation, de-clutter and refresh. Sound a bit daunting? It’s not. If you’re looking to liven up your workspace with the change of season, there are simple things you can do to create a warm, inviting space that inspires your employees and impresses your visitors without blowing through your design budget.

Here are three simple tips to keep in mind as you spring into workplace design planning:

A Little Change can go a Long Way

Ahead-of-the-curve workspaces go beyond being ‘functional’ and ‘clean’, they also capture the spirit of the company and its brand. By keeping the bare bones of the design space neutral in colour, you make room for swapping in seasonal quirky touches without looking excessive. The good news is, your seasonal changes don’t need to be significant, or expensive. A feature wall with your company logo is one place to start, or mix in some vintage touches, kitschy knick knack’s, something handmade or easily swapped accessories like throw pillows or planting pots (you do have plant life in your workspace right? Because that is the ultimate way to ‘spring your workplace’ to life!).

 Art – Trade in ‘Meh’ for ‘Wow’

Search online and download unique photos or images that create conversation and speak to your brand (or course by acquiring the appropriate licensing). Make the images your own by cropping, zooming, or adding custom effects. Once the images are matted and framed, they become fresh, unexpected and unique art installations that don’t break the bank. Blowing up two to three pieces will create an ambiance that livens up your workspace. By holding onto the frames, you can swap images and photos in and out according to seasonality – keeping your workplace crisp and on trend.

Remember the Fine Line of Being Too Trendy

Remember when fluro and neon were all the rage in design? If so, you probably also remember cringing at the thought a decade later. Instead of putting a heavy investment in design solutions that are incredibly fashionable in the moment, but might come with a short lifecycle, consider integrating materials that will carry you through not only multiple seasons – but multiple years. Materials like timber and laminate for instance create comfortable environments without threatening to come back and haunt your organization’s photo records years down the road.

When it comes to giving your workspace a spring refresh, it’s all about putting the right pieces, in the right places to create an environment that employees, executives and clients enjoy spending time in. A lively space awakens innovation and productivity, allowing your business to grow right along with the season.

 

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Breathe Easier With Low Toxicity Furniture

Creating a sustainable workplace has become vital to the reputation of an organisation, it’s almost no longer a choice, but instead, a necessity. With an overwhelming call across the globe to go green, it’s simply bad for business not to integrate sustainable initiatives into organisational planning.

For interior designers, project managers or business leaders looking to help drive sustainability in the workplace, a good (and healthy) place to start, is with low emissions furniture.

Consider the workplace; the actual size of the space, the number of employees, every piece of furniture needed to promote productivity and comfortability while also keeping a company’s brand in mind for stylistic purposes. Each piece of furniture integrated, will release substances into the air. While this isn’t necessarily something to fear, as almost everything does this, synthetic materials, or those treated with synthetic substances can be especially harmful as they contain Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). What are VOCs? We’re glad you asked!

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a large family of chemicals that contain carbon and hydrogen. They can be released into indoor air from a number of sources, including workplace furniture (flame retardants and formaldehyde being quite common). While some VOCs are more toxic than others, the health risks associated will depend on the levels you are exposed to, the length of time you are exposed, and your individual sensitivity to toxicity. Because your risk increases with exposure, and employees are logging more hours in the office than ever – introducing low emissions (or low VOC) furniture into the workplace just makes sense on so many levels.

Whether you work in an office, shop, run your own business or manage a major corporation, taking care of the environment is easier than you think. Creating a more sustainable workplace by providing optimal air quality can result in a healthier and more productive place to work, a lighter ecological footprint, a boost in staff morale and increased growth for your bottom line.

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Colour Your Workplace Happy

Choosing the perfect combination of hues for your workplace can be tricky, as the colours should take into account the personality of your organization, while also appealing to the majority of your employees and clients.

From an ergonomic standpoint, colour might not seem high on your priority list in ensuring employee comfort. In truth, colour is absolutely crucial in promoting a positive, inspiring work culture. Colours elicit emotional and physical responses from people who are exposed to them for extended periods of time. In general, there are two major colour families: warm and cool.

Warm colours include red, orange, yellow and pink and typically appeal to fewer people in a working environment. For instance, vibrant, colours like lime green, fire engine red or fuchsia are described as energetic, power colours — perfect a business thriving on the larger-than-life personalities it employs. Cool colours like blue, green and purple, instill feelings of relaxation and calmness and tend to appeal to a broader base. Cool colours also encourage focus and cause less eye strain, team members to work for longer periods comfortably.

The most commonly used colours for workplace environments, are neutral (black, white, grey and brown). While these might not seem like the most exciting choice, they work well in a professional environment because they have the widest appeal. To create a dynamic, engaging and inspiring work environment, integrate a neutral colour scheme that incorporates pops of warm and cool colours through statement furniture, wall art, area rugs and accent walls.

While workplace functionality often takes centre stage, as a project manager or interior designer, it’s also important to take colour into consideration whether you are creating a workspace from scratch or giving your business a facelift by integrating new design elements. After all, colour and thoughtfully designed spaces have the power to inspire creative, innovative ideas that drive growth and position your business for prosperity and success.

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The Millennials Are Moving Up. What Does That Mean For Business? 

It seems like only yesterday we started talking about millennials in the workplace. However, considering the fact that millennials were born between 1978 and 2004, the oldest are now approaching 37. They’re already a major part of our work culture. In fact, by 2025, this generation will make up 75% of the global workforce – which means organizations are considering an entirely new challenge: preparing millennials for management and executive roles.

Generally speaking, millennials are a tolerant, curious, positive, sharing, connected, flexible, generation that are true to themselves. You may have already noticed that millennial team members tend to thrive when they are allowed extra space and time to brainstorm and explore new ideas, while remaining close to their teammates for mentorship and connection.

Many millennials cannot imagine a point in time where the world was not available at their fingertips. Their up-to-the-minute understanding of innovative solutions, round-the-clock availability and global engagement will keep an organization ahead of the curve in today’ constantly shifting technological landscape.

Integrating a work culture and design space that reduces boundaries will allow an organization to get the most out of millennials fresh, entrepreneurial perspective. This could include incorporating flexible work hours or remote work opportunities into your employee offering. Traditional office spaces will be a thing of the past leading to a new way of envisioning work space design.

Creating an environment and culture that fosters growth and professional development in a unique and customized manner will not only streamline workflow and enhance productivity – it will help you retain key innovators – allowing you to build a leadership team that is well ahead of the future.

 

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Future of Workspaces – Designing for the growing Millenial

When it comes to designing a new office, doing so with millennials in mind is a good idea. It’s estimated that one third of the workforce is made up of people who reached adulthood in the 2000’s. That number is expected to grow to three quarters in just the next ten years.

So what can we do to make sure that our offices are appealing to this tech savvy bunch? Open communication and giving back to the community are both vital for young up and comers. So cubicles are not a good idea. But it’s great to have a public area that shows how the firm makes a difference throughout the world. Posting pictures of projects that help the community can be a big motivation for millennials.

Instead of big boardrooms for meetings, a more casual area where ideas can flow freely is a much better option. Cubicles surrounded by closed off offices can give the feeling of a closed off culture. Whereas an open floor plan where everyone can openly communicate gives a sense of transparency within the firm. The ability for new team members to easily reach out to the more experienced ones can make millennials feel more comfortable and accepted.

What are some things to consider when you are designing an office to attract potential Generation Y employees? Dedicated areas allowing employees to think and concentrate are important. But so are areas in which they can collaborate on projects and openly talk about their work. More sustainable and environmentally conscious design should be implemented. Try decorating with a lot of plants to give the office a brighter and fresh appeal. Brightly colored furniture and decoration give offices a more active feel.

Millennials will definitely change the way that offices function and how they are laid out. If you are designing an office of your own or for a client, it is important to implement some of the strategies to give a more modern look. Younger employees may not stick around if they are with a firm that they don’t feel closely aligned with.

 

 

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The Millennials Have Arrived – Welcome To The Future Of Your Workspace

This year, millennials will reach a major milestone, surpassing baby boomers and Gen Xers to become the largest generation in today’s workface.

What does that mean for the workplace? A few things. Mobile technology has allowed millennials to develop a unique approach when seeking out the best places to study, research, work and collaborate. Now that they are so deeply integrated in the workforce, millennials are looking for workspaces as flexible as their devices.

Designing a workspace that creates a sense of open, transparency with room for collaborative work to take place – also tells employees that they are valued in a space that makes senior executives more approachable.

When considering new design structures that will empower your employees to work their best, consider the following:

Design and Furniture

The physical layout of the office is the first clue into company culture, instead of traditional (and old school) cubicles, opt for contemporary furniture and a design that mirrors the company’s creative mentality. Portable desks and chairs are easy ways to cultivate collaboration between team members or provide a simple change of scenery.

Sustainability

Reducing our environmental impact is more important than ever before. Employees are seeking out employers whose social responsibility efforts are aligned with their own. Consider reducing energy use by integrating solar solutions, introducing comprehensive recycling programs, going as paperless as possible, using non-toxic cleaning supplies and providing fair trade products in your breakroom.

Collaboration Areas

Integrate break out spaces that foster spontaneous brainstorms or meetings to encourage innovative approaches and boost productivity in the workplace. Furnishing these spaces with comfortable seating and the necessary technology promotes easy and relaxed communication.

Community Space

Coffee bars and accessible break areas provide a sense of community between all generations in the office. Allow employees to contribute to the design of the office with a photo wall or place to showcase internal awards or relevant industry articles.

Considering the long hours our new generation of employees are putting in, it only makes sense that they want to feel at home. Designing workspaces that speak to a new culture of employees, is becoming increasingly important in attracting and retaining top tier candidates.Startup Stock Photo

Happy employees are great for business

Everyone would love to improve focus at work. We all want our employees to be more creative. Who wouldn’t want team work and better collaboration on projects? One way to improve these areas may be surprising though. More and more studies are suggesting that the way to gain more focus from employees and to boost morale in the office is to add games. Competitive games between team members can not only bring them closer together, but also increase heart rate which increases focus.

So what things can we do to improve morale in the workplace? Simple games like foosball or table tennis are great ways to bring a team together and let off a little steam throughout the day. Setting up tournaments for employees will build up anticipation for work and create more of a bond among the team. A video game console can have the same effect.

So how do we promote games in the workplace and get everyone’s spirits up without losing control? What are some things to consider when designing such a space? There are a few ways that you can organize it.

First, you need to designate an area. A small area of the breakroom or its own dedicated room. It’s important to separate a recreation area from the employees that are hard at work. Expanding a break room and adding a pool table or foosball table is all you need. Or even just a game console in the corner. Be sure to provide comfortable seating so that others can watch and participate.

Another general rule is to designate a specific time during the day. The thirty minutes following lunch is usually the least productive time during the day. This is a great opportunity to get the blood flowing and boost focus before going back to work.

Providing even a small recreation area can do wonders for team morale and work culture. If you are working with a client to design a space, it may be helpful to survey the team members to find out what types of games they like to play socially. Your clients will thank you when they notice the boost in teamwork and creativity.

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Bringing (Plant) Life To Your Workplace

Evidence speaking to the benefits of integrating plants into the workplace is boundless. Not only do plants enhance the overall appearance in the office, but they can also reduce stress and eliminate air pollutants. A healthy, happy workplace is also more productive. In addition, plants in the office can provide screening or a pleasant focal point.

There are numerous types of office friendly plants that can be integrated into a workplace, depending on your space and specific needs. The best plans for an office are those which require little care. After all, you have a business to run, and not everyone was born with a green thumb.

Some good beginner plants for the workplace include:

  • Pothos – These plants adjust well to a variety of office conditions, from low light levels to brighter ones. This easy-care plant, with heart-shaped, white-splotched leaves makes a lovely addition sitting on a desk, shelf or table.
  • Philodendrons – Philodendrons are predominantly climbing plans, which makes them great for adding height to small areas. Sit them on filing cabinets or in hanging baskets. These plants are easy to grow and suitable for a wide range of indoor conditions. What’s also handy about the philodendron, is that it can withstand occasional neglect, making it an excellent plant for surviving long weekends or extended office closures.
  • Spider plant– The spider plant is not only one of the most esthetically interesting office plants with its small spiderettes hanging down, it’s also one of the easiest plants to grow indoors. Place the spider plant in a high spot for all to admire.
  • Snake plant – The snake plant makes a huge statement in the office. It has attractive sword-like leaves that can grow to become quite tall, making it excellent for focal interest or screening purposes.
  • Cactus plants– When all else fails, there’s the trusty cactus. Just be sure to keep it located where no one is likely to be stuck. There are many types to choose from, all of which are certain to spark conversation.

When introducing plant life into your workplace, it’s good to keep placement spaced out and balanced to allow for optimal benefits. A good rule to follow is to distribute one plant or arrangement of greenery per workspace. Introducing a green landscape into your office is sure to have your entire workplace, breathing easy!

 

 

Image credit: Peter Bennetts