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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Integrated Agile Workspaces

Among the many stereotypes thrust upon millennials is their overwhelming desire to be collaborative. It turns out however, millennials have a lot more in common with the baby boomer generation, and would actually like a little peace and quiet to get their work done. In fact, a recent survey from Oxford Economics found that “the ability to focus and work without interruptions” was ranked #1 most important by 29% of respondents from a pool of 1,200 employees across a wide range of industries. Half of them were bothered by lack

It’s no surprise really. As baby boomers reach retirement and millennials begin stepping into executive positions, they’re taking on the kinds of responsibilities that require in-depth, strategic thinking. Having a quiet workspace allows them to tune out chatter, which in turn increases productivity and overall morale throughout the workplace.

Architects, designers and project managers trying to develop meaningful workspaces to cater a wide range of work styles might want to focus less on ping pong tables and brag worthy breakrooms, and more on creating personal offices or quiet spaces which allow team members to work their best.

For this reason, the future office must really embrace the dynamic, fluid nature of work in today’s business landscape. By creating an agile workplace where employees are flexible in choosing the best type of space for the work at hand, you are making room for them to move seamlessly through individual and group work – fully supporting work flow from a 360 degree perspective.

 

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The balance between ‘me’ and ‘we’ spaces

With open floor plans becoming so popular, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to focus on individual work. We put so much more attention on collaboration, that we are less efficient at sitting down and completing our own tasks, especially when that deadline is approaching.

Working in groups to come up with new and creative solutions is necessary. But there needs to be an area that the team can go to and put those new ideas into action. And without distraction.

There are two primary ways that an office can create that balance of collaborative (we) spaces, and focused, individual work (me) spaces. A distributed model spreads out isolated areas within the open floor design. This can be accomplished by using somewhat closed off cubicles with higher walls. Not only is this a fairly low cost way to allow for focus, but also allows the team to move quickly between the two different types of work areas. Even just a culture of understanding to respect others privacy when working can be enough to allow one to concentrate.

Another model for accommodating both styles of work is to create a quiet zone away from collaborative work areas. This could be a completely separate floor, or just a portion of the office that is tucked away from the noise. This way each worker can decide what the best place to work is depending on the specific project that they are engaged in.

When it comes to balancing the “me and we” spaces, flexibility is everything. Giving the team options and the ability to decide what works best for them and their particular piece of work is the most important thing. The best and most successful offices offer a range of options for its team. Even promoting a culture in which there is a respect for those that have their head down and are concentrated can make a huge difference in improving the balance.

 

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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