In the modern age of reliable, second-nature communications and a growing remote workforce, the underpinnings of an office-based career and lifestyle is changing; this means that the reasons for coming to a small start-up office or shared office space is changing drastically; office’s are no longer just workstations, they’re collaborative spaces where ideas should be helped to flow freely.
Cue small office design – a mantra that’s all about making the most of available square-footage, while realizing that one of the most important functions of modern office space is to satisfy the people who work out of them.
A great office space has to help a team to achieve their goals within the organization. It’s the space that accommodates and breeds procedures to deal with obstacles, ideas, and successes. That can be tough to do in a small office space that has to provide all of the following:
- Space for distraction free solo work
- Support social interaction between co-workers
- Support meetings and collaborative efforts
- A great break space
- Access to technology, comfort, good ergonomics and space for applicable tools
- Quality lighting
Redesigning desk and seating placement is a great way to begin the process of small office renovation. It’ll give an idea of how much space is required for each occupational purpose. There are four basic layouts you can consider when designing your new space, Paired islands are scattered throughout open concept spaces to keep the room feeling larger than it really is. These can easily be moved and rethought from month-to-month. An assembly line approach will see seating placements in long rows and can be inhibitive of collaboration; it is however, possible to set up parallel rows to inspire cross room communication and transparency.
Blocked seating is much like paired islands, but for larger groups, and a bullpen desk design takes the shape of an inner-facing circle or rectangle so the team has ample face time during the day.
It’s also crucial to think about the organizational structure in your office. Ask yourself how choices are made and consider layouts that contribute positively to those choices. Is communication and collaboration a focal point of your business’s inner workings, or do you work top-down? Asking this question will help you to rule out and include appropriate layout possibilities when renovating or updating your small office space.
Build to Reflect the Company’s Identity
Whatever you do, it’s very important to update and build your office to suit your business, your colleagues, and you. If you’re in the graphic design business, for example, steer clear of minimalist, postmodern spaces that require less on the walls in terms of art, or design work. Utilize your office space in ways that provide you with inspiration, a bit of life, and contribute to your company culture.
Culture helps the power and identity of your work space to emerge and thrive. Seek to inspire your office to work within the appropriate parameters of its focus. This could mean constructing or renovating more private workstations for solitary work, and a larger break space for employees to enjoy when the day is done. Additional privacy, a boost in creativity, or open spaces are all relevant to your particular industry, so be sure to ask yourself what kind of office environment you need to have to meet certain goals – and work from there.
Embrace Natural Light in Design
There can never be too much natural light flooding your office. As one of the most overlooked benefits to modern office design, natural light should always be a top priority of any workspace. This is easily achieved by renovating and tearing down walls, increasing window size, and painting your workspace a hue that increases the impact of the light you have, like white, cream, or light green.
Natural light offers a wider spectrum of colours so the human eye can interpret more, making it easier to perform simple tasks and see detail. There are also numerous studies that cite the positive impact of natural light on productivity. Further, the eye is designed to work in sync with the changing light conditions throughout a given day, meaning that the perpetual coverage of artificial light can have damaging effects on our vision over time, contributing to eye strain and dizziness.
Light can be increased in small office spaces by embracing different materials as well. Glass, for example, will inevitably allow more light to travel and bounce within a room. Glass walls can be used to separate private offices within a small space, allowing the flow of the room to remain open, assisting small spaces feel larger than they really are.
When space is limited, the best way to maximize a small footprint is to keep flexibility a focal point of your renovation. This can include things like moveable desks, which are becoming a staple of the start-up business crowd as a way to encourage a great team dynamic.
The British Council for Offices, tells us that office flexibility is an undervalued asset that can prove to be hugely beneficial when business goals change in the medium to long term. Spaces that can adapt to new challenges, and be reconfigured to embrace simple changes are more likely to experience less chaos during times of transition.
There’s also the opportunity to work with vertical space, investing research and consideration to furniture and layouts that take advantage of looking up, rather than horizontally. Many offices feature high ceilings and that becomes underutilized space that goes unused. Consider renovating to include a second inside storey to include an additional, private work space.
Bring in Perks
There’s a lot of talk these days about the popularity and necessity of break-out spaces. These spaces allow employees and staff to step away from their desks and take a moment to enjoy their surroundings while in the office. Without the inclusion of spaces like these, it can be easily predicted that employees level of job satisfaction and overall happiness will be reduced.
Renovating to include a great company space that encourages conversation and dialogue within the office is a great way to boost spirits and productivity. These perks can include a great coffee station with high-end coffee and tea available on-site, eliminating the need to leave the space to get a caffeine fix. There’s also the possibility to include after-work specials like a kegerator for employees working late on a big proposal, or enjoying a Friday afternoon pint with co-workers to boost company culture. Invest your time in updating the level of comfort and calm in these spaces with a tasteful couch and chairs, area rug, a great coffee table and a few pieces of engaging wall art. If your space is too small to accommodate all of that, consider adjusting your client lobby or seating area to reflect this type of energy to keep it a part of the office space.
Other perks can include free access to whatever your organization makes, or something related to your industry – magazine subscriptions, tickets to sports games, additional time off, reworked schedules, or tech products.