The Do’s and Don’t when designing an office – What works for your business?

The office is the one place where most of us spend the majority of our time during the week. It is natural to prefer a working atmosphere that fosters creativity and comfort. Office design and décor are some of the leading factors that help attract top talent to the workplace.

For years, business owners have argued over what is a perfect design for an office. Some people believe an office should be a collaborative space that creates a conducive environment for productivity and creativity. While others actively advocate privacy in the workplace. However, both sides are not 100% right, and it becomes even more difficult to decide how to design the office when most people indicate they’ll change their way of working.


Our poll asked people on LinkedIn whether they’d return to the office full time after COVID. 54% indicates they’ll be working remotely at least half of the time and 27% says they’ll be working remotely full-time and not return to the office.

What is important to consider when designing an office?

Studies have found that the physical space around us impacts how well we work and how productive we are. In simple words, we tend to do more jobs without feeling like a robot when the culture around us provides us comfort. You need to create a space where employees would want to show up every day. Many companies now have realised that the century-old cubicle farms don’t reap the most productive and happiest of employees. So, let’s look at the things you need to consider to design an ideal workspace for your employees.

1. Your requirements

The most important thing you need to focus on is defining your requirements. Whether you want to move to a new place or renovate the current space, you need to start by defining the goals you have for the new space. If you are clear about how you want the design to be, then it can be the best guide for the whole process. Some guiding reasons can be relocation, acquisition or a merger, or the need to consolidate the current space for departmental shifts.

Similarly, your main goals for the redesign could be to increase employee efficiency and productivity and to attract new talent. Remember, you can identify the best practices and right design trends only when you understand the purpose and requirements for your new office layout.

2. Space and navigation

A practical floor plan can make your office is functional. You need fluid navigation for team engagement and collaboration. Using and managing space effectively ensures that your office space can strategically scale with your business growth. Identifying an optimal floor plan for your workspace is significant when ordering and placing furniture. So, while designing the new office layout, consider the importance of different working environments. This means creating space for individual quiet works and collaborative work. Create a space that encourages better employee collaboration, performance and growth.

3. Let the light in!

Did you know that office lighting can actually determine the productivity and happiness of your employees? Nowadays, some businesses go to extreme lengths and install controllable lights on each work station so employees can change it to suit their mood. But, if you don’t have the budget for this kind of lighting, you can invest in specialised daytime lights. It is much better than fluorescent lighting. Daytime lights are known to improve mood, reduce depression and increase productivity within an office environment. Using natural lighting can also help reduce energy consumption and lowers electricity bills. So, consider the importance of natural light when designing your office.

4. Don’t ignore the colours.

Colour can be a powerful form of communication. With colours, you can evoke emotional responses in people. So, choose colours to their full potential. For instance, adding green colour to office design has excellent implication on office efficiency, productivity, and employee retention.

Pick colours that work with your company’s branding. You need to strike the right balance when incorporating colours to design elements. Adding too much colour can be fatiguing and overbearing. On the other hand, adding less colour and more white can reduce productivity in an office environment.

5. Break out areas and amenities

For designing a stimulating work environment, it is essential to understand that break out areas are more than spaces for the employees to go and eat. These areas should be spaces that offer employees a different experience than the rest of the office environment. It should be a place that stimulates creativity and allows your employees to refocus and recharge. From a design perspective, a breakout area is a blank canvas. It gives you the opportunity to make them as welcoming, creative and engaging as possible.

A study done at the University of Warwick found that employees’ happiness can improve their productivity by 12%. One way you can improve employee morale is by adding office amenities like recreation rooms or fitness centres. Many companies now are adding nap rooms for employees to take breaks and relax. Check-in with your employees and add the amenities they prefer.

Designing a new office space can be a lot of hard work. So, keep these five factors in mind, and you will be boosting your employee satisfaction, reducing unnecessary costs and creating an office space that works for your company’s advantage.

What is the best layout for an office?

Office layout is an important factor that affects the productivity and performance of your employees. Before deciding your office layout, you should make sure that you have identified your office planning objectives. Once you have decided your objective, the next thing is to think about the type of tasks your employees will perform, the accessibility of support function, their need for interaction with clients and each other.

Types of Office Layout

The cubicle type of office layouts has now become old, and now there are several types of office layouts according to the working style and needs of the company. Let’s look at some of the best office layouts so you can choose the one right for your business. Following are some of the best office layout types:

  • Low Partition Office Layout A low partition office layout is a modern form of cubicle layout in which the height of partition walls is lower compared to a cubicle layout. This low height allows more lights and increases the interaction among employees. Similar to cubicle office layout, low partition layout may include built-in offices and meeting rooms if more privacy is required.
  • Open Plan Office Layout An open-plan office layout doesn’t include partition walls. Instead, workplaces are created and defined using furniture. To do so, desks are placed side by side to make “banks”, or they can be replaced by multi-personal work tables called “benches”. In this layout, lounge seating and tables are used to create informal collaboration or meeting areas. The benefit of such an office layout is that it is flexible, expand, contract and reconfigured more conveniently.
  • Team-Based Office Layout A team-based office layout is a modern type of office layout in which employees are grouped into teams. And a specific space or area is allocated to each team according to the kind of work that needs to get done. A team-based workspace typically includes a collaboration space and individual workstations. It reduces the need for meeting rooms.
  • Hybrid Office Layout The hybrid office layout is of the latest office layouts. It is becoming more and more common than ever before. It combines elements of all the office layouts based on the requirements of your company. With this layout, you have a menu from which you can pick and choose different environments that meet your company needs.

What can we learn from Australia’s pioneering companies when designing an office?

The most important part of designing an office is creating a company culture. Some of the top Australian companies are nailing the company culture where employees feel valued and engaged beyond offering the simple perks. We are going to discuss such Australian companies for your inspiration.

Canva

Canva is an online design company that has reached the much-coveted ‘unicorn status’. Despite their great growth, they have been able to maintain their start-up ethos. The co-founders like to keep it simple and have modelled the corporate structure around a company they would love to work for. Their office has an open floor plan, there are bright colours everywhere, the natural light flows in from different corners, greenery is filled throughout, and the space looks full of life. Their space provides easy navigation to everyone in the company, whether old or new. There are several breakout zones that allow employees to de-stress and refocus. They offer several amenities to their employees, including rock climbing classes, arcade games, massage chairs and yoga.

The company has focused on creating a space where employees love to come in, feel at home and work every day.

Atlassian

Atlassian has been in the ‘Great places to work list’ and are the pioneers in the Australian tech work for their innovative and counter-intuitive approach to culture. Their office space is just a perfect representation of what the company stands for. The whole place is a very open space, they use colour tones that are pleasant for the eyes. The natural light fills the floor through giant windows everywhere. There are amenities on every floor. Greenery is a big part of the design and great views to look at while the employee’s work. Everything can be moved according to each team’s needs. An interesting fact is that there are soundproof pods for private meetings and private work. Everything is very high-tech. No element is there for form but all serve functionality.

With free food, drinks, agile workspace, soundproof meeting pods, community culture, we can see why Atlassian is one of the greatest places to work in. Even more exciting is the office they’re planning to build at Central station in Sydney. The mainly timder construction will live and breath the values Atlassian’s brand stands for and is due to be completed in 2015.