It is an often heard saying that work takes such a great part of human’ s life that it better be satisfying. Similarly, for most people their daily routine includes an 8-hour stay in an office. So it better be a pleasant place or at least, it should make a point.
Why is the office important?
For most businesses, it is part of the PR of the firm. The minute a client enters the office, his/hers impression about the firm begins to form and believe me, piles of folders on tiny space and lines of people next to each other do not leave the impression of a prestigious firm with a lot of clients. Therefore, your work in branding starts with making the office a place where clients can spend at least 30 minutes of their lives without being mentally disturbed.
Equally important, the office is a place where your employees will spend most of their daily time so if the business relies on the brain power of its employees, the office should not distract them or should not make them feel uncomfortable. Chairs, proper and properly-situated air conditioning, light, recreation and fun areas, knowledge sharing facilities, meeting rooms, etc. should all be a priority of businesses relying on human capital. On the other hand, businesses that are more labor-intensive don’t need to spend that much on fancy modern but in the same time relaxing and cozy offices. In more labor intensive businesses it is an often-seen practice to establish authority through the use of furniture and office facilities. For example, at the director’s office the chair is usually a bit higher, whereas the chairs for the employees are lower. On the contrary, if a client comes, the director usually would sit around a table on equal quality chairs.
If the business is human-capital intensive or is more artistic, it is more and more likely to see offices resembling co-working spaces and no divisions between management and employees. IT is a good example. In this sector (nowadays) the need for establishing authority is replaced by the need to show that each employee matters and it is sometimes a good idea to let the majority decide instead of the administration. One of the prerequisites for successful IT HR policy is leaving the impression that the driving force comes from programmers. Programmers should feel they are the decisive voice and the “authority” that takes decisions. They oftentimes feel they contribute the most in the life cycle of the firm, underestimating that management (which is often the same as the shareholders) takes all the risk and negotiations. However, if a person works in a sphere relying mainly on his/hers creativity and brain power, the person should have a good self-esteem and no manager should establish authority by making his/her private part of the office better than the rest.
Another thing to consider is the psychology of color. Your brand may be in neon red so painting the walls accordingly may sound like a good idea but don’t do it… This office should be made livable. Clients will spend 20 minutes at the office and may be impressed by the vivid colors, passengers on the street may see the office more often but don’t forget that there are living human beings there, who should spend more than 20 minutes there.
In terms of office spaces, the best colors to use are white, pale grey (in a combination with another fresher color), blue and green. Yellow may be narrowly used. However, if your brand logo conflicts with these colors, it is better to use simple white color, mixed with ecru or warm grey and put paintings for more homelike look. Or if you are in a less human-centric sphere, you can consider pale colors with not much decoration on the walls.
You can keep in mind the following psychological effects of colors:
Red: increases anxiety, urgency, energy
Blue: stimulates thinking, creativity, performance, patience
Green: leads to relaxation, tranquility, sense of peace and harmony
Yellow: gives confidence but also increases anxiety when used abundantly
Brown: feeling of resistance, security, however, if it is darker, may lead to depression
White: leads to optimism, positivity, leaves the impression of more space.
Black: good for underlining the other colors but very depressing when abundantly used
Purple: associated with luxury and elegance but should not be abundant
In general, warm colors lead to stimulation and more effectiveness for a short period of time, whereas cold colors lead to relaxation if they are not too dark.
One other tip: warmer colors are more suitable for spaces with less stress for example kindergartens or cafeterias. For stressful and more demanding jobs, the office should be in cooler colors.
One other thing for human-centric companies is having some creative DIY/lifehack things that were reused for some creative purpose. You can have an armchair made of wine corks, open shelves from reused books or a sliding cupboard to utilize the space between the fridge and the window, for example. If you want to spread the message that you are creative and find smart ways to deal with problems, reusing useless stuff and making multifunctional objects will inspire both your clients and your employees, plus they are absolutely useful. Even if you don’t use recycled materials, you can still come up with some pretty awesome ideas of how to make your office objects more useful or impressive. Unusual design in common parts of the office like lobbies and entrance area can be your place for experiments and modern architecture. Whereas in working areas, employees should be able to stay focused, you can use the common areas for all sorts of impressive ideas, especially if you want to spread the message of being innovative and modern. So in short, here are some suggestions about design:
in entrance areas and lobbies you can use modern design and more vivid colors
in working areas you can use less distractive colors and furniture but there is still possibility for creative reused objects and office hacks
in relaxation areas you can use cooler colors and more homelike atmosphere
in discussion and creativity rooms you can use office more modern design, creative mixtures of art and necessities and more provoking and bright colors
I’ll write further on the blog about the DIY/lifehacks office things. You can find them in the tags. Hope you also contribute with ideas from your office space!