In recent years, offices have started to embrace flexible working and different working styles. In an effort to increase productivity and staff satisfaction, a strong emphasis has been placed on communal areas. Whether it’s a breakout area for collaboration or just a chill-out area for staff to escape their desks and have a break, communal spaces are becoming an essential part of office design. In the age of Wi-Fi, people can freely move around the office and discuss projects with their colleagues. To collaborate and work effectively together, people need a space to meet, which is why the communal working area is rapidly increasing in popularity.
Allow for flexible working with modular furniture
Modular furniture is pre-made or ready made furniture which can be used according to needs and room spacing. It’s easy to install and dismantle, which makes it great for communal areas, which can grow or decrease in size according to your requirements. The great thing about modular furniture is the easy creation of a wide variety of space-saving configurations. Because it is available in a broad range of designs and styles, it gives a modern look to your office and can be adapted to suit your brand.
Modular furniture is specifically designed to expand as your company grows and makes it easy for workers to collaborate. Demountable walls and partitions can be reused and moved into alternate configurations to maximise space according to the occasion. AAT (The Association of Accounting Technicians) is one company that implemented modular seating and low-level partitions to facilitate better staff communication. They also installed modular solutions in the creation of a central meeting Hub which improved morale and staff retention.
Make your communal areas fun to encourage creativity
When designing communal spaces, there’s one group of people who should be at the forefront of your mind: your employees. Design with your employees in mind as Steve Jobs did when he was involved in the redesign of Pixar Studios. He mixed up employees to allow ‘unplanned collaborations’ to take place and commented, “We designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.” Likewise, Google has a rule where people can be placed no more than 150 feet from food, which encourages employees to collaborate in the many kitchens and dining areas. The decor should also be fun and represent the values of your company.
Create different zones
If your space is big enough it’s great to create different communal zones for different purposes. For example, one could have a table area for laptop work, another could comprise a social area with a bar, snacks and table football, and at the opposite end of the spectrum a quiet area with comfy chairs and industry books for reading and research. You can be as creative as you like with these areas; perhaps you prefer amphitheatre bench style conference facilities for internal meetings, presentations and brainstorming with large groups or maybe a central tea point between all departments. Our designers created a ‘shabby chic’ theme throughout EDC Communications open-plan office with different zones and seating areas built around central meeting rooms, including a space with table football and books.
Focus on ergonomics
Just because people aren’t using their desks, it doesn’t meant that they won’t need a comfortable environment in which to work or relax. If you go for ‘funky’ seating such as bean bags, don’t forget to address the balance with some supportive furniture. Accessories such as tablet mounts will help to ease the aches and pains associated with using wireless devices for long periods. Install a range of desks and seats so that people can move around and find what’s comfortable for them. Don’t forget to fit some standing desks for people who want a break from sitting down. NTT Data UK has a staff that mostly consists of consultants, so we made sure they had access to a variety of seating and standing desks throughout their offices at the Royal Exchange in the City of London.
Install a communal wall
Innovative companies like Facebook and Google are hugely desirable workplaces for young and creative people. They have at least one thing in common: they have all established areas where staff can share their ideas. These areas are usually white/blackboard areas where employees can brainstorm in an informal environment and write down spontaneous ideas that can be developed in a collaborative environment. We fitted a large blackboard in a open space for EMO & TRA marketing company. It allows for informal brainstorming and collaborative work, which fitted their objective to encourage creative thinking. This idea can be further adapted with pin boards or magnetic boards so that visuals can be displayed clearly. clippings, photographs, mood boards and anything else can be clearly seen. The installation of power modules or wireless chargers can keep people connected to check facts or look things up while they’re brainstorming.
If you would like Interactive Space to help you maximise your communal space, please get in touch with our team of experts.