This summer, the decision was made to move DigitalRelevance's office downtown, and we wanted a new look and feel that would maximize employee creativity and innovation through a thoughtful reinvention of our workspace.
Naturally, we looked to fellow tech companies in the area and resources such as the 2015 Interior Design Trends Report to discover what office-design trends were dominating and providing benefit to their workspaces.
Here are a few trends we chose to implement:
Tech leaders, such as Google and Dropbox, are known for bringing open-office design concepts to fruition. They have found that innovation is at its best when employees are working en masse. Workspaces need to be designed to encourage diverse methods of collaboration in order to develop new ideas and move concepts forward.
We decided to encourage employee interaction by replacing cubicles with large desks that can accommodate multiple people. Informal lounge areas were established to allow for more spontaneous conversations and brainstorming between employees of different departments. We took advantage of vertical space by adding ample whiteboards and allowing employees to use glass walls and windows to visually communicate spur of the moment ideas.
Open workspaces help to create a broader sense of community and are an easy way to promote innovation.
Multipurpose Spaces That Promote Playfulness
Most people tend to ditch their lighthearted, spirited nature for a more professional representation of themselves at work. This can unintentionally smother creativity. Creativity is at its peak when employees enjoy a high level of comfort with their peers. Playfulness can break down barriers of self-consciousness and ultimately help foster new ideas. This is why we now see many larger companies including amenities such as basketball courts, slides, and sand volleyball pits.
Companies with less square footage to work with can also accomplish this same goal through the use of multipurpose spaces. At DigitalRelevance, we aimed to design our dining area in a way that allows employees to not only eat but also mingle and recharge their batteries. We decided to stock the kitchen with healthy snacks and install a bar top with pub-style stools to encourage employees to embrace their playful side and share meals, drinks, and laughter with one another.
Bringing Nature Indoors
While the inclusion of fun-inducing multipurpose spaces is important, we can't forget how a human's primal instincts can affect their overall disposition. Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work, which tells of the art and science behind creating an extraordinary workplace, explains that an employee's overall satisfaction may be a result of very basic needs, such as an abundance of natural lighting, a beautiful landscape, and even a potted plant.
Twitter and Facebook are just two of the many organizations that have embraced this idea, introducing massive green walls and other environmentally refreshing office trends to their redesigns.
We chose to move our office to a space that we feel really encompasses this. Natural lighting radiates throughout the fifth floor space through a gorgeous floor-to-ceiling mosaic of windows overlooking downtown Indianapolis. We opted for a rustic industrial design that incorporates the already existing rawness of the space's exposed brick walls, open ceilings, and untreated support columns. Employees and guests are greeting by an entry area featuring a reclaimed lumber accent wall.
To contrast these rougher finishes, we've added live plants throughout the office. Live plants don't only help to clean the air; studies show that employees feel emotionally healthy and focused when plants are present. Exposing employees to nature, whether through bringing the outdoors in or through increasing natural exposure to the outdoors, can improve efficiency by as much as 12 percent, due to greater concentration and improved productivity.
Open, collaborative workspaces generate the need for smaller, more private areas. These quiet, enclosed spaces allow employees to have confidential, impromptu meetings. They are less formal than a traditional conference room and are more readily accessible to employees. Google has mastered the art of including unique private spaces throughout their campuses.
Fostering Company Culture
Your office design should reflect the culture of your company, instilling a strong sense of identity among your employees. Highlighting successful products and achievements throughout your workplace can instill a sense of confidence and encourage team members to continue to take risks. Keeping success stories at the visual forefront of your workspaces will cultivate a culture of innovation and achievement.
Encourage employees to personalize their spaces to reflect a sense of identity and ownership. Embed a sense of collaboration and creativity by allowing teams to work together to personalize their shared spaces. Etsy is a great example of how to foster culture. Offices are adorned with handcrafted art. A dedicated craft room, where a monthly "craft night" is held, is available to employees.
Plan Your Redesign
Time invested in thoughtful office design is time well spent. In an industry where interacting with technology is commonplace, it is necessary to infuse both nature and human interaction into the workplace to promote productivity and wellbeing.