Category: Office Design

Office Design Trends 2021

This article looks at the office design trends in 2021.  According to trend forecasters, ‘Resimercial’ design, video conferencing provisions, workstation neighbourhoods and sustainability will all play a key role in the office of 2021 and beyond. We take a closer look at some of the office design trends for 2021 below.

This post covers:

  • What are the best concepts for designing an office?
  • What are some great features of a new office design?
  • What is the future of office spaces?

What are the best concepts for designing an office?

The best concepts for designing an office are concepts that consider longevity, flexibility, productivity and employee wellbeing. The workplace should be as inviting as it is stylish, and comfortable as it is practical. A comfortable office can transform the way employers see their office; a modern space that considers their needs will be appreciated by employees, and will be reflected in the quality and level of work output. Happy workers are often far more productive, will be more inclined to work hard, and will enjoy coming to the office and get more out of their workday because of it.  

We are starting to see some great concepts being introduced to workplace interior design for 2021.  

Check out this case study, which features small office design concepts to create an inviting chill out space for a previous client. 

What are some great features of a new office design?

One of the best office design features for any modern workplace is greenery. Our working environments should not be any different from the other places we inhabit. The relationship between individuals and their environment can be crucial to how your teams feel, perform and collaborate with others. Office layout designs that inspire, energise and support the people who use them is an important first step to workplace interiors design. People’s connection to nature can help organisations meet that goal.  

What is the future of office spaces?

Open-plan offices and fixed bench style workstations have proven popular in recent years. Remote working and more recently working from home means office designers have the challenge of designing the offices of the future, with the very best workplace design trends. 

Acoustic issues with more video conferencing, managing demarcation for social distancing, screening areas off and hygienic considerations will all play a part in the office in the future.

More flexibility and multi-functional areas to aid social distancing measures with a focus on improving the employee experience will be a key feature of tomorrow’s workplace.  At the start of 2021, companies were not thinking about social distancing as a workplace priority but in a short space of time, it has become central to office design.   

Increased space to hot-desking areas and collaboration meeting hubs will be important to make employees feel safe, whilst still maintaining a practical and productive working environment. Of course, every office environment has its own constraints, but this is where our Workplace Consultancy plays such a crucial part in the first steps of the process.

What are the office design trends for 2021?

There are many varied ways trends can become a reality in your office. Working with your current environment to make those all-important tweaks will increase wellbeing, productivity and promote staff retention.

Cellular meeting rooms

Larger cellular meeting rooms can be arranged into different shapes and sizes, while making sure adequate services for connectivity solutions are provided to let users ‘plug-and-play’.  Varying heights and types of furniture that ensure users feels comfortable and engaged.  

Collaboration spaces

The creation of collaboration spaces and break-out areas, with comfortable seating that both encourages distancing and allows for the productive use of personal devices.  Creating energetic settings that encourage professional or informal connection among colleagues.  It is vital that employees can find a retreat to focus and work with colleagues in an environment that puts them at ease.

Resimercial design 

Working remotely or from home has been forced upon many teams over the past 12 months, and office design is changing because of it. The term resimercial, combining residential and commercial, does exactly what it says on the tin. Resimercial design is becoming far more popular ever since people have started working from home and combines many features from the home office back to the commercial office environment.

As we begin to welcome the workforce back into the workplace, how can office interior design begin to incorporate the many features we have around us at home? 

Some key concepts of resimercial design include:

  • Softening of tones and colours used on walls and floors.
  • Introduction of plants or living walls.
  • Comfortable seating and quiet spaces to break for lunch.
  • Aesthetically pleasing features.

Simple things like table lamps, faux fireplaces or even bookcases, that you may have at home can easily be incorporated into the workplace environment.  

Meridian Interiors’ recent project completed for The Parks Trust at Shenley Pavilions Milton Keynes demonstrates how we have achieved this perfectly!

In conclusion, our endeavours to incorporate as many of the previously mentioned office design trends to your office, we hope will provide us with many exciting challenges for the year ahead.

For more insight and advice about how we can transform your office space, explore our office design services or contact us today.

5 things to consider when designing an office

Office design is an investment, and when done right, it can create a collaborative, productive and conducive environment for employees. Wellbeing directly correlates to employee productivity and output, so it pays dividends for employers to invest in a working environment that is inviting and stimulating, as opposed to stark and doldrum.

People spend a large portion of their day at work; with this in mind, as an employer, you want to incite enthusiasm within your employees. A team that has a welcoming space to work is more likely to feel enthused about the workday, and happy employees make for a more productive workforce. Office space design is a key factor that can help you create a workspace that employees love, and are proud of.

Meridian Interiors has been creating modern office spaces for over 20 years, and as experts in office space planning, we are sharing five tips for the perfect office layout below.

What does your office space need to look like?

Planning ahead

Planning ahead and considering the needs of your employees is key to designing an office space that works for everyone. Think about any specific office design features your team would benefit from. Consider working personalities and working styles: does your team have a lot of group meetings? Would they benefit from multifunctional work areas? It’s worth getting a sense of this before initial plans are drawn up, as the more detailed the brief you are working with, the easier it is for the office design planners to create a space that truly meets the needs of your employees and business from the offset.

Some features your office will benefit from include:

  • Breakout spaces
  • Glass partitions
  • Meeting rooms
  • Multifunctional workspaces
  • Individual desk space
  • Welcoming reception area

The top 5 things to consider when refurbishing an office space

Below are the top 5 things to focus on when refurbishing an office.

1. Lighting

Office lighting plays an important role in creating a welcoming working space. This is because different tones of lighting evoke different moods. Different styles of artificial lighting will bring a different energy and feel to the office. From high intensity, brighter lighting to dim lighting, the right office lighting can counteract the harsh, stark lighting from the computer screen, and help protect employees’ eyesight.

Types of office lighting and their benefits:

Dim lighting

Dim lighting can help to create a warm and inviting office space, however, be aware of lighting that is too dim, which could slow down productivity in the workplace. It’s important to get the balance right, as you don’t want to evoke an environment that’s too comfortable and leaves employees feeling sleepy. Dim lighting is generally encouraged to help people wind down before sleep, and scientifically speaking, dim light stimulates melatonin production and its resultant drowsiness.

Neutral lighting

Neutral artificial lighting should be welcoming, but with cool undertones to prevent too much of a relaxing setting. Neutral lighting can also help your energy bills from piling up, too. Mid-range colour temperatures will help with alertness, without being too stark. Ideally, neutral lighting with cooler hues should be used in an office setting, with studies finding that higher temperature lighting results in higher workplace productivity.

Bright lighting

Brighter, cooler lighting can help with alertness in the workplace, however, it’s important to avoid stark, unnatural lighting that could cause eye strain and headaches. Brighter lighting lowers melatonin, which reduces fatigue. However, heavily artificial and bright lighting can also ramp up the energy bill, so consider office design that makes use of as much natural light as possible.

Natural light

Natural lighting is very important to consider when designing an office space. Natural lighting helps to feel more productive and can help reduce energy costs, too. Sunlight has a powerful effect on the mental health of employees, helping to boost serotonin and boosting mood. Just as natural light helps you to get up in the morning, it can incentivise employees to feel productive and focused. Sunlight helps us produce Vitamin D and melatonin as well as serotonin, and bright sunlight also helps us feel more alert in general.

2. Storage

Office storage is another important factor in workplace design. Clever storage can help keep things tidy and organised, especially if you are in a large office. Shelving, drawers, storage walls and cupboards are all office storage ideas that can help you to utilise your space well. You can find office desks with storage, and there are plenty of office space ideas that allow for storage. Good office storage can help to keep any documents and physical data safe, secure and organised. It’s also just good practice to keep on top of clutter in an office; nobody wants to come into work to a mess!

Read our guide for more: How to maximise your office space

  • Go paperless where possible – excessive amounts of paper result in more clutter. Of course, there will always be a need for paper within an office environment, but by limiting paper use where possible and going digital, you will save a lot of space and time (and will also help save the planet!)
  • Be clever with desk storage – desks often take up a lot of space so where possible utilise the space below and above office desks, with additional drawers or storage units to maximise the office space you’re working with.
  • Utilise wall space – wall space is a great way to take up less physical floor area in your office, giving you more room to move around. Shelving and storage walls bring another level to your workspace and can help keep things tidy. Colour-coded filing systems, photo frames and indoor plants are simple ways to smarten up shelves and bring some depth, colour, and personality to your office.

3. Breakout areas

Top tip: Read our blog Office breakout area ideas

Breakout areas are another key part of any office space. Depending on your office location or size, you will need to accommodate a space for employees to relax and enjoy their breaks. Office breakout spaces can include kitchens, comfy areas, and places to chat and unwind with other colleagues. Just as it is important to create a productive environment for your team, it’s also important to provide space for employees to relax and unwind. Employees often use these times to chat to colleagues and switch off; taking breaks throughout the day can help with employee focus and helps prevent burnout, so by providing this space for employees, you’ll see the benefits when they return to work, rejuvenated and refreshed. 

4. Multifunctional spaces

Collaborative spaces are arguably one of the most important features of a modern office and are vital to consider in the early design stages of your new office layout. When considering collaborative spaces and meeting rooms, try to futureproof, and allow for all potential situations beyond a simple team meeting. If you regularly have visitors to the office, do your larger office spaces account for this? If you are in the process of expanding, do your initial concept designs consider this? It would be nothing short of a waste to lay the groundwork for a beautiful office space, to only find you grow out of it in six months! Multifunctional workspaces are a must-have feature of a modern office.

Benefits of multifunctional workspaces

Encourages employee interaction and collaboration

If employees have no space to meet and discuss ideas, then you may be missing a trick. By creating a work area that has a multifunctional space, employees will be encouraged to break up the day and will feel more comfortable in sharing ideas in a welcoming space, as opposed to in a formal meeting room.

Allows for networking opportunities

Your office space will be more conducive for impromptu meetings and networking sessions if there is a space that is suitable to hold them. This space will be separate from the main working area, meaning groups won’t disturb those who are in focus mode.

Reflects company culture

Employees appreciate it when employers recognise their needs, and as an employer, you’ll be ticking all the right boxes by providing multiple workspaces to work from. This can help break up the monotony of the workday, and if your team regularly works together on projects, then a multifunctional workspace – where teams can work together – will not only be appreciated but necessary.

Avoids meeting room timetable clashes

It can be very frustrating to find yourself needing a place to work together and finding the meeting room booked up. Having a space that can be used as a makeshift meeting room is very handy for such occasions, and is reflective of a typical working day in an office.

5. Thoughtful design

Of course, an underlying premise that runs through every office design and should be a key consideration for every decision made is thoughtful design. From ergonomic chairs to suitable sized desks, to tasteful interior office design. Make sure you define the needs of your office refurbishment long before work begins. This will help you tie in all your ideas together to create a design that, when it comes to fruition, meets all your requirements and beyond. Together these elements will help create a welcoming, inviting office that employees look forward to working in. It really is that simple!

You can find a number of our case studies here, which can help inspire you when coming up with your own office designs.

Check out our blog for more tips and advice:

Office refurbishment guide
How to design a productive office environment
The ultimate guide to office design
Open office vs closed office: A guide

You can speak to our team today to find out more information, or head to our blog for the latest insights.

How to Maximise Your Office Space

One of the advantages of good office design is that offices can help ensure your workplace maximises the space available in a way that works for everyone. 

In this article, we provide industry insight and guidance on how you can achieve an office that promotes good workflow and space-saving techniques. 

Within this article we cover the following:

  • How do you make a good office?
  • How to design an office space
  • Maximising the space in your office 
  • Office layout types 

How do you make a good office?

Creating a good office involves good office design that creates a welcoming and productive workspace. Workspaces should be comfortable for employers; a productive space where that can feel comfortable, and carry out their work effectively.

The long term benefits of good office design include employee wellbeing and increased productivity; so you may be asking, how is this achieved?

  • The type of furniture used
  • The colour scheme
  • The amount of natural light
  • The way the space is divided

Spend time thinking about how you would like the office space to be used, and how it could most benefit its users. Ask yourself how you would like to define the space, how can you improve collaboration between colleagues, consider employee habits and well-being, what could you improve and how could you future-proof the space. 

How to Design an Office Space

At Meridian Interiors, we operate an office design process that flows from conception through to completion, exploring options and solutions throughout the process. We find this system enables our expert designers to develop the best workplace to maximise the workspace.


You can discover more about our Office Design services here. and is explained in more detail here.

Maximising the Space in Your Office

Layout

The use of effective layouts within an office design will help to ensure footfall flows efficiency throughout the space, air and light moves effectively and collaboration between staff and departments is possible. 

Depending on the space available, it is advisable to divide the space up into functional areas with office partitions, in the most appropriate way. Within a modern working environment, popular options for areas to consider including, to maximise your office are:

  • Collaborative Spaces
  • Social Areas
  • Quiet Rooms
  • ‘Zoom’ rooms

As well as creating dedicated ‘work’ areas, employees benefit from a well-designed break out space.

For more tips, please read our article Office Breakout Area Ideas

Partitions

Using partitioning is a great way of creating functional areas and good airflow. 

Partitioning does not have to mean solid walls though. Dividing up the space to maximise its use by employees can be done with any form of partition, such as:

  • Glazed partitioning
  • Shelving
  • Columns
  • Storage wall
  • Green living walls
  • Folding walls 
  • Screens

Storage

Good storage is a key element of good office design, whether you are a very small start-up business or a larger more developed company. Focussing some energy on keeping an office space organised, can help to make it an enjoyable place to work, helping to create a more efficient working environment and providing a positive impression to visitors. 

Storage can form part of a partition, be located above desks, within pedestals, cupboards, shelving, storage wall or filing cabinets.  Most office layouts incorporate a selection of different types of storage, to ensure the best use of the available space, buying furniture that best suits the design style. 

Utilising floor to ceiling height, space above and under desks, creating privacy and reducing noise pollution throughout the office are all ways to get your storage to work for you and maximise your office space.

Furniture

Furniture can bring style, colour and personality into an office space. Using different sized furniture to best reflect the size of the working environment can be useful. 

A good idea is to experiment with different furniture layouts, as different employees with different roles may work best with different desk layouts to each other. Small groups of desks can be used to encourage teamwork, but ensure there is enough space for each employee. 

Office furniture is not all about desks and task chairs, however, and it is equally important to invest time into researching how employees will get the most out of the workspace. More modern agile and flexible working practices mean that employees may work remotely much of the time and simply come to the office as a place to collaborate and meet with colleagues and visitors, and therefore need a hot desk and meeting area. 

Other staff may work most of their time within the office, but need a quiet space to hold conference calls or deal with personal admin. 

You may even find that having a pool table in the office enables staff to have a break from their screens, clear their heads for a few minutes, develop better relationships with colleagues and as a result improve their productivity!

One size most certainly does not fit all and developing the best office layout design can really help to maximise your space.

Office Layout Types

During the 19th century, office cubicles were very prominent, with everyone partitioned into their own office or cubicle space. This way of working changed at the turn of the 21st century to an open plan style layout in many workplace environments, these designs could minimize costs within the office, such as reduced construction fees, the ability to squeeze more people into less square footage and fewer cubicle furniture pieces to purchase. 

Read more in our guide: Office Space vs Closed Office space – A Short Guide

This trend started to change around 5 years ago, as people started to realise that the open-plan layouts can be rather noisy and a more chaotic place to work, especially for businesses that require quieter working environments, confidentiality, and concentration, such as accounting firms, financial planning agencies and law firms.

Many companies are therefore now opting for more flexible office spaces, tailored towards their employee’s needs, to ensure employee wellbeing and to create more productive environments. This has been possible through both the advances in technology and the flexibility this promotes as well as the awareness of mental health within the workplace. 

Find out how Meridian Interiors can work with you to maximise your office space by getting in touch today or by exploring our office design services on our website.

A Definitive Guide to Office Space Planning (for 2021 and beyond)

As an experienced company in office design and office fit-outs, Meridian Interiors have experience in creating well-designed, well planned and executed offices and workspaces. We have used our expertise to create an all-encompassing guide on how your company can best plan out an office space for functionality, practicality, and flow.

What is office space planning?

Office space planning is a commercial interior design stage where you consider how the workplace can produce the best possible environment for staff and visitors alike. It is an opportunity to analyse how the company is structured, how this correlates with how specific teams work together and how the layout of the office can aid a positive working environment.

At Meridian Interiors, we start this process with a Workplace Evaluation, where we meet with key people from your organisation to set out the project parameters and review your main project objectives.

Benefits of office space planning

What are the benefits of office space planning? Read below to explore the best reasons to plan your office space, and how it can help you get the most out of your workspace.

Getting more from your space

Have your working practices changed, as your company has grown or modernised, but your office is still set up in the same rigid way it always has been? Investing time into creating an office layout plan to establish the best way for staff to interact and collaborate is a benefit of office space planning. It ensures you really think about the different functions, how the staff in those teams work most effectively, remembering there may not be a one size fits all solution and how these functions could make the best use of the available space.

Employee input

Optimise office space planning and see it as an opportunity to involve employees and encourage collaboration. Such changes to the office layout can be key in creating a workspace that works for everyone. Staff are key to a business’s success and feeling comfortable within a working environment can promote better well-being. And being involved in the office space planning process can help to boost morale. 

Creating more space

A badly designed layout may make you feel like you need to relocate to larger premises. Whilst this may be the case, it may simply be a need to redesign the current workplace to create more usable space. This is an option worth exploring, as it is certainly a more economical option to relocating.

Planning for the future

Realigning your office space can also help you plan for the future. This may be to realise that the existing space has room for expansion, or it may be to understand at what point a relocation will be necessary for future years.

How do you plan an office space?

Office planning starts with an evaluation of your existing workspace. Things to consider are:

  • What works well?
  • What could be improved?
  • How do departments, functions and teams work together?
  • Evaluate IT infrastructure
  • Analyses time spent in each area. Are there areas that need to be decreased or increased in size?

From there, investigate how you want people to behave in the new space and then establish your workplace requirements, to best plan the layout.  At this stage, think about concepts like agile working, hot desking, collaborative working and how they may be used to good effect in your office space.

Office spaces are an environment where stakeholders should be productive, creative and well connected, so planning an appropriate space is time well spent.

Once the evaluation has been carried out, you can utilise your findings to start planning your space. This is the fun bit, as you can start designing how you would like it to look and feel, how people should interact with the space and how technology can be embraced to enhance your business’ productivity.

How do you calculate how much office space I need?

A good working environment is not usually achieved by packing in as many workstations as possible into the desk space available, as many factors should be considered when planning your workplace.

Top Tip: You can read more about appropriate desk space in our previous guide: How to Design a Productive Office Environment.

At this stage, involving a professional office planning, design and fit-out company would be beneficial, as they have CAD software, knowledge of modern materials, design concepts and workplace products.  

How much office space per person?

Figures that are often used are 100 to 150 square ft per person however, this will depend on the type of work that your employees carry out, along with the type of furniture they will need to carry out their role. Selecting the right office furniture is paramount to making the space work most effectively while creating a comfortable workplace.

What is the best way to layout an office?

Using the knowledge gained in your evaluation stage will enable your office designer to create office layout ideas that will work best for your business.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to office design and the most successful layouts are office layouts that focus on creating productive and positive environments for staff.

Providing the following areas within your office layout have proven to be popular choices within a modern working environment:

  • Collaborative spaces
  • Social areas
  • Quiet rooms
  • ‘Zoom’ rooms

Top Tip: Read our detailed guide: Must-Have Office Features Employees Will Love.

Office space design

If an office is planned effectively, it will impact favourably on staff well-being and productivity, as well as creating a positive impression for visitors and customers alike. 

Office space design utilises space planning practices to create effective layouts, which aid efficient footfall throughout the space, ensures air and light moves effectively within the workplace and enables collaboration between staff, teams and functions. 

Find out how Meridian Interiors can assist you with space planning within your workspace by getting in touch today or by exploring our office design services on our website.

The Complete Guide to Office Interior Design

Whether you are struggling with the limitations of an existing office set up or are about to move to new premises, ask yourself if you have worked through the logical steps. This guide identifies a series of office design guidelines, to help you with your next project. 

What is office design?

Office design not only covers the physical elements of a workspace such as office furniture, layout and infrastructure, but also the emotional connection to the office space and employee’s well-being. Combining the physical and psychological elements into office design provides a well thought out space that offers a positive working environment.  

How to design an office space 

If you’ve decided you want to redesign your office, the next step is working out how to design an office space that considers all the requirements for a functional and practical modern-day workspace.

Meridian Interiors offers some insight and advice into how to design an office space that works for your business. 

Rethink your space

This is your chance to be practical, but also creative. Go back to basics. Ignore how your office is set up now and look at the basic square footage available to you. Then think ‘out of the box’.

Look at the ceiling height… Could you accommodate a mezzanine level for storage or extra office space? Or could you take down partitioning and/or remove a corridor to create a larger open-plan area?

space plan

Define separate work areas

Beyond the obvious office space – open plan and individual offices – consider meeting rooms or meeting areas, reception and visitor seating, the server room, tea points/kitchens, WCs (and disabled WCs) and any recreational areas you may need.

Create your ‘wish list’ – you can always pare it back later, but with a bit of reconfiguration, you may find there’s a way to deliver every element within the space available to you.

Consider employee needs

The general guidance for the average square footage per person in an office is 150 square feet – this is considered the space needed for any individual to work comfortably. However, if space allows, this can extend to 250 square feet.

Beyond this, other factors to consider when space planning are such elements as desk size, office storage, power supply availability, data cabling, and space for walkways/stairways.

Futureproof your office space

As far as space planning for the future goes, you need flexibility first and foremost.

Could you fit in another 10 office workstations if you needed to – with their associated storage requirements and access to a power supply?

Case Study – (View our solution for client Airdri.)

Do you have the flexibility to quickly re-define spaces, turning a spare meeting area or photocopier room into additional office space for example? Freestanding acoustic screens may be one easy way to achieve this.

These possibilities need to be factored in.

cad visualisation

How to design a small office space

Having plenty of space within a workplace is not always a given, for reasons like the constraints of working in cities with high rental values or an expanding workforce. Some companies, therefore, find themselves looking for ways in which to design a small office space.   

Small corporate office interior design can focus on the concepts below, which allow companies to get the best from the space they have available.

Agile Working

As well as the physical elements to office design, utilising a concept such as ‘agile working’ can be beneficial for companies with small offices. Agile working is described by the  Association for Project Management as “a framework and a working mind-set” that helps respond to changing requirements. Check this report out for more information.

Hot Desking

A familiar term within offices, hot desking is when a desk can be used by any employee on a different day depending on work schedules. This can be an effective way of working in workspaces with limited space. Hot desking would be particularly affective for office using a flexible working approach, with an office/ working from home split.

Desk Layout

Seating staff in desk pairs or quads can be a better use of space than separated desks. Desk layout can have an incredible impact on the space, layout and feel of an office. Consider your wisely and try different layouts, to make sure you’ve found one that suits the space well. Ideally it would allow for social working, while at the same time having clearly defined separate workspaces when needed.

Furniture

Using furniture as a partitioning solution to zone areas within an office adds options for multipurpose storage but also to make spaces more adaptable. Furniture is easy to move, and it doesn’t stop there, as you can select a finish and fabric design to your liking to ensure everything is on-brand. Whether you’re looking for something bright and poppy, or sleek and sophisticated, the furniture style you choose can hugely impact your office space. Be sure that your furniture choices fit in with the overall aesthetic so you make the most of your office refurbishment.

For more about office design and our office refurbishment services, explore our website, or head to our blog for the latest tips and advice on office design and refurbishment.  

How to design an office layout

Thinking about functionality is key, when designing an office layout. A workspace must ‘work’ effectively. Consider the items below when developing your next corporate office interior design.

  • Establish a flow through the space, so it is easy to navigate, with teams that work together being in proximity to each other.
  • Acoustics must be considered, to ensure staff are given a decent working environment.
  • Use natural light where possible to illuminate the space, placing glazed partitioning in darker areas, to allow light to travel through the space.
  • Explore different functional areas – meeting rooms, zoom rooms, break out spaces, quiet zones…
  • Use the layout to reflect your type of business through the type of reception area you provide, how areas are utilised, the types of furniture used…
  • A relatively new trend is to bring the outside in, following research identifying its benefits. Companies are starting to consider features like living walls in their office spaces.

Top Tip: Check out our Blog – How to Design a Productive Office Environment

How to design an office interior

Carefully considering design elements, when planning your interior office design, is time well spent. Below are a few things to discuss and incorporate in your planning phase.

Colour Palette and Branding

When it comes to the design, this is where you can have some fun! Thinking about the colour scheme in an office is probably more important than we think. It is the first thing that people notice upon entry and can tell staff and visitors alike a lot about your brand ethos, which explains why many companies opt to use their brand colours within their offices.

Furniture

Providing a variety of furniture options throughout a space can not only improve a space’s functionality, but also add to the aesthetics of a workplace.

Nature

Bringing the outside in is a modern trend that more and more workspaces are starting to adopt. Incorporating green or living walls into the office or simply adding well-placed pot plants can help the space feel more welcoming and offer a more relaxed environment. Research is increasing in this area as its popularity increases.

Style

Choosing the overall style of a space, whether it is a New York loft look, clean and clinical, natural and relaxed, industrial etc, can help to reflect a company’s brand and let staff know how they should use the space.

How to design the ultimate home office

Designing a home office is a different challenge, as often home spaces are not initially designed to be used for office space. With a forward-thinking approach to flexible working now including a working from home split, below are a few tips to help bring your home office to life.

Space Saving Ideas

Make use of the height within the room of your home office. Maximise on the space available for storage and consider how this space can be used. Desks with build in storage are a good idea, and a bookcase can provide the perfect spot for stationery, files, or books.

Making a Space Feel Bigger

Another consideration for home offices is maximising and optimising the space to make it feel and appear bigger. For this, we recommend:

  • Using a plain and simple colour palette
  • Using furniture that is the right size for the space
  • Choose blinds, as opposed to curtains, which can open up the space considerably  

Comfort

Although it is important for your office to feel like a place of work, so you can differentiate it from the rest of your house, it still needs to be comfortable. Add a few simple accessories, that sit alongside your colour palette and include plants and artwork to the walls to reflect your own personal style and make your home office a place you enjoy working in.

Meridian Interiors Limited have experienced office design who work with commercial clients to help create offices that give your people everything they need to succeed.

Contact the team at Meridian Interiors on 0333 3448 772 to find out more, or discover more about our office design services.

Open Office vs Closed Office Space – A Short Guide

Employers choose different office layouts dependant on a variety of factors – What is the function of the space? What do you want your space to portray? Do you want a collaborative environment or an independent office space?

As there is no simple one-size-fits-all solution we have a comprised a short guide that looks at the following:

  • What is an open plan office?
  • How to reduce noise in open-plan office?
  • Why open plan offices are good?
  • Disadvantages of open plan office
  • Open plan vs closed plan office

 Open Office

What is an Open Plan Office?

 An open-plan office space in simplistic terms refers to the use of large open areas to minimize the use of small, enclosed office rooms. Open offices originally pioneered in the 1950s have regained their popularity as the chosen layout for many businesses for a variety of reasons including;

  • A flexible approach for working between departments, as there are no physical barriers.
  • Ease of collaboration between colleagues.
  • Layout flexibility to accommodate company growth.
  • Cost-Effective, as no partitioning, separate heating or A/C is required.
  • Provide a community, with all staff feeling like they are working towards the same goal.

Why open plan offices are good?

As open plan office layouts are incredibly common, chances are, at some point in your career you have worked or will work in one.

As with all types of layout, open plan offices have both positive and negative attributes but your viewpoint on these probably comes down to the type of workspace you thrive in.

Employers tend to opt for an open space layout as these designs can minimize various costs within the office, such as reduced construction fees, the ability to squeeze more people into less square footage and fewer cubicle furniture pieces to purchase. This cost element is mainly geared towards the company overheads and not what is best for an employee.

However, a lot of businesses believe that an open space office can create a greater company culture, can encourage communication between employees – consequently improving interpersonal relationships and can contribute to creating a community atmosphere. This, I would like to think, has more of a bearing on a company’s decision.

The type of industry you work in will also influence whether you work in an open plan office, because as this type of layout is thought to encourage collaboration, teamwork and creativity, they have gained recognition as a favourable layout for companies that operate from employee participation and innovation, such as advertising agencies, graphic design companies, journalism newsrooms and marketing agencies.

Having said that, with more recent developments in technology, whether virtual meetings using Zoom or GoToMeeting, enterprise social media like Slack or MS Teams, do we need to be working alongside each other in an open space at all?

As employees have become more used to working from home, in their own environment, coupled with developments in technology, how people work has probably changed dramatically during the past year and I believe we will start to see more flexible and multi-functional areas.

Disadvantages of open plan office

Though open plan office layouts are of high demand and of favour for many, the open office concept has received backlash and disapproval from businesses that require quiet working areas, confidentiality and concentration, such as accounting firms, financial planning agencies and law firms.

Commonly, open layouts can be noisy, chaotic and lacking strict organisation which can impact employee productivity and well-being by increasing stress levels.

 Using space planning experts to create an open plan office design can help to alleviate these elements, as they can draw upon experience to use materials with acoustic properties, zone areas affectively, use the correct furniture for space… the list goes on.

How to reduce noise in open plan office

As I have identified, one of the main disadvantages of open plan office design is that they can be noisy environments to work in. Whilst some people may enjoy this environment, it is not for everyone and most people at some point during their working day need to work in a quieter space.

If your workplace is large enough, creating separate quiet rooms for private working, making phone calls or having a one-to-one meeting is an ideal solution and creating a more multi-functional office appears to be an expanding trend.

For those companies who do not enjoy such large offices, there are a few sound masking solutions that can be used. Tangible solutions such as acoustic screens and panels, strategically placed furniture and locating certain teams next to each can all help. Other solutions are cultural changes that can be made, like not using speakerphones, turning down ringer volumes on phones, holding impromptu meetings is an isolated area etc.

Open plan vs closed plan office

One of the leading questions you may be faced with when planning and designing your office space is open or closed?

The term closed office, or otherwise known as enclosed refers to an office layout that is centred around individual working spaces for individual employees using panels and cubicles. Closed offices have come along way through the decades, from the adoption of what can be described as the ‘cubicle farms’ which broke through office trends in the 1980s to the contemporary, acoustically sound and comfortable spaces that are used today.

Closed offices encourage concentration and focus as commonly they are distraction-free environments that reduce noise and bustle, which may reduce productivity. These private spaces also allow employees the freedom to personalise their desk space, to one that is comfortable and a reflection of their ethics.

Enclosed spaces state a hierarchy system, which may promote healthy competition between employees which is fundamental in company growth. If the closed office layout includes different spaces for different level employees – such as corner offices; this can give employees motivation and something to work too. Thought statistics suggest that employees have increased well-being and productivity in closed office spaces, employers do not necessarily favour enclosed office layouts.

With employees working in confinement and privacy, it is hard for business owners to supervise whether workers are wasting time or working to their full capacity.

For businesses that require teamwork and collaboration – closed office spaces are not ideal. Employees working in this environment tend to reach colleagues via email or chats rather than communicating face to face – which can negatively impact innovation and inspiration.

If you are looking to plan your own office space, whether open or closed, Meridian Interiors are well-placed to design a comprehensive office to suit your requirements, bringing your ideas to life.

You can find out more about our office design services here, or give us a call today on 0333 3448 772 to talk to a member of our team.

Ideas for your Office Breakout Area

Investing in your workspace matters to your staff and can impact the success of your overall company. One important space to consider for your office is an office breakout area.

Our article will explore why you should consider the merits of a breakout space within your workplace, including:

  • What is an office breakout area?
  • What to include in an office breakout area?
  • Office breakout area ideas
  • Office breakout area furniture

A 2019 report carried out by Staples found that 68% of staff would feel more valued at work if their organisation invested in their workspace, and as Paul Zollinger-Read, former Bupa Chief Medical Officer so nicely put it “as individual happiness is linked to productivity, satisfaction, and fulfilment – why wouldn’t we invest in our spaces?”

What is an office breakout area?

An office breakout area is an area for employees to take a break from their desks and screen. Within the modern working environment, where much more of our time is spent in front of a screen, it is important for employers to not only provide a breakout area for staff but to encourage its use.  

These areas can be versatile and used to not only provide a space for staff to enjoy their lunch (the more traditional reason for creating a breakout space). Office breakout areas also create:

  • Informal meeting areas
  • Space where people can catch up on their personal ‘life admin’
  • An area to socialise with colleagues around a tea-point
  • A place to rest their eyes from the screen!

By providing a space that is more relaxed, it gives employees time for rest and rejuvenation throughout the day. Breaks like this are important, as employees can return to their desks revitalised and raring to go. Such breaks in the day can result in better productivity compared to an office where employees never leave their desks!

These areas can also function as an alternative workspace for tasks that require collaborative or creative thinking.  Sitting in a more relaxed environment alone or with a colleague, in a separate space away from general office noise, can be beneficial when brainstorming new ideas of having important discussions.

What to include in an office breakout area?

Due to the versatility of these spaces, it is important to consider the office breakout area design so it caters to everybody and works with the existing office.

The available space for your breakout area will depend on the size of your business premises and the number of staff you have. With developments in acoustic screening and pods, you will not need a huge space, particularly if you are an SME employer. The use of acoustic furniture is an ideal way of creating small breakout spaces in pockets around your offices. Pods or booths, as featured below can offer an area where several colleagues can meet, shutting out the background noise.

The acoustic winged chairs used in The Parks Trust atrium in Milton Keynes are a brilliant way of providing relaxing seating, that when you sit back, the cleverly developed wings help block out background noises.

Depending on how you want staff to use the breakout spaces will determine what you should include. As well as the acoustic seating options above, if you have the luxury of a separate room or space for your breakout area, creating different zones could be an option for you.

Office breakout area checklist

  • A tea-point or kitchen facility
  • Fuctional seating with table for either eating or meetings
  • Relaxed seating
  • One to one booths
  • Quiet working areas
  • Social Areas
  • A library
  • Charging areas (ports for technology devices)
  • Games/Chillout space

The ‘comparehemarket.com’ common room has a putting green in it to help staff relax on their break.

Office breakout area ideas

In order to transform an office space and improve employee wellbeing, morale and productivity, we have put together some office breakout area ideas from previous client projects. This small selection illustrates the different look and feel that can be created within a breakout area.

Elements that can be incorporated within these breakout spaces are outlined below.

Glass partitioning

To provide an element of separation, but to ensure light flows into the breakout space, using glass partitioning can form an attractive and practical solution.

Company branding

The breakout area can be a place to have some fun with the company branding, incorporating colour into furniture, soft furnishings and paint finishes.

Recharge rooms

Creating a sanctuary of calm among a vibrant and busy office can provide an area for staff to recharge their batteries and take a break.

Lounge area

You may find in a larger company that a lot of staff go off-site for lunch, to either a coffee shop or sandwich bar. If space allows, creating a lounge area with a coffee shop vibe can encourage staff to socialise with each other during their downtime, form better working relationships with colleagues.

Pods

These self-contained areas for smaller offices, can provide a private area to carry out work in peace, make a sensitive phone call or have a meeting with a colleague.

Office Breakout Area Furniture

Selecting furniture for your office breakout area design will depend on what you plan to include.

Types of furniture to be incorporated would ideally include:

  • Breakfast bar
  • Sofas and relaxed seating
  • Low coffee tables
  • Poufs
  • Benches

As with all office design, considerations to natural light, ventilation, and foot flow all come into play when designing a breakout area, so it is sensible to seek advice from a specialist office fit-out company when planning to incorporate this type of space into your office.

Explore our office fit out and refurbishment services today to learn more about how we can transform your space.

How to Design a Productive Office Environment

Ensuring workspaces are designed to promote well-being is key in creating a positive working environment. As employee wellbeing and satisfaction can have a direct result in a happier, more productive workforce, it is worth investing in an office environment where workers feel comfortable, with their needs met. 

This article looks at the following areas, which we consider important elements to office layout design that help to create a productive office environment:

What is office design?

How does office design affect productivity?

Green Spaces

Breakout spaces

Natural Light

Ergonomic Design

Colour Scheme

Office Temperature

Top Tip: Check our Meridian Interior’s Guide: Must Have Office Features Employee Will Love 

What is office design?

The way an office is designed is paramount to how ‘good’ it is. Good office layout design impacts favourably on staff well-being and productivity, as well as creating a positive impression for visitors and customers alike.  Making investment in office design, smart business sense.

Office design utilises space planning practices to create effective layouts, to ensure footfall flows efficiency throughout the space, air and light moves effectively and collaboration between staff and departments is possible. 

Graymatter – Milton Keynes

How does office design affect productivity?

As well as the physical layout, good office design also considers the emotional well-being of its users, which can have a massive impact on the productivity of staff. In the past there has been a common misconception that working hard correlates with high productivity. Confinement to a desk within a booth, without sufficient down-time and nutrition intake reduces productivity, despite spending longer on tasks. Office layout ideas can be simple, but effective, to create a good working environment that meets the needs of workers while reflecting your workplace values and business model. 

So a well-designed office, where there are dedicated spaces to relax, quiet areas for doing tasks that require more concentration, collaboration spaces etc. can not only produce better productivity through smarter working, it can improve staff’s work life balance. Businesses  are only as good as the staff we employ!

More than ever, office design will play a key role in the productively of staff and subsequently the success of a business.  As many of us have become accustomed to working from home (whether you have enjoyed this experience or not), we should take learnings from this experience and use it within future office design. 

Green Spaces

Green Space is an area that many will have been able to enjoy when working from home (especially in the summer months) by working or taking a break in their garden, on a balcony or near an open window. In many workplaces this does not present itself as an option because it has not been incorporated in the office design or the office is located in an urban location with little outside space. 

However, the centre for Sustainable Healthcare found that staff who said they regularly spent time in their sites’ green spaces during the working day “reported significantly higher levels of wellbeing.” This implies that by bringing more of the outside in, with living walls or planting within offices, can also help with staff’s well-being and therefore productivity.

The Parks Trust – Milton Keynes

Breakout spaces

Any well-designed office that takes staff well-being and subsequent productivity into account, needs to plan their breakout spaces. 

There are different types of breakout space, and it is important to consider what the user is seeking to gain from the space.

Most people think of a canteen or large seating area, where staff can eat their lunch, when they think of breakout areas. Whilst these may be required, especially in larger offices, this type of environment isn’t for everyone and might not necessarily give staff that well-earned break!

Providing more private spaces, smaller spaces, more relaxed areas, where people can actually have a rest from work and carry out personal responsibilities, should be considered.

The purpose of a breakout area is to get away from your desk, to protect staff from stress and anxiety that comes from being overworked. An area to retreat to is therefore essential and staff should be encouraged to break from their desks, and a good employer should provide a separate space to do this.

Point of Difference – Banbury

Natural Light

It’s scientifically proven that wherever possible we benefit from natural light and this is a precious resource in any office, as we spend so much of our day in this environment. Natural light is particularly important, not only because it helps us to see, but because of its impact on our circadian rhythms, hormones and mood. 

Therefore, at the planning stages of any office design, it is important to include the location of natural light into your designs, to see where windows or light wells are and how to best utilise these for maximum effect. 

Equally, the intensity of the natural light is to be considered, to promote the most productive working environment. It is no good having natural light streaming through the window, but staff can’t see their screens clearly.

Ergonomic Design

Using ergonomic design in offices to help with productivity is key, as it is essentially the process of designing workspaces to best suit the people who work in them. 

Productive staff will be the ones who are comfortable in their workspace. They will have the correct type of chair with good support, desking that moves up and down so they can stretch their legs, the correct screen and mouse configuration with wrist support, footrests, the list goes on…

Ergonomic design needs to be considered in workplaces in particular, due to the length of time people spend there. All chairs essentially do the same job, but they are designed to do different tasks. Some are designed to be used briefly, like in a waiting room, and therefore do not offer comfort but others, like a task chair in an office, will need to offer many elements of support, for different sized people and to be used for long periods of time. Throughout a workplace, different types of seating will therefore need to be considered for the different areas created.

The Parks Trust – Milton Keynes

Colour Scheme

As with natural light, the colour of our surroundings can dramatically affect our mood, which impacts on staff productivity. It makes sense that happy, more positive staff will be more productive. 

Choosing a particular colour scheme for your office can often be led by brand presence, as this gives an element of identity to a space. However, as colour can directly affect our morale, it’s worth considering what type of people make up your business and what type of environment you are trying to create, before selecting your colour scheme.

Calming colours such as white, blue, green and purple can be used to promote rational decision making. Warmer colours such as red and orange could be used in a more dynamic space, but used in smaller doses, so as  not to overwhelm the user. Yellow works well in a kitchen or break out area, as it helps to brighten your mood and energise you.

Office Temperature

This element is often fought over within offices, especially in open plan spaces, because people find different temperatures comfortable and the nature of ventilation systems is that within an open space, there will be some colder spots and some warmer spaces. 

The fact that it is so hotly contested (excuse the pun!) in workplaces around the country just illustrates what an important element it is to the productivity of staff within an office. Too warm and people may become lethargic and if it is too cold people find it hard to concentrate, as their energy is going into keeping warm. 

The discussion points in this article barely scratch the surface, as there are so many more elements to consider, which goes to show how much is involved in getting your office design right. It may therefore be useful to speak to the experts when you decide to plan your next office.

At Meridian Interiors we have 20 years of experience in helping clients design office schemes, so please contact us if you would like our guidance. You can email us on info@meridian-interiors.co.uk or ring 0333 3448 772 today. 

Air conditioning your office space

Anyway, enough with all the science stuff. Let’s get into the benefits, how/why it affects people differently and the design considerations within an office space.

Ventilation & air conditioning; the benefits for staff and visitors

Heat can make workers feel hot, flustered and sluggish in the office. Many studies back this claim and as the warmer weather sets in, discomfort is more apparent, resulting in poor productivity. Air-con systems provide appropriate ambient conditions for employees to concentrate and work effectively; negating this productivity slump. Here are just five of the benefits for both staff and visitors alike:

⦁ AC allows windows to stay closed, negating pollen intake among hay fever sufferers, reducing symptoms and improving work ethic as well as keeping out the noisy external environment.
⦁ AC reduces heat and moisture levels. Mould and mildew stop forming, reducing maintenance costs and potential respiratory issues
⦁ Air quality is improved as AC units contain purifiers, reducing nasty bacteria and dust particles responsible for sickness, low motivation and productivity
⦁ Conditions such as noise levels are undisturbed as modern AC units operate almost silently
⦁ Clients will feel good in a conditioned environment. A comfortable, welcoming space prompts customer visits and business growth

Office temperature; a bone of contention?

A simple fact is that every individual has his or her own unique preferences. Some shared, some different to others. With this in mind, it’s important to note men and woman’s idea of the ‘perfect temperature’ differs at physiological levels. This is dependent on our gender, age, weight, ethnicity and adaptability. The bottom line, women generally feel colder than men. Arise, the bone of contention and potential office conflict! But don’t panic… We’ll explore some key points to consider.

Physiological differences are to blame, not your colleague’s mood! A study found woman typically produce less body heat than men. They’re more likely to feel chilly in the office, whilst men tend to feel warmer. Everyone knows a happy workforce is a productive one, so how do we accommodate everyone? An agreeable solution seems impossible, right? We recommend sticking to the guidelines. The Approved Code of Practice states a minimum workplace temperature of 13-16 Celsius, depending on the activities carried out. Not everyone can be pleased, so a tip for those suffering in colder spaces – have a portable heater to hand! Try and find a happy medium, gather a general consensus of an appropriate office thermometric.

Air conditioning considerations within office design

So, we’ve explored the science, the benefits and why AC affects people differently. Yet a question still remains, how should AC be considered within office design? Air con specialists will examine the parameters of an office, the number of people, as well as exit points such as windows and doors. In addition, sun trajectory, building structure and ceiling types will all be looked at closely to determine spatial configurations.

The design of an office impacts how well the AC works. They work well in open-plan areas, however individual spaces should have their own systems. Finally, consider the businesses critical equipment and cooling needs. The modern workplace contains tech that generates a lot of heat. It’s important to filter this to improve operating efficiency, ensuring safety in an optimal workspace.

But need not worry! Our team of experts will design your office with comfort and ventilation in mind, maximising airflow for a happy, productive environment. Get in touch with us today!

 

wooden boardroom table with black chairs and TV mounted on wall

Acoustics in Offices

Many modern offices are designed using an open plan layout and for good reason, as this type of space is ideal for building staff relationships, collaborating on projects and making all staff approachable.

However, with the considerable size of some open plan offices, the noise within these spaces can reverberate across the workplace, creating a distracting environment to try to work in.

Using our experience in office design, we are keen to share the ways in which we believe you can reduce the noise pollution within your office.

How can Carpet Tiles help?

Have you ever been sat at your desk and been distracted by the noise pollution from a colleague putting their cup down or being drawn into a conversation that is being had on the far side of the office?

This transfer of sound can be reduced by the installation of carpet tiles with an acoustic backing. This backing material can dramatically reduce the distance that sound waves travel throughout the open plan space, making them an ideal product to use within your office to improve the working environment of staff and colleagues.

A benefit of using carpet tiles is that they are also a fantastic way of incorporating colour and design into your work space.

Our suppliers have various products with different specifications, which can be used in different areas throughout your office facility.

Protecting the Ceiling…

Many offices have suspended ceilings, which in themselves will not stop too much noise from travelling throughout offices. There are a few things you can do, depending on your budget, to reduce the noise within larger spaces with suspended ceilings.

Firstly, a cost effective solution to reducing the movement of ‘room to room’ sound and the reverberation of noises in the office below, is the installation of polythene encased pads above the ceiling. These pads are the same size as a ceiling tile and simply lay on top of them. This product can be installed easily and the encased product ensures no loose fibres are left above the ceiling.

A more involved option is to add acoustic panels below the suspended ceiling. Not only does this offer better acoustic performance within an office, it also offers aesthetic opportunities, as these panels are visible from the office below. These panels come in different shapes and colours; and can even have artwork printed on them. This ensures they not only fit into your office space seamlessly, but they can also add an additional layer of design into your workplace. These acoustic panels can also be used on both walls and ceilings.

Screening and its attributes

We all need desks to work from, so another effective way to enhance acoustic protection is to add screens to our desks. These screens are a good way of breaking up the open space and creating more private spaces. As with other acoustic solutions, screens come in different shapes and colours, so can be used to accentuate a particular design, for branding or used to zone areas within your office.

What is booth seating?

In addition to free-standing screens, booth seating can be used within open plan offices to break up the space, offer breakout areas and informal meeting spaces. Used to good effect, you can create a welcoming and well-designed working environment, for staff and visitors alike, while not distracting or being distracted.

Phone booths in offices….

Not all works paces have ample space for large meeting rooms, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy areas within your open plan office where you can get aware from the noise of the office and have a private conversation.

We are seeing a rise in the popularity of ‘Phone Booths’ within office design, as these are relatively small pods or meeting rooms, made from acoustic material and are fully demountable and relocatable.

Our team of experts are capable of designing a system for your office, to assist in improving your working environment. They would welcome the opportunity to discuss your requirements, so please contact us today!