7 Easy Ways to Create New Gathering Spaces in the Office
Just as changing seasons motivate us to change our furniture arrangements at home, our workplace routines, floor plans and layouts often have to change, too. Multi-generational considerations, the pressure to innovate, and the need to attract and retain talent are forcing companies to better understand the importance of collaboration and the necessity of wellbeing in their office designs.
To meet these needs, companies are learning they must create highly collaborative, multi-functional third spaces as well as oases for heads down work. Finding new pockets for group work, collaborative activities, additional quiet spaces for solo work, or freshening up existing breakout areas are examples of the types of spaces workers are looking for. Here are seven steps to holistically define those spaces in your workplace without the headache of a big renovation.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to create new spaces in your workplace:
1. Map out boundaries with flooring
Map out the boundary of your floor and inset a section of new flooring—or use the same flooring material in a different color or pattern. You can use this new color or pattern to lead staff into specific spaces or to indicate a new gathering space. And remember: It’s ok to have the floor boundaries go beyond the walls.
2. Use accent colors
Use accent colors to tie in with the new floor color or new floor material. This will catch your staff’s attention and is also an effective tool for way-finding and branding.
3. Group furniture
Group furniture closer together, organized by style and color. Uniformity makes individual pieces look cohesive. If you have a variety of chairs, find something they have in common and group those together. Area rugs can also pull individual pieces together to create a place to come together.
4. Add screens to create visual boundaries or seclusion
If purchasing furniture, look for those intended to create a sense of privacy between spaces with high backs.
5. Use storage to define workspaces
Use three-drawer cabinets, returns, or storage units to act as buffer in between spaces near other workstations. They are useful when you want to control traffic and separate busy office aisles from lesser-traveled ones.
6. Install large light fixtures
Install large light fixtures to communicate pockets of spaces within the workplace. This is especially effective when your office has high workstation panels. The style of it also communicates the type of space it is in. Pendants with interesting shapes and colors are often used at break rooms and collaborative spaces.
7. Include branding and signage
Finish it off with branding and signage. Use images, graphics or texts to communicate clearly what those spaces are. Although they are in the open space, name them that ties in with color so there is instant connection. If the area is themed, use the best word that relates to that theme.