Designing office spaces for a range of personality types doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Companies today are seeing the value of intentionally designed spaces and know that creating meaningful and functional offices matters to employees.
So how can you make sure that everyone feels at home in the workplace, no matter what their personality? The first answer is to foster a culture of authenticity and acceptance. True acceptance moves beyond words to actions, and one way to demonstrate this is by creating a place where people feel welcomed and at home.
Here are 8 ways to represent personalities into office design:
Soft edges, pretty colors and luxe fabrics create spaces that speak to a more feminine aesthetic. These spaces convey nurturing and comfort and are often soothing and understated. To achieve this look in your office, stay away from primaries and other bold colors that can come across as aggressive. Personalities that prefer the feminine want to feel safe and able to relax.
Harder edges, dark colors, durable fabrics like leather, and uneven textures like bouclés send the message that men are represented in the space. Swap out dainty accessories and furniture for more substantial statement pieces. Bring in hammered metals and rivets to build an industrial vibe. Masculine areas should not feel “breakable,” but rather, enduring, sturdy and rich.
As Susan Cain so famously reminded us in her groundbreaking best-seller Quiet, introverts need quiet time to think, rejuvenate and refresh. Spaces that are hyper-social and loud can be incredibly draining to introverts, making it more difficult to concentrate and requiring loads of mental energy to assimilate. To create a more balanced workplace, install enclaves and private rooms that block or diminish sound. Cozy corner lounge vignettes allow introverts to get away without going away in an open plan office. Above all, allow these team members the freedom to seek out places that allow them to focus and unleash their creativity. For them, this probably won’t happen at a ping pong table …
… but ping pong tables might be just the ticket for your extroverted coworkers! These people find refreshment in social situations and often have a “more the merrier” outlook. Happy hours after work or lunchtime potlucks give extroverts the opportunity to mingle, laugh and disconnect. Consider adding a large table to your break room to facilitate group gatherings, and add large lounge spaces for organic connections and intentional collisions. Be sure your office is also equipped to promote multi-person collaboration, too. Extroverts are energized by the robust exchange of ideas.
Trendy personalities love whatever’s new and shiny. They want to stay fresh and current with spaces that reflect the movement toward more residential office stylings and away from prescribed remnants of the past. These coworkers would invite audacious elements like those we’ve seen in the headlines: slides, giant indoor living trees, swings, hammocks. Trendy personalities appreciate kitschy details like cheeky conference room names, office mascots, basketball hoops and disco balls. Cue: new and shiny.
Traditionalists are completely happy working in the same surroundings they’ve enjoyed for years. Single desks flanked by exterior private offices suit them just fine. They appreciate buttoned-up spaces with clearly defined boundaries and plenty of personal space. Traditionalists prefer permanent desk assignments as opposed to moving around each day. The sense of permanency allows them to park their coffee cup, display their latest family photo and use nearby storage solutions to keep themselves organized and productive.
Mobile workers appreciate the flexibility that comes with moving around the office each day. The change of scenery is inspiring for this personality, and they take full advantage of working in a variety of environments, including outdoors. To create spaces with these people in mind, be sure to integrate plenty of in-between spaces — the kind that mobile workers enjoy for a couple hours or that extroverts might use for casual ideation and collaboration. In-between spaces might not “look” like workplaces, but with 32% of Gen Y preferring to work in lounge posture, these spaces are quickly becoming destinations for mobile workers.
Outdoorsy personalities covet fresh air and natural light. The irony is that natural light is good for everyone. As much as possible, design your workplace to maximize natural light, and consider offering outdoor spaces with access to power. Being outside — or inside by large windows — is healthy and can be directly linked to productivity.
If you’re noticing that your team doesn’t enjoy their time in the office, feels on-edge or uncomfortable, it might be time to ask if there’s more you can do to create an environment that truly meets the needs of everyone. One small step today might make a big difference for your employees, team culture and ultimately, your bottom line.