What’s Hot: Office Design Do’s and Don’ts From the Experts


Office is a place where we spend a significant amount of our time every week, so it’s natural that we prefer working in an atmosphere that’s designed to foster creativity and make us feel comfortable. Multiple surveys even state that workplace design and office decorating are some of the leading factors in attracting top talents to the workplace. Keeping this in mind, it’s crazy how office design may still go unnoticed by some business owners.

For many years, business owners have been arguing over how to design a perfect office. Some believe that collaborative office space is the key to creating an environment that’s conducive to creativity and productivity, others are advocates of embracing privacy in the workplace. History shows that none of them are 100% right.

So how should you construct an office that helps to engage and retain employees as well as to bolster your bottom line? If you are setting up that new modern office and don’t know where to start, keep on reading to learn from some of the workplace design wins and fails. Meet design specialists that are sharing their top office design do’s and don’ts:

What current trends can be seen in requests for new workplace design?

Yanal Wattar:

The trend that I encounter in my work most nowadays is the attention and appreciation that the employee receives. Office spaces have become much more concerned with the question of how to make employees as comfortable as possible at their workplace. Be it colours, furniture or material, at the end of the day, they all aim at creating a space for the employee in which they can thrive, be happy or feel inspired and motivated.

Personally, I am very fond of this development. As requirements for employees become higher and higher, it is also essential that an employee can take energy from their surroundings at the office. At my office for example, the relaxing corner has become a vital place for me to be. After an intense day, I can refresh my batteries, relax and afterwards give more than before. Since boundaries between work and social life have become less and less clear, it is necessary to find this space in any office, too.

Mauricio Solis Colomer:

It definitely must be the open space trend. The open space expands ways of communication between people and gives a faster interaction. But I think this trend has some negative things. For example, the people may have trouble concentrating with so much noise and distractions around, also, it doesn’t build up identity of every community that integrates the company.

Nethalia Fevaro:

We believe that workplace design nowadays is flexible, clean and practical, to avoid a fixed routine and allow a more fluid space and interaction between employees.

Let’s take a glimpse into the future. What are some emerging office design tactics that businesses should pay attention to in order not to look outdated in, let’s say, 5 years?

Yanal Wattar:

In my opinion, any company will play safe if they focus on the functionality of their office space. Instead of investing into expensive materials in order to redesign ceilings, floors and walls, the attention must be put on the employee and the work stations. Office designs that are set in former industry areas have clearly demonstrated that the employee does not need a beautifully decorated surrounding but rather a spacious, comfortable and functional environment in which they get into the right mood for work.

FORM Architects:

An emerging trend that we are seeing is spaces that have more of a residential aesthetic. We see this especially when specifying furniture to look more “homey”.

Mauricio Solis Colomer:

The most accurate office design in five years from now will be a mixture of different types of spaces. The ideal is to include small open spaces, each one representing the identity of every single work group, so that users could attend them depending on the type of work to be done. It’s very important to have in mind the psychological comfort of the worker in order for them to perform given tasks the best way possible.

Nethalia Fevaro:

Flexible and open spaces, comfortable zones inside more rigid zones, what means mixing meeting rooms with coffee break areas that allow more informal meetings that can be a good way to exchange knowledge in a more natural way.

Generation Z is arriving to the office. Many companies are looking for the best way to engage and attract top Gen Zers while retaining current employees from earlier generations. In terms of office design, can all four generations fit under one roof?

Yanal Wattar:

Interestingly, this issue has challenged me just recently when I was requested to redesign an office space in which employees from various age groups were working. It was the office of a constructing company in which mostly young people were employed. The management, however, belonged to the generation X and clearly felt uncomfortable in the open and colourful space that they were in at that time. The challenge for me was then to create a space in which both generations would feel comfortable despite the multiple requirements. Whereas the management had the need to retreat and work in privacy, the younger employees craved for a modern and friendly working space.

FORM Architects:

Absolutely. It’s all about giving people a variety of spaces to work. Earlier generations preferred a single stationary, personal space while younger generations would rather move around and work in varying types of space throughout the day.

Mauricio Solis Colomer:

I think it’s really difficult, but it’s definitely a nice challenge to have when working on designing that modern workplace.

Nethalia Fevaro:

I believe they will complement each other so it´s important to have those hybrid spaces meant above. The digital natives can perform many tasks at the same time but they also can be less focused than the generations before so a space that allows both experiences is a positive way to connect those generations.

Are there any design features of the modern workplace that could be applicable to almost any company despite its organizational culture?

FORM Architects:

The saying “form follows function” applies to all spaces. Despite the look of a space, it needs to function for the people working in it. Using this as a foundation, people will begin to feel comfortable wherever they work, once the shock of changing environments has worn off. Spaces that serve multiple functions are always appropriate and make both real estate and dollar sense for businesses.

Mauricio Solis Colomer:

We live in a world that is constantly changing, so people need the capacity to change with all the tools they work with. Nowadays, architecture must reflect that capacity of change in the design of the workplace. That design should feature flexibility and adaptability. You also have to keep a space versatile, when it comes to optimizing space.

Nethalia Fevaro:

We believe open areas for small meetings and coffee breaks is applicable for almost all workplaces because it’s a natural human demand.

What main factors are considered and discussed when designing a new office space?

Yanal Wattar:

The very first step that I take at the beginning of any project is the following: Understand the company and, especially, the processes of its daily work. As an interior designer, I first want to see how the company functions, which sections of the company work together, how they are intertwined and what relations there are. In a further step, I am mostly interested in who the people are that work in this office space, what strategy the company follows, brand-wise, and what kind of expectations go with the brand itself.

For example, if you imagine to step into the headquarters of Coca Cola, what kind of office space do you see in front of you? Rather an office furnished with dark-coloured wood and carpets or light and colourful materials? At the end of my design process, I need to ascertain that the spirit of the company is represented in the space and atmosphere that I created for them.

FORM Architects:

We consider how a company operates and the work tasks for their employees and then determine how to efficiently incorporate this into their new space. Ergonomics and lighting play an integral part of the design factor.

Mauricio Solis Colomer:

First, is to understand the essence of the company, for that it’s essential to analyze the winning strategy that the company has. Understanding what makes them different and better than what the competition has to offer.

Nethalia Fevaro:

The main workstation area and the meeting room. Two different places that must be well designed and comfortable for creating and receiving people in the office.

So what’s out in office design and should be highly avoided when designing a new workplace?

FORM Architects:

Workspaces without natural light.

Mauricio Solis Colomer:

The open space in its traditional form, because work groups lose their identity, people feel anonymous, it’s very difficult to concentrate, communication is faster but more superficial and less creative. Anything that does not consider the real needs of people in the workplace, should be avoided.

Nethalia Fevaro:

We believe that black colours and small spaces for a large number of people should be avoided to keep the employees satisfied.

In 5 words: what every modern workplace should look and feel like?

Yanal Wattar:

Comfortable, authentic, light, motivating, simple.

FORM Architects:

Clean, efficient, comfortable, multi-functional and light.

Mauricio Solis Colomer:

Should reflect the company’s essence.

Nethalia Fevaro:

Comfortable, flexible, clean, open, homey.

Every Business Is Different

It’s fine to follow the best practices, but you shouldn’t forget that your work environment must be a reflection of what your business is. What works for Google might turn out to be a total failure for your company. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not! In most cases, great office design is simply about striking the right balance between collaborative and private office spaces. Get this right, and you create a perfect environment that boosts productivity, amazes everyone that visits your office and ensures the success of your business.


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