Creating Office Balance

Gone are the days when all offices were predictable environments. Though workstations do still exist, businesses with a mind towards collaboration and fresh new ideas have looked to designs that help, rather than hinder, individuality. As such, it’s become apparent that the most successful office spaces manage a key balance between openness and privacy.

Yet, if the previous layouts worked just fine for decades before, why the sudden focus on such a balance? The answer is simple: with reconfigured office environments, community and productivity abound.

Consider your own life. Are you most productive in an environment of sterility and predictability? Or do you thrive in spaces that offer variety and a connection to others? Most would lean towards the latter, which is why today, we’re talking all about the benefits to a blended office setting, and how they can help you thrive both personally and in your work.


Opening the Space Visually

In older office styles, each floor and section, though covering quite a bit of square footage, typically felt cramped and dark. This was due to the lack of visual connections in the space, and a feeling that each work station was cut off from the others. Visual connections between work spaces help to not only make the overall office feel larger and more open, but they also provide transparency. When individuals can actually see others, there is an inherent feeling of collaboration that arises, and rather than feeling isolated, a visually open office connects people from all ranks and teams. People feel they are working together towards a common goal rather than responsible for only one lonely cog on the conveyor belt.

An open floor plan in this office space makes the transition seamless between a shared kitchen, a lounge area, a conference room, and private offices. / Design by    Vela     Creative

An open floor plan in this office space makes the transition seamless between a shared kitchen, a lounge area, a conference room, and private offices. / Design by Vela Creative

Surrounded by glass-enclosed offices and work areas, this shared lounge seating area provides space for collaboration while still feeling connected to the rest of the employees. / Design by    Vela Creative

Surrounded by glass-enclosed offices and work areas, this shared lounge seating area provides space for collaboration while still feeling connected to the rest of the employees. / Design by Vela Creative


Including Areas for Privacy

Yet, as important as visual openness is, it’s also critical to include areas for privacy in an office design. Glass-enclosed office spaces provide the perfect balance between openness and quiet focus, while adding in smaller and more private rooms can give workers a space to discuss more sensitive information. Whether taking a confidential phone call or simply needing a quiet and undistracted place to focus on a project, these private areas are must haves – especially when the remaining areas of the office are dedicated to a more open floor plan.

Glass windows and doors make it possible to have private meetings while still feeling visually connected to the rest of the office space. / Design by    Vela Creative

Glass windows and doors make it possible to have private meetings while still feeling visually connected to the rest of the office space. / Design by Vela Creative

Small private rooms allow for confidential phone calls or a quiet personal work space. / Design by    Vela Creative

Small private rooms allow for confidential phone calls or a quiet personal work space. / Design by Vela Creative


Incorporating Shared Spaces

Just as moments for privacy are necessary, so, too, are moments for interactions and socializing. Shared spaces – from conference rooms to lounge seating and kitchens – can serve as much-needed respites from the stresses of work. Colleagues can meet in a more comfortable area to get to know one another on a personal level or to exchange ideas on an upcoming project. By prioritizing communal spaces, an office becomes ever-changing, able to shift based on an employee’s needs and thereby providing a much healthier work-life balance. Plus, shared spaces like these work wonders for those holiday office parties or celebrations because there is a gathering space built right in.

A shared open kitchen gives employees a space to both socialize and find nourishment. / Design by    Vela Creative

A shared open kitchen gives employees a space to both socialize and find nourishment. / Design by Vela Creative

This conference room provides ample space for collaboration, while the sculptural wall art keeps the room in a perpetual state of visual interest and movement. / Design by    Vela Creative

This conference room provides ample space for collaboration, while the sculptural wall art keeps the room in a perpetual state of visual interest and movement. / Design by Vela Creative


Putting Biophilic Elements at the Forefront

Finally, we can’t forget about the importance of putting biophilic elements at the forefront of an office’s design. Plants and greenery, unobstructed views to the outdoors, shifting patterns of shadow and light, and organic natural sounds and movement can all play key roles in increasing the health of employees and making the office feel much more connected to nature. Our bodies crave the natural world, and for far too long, office spaces were built to force a separation between the two (hence the dark and cramped feelings of office environments of the past). With biophilic elements, an office’s design can be completely transformed, and the stresses of the work day are in turn much easier to handle. Furthermore, with biophilia, creativity blossoms and the space as a whole feels inviting, fresh, and complete.

Plants surround this lounge area, pulling in touches of nature to make the space feel alive. / Design by    Vela Creative

Plants surround this lounge area, pulling in touches of nature to make the space feel alive. / Design by Vela Creative

A crackling fire gives unexpected visual movement to this space and large open windows provide ample natural light and unobstructed views of nature. / Design by    Vela Creative

A crackling fire gives unexpected visual movement to this space and large open windows provide ample natural light and unobstructed views of nature. / Design by Vela Creative


Ultimately, an office design that creates balance is one that is not only appealing to its employees, but also incredibly successful in terms of productivity. Through the layering of shared, private, visually-open, and biophilic-enriched spaces, success is certain, for our bodies  and minds quite literally depend on the atmosphere we’re in to evoke imagination.

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

 

 

Megan Johansson