A well-designed office is functional, adaptable and just feels good to visit and work in, for employees and visitors alike. Here’s a quick look at four design essentials the best offices get right.
1. Let There Be (Natural) Light
We’ve all spent time in an office with less than ideal lighting. Maybe it was a flickering fluorescent bulb or a lack of windows…whatever the cause, it just felt off. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a view of the outdoors or skylights overhead? “It’s no secret that dim lighting can strain the eyes and cause headaches, lower productivity and result in employee fatigue,” writes Jeff Pochepan on Inc.com.
There are lots of benefits to adding brighter, more natural light into an office—and it’s backed by science. A Cornell University study found that workers exposed to higher levels of natural light in offices reported a 56% decrease in drowsiness, 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain and 63% fewer headaches. “Our favorite ways to incorporate natural lighting in commercial spaces are through ample windows, skylights or even artificial lighting that mimics natural light,” writes Dana Anderson, president of Atlanta-based office design firm Planning Interiors.
Ironically, the Cornell study also found that of the offices with plentiful windows, over 75% block more than half of those windows with blinds or shades, diminishing the benefit.
Stuck with no windows? Adjustable task LED lighting brightens desk space, and many options offer a range of light temperatures from cool to warm, depending on the user’s preference.
Featured Product: Coordinate™ and Contain®
2. More Ambiance, Less Noise
Offices that are super noisy can be stressful and distracting. (The same could be said for offices that are too quiet, where every dropped pen or conversation is like a record scratch––but that’s for another post.)
“To me, the number one thing that most office architects and designers need to tackle is noise,” says Diane Flinders, Vice President of Sales at King Business Interiors. “People are still conducting Zoom meetings, while other employees are meeting in teams. It can get really loud without the right acoustics or sound barriers.”
Place upholstered seating, like HON’s lounge chairs, around the office to absorb and soften noise. (They make great places for small groups to meet, too.) Another way to lower the volume: Decorative acoustical wall tiles and ceiling baffles. Open-pattern hanging screens, like HON’s Acoustical Solutions by Unika Vaev, separate spaces and mitigate noise distractions while allowing light and air to pass through. Flinders also recommends subtle white noise devices to soften and diffuse office chatter.
Big Room, Big Opportunities
Regardless if your larger gathering space is called a conference room, huddle room or team meeting room, details matter to make it as functional, adaptable and usable as possible.
Make sure there’s plenty of space around the conference table to comfortably move around it and accommodate extra participants. HON’s Preside® collection offers a variety of table sizes and styles to fit any décor, and your local HON dealer can assist you with planning.
Seating around the table should be comfortable, with good lumbar support and adjustable height. HON’s Ignition® collection offers options for employees of all sizes. Create the perfect lighting with dimmers that can brighten for a video call or darken for a presentation. And don’t skimp on the outlets and charging ports for projectors, laptops and phones.
For permanent, large-screen television displays, make sure the screen is large enough for the people in the back, with an anti-glare screen. “The display should be installed in such a way that doesn’t require viewers to crane their necks or strain their eyes, and it shouldn’t overpower those sitting closest to the screen,” writes Elizabeth Hodapp on AVWorx.net. “The image on your display shouldn’t project below the line of your conference room table.”
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4. Make a Strong First Impression
Because your focus is often on task space, don’t let the reception area be an afterthought—it can give visitors (and employees, too) the wrong idea about your company’s priorities. Even small offices should aim for a dynamic, functional and comfortable reception space that will make a strong first impression.
Start with seating that’s inviting, cozy and contemporary. HON’s West Hill™ collection features two-and three-seat lounges and single-seat lounge chairs available in a multitude of colors, fabrics and configurations. Bring your brand into the reception area through graphics, photographs, company colors or video walls. Device chargers and a coffee machine stocked with a variety of flavors can be a thoughtful, inviting touch. Opt for low-maintenance live greenery to bring color and softness to the area.
Lighting, noise, conference rooms and reception. Get these elements right and your workers and clients alike will keep coming back for more.
Featured Product: West Hill™