The modern office is no longer just about being a clinical space with a purpose for just functionality with recent research identifying the modern office as rapidly changing to create a more comfortable space, with greater emphasis placed on employee’s well-being through office design.
The move from ‘hard’ workspaces – brick walls, minimal decor, hard floors and chairs – to ‘soft’ workspaces – use of fabrics, well upholstered quiet zones, comfortable breakout areas – is predicated upon a number of factors, not least that research has repeatedly highlighted that workers miss ‘home comforts’ and that their positivity in-part relates to the comfort they feel within their environment. This is not to say that an office should be designed, furnished and decorated to instil a sense of relaxation for the workforce but rather that wherever a an employee finds themselves within the workplace, they should feel comfortable and with a sense of ‘belonging’ in that environment.
So, how can this be achieved? Well, there is vast scope for such a process through office furniture, floor coverings, wall coverings, colour schemes etc but obviously cost is always a factor in refurbishing / refitting and office and so we are going to highlight a simple and effective approach to softening the workplace through the use of soft furnishings.
So what are the key areas to consider?
An important place to add soft furnishings to your workplace is in the break area. Making your office’s break area comfortable for employees is a great way to boost morale and allow them to recharge their batteries in positive surroundings. Staff should, whenever possible, eat their lunch and take a break away from their desks as being ‘desk-bound’ is repeatedly highlighted as detrimental to the sense of well-being of employees and has actually been shown to reduce the productivity of a member of staff when compared with those who have taken breaks away from their desks.
We appreciate that much traditional managerial thinking works on the premise that if you make a breakout area too comfortable, staff will ‘linger’ and will thus be non-productive. However, making an area in which staff are not to work uninviting defeats the object entirely. The deployment of sofas, large cushions and bean bags are great pieces to add to your recreation area and are sure to boost positivity, being a big hit with employees, and a quick glance at some of the global big-hitters – Google and Facebook et al – show that providing employees some comfort is not necessarily detrimental to the bottom line!
Is there anything worse than being sat on a stiff wooden chair in a 2-hour meeting where thoughts drift increasingly to the pain in your back of numbness in your legs as opposed to focusing on the matter in-hand?
Allow your employees to get their creative juices flowing in comfort. There are many ways to add soft furnishings to the meeting room from subtle using soft, padded chairs to next level with meeting pods. Whatever your style, adding soft furnishings to your meeting rooms will allow your employees a comfortable space to take-in or deliver important information.
Aesthetically too, you may have the most comfortable boardroom, or meeting room, furniture available but, as is often the case, it will be of the same colour (black leather, for example) which can make a room appear oppressive, in particular where a ark colour is the predominant theme. Whilst replacing, reupholstering all the furniture may be prohibitively expensive, the simple use of scatter cushions can give visual relief by introducing an accent colour into a room.
Making a good first impression is key to any office, so ensuring your clients’ entrance experience is comfortable is very important.
The reception area needs to be both professional and welcoming to everyone, and getting this area of your workplace right can make a huge impact on the outcome of your meeting. Using soft furnishings in the reception area is relatively easy; modern and brightly coloured furniture with a biophilic theme is a great way to make a good first impression.
Take a look at your reception area and see if it passes the ‘lounge’ test: presuming your home lounge is a place of welcome and comfort, apply the same approach to your reception area. What makes your lounge thus? Sofas, armchairs and cushions are a great way to promote a comfortable, welcoming feel for your reception area and also can be used to add a splash of colour too!
Soft furnishings are a great way to boost positivity in employees and make great first impressions in the office. There are endless opportunities to incorporate soft furnishing no matter what budget you may have or design you have in mind. Adding soft furnishings could modernise even the most outdated office interiors, with all of these points in mind adding soft furnishings could be a real asset to your office and your business.