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Creating Constructive Communal Areas In The Workplace

Whether your office is designed in an open plan style, or you've gone for the more traditional cubical approach, it's important to have spaces where people can gather.

Holding meetings or brain storming sessions while huddled around a normal sized desk can be difficult, and can disturb colleagues who are sitting nearby, therefore, it's worth looking at creating some communal areas where people can gather. These can be useful for lots of different purposes, including work and break times, and here are a few ideas for creating communal spaces your staff will love.

Meeting and conference rooms

Meeting rooms are important for when you have clients visiting, and they can also be handy places for staff to gather if they need some privacy. Even if your office design is completely open plan elsewhere, it's important to have somewhere where people can go that's quiet and soundproofed, as they may need to discuss confidential matters.

Your meeting room is an important part of your office, because it's often one of the first things clients see when they come in, and therefore it's important that this room is professionally designed and has a design that makes an impact. It's a good place to show off your creativity and go for something a bit more unusual, and it can be at the heart of your entire office design.

Communal desks

Many start ups with small office spaces have started using the concept of a communal desk. In some small firms, everyone sits at the same table, from the CEO to junior staff, and this allows for collaboration and a nice team atmosphere. This kind of working isn't for everyone, however, and some staff might find it difficult to work in a noisy environment. However, the idea of having a large communal desk for certain projects is a good one, and by having a large, communal space in the heart of your office, people can simply grab a space whenever they like.

Some of the reasons for having a communal desk include:

  • A feeling of equality when working together
  • Plenty of space for setting out plans and paperwork
  • Being able to come and go without the need to book a meeting room
  • Open plan, collaborative working

Kitchen and break areas

Having a space where staff can relax can really help the atmosphere of the office. They can be simple spaces where you can grab a coffee at any time, or more elaborate set-ups with full kitchen facilities. Advantages of having your own kitchen and break areas include:

  • Encouraging staff to take their allocated breaks
  • Allowing staff to socialise
  • Keeping employees close at hand during their lunch breaks
  • Providing a more informal meeting space

There's lots of inspiration online for effective break areas, and as with lots of design trends, big London firms are leading the way. Certain companies are famous for having amazing break rooms with ping pong tables and bars, but the facilities you provide will depend on the kind of company culture you have, and how much space you have to use.

Co-working spaces

If you have some extra space in your office, then setting up a co-working space can be practical, and could even earn you some more money. Co-working is especially popular in big cities where rents are high, and means freelancers and start up firms can simply hire a desk or two whenever they're needed. These spaces are more creative and cool than the usual serviced office, and are usually found in the trendiest areas.

You might have an extra floor in your building, or a small area that you could set up with desks and power sockets. If you have contractors coming in to do some work for your firm, then they can easily set their laptops up in this space, or you could rent out desks by the day to generate some extra income. You'll usually have to provide access to kitchens and bathrooms, plus any extras such as chilled water or free WiFi will make your space more attractive to potential co-workers. Co-working spaces are great for networking and meeting professionals in your industry, and with more people working remotely, they're useful for when you have staff coming and going.

Space to socialise


If the staff at your firm like to work hard and play hard, then you might want to set up some space that's purely for fun. This can impress potential clients when they come to the office, and is a big draw for potential staff as it's a perk of working in the office. It could be a chill-out space where staff can have a few beers after work, or it could be an on-site café where staff can chat and enjoy a latte. Again, it depends on the kind of events you'll use the space for.

Bathrooms

Often neglected when designing an effective office, your bathrooms serve a practical purpose, and should be considered during any office refurbishment. With more and more staff going to the gym at lunchtime, or arriving via bike, it can be useful to have showers installed, and having space for staff to change is thoughtful if you're expecting people to work long hours. Bathrooms are an important communal space in any office, and ensuring they meet your staffs' needs will keep people happy.

Working with others is an important part of nearly any job, and you need to ensure your staff have the space and resources to do so. Whether it's a large communal desk where people can gather and share designs, or a cosy meeting room for one on ones and other private gatherings, there are lots of ways you can encourage people to work better as a team simply through the right office design. Make sure you work with a design firm who have experience creating collaborative, practical spaces, and you'll soon see the difference in the way people work, and their productivity levels.


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