5th Jun 2020

Creative Ideas for Your Commercial Office Design: I is for Inspiration

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When you hear the words commercial office design you might imagine rows and rows of desks, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. But since the birth of the office as a communal workspace, people and design have come a long way to say the least.

Offices should be spaces that inspire and energise. They should be environments that support peoples’ wellbeing and productivity.  Where people feel safe.

By doing some initial thinking and research, there’s a lot of scope for commercial office space to do these things. To become much more than simply a collection of desks and chairs.

Lucky for you, we know exactly how to make this a reality. So here’s some inspiration to help you create a workplace that your people are proud to work in.

1. Bring the outside in

Biophilic design (i.e. design based on natural elements) is not only very on-trend, but it has strong links to wellbeing. It can reduce stress, increase creativity and even mask background noise.

There are lots of creative ways to bring the outside in and reap the benefits.

You could hang plants from the ceiling, install a living wall or even choose furniture with integrated planters – yes it does exist and it’s very aesthetically pleasing too!

Mixed media green wall at WorkLife Central

Planters can also act as soft noise barriers. This can increase productivity by relieving some of the frustrations your people might experience if you have a bustling open-plan office.

Commercial office design at Finch Consulting, featuring biophilic furniture
Planters at Finch Consulting

Whilst plants are a big part of bringing nature into your commercial office design, it doesn’t all come down to greenery.

You could use natural tones on the walls and furniture fabric, or incorporate natural materials, like wood. And this isn’t just for show, using biophilic elements like these have been shown to make people feel calmer too.

2. Wall graphics for the win

Wall graphics can inject personality into any space. When used cleverly, they can bring your company brand and culture to life and motivate your people.

Conveying company culture through every element of what your company does, including your commercial office design, is a key part of creating the environment you want for your people. We talk more about this in our C is for Culture blog.

Finch Consulting commercial office design featuring company-branded wall graphics
Company-branded wall graphics in meeting rooms for Finch Consulting

Wall graphics can also be used with other elements like furniture to create zones with different ‘feels’ for different activities. For example, calmer or less ‘busy’ graphics can signpost a space for concentration, or more energetic-looking designs can be used in spaces meant for collaboration and discussion.

On the flip side, they can also visually connect spaces to each other.

Wall graphics at Etex Facades

An example of this in practice could be to signpost a designated eating space in your workplace. No matter how large or small the space, you can use wall graphics to create a space for people to get away from their desks during the day. According to the WELL Standard, this can help to promote healthy eating at work too.

3. Less ‘kitchen’, more ‘work café’

On that note, transforming your kitchen area into a work café is something we’d definitely recommend for several reasons.

Having your own café-style space gives your people the option of a more relaxed area to use without having to leave the office. That’s not to say you should think of your work café as a workspace first, in fact it should be the opposite.

Work cafe at Ibstock Brick

As well as wall graphics, the tone of this space can be set with comfier furniture, softer furnishing and less integrated technology to encourage respite.

Of course, some work cafés could be positioned as agile working areas where people are encouraged to sit with their laptops. If this is the case for your space, providing enough power points is important.

Ultimately, empowering people to choose when and how they work best gives a great sense of freedom and a considerable wellbeing boost. Plus, it’s great for productivity.

Oh, and it’s always nice to have a space to take visitors for a nice coffee without having to leave your building!

Costa Coffee in the Social Hub at Mira Technology Park

4. Design for movement

Movement is good for circulation, supports physical and mental health and lowers the risk of chronic diseases.

Research has also shown that standing more can increase energy and productivity levels, lower stress and improve mood.  If your space could encourage this, it would make your company a great place to work, right?

So how do you design a corporate office space that gets people moving more?

Think about the layout

It’s a common misconception that exercising can make up for being sat down all day. It’s actually important to make sure you’re moving frequently. In fact, it’s recommended that you stand up and stretch your legs every 30 minutes, or even better, alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes.

There are several ways to encourage this, from ideas as simple as putting tea and coffee in a different area to desks, or incorporating ergonomic furniture like sit/stand desks. This ergonomic solution enables your people to stay ‘in the zone’, even when it’s time to stand up.

ProMinent commercial office design featuring a sit/stand desk
Sit/stand desk at ProMinent

Shift your culture

A shift in office culture can also encourage your people to keep moving, so make ‘being active’ part of the job. For instance, your company culture can normalise going to talk to someone instead of calling them.

Or you could provide activities that help people to stay fit and encourage team bonding, like a weekly exercise class or lunchtime walk.

Plus, when you move around more, you’re more likely to see other people and have impromptu conversations which spark creativity and problem-solving.

Take a people-first approach

No matter how ‘commercial’ or ‘corporate’ your company offering is, centring your workplace around your people will help you create inspiring spaces that look amazing whilst meeting business objectives.

Simply installing rows of desks can hinder working practices, and let’s be honest, it’s not massively interesting to look at all day either.

Speak to a workplace consultant

We hope we’ve given you some things to think about over and above how many desks you can fit into your commercial office design. So it’s time to plan how you can evolve your space to support your people first.

Our workplace consultants can help you through this process so that you can build a workplace where your employees feel happy, comfortable and motivated.

Get in touch for a chat with one of our friendly team today.


Chloe Sproston

Creative and Commercial Director