Case Study: Corporate Finance Insti...

Case Study: Corporate Finance Institute

The Business

Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) is a business based in Downtown Vancouver that offers online courses in financial analysis, including modeling and valuation. Their coursework was taken by over 100,000 clients in 2018, who range from university students to investment bankers and accountants. With a history going back decades, CFI has gone through a number of changes that, while beneficial, have also meant a need to constantly update their style, refresh their visual identity, and set down roots in their location.

The Problem

While CFI’s Vancouver space was sizeable and conveniently located, they were based out of a coworking space. This meant its layout wasn’t ideally set up for their business and didn’t feel like it actually belonged to them. There was a marked lack of rooms and spaces dedicated to CFI’s specific needs: not only was there an insufficient amount of space dedicated to meeting and collaborative rooms — of which they needed several — the space had no dedicated lobby or waiting area for visitors and clients. On top of that, the office felt second hand in an aesthetic sense, with a lack of branding or visual identity to make the space feel like a dedicated home for CFI.

The Solution

Aura’s approach was a holistic one, covering the necessary changes to the office’s layout and giving it a visual overhaul that made it feel far more like a space that belonged to CFI. In terms of practicality, space was rearranged so that certain areas felt more distinct than others. The hallway adjacent to the main door was widened to create a boundary between the main, open workplace and the area around the entryway newly designated as the waiting area. Multiple rooms were created using glass walls as demarcation points which still allowed for a wide-open, highly visible environment, including both small and large boardrooms, casually furnished meeting spaces, and a dedicated room for recording podcasts. And in terms of branding, well-placed elements of colour — focusing on CFI’s shade of dark blue — adorned window and door frames, as well as walls in the entryway and boardrooms and subtle elements in the carpeted flooring. Lively multicoloured graphics, both abstract and representational, add both visual pizzazz and statements of CFI’s purpose.

Aura worked with both the client and the building’s landlord closely, fitting both the budget and the timeline despite occasional challenges. Even in the event of a setback involving structural asbestos in the office’s exterior walls and columns, Aura was able to come up with creative solutions to the matter that had minimal impact on pre-construction time.

The Outcome

With an emphasis on close-quarters yet spacious-feeling use of the office’s layout, paired with furnishings that made waiting and meeting rooms feel more like welcoming living rooms than an all-business workplace, Aura’s reworking of CFI’s space gave it a feeling of coziness that made it feel like home. Along with the creation of multiple dedicated workspaces, the new layout and design gave CFI employees a versatile and comfortable place to work.

Learn what else Aura can do for you and your office space! Feel free to contact us, and see what other spaces we’ve brought to life.

Case Study: EnWave Corporation

The Business

Based in Delta, British Columbia, EnWave is a company with nearly 25 years’ worth of experience developing commercial applications and equipment for the food and pharmaceutical processing industries. Their ability to create engineering and software-based solutions for a multitude of companies, including a quick and efficient vacuum-microwave dehydration technology known as Radiant Energy Dehydration (or REV™), has appealed to multiple companies looking to find healthier, more cost-effective and energy-efficient methods of processing consumables from produce and grains to pills and vaccines, and their business has been steadily expanding as a result. In 2019, they were ranked #5 among the 100 fastest-growing companies in B.C.

The Problem

Though it may have suited their production needs, the space EnWave did business out of wasn’t doing enough to express their brand identity or the values the company adhered to. This made hosting special events for both employees and clients logistically difficult: aside from the design issues that had the potential to leave visitors feeling displaced or inconvenienced, there were space concerns, too. With the majority of their workplace concentrated in a warehouse, using adjoining offices for meetings and other events meant contending with a limited amount of space.

The Solution

Considering EnWave’s goal of establishing a dedicated waiting area, a sizeable boardroom, a number of smaller meeting rooms, and open space — all capable of hosting 14 employees — a major restructuring of the office plan needed to happen. But while the needs were obvious, the budget and the limited amount of space to work with meant Aura needed to plan carefully and creatively. Given those conditions, Aura filled those needs with a distinct style and efficient use of square footage, creating a look that offset contrasting monochromatic modernism with distinct patterning and clean-edged delineations of rooms that used interior windows to create an open feeling. Branding was incorporated with wit and subtlety — individual office spaces featured brand-evoking blue wave designs on the walls — and natural light was accented with eclectic fixtures that ranged from the breakroom’s retro-industrial bulbs to the boardroom’s halo-shaped overhead lighting.

The Outcome

With a more inviting and well-laid-out space, day-to-day business for EnWave was able to accommodate outside interests and client visits without worries of limited space, cramped isolation, or this-could-be-anywhere anonymity. For a company whose work mixed the scientific and the industrial, the new feeling that EnWave’s office gained from Aura’s insights made for a pleasant environment that was comfortably distinct from the mechanical engineering side of the operation.

Learn what else Aura can do for you and your office space! Feel free to contact us, and see what other spaces we’ve brought to life.

Why Your Office Needs a “Third Place”

One particular philosophy in the creation of community-space planning to emerge in the late 20th Century is the idea of the “Third Place.” Where the “first place” is a dedicated home and the “second place” is the workplace, the third place — as defined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg — is a gathering space where social environments encourage community, relaxation, entertainment, edification, and other activities meant to bolster civic interest and contact with broader societal elements. In simpler terms, it’s a place where the concerns and obligations of both work and home are free to be ignored.

With our current mobile and remote-working emphasis on being constantly on-call, the idea of the “Third Place” has become somewhat tenuous, intruded upon by facets of daily life that used to be far easier to cordon off to 9-to-5 hours. But as office planners have discovered in recent years, that upending of place can happen in the workplace as well. Office designs are increasingly incorporating built-in “Third Places” that encourage employee relaxation, community, and healthier work-life balance in a way that can accommodate worker needs and improve both morale and productivity. Here are five reasons office designers should consider incorporating a “Third Place” into the workspace.

Increased productivity: When a worker’s pacing themselves and taking intermittent breaks to relax and recuperate, it’s a net gain to productivity; a burned-out worker is an inefficient worker, often prone to distraction. In offices where breakrooms are spartan and uninviting, employees often stay at their desks to have lunch or take some downtime, which further blurs the work/relaxation balance and can make burnout set in more easily. Having a dedicated space (or several!) with appealing, comfortable accommodations can encourage workers to take time away from their desks, leaving them more refreshed and without the rut of being in the same spot most of the workday.

Less stress: Though this goes hand-in-hand with the benefits of increased productivity, Third Places also offer more holistically inviting and comforting spaces where workers can take a retreat from the frustrations of the workday. In that sense, a spot that seems less like a traditional extension of the workplace and more like a small-scale retreat can work wonders by temporarily separating stressed-out workers from the source of their anxiety.

More spontaneous creativity: One of the most common ways of describing an effort to break out of a rut is calling it a “change of scenery” — so why not offer that option in its most literal sense? Aside from staving off burnout, offering a dedicated Third Place where the pressure of work is pushed to the background can let flashes of inspiration arrive unexpectedly, or give the creative mind some much-needed downtime to recharge. A different environment — in sound, light, decor, furnishings, and overall mood — can be a catalyst for entirely new perspectives.

Collaborative sociability: Spaces like breakrooms have traditionally provided opportunities to socialize, while meeting rooms are more cordoned-off spaces dedicated to presentations and collaborative work. A “Third Place” space can split the difference between the two: a relaxed environment where workers can socialize while also providing the potential — but not necessarily the pressure — to exchange ideas and brainstorm.

A home away from home: It’s no coincidence that many people who work remotely often choose cafes and coffee shops to do so: these places are designed to offer customers an environment that they’ll want to stay in and return to, as well as providing a public space that feels like a place where work can be done. Providing a space in your workplace that fills a similar role — a place where the option is there to work, relax, read, study, or meditate — creates a feeling of independence and freedom that can feel more like working from home or a neighbourhood cafe than a traditional workplace can allow.

Aura is proud to provide as much inspiration as your office needs require. Feel free to contact us for more info.

Office Space Utilization for Growing Tech Companies

Most growing tech companies spend a significant sum on office space in order to meet the needs of their talented workforce. As start-ups grow into larger businesses, office space utilization becomes vital. By making some tweaks to office aesthetics and optimizing their use of space, tech companies can create workplaces that align with their dynamic, predominantly millennial workforce and meet lofty business objectives.

What is Office Space Utilization?

Office space utilization is the process of determining how current office space is used by an organization. The aim is to identify unused or badly used space and devise ways to utilize any extra footage through redesigning, renovating, and reimagining existing layouts.

In modern tech office design, office utilization rates usually range between 60-70%, meaning that 30-40% of space is underutilized on a typical workday. Office real estate costs organizations thousands of dollars each year, so companies ought to properly manage workspaces to reduce further expenses.

Most contemporary tech office designs are activity-based working (ABW) offices that continually grow in size and scope. Such office spaces are partitioned into various areas to enable the staff to perform their numerous duties. Some sections include:

  • Quiet spaces
  • Shared workstations
  • Networking rooms
  • Meeting rooms

This design enables the staff to use areas well-suited to the specific tasks they are performing, increasing efficiency in the processes. Companies can easily determine which areas are important. Those who add little value can be removed to improve utilization.

The continuous assessment of space utilization measurements is critical as it allows organizations to know trends and collect data that is instrumental in saving energy, space and costs. Ideally, companies should measure space utilization once or twice annually. This helps identify areas that need revamping and to make necessary alterations.


Guidelines for Better Office Space Utilization

Horizontal to Vertical Layout & Storage

Horizontal office layouts are common because employees need space to work and move around. While most offices are designed for work, business owners shouldn’t underestimate the importance of effective storage solutions. Poor storage can significantly slow office operations and lead to reduced productivity.

Offices need to adopt vertical storage solutions because they’re organized and take up less space. The freed-up floor space can be used by growing tech companies to create new workspaces that foster collaboration. What’s more, new employees can be added to keep up with demand.

Currently, millennials make up the largest part of the workforce. This group of environmentally conscious staff prefer biking to work (instead of driving) to reduce carbon emissions and save money. Since there will be more bikes at work, this presents a new problem for storage. The best way to accommodate this change is to provide staff with vertical wall storage for bikes at the entrance or in common areas. This way, the office won’t be laden with bikes and employees will have an easier time moving around. Moreover, such storage is visually appealing and gives the company a sense of organization.

A few years ago, tech companies had to contend with physical paperwork. Today, this isn’t the case. With digital file sharing and cloud storage, tech offices can do away with outdated filing systems and instead use vertical shelving units to store tech-related publications and references. It’s advantageous not only because of the space savings but it also makes it easier for employees to access information.

Floor Plan Changes

You need to assess your office design to determine if it needs a new set of furniture or if some items take up too much floor space. An agile interior design ensures accessibility, creating more space and giving employees the freedom to move about and choose suitable areas to accomplish specific tasks.

Another trend in office design for technology companies in the elimination of stand-alone desks which keep employees at one position all day. Collaborative work zones are open concept common space and private zones that are often integrated into modern tech office designs. Employees don’t have to suffer the dullness that results from spending the whole day at one position anymore.

You may discover that your staff spends more time in collaborative spaces than in quiet spaces. In such a situation, consider redesigning some quiet spaces to become additional collaboration spaces. All this is done to increase convenience and boost productivity.

 Adaptable Furniture

An agile floor plan is one that improves mobility and encourages employees to ditch the traditional use of floor space. These modern floor spaces should embrace human personality and spirit, thus increasing the efficiency of operations.

Another awesome way to maximize office space utilization is through the use of modular furniture. This type of furniture is portable, mobile and multi-purpose and easily replaces the bulky furniture often found in traditional offices. Companies can invest in furniture that promotes good space utilization such as height-adjustable desks and privacy walls.

– – – – – – –

Over time, tech companies outgrow the existing office space and require optimized spaces that can support more staff and increase efficiency. The first thing to do when faced with this predicament is to analyze your current step to determine which areas need refurbishing. Be brave enough and try out new ideas.

Great office designs for technology companies are those that portray company culture and are flexible. At Aura, we take away the stress of redesigning a tech office from you. Sit back and let us help with everything from workspace planning and real estate advisory to interior office design and construction management. Contact us to discuss more on this matter.


Case Study: BERMANFALK Hospitality Group

Vancouver-based BERMANFALK has been providing furnishings to the hospitality industry throughout the world since 2007. In that span of time — relatively short in memory, but a long stretch for a growing business — BERMANFALK grew rapidly, with their design-first approach earning their seating and casegoods products a strong reputation and a growing footprint in the hotelier and interior design worlds. While their committment to a Canadian sense of quality products and efficient service was well-maintained, the rate of their growth led to an inevitability: how do they redesign their office and make it more efficiently attuned to the needs of an expanding business?

The Problem

For BERMANFALK, their needs were clear: their workforce was growing, and that meant a need for more coordinated teamwork in a larger operation. Due to the collaborative nature of the workplace, the idea was to gravitate towards an open space, one that encouraged and inspired a free exchange of ideas. But there was still a need to allow individual employees their own spaces, autonomy, and privacy, which open-plan offices aren’t always designed to accommodate.

The Solution

Partnering with Aura gave BERMANFALK many options to choose from in expanding and redefining their space. For their new office, located in a former industrial space, the openness of the space was emphasized with soft white walls and ceiling, letting the contrasting abstract/organic patterning of the carpeting reflect the shadows and light given off by the structure of the ceiling’s bare ductwork and girders. This lent the open space of the floorplan a bright uniformity, while other more delineated spaces — including individual cubicles, cabinetry, and window frames of conference rooms — were highlighted with darker slate tones. And in keeping with BERMANFALK’s reputation for design, furnishings were given a timeless modernity, mid-Century designs standing out distinctly while still maintaining a comfortable minimalism.

The Outcome

With Aura’s open space plan, BERMANFALK’s managers were able to get a clear, easy overview of operations as the size of their business expanded. Meanwhile, the visual impact of their space was directly in keeping with their stylistic philosophy, post-industrial chic highlighting a simple but versatile approach to creating a harmonic interior space. In short, Aura served as the interior designer that interior design experts trusted.

Learn what else Aura can do for you and your office space! Contact us, and see what other spaces we’ve brought to life.

Aura Office Environments Hosts Successful Tenant Talks Lunch & Learn Event

Tenant Talks is a complimentary event series featuring expert insights driving Vancouver’s modern workplace.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – October 15, 2019 – Aura Office Environments (“Aura”) proudly hosted its first-ever Tenant Talks Lunch & Learn at Spaces in Gastown on Wednesday, October 9th.  Themed around Remote Work and the Modern Office, the event featured a panel of top-tier industry experts, including NoW of Work Founder Rocky Ozaki, Visier Senior HR Business Partner Angie Ng, Quietly Head of People & Places Kraig Doherty and Aura Operational Development Manager Kristina Kovacevic. Together, they spurred a multitude of ideas and brought forth their vision for how remote work will affect office planning and employee dynamics in the long-term. 


Here are some of the event’s key takeaways:

  • Remote working is here to stay. Studies have shown that the benefits of remote work apply to employees and businesses alike. Given the opportunity to work remotely, an astounding 77% of workers stated they were more productive working remotely, with 30% of remote workers stated they accomplished more work in less time than working in the office. Normalizing remote work is increasingly beneficial, and the key to this is putting trust in your staff.

  • Office design, tech, and remote work are all integral to each other. Video teleconferencing is an accessible technology that can be accommodated by dedicated design plans, such as “zoom rooms” that feature large-screen displays for long-distance “face to face” interactions. Smaller meeting spaces and private spaces for smartphone usage — an update of the traditional “phone booth” — are also helpful, as are dedicated hotel desk and “hotdesk” setups for workers on the go.

  • Adopting remote work policies is easy and beneficial. Test the waters by giving workers the option of working remotely once a week. Budget for activities that will help remote staff build interpersonal work relationships, such as flying them to in-person events and having stipends to help cover their coworking expenses. Create working-hour expectations where people are expected to be “on-call” during particular times to set some needed parameters for self-directed workers. And, focus primarily on how people work rather than where.

  • Reward flexibility with benefits. One of the primary challenges of remote work is instilling a sense of community and social contact among workers who might otherwise feel detached from the organization. In-person social events and fun online group chats and Slack channels are two solutions businesses can offer.


Aura plans to host Tenant Talks on a quarterly basis at varying venues throughout Vancouver. Sign up to the mailing list to stay in the loop!


About Tenant Talks

Tenant Talks is a complimentary Lunch & Learn Speaker Series featuring industry experts and community leaders sharing their expertise, knowledge and valuable tips on workplace trends impacting Vancouver companies. Gain key insights over a catered lunch into office design and workplace culture best practices.


About Aura Office Environments

Tenant Talks is brought to you by Aura Office Environments, an innovative design-build company focused on creating experiential office environments that celebrate and enhance your distinct company culture. Founded in 1976 by the Boram family, Aura has evolved into a complete turnkey solution provider, offering a wide range of services including workspace planning, location selection, interior office design and construction management.


Contact Information:

Craig Boram  

Marketing Director

Phone: +1 (604) 510-7101


5 Law Office Design Strategies To Maximize Millennial Employee Retention



  • Thoughtful space reduction can increase collaboration and socialization
  • Third Spaces facilitate casual interaction, collaborative meetings, and relationship building
  • Increase natural light and air quality improve workplace wellbeing and productivity
  • Designing your office to have a low environmental impact to align with employee expectations
  • Use colour psychology to strategically enhance employee positivity
  • Consider biophilic office designs that incorporate more greenery into the office

Continue reading “5 Law Office Design Strategies To Maximize Millennial Employee Retention”

Case Study: Ram Consulting

Vancouver-based design and construction management consulting firm RAM is a highlight of Aura’s portfolio. Their space is a product of client-ready knowledge and creative problem-solving that helped give one of Western Canada’s most important infrastructure-managing firms room to meet its quickly-growing demand. And to get to that point, Aura would need to assist them in solving problems common to businesses undergoing rapid expansion. Here’s how it all happened.


The Problem

In taking on increasing amounts of large-scale work, including project and construction management for major Vancouver-area transportation arteries like the South Fraser Perimeter Road, George Massey Tunnel, and Canada Line Metro, RAM found their old office space insufficiently prepared for expansion. And any renovation would need to keep their workers foremost on their list of priorities: RAM’s core values didn’t just include ethical concerns like safety and integrity, they also held to standards of innovative, forward-thinking solutions, environmental sustainability, and a sense of workplace camaraderie and fun that established their business as a beneficial place for its employees. That combination of expanding business and appealing work environment meant they would need to prepare for a new space that comfortably accommodates a workforce that had the potential to grow by double if not more.


The Solution

Aura’s team collaborated with RAM to address their specific needs in ways that handled both concerns — rapid expansion and worker-friendly environment — in overlapping ways. Dedicated lounge areas not only added to the office’s footprint but were situated and arranged in ways that would enable easy communication and socialization between members of the staff. The line between traditional meeting rooms and social spaces was erased thanks to the unobtrusive but accessible placement of furnishings like couches and foosball tables. And the wide variety of seating, desks, and tables gave off an uncluttered, versatile sense that work could be done just about anywhere in the office.


The Outcome

Aura’s ability to create a bespoke space that paid attention to both form and function benefitted RAM in the long run. With their myriad teams consolidated into the same space, the company’s ability to facilitate freer and wider communication between different groups has bolstered their workplace’s focus on collaborative empowerment. And the lively, attractive decor underscores RAM’s commitment to giving employees a welcoming place to work.

You can see more in Aura’s online portfolio, and contact us to see how we can help your business, too!

Too Hot, Too Cold! Choosing The Right Temperature For Your Office

The thermostat can be a topic of heated debate in some workplaces. People are surprisingly passionate about the temperature of their office environment.

Well, it turns out there may be more to these debates than what meets the eye.

Research suggests there’s a relationship between temperature and employee well-being and productivity. Psychologists from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University conducted a study wherein participants performed cognitively demanding tasks in rooms of different temperatures. They found that warm discomfort (i.e. being too hot) negatively affected participants’ sense of well-being whereas moderate discomfort of any kind (i.e. either too hot or cold) made it more challenging for participants to complete tasks.

Evidently, it is important that office temperature is taken into consideration to ensure employee well-being and productivity are optimal. However, this may be easier said than done. Closed-concept office environments have an advantage as each individual can adjust the thermostat according to their own preferences. It can get more complicated for open-concept offices where everyone is subject to the same temperature, despite individual preferences.

So, what can employers do to improve temperature conditions in their office environments for the betterment of their employees? Here are some ideas for those looking to cool down the thermostat debate once and for all.


Continue reading “Too Hot, Too Cold! Choosing The Right Temperature For Your Office”

Employee Fulfillment & Overhauling Your Space Design

As we move towards the future, individuals want to know that they’re more important than machines and are searching for work that taps into the human experience. So when an employee is searching for such an experience and leaning towards meaningful work, much of what they’re looking for is a space that will not only keep them motivated but make them feel like an individual with a meaningful job that won’t be easily replaced. Thankfully, employee perspectives, scientific support, and bright spots in the space design industry have been studied to improve the employee experience as a whole.


Work Evolution & Employee Value

We’re on the brink of a new era in which we are looking for a higher sense of purpose and meaning in our work. With both of these circumstances being a core narrative of our workplace, office space design has tapped into neuroscience and psychology to advance a positive change in the space planning of the future. Automation and artificial intelligence are looking to accelerate the new world of workplaces, so office space design is focused on making employees have a sense of meaning and purpose in their engagement practices.


Space Design & Employee Experience

To feel fulfilled at work, one must be in an environment in which our sense of purpose and our intrinsic motivations are being tapped. This feeling can be generated by two main neurochemicals, dopamine, and oxytocin, in which the brain will release to reward behaviours to be valued for our own survival. A brain is a powerful tool and extensive research has proven that brain chemistry will motivate us in several positive ways. When certain chemicals are released throughout the workday, workers will feel more satisfied with what they’re doing. Employees who feel fulfilled are more likely to spend 3+ years with a company than those who don’t feel fulfilled. 


Growth, Impact, & Relationships

The three major factors that contribute to a fulfilling work life are:

  • Growth – A challenge in which we overcome.
  • Impact – The act in which a goal is getting results.
  • Relationships – A connection to others and a sense of importance.

With employees having their work-life boundaries increasingly blurred together, employees want to search for opportunities that allow them to pursue and explore what gives them purpose. They want to have meaning in their work, so having an office space design that encourages them to do so is incredibly fulfilling. If an employee can’t feel fulfilled or find purpose in their line of work, it’s likely that they’ll be looking elsewhere. That’s right, some employees would not only look elsewhere for a fulfilling job, but they’d be willing to take less pay for it.


Providing Some Structure

Although personalization is difficult to scale and the search for meaning can be a highly personal endeavour, a bit of structure in the office space design and space planning can assist employees on their journey to more fulfilling work life. Having a setup that offers reverse mentorship planning, stretch assignments, innovation labs, rotational opportunities, or rewards for milestone experiences, it helps employees have a meaningful and deeper relationship with their job. By offering space that allows employees to understand the impact they make on the company, they’ll be more excited to help the business grow–and coworkers who experience other’s success will also be more inclined to work hard for the benefit of the company. By building an office environment that lets employees know they’re part of a team, they’ll be more than willing to assist a company in its growth.


Space Planning: Don’t Forget Culture!

Culture plays a bigger part in the workspace planning process than one would realize. Between a company’s purpose, strategy, and overall employee experience, evolving the workspace design is important. What’s usually defined as “how things operate at this establishment”, workplace culture can support and reinforcement for employees who are searching for a greater meaning in the work they perform. Although culture is more of a matter of doing (as opposed to saying), businesses looking to evolve their culture must focus on issues such as:

  • Paying attention to behaviour that touches on growth, impact, and relationships.
  • Highlighting leaders to signal and model behaviours to other employees.
  • Tapping into the influencers who energize the surrounding individuals to create a purpose-driven culture.

Businesses that successfully tap into employee sentiment nurture employees that believe fulfillment is possible at their jobs. However, much of what happens after receiving such information relies on you and how you improve on such data with your office space design. By understanding that much of this information is rooted in employees developing/growing, making progress, and having a sense of belonging, businesses can foster that information into their workspace planning.


Leaders & Followers

When it comes to modeling and signaling behaviours for a fulfilling experience at work, leaders are incredibly important. They can be powerful allies in the influence of what fulfillment looks like. Pairing a great leader with precision workspace planning, a business can be unstoppable and employees will feel fulfilled at the end of the workday.

In consideration of the information above, there are plenty of ways your company can tap into employee sentiment to overhaul your office space design. If you don’t have such programs put into place yet, these tips are an excellent way to start. For more tips on how your company can achieve maximum effort from your staff, contact Aura Office Environments for more information on how we can help you.