Walls are both integral and easy to take for granted. Every office needs at least four of them — at least if you plan to keep it indoors — but where do you go from there? Like many of the other elements of office design we have discussed in previous articles, from the different types of layouts available to the spectrum of colours used in decor, the placement and usage of walls can have a noticeable psychological effect on the moods and mindsets of employees in the workplace. And even with many other considerations to factor in, like available space and brand identity, the impact of wall space, design, and usage on the work environment should be considered a high priority. Of course, it is also a priority with several possible options, many of which are up for contentious debate among workplace philosophies. Therefore it is good to know what is available regarding wall placement and style and what sort of effects each one may have on your employees’ mood and productivity.
Here are a few things o keep in mind when designing your workplace layout and floorplan:
This sort of wall might first come to mind when the subject comes up: opaque, floor-to-ceiling, and a clear delineation point between rooms and spaces. Naturally, they are great for soundproofing and other concessions to privacy, as well as a valuable surface for all kinds of practical and decorative possibilities. The problem is that many contemporary offices promote and operate best on a sense of inclusion and transparency, figuratively and literally. This makes a cordoned-off space with physical barriers, less natural light, and an inability to see inside feel psychologically stifling. Think of how people use walls as a metaphor when discussing problems with collaboration or communication. You will have a good idea of why they can have a specific effect in the literal, physical sense, too. Walls provide privacy, but is that the best option on an open floor plan? Or would a transparent wall or modular wall be better?
As much as the open-plan office was developed to break down the figurative and actual walls between employees, the need for dedicated spaces is still present in many workplace scenarios. The “invisible” wall has become a popular and valuable compromise — glass that you can see through and let light through, yet still use as a just-noticeable-enough partition for dedicated areas. Glass walls have proven to be a valuable solution to creating areas of an office that can be used for smaller group or individual tasks while still keeping the workplace in sight, bypassing the possible feelings of isolation or being cut off that drywall and other opaque room separations can cause. Soundproofing is also viable when using glass walls, which can retain a necessary amount of privacy. Furthermore, it is also critical to have some level of visibility on glass walls, like decals, frosting, or etchings, to prevent safety hazards.
Modular wall systems have been familiar for decades, assuming you’ve spent some time in a hotel conference room or high school gymnasium. Naturally, they can be a good fit for an office, too. Modular wall systems are solid yet moveable, temporary yet functional. Additionally, they can extend and retract to give the office flexibility that dedicated open-plan or walled spaces often cannot. Does your office need privacy but is afraid of having a permanent barrier? A moveable is an excellent option because it can be integrated when necessary and can help future-proof the workplace to be more agile and flexible. Furthermore, they are also a good fit for office spaces that like to mix it up a bit; subtle but noticeable rearrangements of wall space can keep a workplace feeling dynamic.
Still not sure what kinds of wall options are best for your office? Contact us for a detailed and comprehensive workplace strategy that can pinpoint how to streamline and optimize your space. Whether it is your business’s culture, efficient productivity, or employee well-being, Aura will be sure to factor in every aspect that is important to your company.