The widespread concept of industrial design has gained popularity, particularly during the past few decades. It is characterised by certain key features, one of which is an acknowledgement of the importance of a building and its past life. This means that rather than concealing a property’s history and heritage, the fabric of the building is treated sympathetically, with many original features left exposed and even highlighted, rather than concealed.
You can find examples of industrial design these days in apartments, restaurants, shops and offices located in former warehouses or mills. When it comes to industrial office design, there are a few elements that can be particularly attractive and conducive to creating a good working environment. Here are a few ideas about how to make the most of your opportunities.
Start with the building
If, as a business owner, design specialist or architect, you’ve decided on a property that you want to use as an office, you should start by taking stock of those features that can be incorporated easily into a contemporary working space. Look at brickwork to see if it’s suitable to remain exposed rather than plastered over. Examine metal, wood and stone surfaces in the same way. These are all favourites for becoming part of interior office design.
The same is true of exposed ducts and pipes, to a certain extent, with finishes tending towards neutral shades. Classic features such as elegant wooden shutters can be added to emphasise the strong, clean lines of window openings, and suppliers can create industrial styles and finishes to complement a wide range of interiors.
Create office spaces
If you are considering a completely open plan office interior, you should know that industrial design can be problematic as often spaces are too large to be comfortable if they are not subdivided. It’s different if your business is a restaurant, where larger spaces are needed. With closed plan offices, however, there are more opportunities and more advantages for your business and your workforce. Panels and room dividers can be used to great effect to form cubicles and working spaces that are more private than wide open spaces.
Closed or open offices?
Among the advantages of closed offices is the increased privacy afforded to your employees and the opportunity for them to personalise their own space. This means that they are more likely to settle down happily to work, and to take and make phone calls more readily without feeling that they are “in the public eye.” Open offices can be very distracting, and it’s easier for employees to interrupt one another, intentionally or otherwise. A closed floor plan improves concentration and is likely to help your employees to be more effective in tackling their work.
Private offices are known to be better for creative work as they promote a chance to reflect and think more deeply. Generally, this is not as easy to do in a noisier working environment. The same goes for idle chatter and gossip, which is fairly inevitable when employees are thrown together in a shared space, but is much reduced when office spaces are private. Health issues can also be better contained in private spaces, particularly when an employee develops a condition that may be highly contagious.
Things to consider when at the design stage
Once you know which physical elements you want to keep or highlight, you can work around these to make the best use of the remaining available space. Although open plan offices are more economical with floor space than closed ones, this need not be expensive if lightweight materials are used for dividing panels.
Some employers worry that giving their employees more privacy might result in lower levels of supervision and communication, but these are generally held to be management issues. In fact, your business policies, practices and procedures should be tailored to provide adequate supervision and appropriate communication, rather than attempting to micromanage employees. This makes for a happier, healthier and more productive workplace.
Respect for the built environment
There is much to be admired in a business owner or design specialist who chooses to reinvigorate an old building by giving it a new lease of life as a contemporary office space – it’s a mark of respect for the heritage of the built environment. Every individual property has a story to tell, and if you can realise the facilities that your business needs as well as acknowledge the achievements of times past, you are exhibiting integrity as well as business acumen.