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Designing Social Areas in the Workplace

Conversations around the water cooler or coffee machine. Colleagues discussing their weekend plans in the break room. Casual chats in an office lounge between meetings. At first, it might seem like none of these situations are particularly productive moments in the workday. But just because they don’t involve specifically focusing on a task, that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable or that they should be discouraged.

Socialization at work is important for a wide range of reasons. First of all, even if a conversation starts out about something unrelated to work, it often does end up transitioning back to work, so it’s possible that a person might get a new perspective that helps them out with something they’re working on. In larger companies, socialization is a great way for people to get to know each other even if they don’t directly work together, helping build stronger relationships between departments. Or if someone has just joined a company, these types of conversations can naturally help them get acquainted with their coworkers and start to feel like part of the team. Plus, socialization helps people generally feel more satisfied and engaged with their jobs. 

But for socialization to happen, there needs to be opportunities around the office for it to occur without feeling forced. Here’s how design can help make that happen. 

Convenient Locations

Social areas can take many different forms, such as kitchen areas, lounges, and game rooms, but one thing they have in common is that they involve getting people up and away from their main workstations. To be most effective, social areas should be located in areas that are convenient for everyone to access. If they’re placed too out of the way, people might consider them too inconvenient to use. Stick to placing them in central locations of the office and in other locations adjacent to areas where people tend to gather, such as outside of meeting rooms and near staircases. 

Keep Them Casual

Since socialization should feel natural, a relaxed and informal atmosphere is perfect for putting people at ease. Residential-style furniture, accessories, and lighting are perfect for creating spaces that make people feel comfortable enough to build connections that feel authentic, not forced.

Make them Flexible

The needs of social spaces can go through a lot of changes throughout a day. For example, a person might sit down by themselves in the break room for lunch, only to end up moving some extra chairs or an extra table over so that more people could join them. Or a group of people might need to rearrange a space a little bit so that everyone can see a TV screen. Look for furniture that’s easy to move around so that these spaces can accommodate everyone’s needs, whether they’re by themselves or part of a larger group. 

Add a Touch of Nature

People love feeling connected to the outside world. But, as we are well aware here in Michigan, actually going outside for a little fresh air isn’t always very comfortable or pleasant. Making sure social areas have things like natural lighting, greenery, and other things that remind people of nature is a great way to draw people to those areas and help them feel more energized. 

Ready to create a new office that can support your team’s practical and social needs? Premier Construction & Design has experience designing and building out spaces for businesses in many different industries. Check out our portfolio and case studies to see some examples of our work. When you’re ready, contact us so that we can learn more about your project.