For the past year, businesses have operated mainly remotely, or in a hybrid fashion. Work from home (or WFH) became the new norm. With most businesses continuing to confidently operate in a WFH model, you might be asking yourself, “Why even come back to the office at all if we’ve proven we can survive working remotely?”
2020 was about surviving. But with the world opening back up, we can get back to focusing on thriving, and I firmly believe that live and in-person connection, collaboration and creation is the way to do that.
For many companies, especially those in creative, innovative and startup industries, having an office space isn’t a nice-to-have: it’s a must-have. Not only will your team greatly value a creative, inspiring workplace, but the physical environment you foster promotes real connection, team collaboration and a vibrant company culture.
We’ve experienced this firsthand at my company, SimplyBe. Agency. As our offices opened officially in April, we’ve spent the last few months designing our space more intentionally than ever, in order to make the SimplyBe. HQ the most welcoming and creative space it can be.
Here are six ways to take your space to the next level as we return to an in-office environment.
1. Encourage Collaboration With a Variety of Intentional Spaces
Create niches and pockets throughout your office that lend themselves to various moods. It’s no longer enough to simply have a conference room and some cubicles. Here’s my rule of thumb—your office should contain different nooks that lend themselves to different needs and working styles.
Every employee has their own desk, and we have two classic conference rooms, but we also have plenty of lounge and sitting areas, so our team members can claim a space as their own for small group working sessions or meetings. Shaking up your environment allows employees to flow through the office to match their needs throughout the day.
2. Fuel Up With Coffee, Snacks and Music
If you’re taking your workplace too seriously, you’re doing it wrong. Wouldn’t it feel so much better to step into your office with light tropical house music playing softly in the background and the smell of fresh coffee brewing?
Food is fuel. That’s why the SimplyBe. office is loaded up with organic, highly nutritional snacks that can be accessed at all hours of the day. And our office wouldn’t be complete without an ample supply of caffeine and La Croix to keep us focused and hydrated.
3. Practice Mindfulness and Balance With a Zen Den
This space is probably the most coveted of any nook in our office. Walk in to the smell of candles and incense and choose from an abundance of bean bags, pillows, crystals and various card decks to pull from.
This room doubles as a quiet space to plug in and work away as well as a space our team members go to disconnect from work for a moment. It’s so important to have a space that’s conducive to taking breaks and promoting balance throughout the work day.
4. Embrace Growth and Liveliness With Plant Friends
Office or jungle? We like our plants at SimplyBe. HQ. And it’s not just for looks—having plants in the workplace has been proven to promote productivity. Plants help to reduce stress by elevating the spirit, and they increase productivity levels by 15 percent, according to a study by the University of Exeter.
Consider investing in a few succulents and floor plants to breathe some fresh air (literally) into your office, and be ready to reap the benefits.
5. Encourage Flow and Productivity With Hideout Spaces
Being in a “flow state” is an extremely underrated concept in the work world. Flow is a state of being when a person becomes fully immersed in an activity. Flow also happens to be where your best work comes from.
To promote flow states in our office, we’ve created spaces that each employee can claim as their own. You’ve already heard about the Zen Den, but we also have a spacious lobby, built-in phone booths, multiple sitting areas and two conference rooms that are available to any team member. And in case you were wondering, yes, each room is named after a type of crystal and is available for reservation to all members of the team.
6. Catalyzing Creativity With Crystals, Art and Books
Let your brand personality shine through in your office interior. In our office, the walls double as working real estate. We’ve turned some of our walls into white boards that allow us to get messy in order to unlock our clients’ brands.
The walls that we don’t write on are filled with beautiful and unique art from all over the world collected from my travels, as well as gorgeous pieces from local artists and shops like Minted.com. Bookshelves line the walls in our main office space and are stacked to the brim (in rainbow order, no less) with some of our office favorites like Be. by yours truly, Traction by Gino Wickman, Radical Candor by Kim Scott and The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.
And of course, crystals increase the positive energy of any space, and you’ll find one (or a few) intentionally set in every room in our 5,000-square-foot lofted office space. Provide your team with views and tools that empower and inspire.
Case in Point
If I’ve realized anything over the past year, it’s that you simply can’t replace the magic of creative spaces. WFH doesn’t come close to capturing the team connections that happen over coffee in the kitchen, the inspiration that hits when you notice a beautiful piece of art or the collaborative working sessions and writing all over the walls that birth great ideas.
One of the best business decisions you can make is to invest in your people. And you can facilitate that through fostering a space that they love and are excited to come to each and every day. Create spaces that promote collaboration and growth. Your employees will thank you for it, your clients will be better served for it and your business will grow from it.
Jessica Zweig is the CEO of SimplyBe. Agency and a social media/personal branding expert. She’s been named a personal branding expert by Forbes and a digital marketer to watch by Inc. You can learn more about the SimplyBe. office here.