What Message Is Your Work Environment Sending?

by Elizabeth Dukes on April 2, 2019

When someone walks into your organization’s office, what do they see? How does it make them feel?

Your work environment is so much more than a physical space. It’s a way to support your organization’s mission, facilitate collaboration, influence your company’s culture, and recruit top talent, said Bob Fox, director of FOX Architects and publisher of Work Design Magazine.

In our latest webinar, Fox talked about the importance of creating a work environment that reflects your organization and allows everyone to do their best work.

Creating An Ideal Work Environment Is a Balancing Act

Your work environment needs to support collaboration, but that can mean many different things depending on the context. Collaboration within a conservative law firm probably isn’t the same as collaboration at a startup.

“Designers need to understand the nuances and how people like to work as they design the space,” Fox said. “It has to be conducive to the work that’s being done but also reflect the culture.”

Creating your ideal office design also means balancing collaboration with security and minimizing distractions.

If you’re asking whether you should adopt an open concept office or a traditional space with private offices, you’re probably asking the wrong question, Fox said.

A better question is, “What type of space is going to support the work we do?”

That’s why more companies are moving toward an activity-based working (ABW) environment that gives employees the flexibility to collaborate in open spaces and retreat to quiet areas when they need to focus on deep work.

So what is the best way to create your ideal office design? Think about how you want your workplace to be used.

If employees frequently work remotely, do you have technology that allows them to easily see who’s in the office and stay in contact with them? If you want to improve collaboration, does your workplace design make it easy for people to move freely throughout the office?

Two Examples of Great Work Environments

Your work environment is the first impression most people will have of your company, and you want to get it right.

Here are two examples of great workplace designs that make an impact.

The Nuclear Energy Institute


The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) wanted its new headquarters to reflect the organization’s updated brand identity and its vision: Clean Air Energy. Leaders also wanted to transform their closed office design into a more open concept office environment.

The FOX Architects design team worked with the NEI to create a space that included dramatic colors and bold finishes, evoking feelings of energy.

The blue lighting resembles the blue glow that occurs inside the core of a nuclear reactor. And a vivid energy line conceptually links each wall to the rest of the office. Natural elements, such as wood and stone, and formative materials, such as metal and glass, are used throughout to further communicate NEI’s relationship between nature and technology. Spatially, the team created smaller private offices while dedicating square footage to common areas, encouraging staff to utilize the larger public spaces.

Using all-glass office fronts also contributed to the open, inviting feel of the space.

The Spotify Headquarters


Spotify wanted its office environment to reflect its forward-thinking culture, support flexible working and attract young talent.

The FOX Architects team designed an open-office environment that included several “touch-down” areas with plush couches and colorful coffee tables, as well as private areas.

Accent walls include key milestones in the company’s history and artists’ interpretation of music. As soon as you walk through the door, you’re learning something about the company.

Is your workplace sending the message you want to convey to your employees, clients and prospects?

Does it align with your mission? Emphasize your company culture? Create a strong employee experience? Attract talent?

If not, consider getting some inspiration from other companies with stellar workplaces. You can start by checking out these amazing workplace design ideas from Instagram!

Photos courtesy of FOX Architects


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5