This article was published on January 27, 2013

The top 10 elements of a hot office

The top 10 elements of a hot office
Mackensie Graham
Story by

Mackensie Graham

There comes a time in every employee’s life when they see the light. The light of the soft-bulb, diamond shaped desk lamp that illuminates the sudden realization. It may have happened on the first day of your new job at a start-up, or when you visit a friend at work for lunch, but suddenly the words through widened eyes shine through… “People actually work here?”

It looks more like an adult playground than a place of what we traditionally know as “work.” There are hammocks for chairs and a fireman’s pole between floors. The walls are scattered with pop art that appears sprayed out a 15-year-old’s graffiti can.

The space is cool, but does it work better than the traditional endless horizon of cubes? Surveys by the American Society of Interior Designers concluded people who liked their workplaces were 31% more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. And, a well-designed office can also be a public relations ploy for new talent. The study also stated nearly half of those seeking work said that a company’s office space affected their decision on whether to accept a job.

Stephen Searer, owner of, has been following and curating hot offices since 2007. He gives insight into the world of office design that is continuously more interesting.

Founder and Executive Director at Interior Design Fair, Kassin Laverty, describes trends that utilize spatial design to increase productivity.

Looking to redesign the old office space? Take a sizzling tip or 10 from today’s modern office trend spotters.

Activity-based working


This formalized term, said Searer, is office design based on the basic activity required and natural in the space. Europe and Australian workplaces have been first to implement this growing trend.  For example, a phone booth just for making personal calls or lounges for socializing break up the general office work buzz and keep certain activities isolated.

Adjustable desks


U.S. offices are finally adopting adjustable-height desks, for sitting or standing. “Some countries have 75%+ usage of these types of desks,” said Searer. One of the most popular brands on the current market is GeekDesk, selling small desks starting at $749. The ergonomically-friendly platforms will also help defeat the infamous “chair butt.”

Unconventional materials

Why would you just utilize the basics when you can make the normal office fixtures completely unconventional? Searer said reclaimed wood, felt and plywood are a few materials adding a brand new look and feel to the office.

Optimize the environment


Different departments of the company are the most productive with different working conditions. While a bright, white, open room may work well for the creative team, engineers might want a dimly-lit room and headphones so they can listen to music while they code. The sales teams might want a command center of phones, teleconferencing equipment, and space to be louder as a group. “We’ll build out phone rooms for private phone calls, add bar height community work tables for impromptu meetings,” Laverty said. “Sometimes it’s optimal to replace conference tables with sofas and lounge chairs for more informal meetings.”

Recruiting tool power

Creative spaces have long been an element of advertising and design companies, which Laverty’s Interior Design Fair exemplifies, as an “extension of their business.” With tech companies around the world rapidly expanding, there is greater competition for top talent. One of the distinguishing “first impression” recruiting tactics is a bright, light, open office to serve as a stark contrast to the tucked-away IT closets of yesteryear.

Flexible seating arrangements

So the day goes. You know your spot, there is no change unless you head to a meeting. For the past three years, you’ve sat next to the same person. You know that they sneeze every day in the afternoon and chew their lettuce loudly. Laverty said companies are requiring employees to rotate desks every few months, or sit in a new spot every day. “The idea is that it inspires creativity, encourages flexibility, and even helps the bottom line,” Laverty said. “Companies need fewer desks to house part-time and temporary workers or staff who work from home.”

Less is more


Simplicity should be the central theme, said Laverty. Showcasing your brand and logo with bright color and a central focal point is key. “Do all the basics well and all the bells and whistles become messy.”

Success beyond the bottom line


Interior Design Fair works with companies to determine what is important to employees for success-building and stress release. “Productivity isn’t the only measure of a successful company anymore; it’s about the company’s whole health,” Laverty said. She referenced Google as an early adopter of making work more of a lifestyle than a chore. “Make the office a place people want to come to every day and their people–and therefore their business—would be better for it.”

Do your research


A well-designed office means research into not only what employees want, but what scientifically works. Laverty said her company examines current trends and ergonomics studies to build an office layout.

Your company was here


Graffiti is hot. It’s raw and when done well, fits seamlessly into the energy of the company and reverberates the successes of the employees. Take a tip from Facebook with its wall designs from now infamous Los Angeles artist, David Choe.

Images Credits: StumbleUpon/Interior Design Fair, Brian Doyle/Flickr, Pixar office/Office Snapshots, Interior Design Fair, Nerdwallet/Interior Design Fair, Twitter/Office Snapshots, Airbnb/Interior Design Fair, David Choe/Facebook


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