The design of an office transforms a space from a hub of productivity to an environment that fosters creativity, connection and community. This guide will give you an insight into designing your office space for social events. Including after-work gatherings, collaborative working, and team-building sessions.
Why are social spaces important to your office fit out plans?
Yes, your office is a place of work. However, adding social spaces plays a key part in creating a good company culture and productive working environment for all team members. This ultimately improves performance, as (in the words of Aristotle) humans are social animals that thrive when in the company of others.
It’s long been reported that better workplace design results in better teamwork. Adapting your work environment has a domino effect on employee behaviour’s. When done right, designing your office for social interaction results in:
- Increased creativity
- Company innovation
- Collaborative working
- Enhanced well-being
- Better work/life balance
- Attract and retain talent
- Improved communication
- Higher employee satisfaction
Plus, if you can host social gatherings from your office instead of at an external venue, you’re reducing costs and planning time with every event.
Office fit out ideas for social spaces and collaboration zones
The type of social spaces you choose for your company will depend on your specific needs, culture, and goals. Some examples of how to incorporate social spaces include:
Breakout zones and lounge areas
Add comfy seating for relaxing and decompressing. Your team members can recharge together during break times and get to know one another in a more casual setting.
Outdoor or green spaces
Whether you have space for an outside patio/garden area or an inside space with greenery, add some greenery. Plants reduce stress and make people up to 15% more productive. A green area also creates a natural social space for people to gather.
For the last few years, utilising rooftops in London office buildings has become increasingly popular. Now with a combined area larger than Hyde Park, London rooftop gardens are a great solution for, adding greenery and extending the office space outside.
An area with team-building games like table tennis or pool is perfect for short breaks or longer team-building sessions after work. A BYU study shows playing video games with colleagues improved office productivity by 20%!
Designing areas that can easily be rearranged for different uses, such as modular furniture and movable partitions. Maximise the space for monthly social gatherings and team-building days beyond your office’s usual working needs.
Kitchen or canteen spaces
A well-planned area to eat encourages people to have meals together, whether that’s through a normal day or as a focused team activity.
Library or art rooms
Areas dedicated to creative arts can be a great way to both decompress and improve productivity for employees. Even if it’s for an exercise once a quarter, encouraging creativity supports teamwork and employee performance.
Wellness rooms or gyms
Places where your team can do a short exercise or meditation away from their desks, or you can host team-building workshops like yoga. Taking part in physical activities supports employee well-being and makes us more creative.
The key theme throughout the spaces is having somewhere for your employees to rest, reset, and recharge away from their desks when needed. Take away distractions from your normal working space so people work as a team and also bond socially.
Common hurdles of planning effective social spaces in the workplace
It’s hard to design an office that’s not just useful for now, but also forward-thinking. One of the biggest mistakes we see is when people don’t think about flexibility or how to maintain the space long-term. At AXIS House, our designers always consider not just what you need now but also what you will need in the future.
Coming up with imaginative and useful office fit out ideas when you have limited space is no easy task. Even the biggest company needs to focus on making sure not an inch goes unused. This can be a challenge when designing areas dedicated to social spaces and collaboration zones for large teams.
Questions to ask yourself before going ahead with any new office fit out ideas include:
- Can you fit the right amount of people into the space?👥
- Is the furniture easy to move around and adapt to the space?🪑
- Is the area easy to clean and keep to a high standard after use?🧹
- Are you using sustainable, high-quality materials for longevity?♻️
- Does the layout work for every use the space is intended for?🏢
- What are the future plans and goals for the company?📈
If you answer these questions upfront, you can avoid making mistakes and get a more successful social space that works for years to come.
That’s exactly what our design team did for our client, Parvalux.
They needed a versatile and multifunctional office fit out that transformed into a dining area, an area for large presentations and events, and also a relaxation zone with a pool table. The design cleverly divides the space into distinct sections. Using design features like baffles, ceiling mesh with pendant lights, restaurant booths, a coffee point, and designer catering facilities enhances both functionality and aesthetics. View the Parvalux case study here.
5 tips for designing social spaces and team-building areas
Every business, office, and team works differently. There is not a one-size-fits-all way to plan the perfect office design – but here are 5 core principles that can be applied to almost any workplace.
1. Design to complement the office culture
At AXIS House, our designers always find out about the company culture before planning any office design concepts. We need to understand the values and behaviour of a company, such as:
- What is it really like working at your company? Is it more relaxed or formal?
- How often do people come into the office? Do you offer hybrid working?
- Do you host regular client meetings? Or are your meetings internal?
- How do different team members work? Do you have a range of roles?
- What do you need to bring the team together? Large rooms, conferencing technology, etc.
When you understand your people and the culture, we can design the office to suit, including any breakout zones and other social areas. It also allows us to choose the most appropriate interior design style, such as using resimercial design principles for a more homely environment.
2. Ensure company policies suit your office fit out ideas
Does your office design allow for company policies to be fulfilled? If you state you will have monthly social gatherings for the team, is there enough space? Something we see often is people putting policies in place (like well-being days or yoga classes and free lunches) but not having flexible areas to accommodate these things for the whole team.
When looking at a new office space, it’s a great time to reevaluate both your company policies and culture, adapting your office fit out ideas to what’s achievable. This engrains positive changes to the culture long-term, instead of not being able to follow through with good ideas and intentions.
3. Use modular furniture for social spaces
To optimize flexible workspaces, modular furniture and partition walls are brilliant tools to incorporate social interaction. These elements enable the space to be easily reconfigured for daily work, special events, and team-building activities.
Instead of custom-built or off-the-rack furniture, modular furniture offers a more sustainable approach. You only buy what you need and the flexible nature means items have an increased lifespan, reducing waste.
4. Create a social space that’s accessible and inclusive
Designing an ideal office space requires fair access for all team members. Regardless of disabilities, age, gender, race, or religion, inclusivity should be a priority in your office fit out ideas.
When creating zoned designs and social spaces, consider features like a prayer zone or gender-neutral restrooms. Add provisions for neurodivergent or hard-of-hearing employees, such as quiet zones or dark rooms. These features manage sensory overload, along with separate booths and managing workplace noise.
5.Use ergonomic and biophilic design principles for maximum comfort
As with all areas of your office design, your social spaces and breakout zones should be ergonomic to ensure employees can work comfortably, offering adjustable seating to suit different body types and preferences.
The core principles of biophilic design focus on bringing nature into the workplace, which you can integrate into your social spaces and breakout zones. Both ergonomic and biophilic design boost employee well-being and overall happiness, which is essential for effective social interaction and collaboration.
The AXIS House design process for spectacular social spaces
Taking all this into consideration can be a challenge – especially when you don’t want to compromise beautiful design or striking interior features.
That’s why our clients depend on us to take care of everything from the design concept stage to bringing your perfect office to life. Tailored to suit your specific space and building regulations, the AXIS House design process combines form with function to our meticulously high standards.
This guide should have given you some inspiration for creating social spaces. Get in touch to arrange a consultation with our forward-thinking team. We can incorporate social interaction and teamwork in your future office fit out ideas and handle all aspects of the process.Get in touch