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5 Essential Tips to Ensure Your Office Redesign is a Success

Ahh, spring. A time for reflection, renewal and seasonal allergies (maybe not the last one.) Are you one of over 70% of Americans who tackle spring cleaning each year? Many homes are getting a deep clean and potentially a new look, but are you best utilizing your office space? Today’s office space is transforming. GovernmentLoop, a social network for government employees, argues it’s time drab work spaces improve their look to attract top talent.

From the growing start-up company adding a foosball table in the break room to a corporate office installing branded wall graphics in the hallway, office décor can take many shapes.

Attracting new talent to retain existing employees, creating a welcoming environment can make a difference and planning pays off.

We spoke with a number of design professionals (and tapped our internal team) for some tips and items to think through when considering an office environment refresh.

Color Matters

How often do you think about colors impacting a space or even affecting your mood or productivity? Before working at Cushing, I have to admit I didn’t think about color in an office space much at all. It might be because every hallway, office and conference room at my previous company was the same shade of … clay. (It’s the best way I can describe it – and if that’s an option in a box of Crayola crayons, time to get rid of it.)

According to Liz Marusin of Asparagus Interiors, a commercial design firm based in Naperville, IL, when thinking about color, “get a pulse of what’s happening in the workspace and look within your marketing and branding materials.”

The truth is you have probably already completed much of the heavy lifting when it comes to narrowing down the right color.

Liz Marusin Quote Block

“Build a palette from your brand,” she says “accenting brand color value and saturation can create some interesting dynamics.”

Be open minded, think about your team and get inspired by the companies you work with.

“Choose colors for your office that represent a forecast for your business and the companies you work with,” she says. “This will go a long way to create exciting spaces to work in.” There are subtle ways to make a positive impact on mood in the office.

Each environment is different,” she says. “Productivity can be encouraged with depths of saturation in color without overtaking small spaces.  Move the eye through the space with accents on back walls of offices and work areas.”

Layer neutral colors (such as beige and brown) with pops of color (orange can work well) and texture.

And when collaboration among teams is the most important?

“Consider accents in colors and textures to creative collaborative spaces, private offices and welcoming entrances.  Consider environmental branding in signage, wallpaper, and messaging throughout open areas.”

More Tips From Liz


What environment you are looking to create? While there is no one right answer, it leads us to our next tip.

Go Team (the Office Environment Team)

More often than not, the most successful projects come together with team input (or an office team that spearheads the project.)  Inc Magazine references the value of team input when rethinking the office space.

It’s a trend we are seeing quite often at Cushing, from the volunteer office décor team at Discovery USA to different departments coming together at Solstice Mobile. At Mitsui Rail Capital – departments you may not associate with office redesign – contract administration, human resources and customer service – were the driving force behind their installation.

However, beyond ideas, you need to prioritize functionality. Aryn Shaw is a design consultant at Kimball Office, a furniture manufacturer and wholesaler.

Teams in Front of Graphics

“The redesign won’t function for everyone unless you come to consensus. Consult with every department – different priorities need to be evaluated.”

Collect as much input as possible and make sure you are considering the needs of all departments.

“Brainstorm priorities – for instance, accounting may want more space for filing.  Sales may want more meeting space – In my experience, everyone wants something different. One of the best things you can do is bring the departments together to compromise & prioritize.”

Shine a Light

Lighting is more than the flip of a switch.  Ashley Michael is a Project Manager at Aurora Lighting Design (and the Midwest Regional coordinator for the Commercial Lighting Association of Illinois).

Task-Oriented Lighting is Trending

“It refers to all the ways light can help fulfill a need in your office,” she says. “It covers ambient lighting, accent lighting and task; putting light where it’s needed in the amount that’s needed – always think about the specific use of light in each area.” For example, in a collaboration space, different types of lighting are needed for different functions. Around a conference table a popular option is to use a pendant fixture for general illumination and supplement with accent wall wash at artwork or marker boards. 

Not all light is created equal

“Avoid glary fixtures or down lights for office area workstations,” she says. “However, what might create glare (and potentially be uncomfortable) over workstations, may work well in a corridor or main lobby.”

5 Essential Tips to Ensure Your Office Redesign is a Success 1 Ashley Mikels Aurora Lighting 1

The Lighter Side

Details pull a project together. If you have installed wall graphics, award displays, placed art on a wall, a wall wash or adjustable accent feature can be a nice enhancement. “These are a very nice complement,” Mikels says, “And creates a more high-end, feature wall to really take advantage of your investment.” Energy codes are more stringent than ever. Handing more control to staff, such as dimmers and individually controlled task lights, can conserve energy. Automatic shut-off controls are being required by both ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC. “We are seeing LED lighting installed throughout an entire space more than ever in order to meet lighting power density requirements,” she notes.

Take A Seat

Perhaps you are thinking of updating desks, furniture or new cabinets. Think about the next two – five years as opposed to what you need today.  Again we caught up with Aryn Shaw.

“We try and help companies think beyond what they need right now.”

When a company is expanding, people get excited, things move quick and design planning can get lost in the shuffle.

“Plan for the future – instead of stationary desks, consider mobile furniture,” says Shaw. “Ask yourself: How versatile are the pieces you are buying? Will these pieces accommodate growth?” Visualize future success, additional employees and guests visiting your space and what that could mean.

Aryn Shaw

Shaw stresses “planning up”– plan and design vertically and don’t be afraid to have your vendors work together. “This is a key element to getting the work completed.”

Cause and Effect

Researching this article, it was interesting to think about elements that can seem mundane. Lighting, coordinating – design professionals make logistics seem easy. One other item: taking a refresh in stages is just fine.

It might also help you to continue getting “buy in” from internal decision-makers.

Josette O’Neil has been a member of the Cushing team over four years.  “Sometimes phase one of your project becomes the selling tool for stage two, three and so on,” she says. “The first step should always be positive and may not necessarily be to wow your visitor or guest.”

Josette O'Neil Experience

Many times the first graphic or office improvement is created to sell departments within a company on the next steps.  “That first word wall or decal can be the first introduction or step,” she says. “It can be the sales pitch on a much more ambitious and detailed installation.”

Office Assistant

Did we give you too much to think about? If you ever have questions about starting an office refresh, we are here to help answer your questions. We’d love to hear from you. Please share any tips in the comments below.

Jon Davis

Jon Davis is Cushing’s Marketing Manager. From blogging to online communications, Jon writes about client developments, environmental branding, and much more. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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