Office Design: Designing for all the senses…

Office Design: Designing for all the senses…

It's a well-known fact that our senses play a vital part in how we experience and react to the environment around us. With sight, sound, touch, taste and smell all having an influence on our perception and mood, it's vital that all of these are considered equally when designing offices with a human focus. One approach that can look after all of these aspects is multisensory office design.

What Is Multisensory Office Design?

A multisensory office design approach is based around the concept that our perceptions are built on multiple senses, as well as there cognition that people will react and experience the material environment in a number of different ways. Whether it will be consciously or unconsciously, no one individual will respond in exactly the same way and therefore it is important that we appeal to a variety of different senses, rather than just one or two.

Whilst the concept of multisensory design has existed for many years, it is only recently that it has become a predominant focus within the office fit out. Typically, in order to create a high-performing, inspiring place to work, office designers would focus their efforts largely on the aesthetics of a building; what it looks like and how this will affect the people in it, with much less attention paid to the remaining four senses.

The Different Aspect of a Multisensory Office

Here's a breakdown of how the five senses can impact your employees and how you can incorporate a multisensory office design approach into your office:

Sight. The most obvious and easiest sense to appeal to when designing an inspiring workplace. Sight is the way the office design looks; its colour scheme, lighting and the use of natural elements.

By choosing your colour scheme wisely you can appeal to a range of emotions and inspire certain desired behaviours in your employees. For example, bold, bright colours can cause a higher level of focus and task accuracy, with shades of blue and green providing both a calming and inspiring effect. Plainer colours such as greys and whites can often seem sterile and unfriendly and should be used sparingly throughout the office fit out.

Inaddition to colour, lighting is equally important when appealing to the senses.Much like plants, as human beings we need natural light in order to functionproperly. Providing a view to the outside world can also have a positive effecton your employees, reinforcing their affiliation with nature and the naturalworld.

Sound. After sight, sound is one of the most considered senses in today's workplace. With the rise of collaborative and open office spaces, it's more important that the issue of noise is dealt with effectively. Did you know once distracted it can take up to 20 minutes to regain full concentration? In order to combat this, designers are using various acoustic solutions, including meeting pods, panelling, furniture and even lighting. Whilst these acoustic solutions can be very effective in an open plan office, it is also important to provide dedicated quiet areas for independent work requiring high levels of concentration.

Onthe flip side, sound can also be used positively in the workplace; for example,playing music in communal areas such as a break out area, kitchen or restrooms.The choice of music should be carefully considered within a workplace too,ensuring it is brand-appropriate and at a level that is not too distracting.

Smell. One of the most powerful senses when designing for an office – yet iti s often one of the most neglected. Not only is smell the closest sense linked to memory, it is also responsible for up to 75% of the emotions we generate on a daily basis. With this in mind, it is crucial that scent is considered when designing workplaces that not only inspire but also create a great first impression to potential clients entering the office. In order to in corporate smell into your office, there is a range of scent solutions available, these include strategically placed candles, oil burners and diffusers, as well as high-tech scent machines. Take a look at our recent blog, 'Scent in the Workplace' for more information on how to create a five-star experience for your employees.

Taste. Not something that automatically springs to mind when considering the design of your office but none the less, food and drink can play a vital part in creating a sense of community within the workplace. Providing healthy snacks and refreshments for your employees can help promote a sense of wellbeing within the organisation and aid concentration and productivity throughout the day. Ensure kitchen/breakout areas are well equipped with coffee/tea making facilities and encourage your employees to take time out to sit, eat and chat.Appealing to taste by providing food and drink for your employees is just a small price to pay for the wellbeing of your staff.

Touch. One of the least considered senses when it comes to office design, touch can be responsible for a range of emotions including comfort. Whilst an office can look good it is important that it also feels good in order to truly engage your workforce. Our sense of touch can be appealed to through the use of varying textures and surfaces. Consider providing a range of hard and soft seating to satisfy both practicality and comfort. The key is to have a balance, equalling out hard surfaces with soft and rough with smooth.

Temperature. Also often neglected when designing for the senses, yet it's a crucial factor to consider when designing a welcoming and comfortable office environment. Offices that are too warm can harbour germs and contribute to 'sick building syndrome', leading to reduced productivity and a negative impact on wellbeing. Equally, cold offices can also pose problems.

To sum up, our senses play a vital and complex role in forming our thoughts, impressions and behaviours. By targeting the senses, companies can build a strong emotional connection with their employees, leading to an increase in productivity and potentially a positive outcome on sales and the overall success of the business.

Looking For A Modern, Forward-Thinking Office Fit Out? Get In Touch With The Experts Today

If you would like more help and guidance on how to design an office fit out for all the senses, or on any aspect of office design in general, please get in touch with a member of our expert team today. You can get in contact by calling us on 0845 130 9066 or filling out our contact form to send us an e-mail and we will be in touch as soon as possible.