Unfortunately, there has been a trend in recent years that has highlighted cold, sterile office settings as the paragon of a stylish workplace.
We have a very specific cultural image of the Silicon Valley workplace, and the emphasis these offices place on large windows, plain white features, and minimal decoration.
But slowly, this image has started to be deconstructed by additional information and changing perceptions on what a workplace should feel like rather than what it should look like.
We’ve even seen that many of the Silicon Valley offices mentioned above do in fact make ample use of color, soft features, and playful attitudes toward style and function.
If your own workplace feels a bit dull and visually uninteresting, you may be wondering how to make an office feel cozy.
We’ve done extensive research into the matter to help managers and HR representatives create pleasing office environments for their employees that still place importance on productivity and professionalism.
While visuals and decor are an important part of making a room or an entire office feel a certain way, sound and unwanted noise can also influence the feel of a physical space.
This is why many contemporary architects have begun to integrate sound design into their plans for new buildings.
Depending on the location of your office building, many of the naturally occurring sounds are not under your control. The building may be near a busy street or a highway. Maybe your upstairs or downstairs neighbors aren’t so courteous.
But you can attempt to mask and replace many of these environmental sounds by playing ambient sounds in the office.
If your office doesn’t already have speakers, you can play ambient sounds from a small Bluetooth speaker or a smart speaker.
The speaker should be placed in the entryway to the office or in another public area. Simply play nature sounds through the speaker at a low volume.
Employees will naturally pay attention to these pleasing ambient sounds rather than distracting noises from outside the office building.
Splashes of Color
Most offices are designed around inexpensive, neutral, earth tone colors such as gray, off-white, and dark brown.
These are easy, inoffensive colors that don’t require any special skill to choose or arrange within a space.
To make an office feel cozier, you can try to add color to the workplace.
These can be in the form of posters, throw pillows for the break room, or even a couple small rugs for hallways and entryways.
Try to make use of colors already present in your company’s logo.
Careful Climate Control
Again, there are factors other than visuals that can contribute to how employees feel about their workplace.
A major factor in many offices is climate control. Is the office fairly warm in the winter and cool and comfortable in the summer?
This may seem like a trivial concern at first, but if you have control over your thermostat, then you should make an effort to keep the office comfortable for everyone.
Be sure to keep in mind that different people tend to have different temperature preferences. Don’t try to please absolutely everyone. Instead, find a happy middle ground that will limit complaints from staff members.
Supplement the Lighting
Lighting is another important concern when trying to make an office feel cozy and welcoming. Unfortunately, most lighting decisions are made when the office is first being designed.
And most of the time, this design includes in-ceiling fluorescent track lighting. And from a business perspective, this decision makes perfect sense.
Fluorescent lighting is efficient, inexpensive, and long-lasting. Incandescent bulbs, the natural alternative, have a much warmer yellow color but can burn out relatively quickly and consume more energy.
And while we’re not recommending that you re-do the lighting for the entire office, you may have the option to supplement the office’s lighting with floor lamps and accent lights.
Having separate light sources like these offers a whole new range of flexibility. For one thing, lamps can be moved easily to help adapt to different situations.
Lamps can also use high-efficiency LED bulbs that last just as long as (or longer than) fluorescent light bulbs.
You may also want to install dimmer switches on your new floor lamps. This will give many more options when it comes to deciding how to light the office at different times of day.
For example, employees may choose to only turn lights to half power in the morning, allowing themselves to get some work done in a quiet, calm office environment without being blasted with cold, white overhead lighting.
Overhaul the Break Room
For employees, the break room is often seen as the heart of the office. It’s a space closely associated with positive memories and the idea of taking a brief break from work tasks.
It’s a place to socialize, relax, and recharge for the work ahead.
That’s why it’s important to highlight the room’s purpose by using decor that encourages a feeling of coziness and relaxation.
If possible, choose comfortable, minimalist furniture that employees will see as welcoming.
Providing beverages such as herbal tea and coffee is an inexpensive way to give employees the opportunity to relax and take a break from the stresses of daily work life.
Allow for Personalization
Of course, when it comes to making an office feel cozy, you don’t have to do all the work yourself.
If you allow your employees to personalize their individual workspaces (always within reason), then the office will become much more colorful and comfortable over time.
You’ll also get a better sense for each employee’s personal interests and hobbies, as well as bits of information about their past.
And while there are many benefits to making an office feel a bit cozier and more familiar, there should be a limit to these efforts.
Redesigning the feel of an office should never take precedence over the work at hand. At the end of the day, an office is a place for work and professional interactions with co-workers.
The real trick is to find a balance between the two. The reward will be a staff that’s much more comfortable, confident, and ready to face major challenges.
For additional ideas, check out this article on general ways to improve the workplace.