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How Flooring Choices Impact Office Flexibility

Posted on Mar 3, 2016, by Michael Eckert

Open offices seem like they’ll offer maximum flexibility for your company’s workspace. But even the most open of offices will have specific areas for specific tasks – perhaps a number of meeting rooms, somewhere for employees to eat away from their desks, or a breakout area.

You may not realize it, but your flooring choices impact how you use and interact with your office space. Here are three examples:

1) Defining Spaces in an Open Office Environment

You will naturally lean towards using different flooring for different spaces. In some case this is driven by purpose – like using Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) in a kitchen space as it’s easy to clean and won’t risk staining like carpet can in the case of coffee spills.

In others cases you’ll use different flooring just to differentiate between different spaces, like choosing something unique for your breakout area, or choosing high-pile carpet for your executive office. It’s also common to use flooring to differentiate between a conference room or creative space. A designer may choose to use neutral colors in the main part of the office space (known as “field tiles”) and then work splashes of color and pattern into conference rooms to differentiate the spaces.


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2) Wayfinding

Your flooring can help with wayfinding, making your office space more accessible and easier to navigate.

This is great for new hires who may well be overwhelmed walking into a big open office space with no idea of where the bathrooms are or where to grab a glass of water, and also helps visitors find their way around. Examples of how flooring helps with wayfinding include:

  • Color coding to define different working zones or departments
  • Edging for corridors to draw the eye down a line and visually indicating the start and end

3) Creating Flexible Working Arrangements

Clever flooring choices can facilitate flexible power distribution, for example having sockets embedded in your floor.

Modular carpet tiles make this possible, allowing you to easily move furniture and equipment around (even your carpet tiles if you’re using an adhesive-less product like TractionBack which can be lifted and re-laid very easily!) to gain access to different power supplies that were otherwise concealed by carpet or furniture.

Some companies are even developing flexible power distribution products that rely on carpet, using carpet tiles to conceal thin power tracks that distribute power throughout an open floor plan.

Two Ways to Improve Office Flexibility

One of the biggest draws of open office working is the opportunity for flexibility, change and innovation. You don’t want to be stuck working in the same way every day for years! Here are two things you can do to create a more flexible working environment:

1) Work How You Want

One of the biggest emerging workplace trends is sit to stand working, which improves employee health and wellness by encouraging regular movement throughout the day and allowing them to work how they are most comfortable. This has the added bonus of boosting employee productivity: your team are comfortable so they can focus on their work more easily.

To facilitate sit to stand working be sure to provide appropriate furniture like adjustable-height desks. But don’t stop there - just like you’d invest in an ergonomic chair for your seated employees’ comfort, the same applies if they’re standing. A less obvious consideration is your flooring: standing tires your feet and legs more than sitting down, and choosing carpet with open-cell cushion backing over hard-backed carpet improves comfort for standing workers.

2) Change It Up

Spending day after day in the same space is a sure-fire way to sap away your team’s creativity and innovation. A complete renovation or office redesign is a huge project, but here are a couple of things you can do to refresh your office layout:

  • Move your flooring – if you’ve got adhesive-less flooring like Tractionback it’s possible to lift your flooring tiles and re-lay them elsewhere, or in a different pattern, giving you a new, reconfigured office space without the pricetag of a refurb!
  • Start hot-desking – sitting at the same desk every day means that you see the same people and do the same things. Hot-desking can get your team working together in new ways, meeting people and getting involved with different projects.
  • Move the furniture – rearranging your desks can encourage collaboration by getting more people sitting together, or free up some new space perfect for a communal breakout area.
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Topics: Design

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert