Today’s corporate offices are discovering a surprising workplace preference high on the priority list of both current and prospective employees — creative office space that lends itself to collaboration, creativity and flexibility. From standing desks and moveable walls, to natural light and game rooms, creative workspace is helping employees enjoy their jobs more and bringing a sense of ease to their workdays.
The following guide offers a comprehensive look at this trend, including the many benefits the come with such an atmosphere and how to achieve this modern-day setup for your business. For some, it could mean converting your existing space, while others might realize a new location is needed that lends itself to a more creative environment.
If you are a business owner in the Austin, Texas area and looking for creative office space that supports your company’s needs and vision, Austin Tenant Advisors can help you find a great location and negotiate the best deal. Contact Nathan at 512-861-0525.
What is Creative Office Space?
Creative office space is any work environment that stands outside the norm of streamlined cubicles with executive offices around the perimeter. These thoughtfully-designed spaces take much more into account, with productivity, teamwork, comfort and creativity at the forefront of layout and design choices.
Characteristics of creative office design include:
- Open concept floor plan with fewer individual offices
- Common areas with cool modern furnishings, living walls and other unique features
- Upgraded flooring, such as polished concrete or wide wood planks
- Exposed ceilings, accent walls, and/or brick walls
- An open concept kitchen with modern amenities
- Modern lighting fixtures and a notable absence of harsh fluorescent lighting
- Workspaces that promote wellness, such as standing desks with treadmills
- An abundance of natural light
- Moveable walls that transform meeting rooms into Happy Hour place
- Game rooms featuring ping pong tables and other stress-reducing activities
- Low carbon footprint
The idea is to create an atmosphere that employees look forward to returning to every day, where they feel comfortable and thrive in their work, and that evokes a sense of pride in working for a forward-thinking company.
History of Creative Office Space
Creative offices have come to the forefront of employer conversations in response to the changing needs of workers. While isolated offices were once seen as coveted, private real estate that meant promotions and big titles, they’re now viewed as rooms where executives hide and therefore remain out of touch with employees. Mid-level executives are now opting to forego private offices, and instead leading their teams right alongside them. Creative workspace is an evolution that happened, in part, to make office relocations easier. Unlike traditional offices with countless cubicle builds, private offices, and conference rooms constructed, creative office spaces can be built-out quickly with most features easily-movable. What started as an option for cost-savings and convenience, is now considered ideal, cool and creative.
Tenant Benefits of Creative Office Space
The benefits of curating a creative digs are many, ranging from increased employee moral to recruiting top talent.
Creative space eliminates a considerable amount of the mundane feeling that comes with returning to work every day. Employees who are fortunate to work for companies that have prioritized more engaging and welcoming work environments enjoy higher employee morale and therefore higher retention rates. Employees feel their needs are heard, their well-being valued, and their hard work rewarded.
When attracting top talent for open positions, companies that have invested in creative space have a valuable perk to tout. First impressions go a long way, and welcoming a prospective employee into a creative office space for their interview is a great way to grab their attention. Including a brief office tour in the interview process can heighten the candidate’s interest, and even lead to less negotiation on their part since they’ve seen firsthand the daily benefits of working there.
The social aspect of a creative workplace is equally valuable, with the open concept encouraging regular dialogue and banter among colleagues. With convertible accommodations worked into the layout, many companies find themselves opening up movable walls to create lounge areas for Friday happy hours. Inviting common rooms lead to casual conversations among employees. The warm and open atmosphere lends itself to not only productive work, but fosters great friendships and ideas as well.
Creating a Creative Office Space
Creative office building design is an easy but multi-faceted process, requiring considerable thought. In many cases, an employer realizes that a new location is the best alternative, if transforming their existing premise means extensive renovations such as removing walls, installing new lighting and flooring, or the absence of enough square footage to bring their vision to life. Designing creative offices starts with layout, and ends with thoughtfully-selected furnishings.
If your current office design resembles a small city of cubicles, your journey to creating creativity means a complete transformation. Open work areas are a defining characteristic of cool work areas, creating a lively cool open floor plan that promotes conversation, creativity, and collaboration. Cubicles prohibit this type of atmosphere, so tear down those physical and proverbial walls in exchange for an atmosphere that is light, airy and wide open. Dedicate common areas, a game room, a kitchen and flexible meeting rooms. Every area should be visible from any point — the very literal definition of open concept.
Creative office space means tossing aside the expected décor of traditional offices, such as chairs, reception couches and end tables straight out of an office supply catalog. Decor such as cool bright colors, wall with natural wood, high ceiling, tall doors can make your team & clients feel inspired. Choose one-of-a-kind furnishings that make the space unique, with pops of color and inspirational messages adding energy and vibrancy to the office. Also, you might consider adding some plants to your workspace as that has proven to improve peoples mood and overall well-being. Real plants can make your team feel connected to nature and clean the air. Adding professionally done art is easy to do and can create inspiration as well as simply nice to look at.
A favorite spot within amazing offices is a playroom or game room. Designed to recharge employees and let them step away from the stress of work, playrooms often feature comfortable seating for board games, ping pong tables, a coffee station, and other activities that allow employees to decompress before getting back to work.
Perhaps one of the most interesting elements is the elimination of the notion of “one desk per employee.” While it will remain natural for some employees to gravitate to the same work station every day, even settling in with family photos to claim their spot, a creative work environment lends itself to co-working. Various types of work stations, from stand-up desks and long tables to lounge areas and even outdoor seating, mean employees can work in a different spot every day. Many companies incorporate meeting rooms where they implement booking policies, where employees book their desired room for the following day or week so it’s known who and when is booking them.
In creative offices, traditional desks and rolling chairs are an option for some workspaces, but options are the key. Many employees enjoy standing desks with walking treadmills, which keep them moving and energized throughout the day. Others enjoy desks that can convert from sitting to standing, and some gravitate towards comfy couches with their laptop. The goal of creative space is flexibility, with employees mixing it up from week to week or discovering the type that works best of them.
Benefits to Landlords
Landlords are increasingly welcoming the creative office design concept to their buildings, considering higher rental costs and lower tenant turnover. They stand to benefit by taking steps on their own to create empty spaces that are more enticing for companies seeking creative office space.
Landlord improvements to build out creative spaces include:
- Exposing natural brick
- Exposing ceilings
- Removing walls
- Updating flooring
- Installing modern lighting
- Updating shared building spaces with modern furnishings
The Cost of Creative Office Space
Is the cost worth it? That’s the most common question company owners have when considering the investment. Creative office space typically comes with higher rent and a bigger budget for workspaces, furniture and features. The question to really ask is “Will I get a return on my investment?” The answer is a resounding “yes,” and that return on investment comes in the form of increased employee productivity and retention, both of which impact the bottom line dramatically. A comfortable, collaborative creative space promotes a healthy work ethic, and employers are rewarded for their investment with loyal employees.
Tenant Improvement Costs
Companies seeking a cool open space design can expect higher costs to improve their space, and possibly longer lease terms since the space was customized to their particular needs and design aesthetic. A space that was creatively transformed for one company’s employees and clients doesn’t necessarily mean it will meet the needs of the next tenant, without a major remodel. Therefore, longer leases are somewhat standard for creative office spaces, although once your vision is achieved and employees are feeling at home, longer leases are welcomed for the stability they offer.