The Evolving workplace

Well-being, safety and flexibility will be the new normal as the workforce slowly plans a phased return to the office. We explore the impact of flooring design in the workplace to help achieve these goals.

One of the most significant ways we’ve adapted during the current global pandemic is in the way we work. And, with the workforce evolving so rapidly – the workplace too will need to follow suit as more people return to their offices. In a Nelson Worldwide study on Evolving Workforce Expectations, a key finding points in the direction of reassuring, safe and secure workspaces that help people get excited about returning to the office. In fact, 83% of the study’s respondents rated physical safety measures as extremely to very important.

In this scenario, flooring can play a valuable role in meeting the needs of the changing workplace while also supporting the psychological and environmental health of the workforce. You see, flooring connects spaces and people and could also serve as the medium to guide them safely through the built environment.

Here are four ways flooring can help design comforting and safe workspaces.

#1 Delineate spaces with activity zones

After months spent working in isolation, the workplace offers the opportunity to create safe yet sociable spaces that encourage collaboration, creativity and a feeling of culture and community. Flooring, here, plays a critical role in encouraging movement by differentiating zones based on activities.

Photo: ShadowLight Studio Designer: Harry Poulos Architects Location: LifeFlight

In the LifeFlight workplace, for instance, Harry Poulos Architects used our vinyl planks to infuse personality into the breakout space, clearly differentiating it from the calming work area. The choice of flooring makes great design sense too – resilient flooring is ideally suited in a space with more foot traffic and activity.

Photo: Tyrone Branigan Designer: Hot Black Location: OpenText, Sydney

Similarly, in OpenText’s open-plan workspace in North Sydney, Hot Black used our Botanica Planks to help separate the quiet collaboration area from the general work area, with sheer curtains added in for privacy.

Many of our carpet plank collections are in fact, designed with different patterns, allowing designers the freedom to interchange colour or range within a collection without worrying about creating disparate spaces.

Photo: Richard Whitbread Designer: Amicus Location: UNICEF, Sydney

Warmer, bolder colours are psychologically stimulating and conducive to encouraging collaboration. In yet another successful example of zoning, Amicus has created a cross-functional collaboration work area in the UNICEF Australia workplace using rug inserts of Pixel’s Static carpet tiles on Groove planks.

Our tip: Create activity zones using a combination of different surface materials, colours, patterns and textures. Review Signature’s commercial flooring options to create flexible zones even while maintaining social distance.

#2 Direct traffic with wayfinding

Directional guidance or wayfinding with flooring is an exciting possibility to help people navigate with a sense of safety and security.

Photo: Luc Remond Designer: Gray Puksand Location: William Angliss Institute Sydney

We love how Gray Puksand used our Groove planks to help users navigate multiple areas within William Angliss Institute Sydney. The neutral plank colours provide directional cues, and when used in conjunction with the bright Vivid tiles – allow for efficient zoning.

In much the same way, Signature’s flexible carpet planks like Fusion, Botanica and Dynamic offer unique wayfinding solutions. Fusion, for example, has a textured directional design pattern in its three plank variants, allowing multiple layout opportunities and a unified flow between spaces.

Photo: Kane Jarrod Designer: H20 Architects Location: Deakin University Melbourne

In the Deakin University building, Fusion’s Core and Connect planks help create a seamless transition between the work area and breakout spaces.

Collection: 88 Planks

These carpet tiles also complement our vinyl plank collections, making it ideal for laying in high-traffic spaces like corridors and passages.

Photo: Kristian Gehradte and Merlyn Reuter Designer: Foresight Architects Location: Narrawong Primary School

Using geometric patterns in flooring could be yet another way to efficiently direct traffic. Notice how our Shapes collection helps lead the way in the Narrawong primary school corridor.

Our tip: Colours are a useful wayfinding tool. Gradient colours, for instance, create pathways that people are likely to follow. Alternatively, use shapes to create arrows on the floor and direct staff through transitional areas.

#3 Create the comfort of home in the office

An oasis of calm and safety – the home has been instrumental in keeping us going through what has been a rather anxiety-ridden time. Now, with the workforce slowly returning to the office – designers will need to think about ways of factoring in the home’s calming reassurances to help modern workplaces feel less stark. This is the guiding principle of resimercial design, which is likely to remain prominent through 2021. Think comfortable upholstered furniture, ambient lighting, not to mention flexible and soft flooring to drive a deep sense of comfort.

Collection: Oslo Planks – Norse

Inspired by the Scandinavian design aesthetic – the Oslo carpet tiles offer a timeless flooring solution with simple and clean lines that are reminiscent of the natural world. With rich, complex and vibrant colours – this in-stock textured collection reinforces feelings of homeliness and comfort. In a similar vein, the Pure Planks also offer a rich textural experience – lending workspaces sophistication and warmth, all at once.

Designer: Siren Design Location: ICBC Bank, Barangaroo Sydney

In a 2016 study, carpets were found to induce lower stress levels in comparison to hard flooring like wood. With an 80% wool and 20% nylon composition, Signature’s custom woven carpets offer a unique combination of design creativity and comfort. With yarn interwoven into the backing – the carpets look and feel ultra-plush. Hand-tufted area rugs are also an excellent solution for those looking to soften a stark workplace.

Our tip: Create a relaxed working atmosphere using a variety of textures and fibres in your flooring design. This can take workspaces from harsh to comfortable in no time.

#4 Deliver healthier work environments

In light of this global pandemic – there is an added emphasis on building materials that are not only hygienic and easy to clean but those that also help boost indoor air quality. In this instance, careful specification of flooring products can go the mile in promoting employee health, wellbeing and productivity.

Collection: 88 Planks

Signature’s resilient flooring options like vinyl planks & tiles or sheet vinyls, for instance – offer easy-to-clean, low-maintenance and spill-proof solutions. They are also conducive to increased cleaning schedules of workplaces, making them hygienic options.

Photo: Dylan James Designer: BSPN Architects Location: Chirnside Country Club

If you’re looking to specify low-VOC flooring, our woven and hand-tufted carpets, as well as carpet tiles, work well to contribute to improved indoor air quality. Carpet tiles come with Green Tag Certifications and Declare Labels – making them sustainable choices.

For us at Signature, human experience is at the core of our design process. And with colour so intrinsically tied to how people feel within a space – our extensive portfolio of coloured flooring offers fit-for-purpose solutions for wayfinding, zoning, emotional comfort and hygiene in the workplace.

Learn more about creating adaptive workplaces in a post COVID world.