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How to design your office around your employees

an open office
The Robin Team
Published on

Whether you’re moving offices or renovating the space you’re currently in, office design is something that never seems to go away. New ideas are presented, new studies come out on what’s most optimal for employee efficiency -- the list goes on.

Rather than tell you how to design your office, we’ll take a step back and talk about how to think about office design with employees at the core.

Where do people do their best work?

This is something that studies and reports can’t help you with, because every office and company is different. As a result, companies are using technology to measure how effective furniture, meeting spaces and more are. Today, many offices build elaborate conference rooms only to find their employees meeting in a common area 80 percent of the time. If that’s the case, maybe knock down the walls on a smaller huddle room and make it open with a coffee table and some chairs. Being able to observe, measure and track efficiency in the office isn’t just a way to make employees happier -- it helps your office run smoother as well.

Workplaces that inspire

At the end of the day, you want to create an office and a workplace that inspires. There are many things that can influence how exactly you go about creating that space (paintings, quotes on the wall, support and benefits, etc). For example, Barbarian Group is known both for its amazing work in marketing and advertising, as well as its office. It’s crafted in such a way that people are able to feel inspired every day, and have a workplace they’re proud of.


Ongoing feedback loops

Digital Ocean recently talked about what went into their office move, and one of the biggest things that helped was having employee stakeholders haveinput on each aspect of the redesign. “At our first meeting, we showed these self-selected contributors dozens of concept pictures,” said Jess Aflak, Director of Employee Experience at Digital Ocean. “We asked questions like how many private offices we needed, and whether we wanted bike storage and showers.

Brainstorming over these concrete details, without trying to decide immediately, got everyone thinking creatively. I ended the meeting without making any decisions, so everyone would have time to mull over our options and collect ideas on a group Pinterest board. That shared board is how we found our lunchroom picnic tables, chalkboard wall, and a couch everyone liked.”Using this as a launching pad, Jess was able to build a space that employees felt they helped create. And in doing so, loved to come to work every day.

Bringing it all together


To sum up, these questions can help you understand how to design your office to put employees first:

  • How do your employees get their best work done? Is it in open areas and breakout spaces? Large conference rooms with whiteboards?
  • How can you motivate and inspire your employees? 
  • Have you brainstormed with your colleagues?
  • In the end, will this be something you’re proud of?


PS - Check out our piece on determining office space per employee if you’re moving to a new office.

featured report

The Office Space Report 2023