The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Colouring the Office – Making Workers Comfortable in 2020

Green painting
12 October 2020

Dulux Trade Commercial Colour Consultant, Lisa J Pilley, explores how redecorating the office can help boost the wellbeing of staff as they return to the office. 

Offices were once where many of us spent the majority of our time. Since March, most have stood empty as the nation embarked on the great work-from-home experiment. By and large that’s been a success, exceeding the expectations of employers and staff alike. Now though, as city centres suffer the effects of dramatically reduced footfall, calls are growing for offices to welcome back the workforce once more. However, what’s clear is that there won’t be a swift return to business-as-usual. Offices will have to be adapted to allow for social distancing and further measures to combat virus-spread. 

So, how will adopting Covid-friendly design schemes reshape our working environments? How far will they go in providing the reassurance many need that these spaces are safe? 

Colour Coding

This is where expert use of colour and an occupant-centred focus can help. So we’ll see a new visual language being adopted in offices through the use of colour-blocking and building colour into a business’ code of conduct. This will be used to indicate areas that have specific functions within the office. For example in blue zones you could be required to keep your distance from others. Areas of pink could be where teams can safely congregate, while green zones could be spaces for quiet solo reflection. This can also subtly help change habits through association – avoiding the necessity of ugly warning signage.

In tandem with this, floor design will take on significantly greater importance in order to aid a safe flow of staff through these spaces. Block flooring is likely to become an integral design feature as it helps avoid the unsightly and unsatisfactory use of directional stickers and tape, while at the same time mirroring the colour-zoning of areas. Block flooring design like this may become a true benefit to refurbishment and can play its part in zoning areas by colour differences that work directly with the corporate image or interior paint scheme of an office. Equally, using carpet tiles over roll flooring will aid flexibility and is a cheap and relatively simple means of re-configuring a space.


Other Important Elements in Design

Texture will also play a part – the transition from a hard to soft surface can indicate a change in function for the area you are moving into. At the same time the role of the outside world in interiors will increase, with the adoption of more elements of biophilic design. At its core is the principle that humans are innately attracted to nature, natural materials and colours. In simple terms, that will mean more plants becoming a feature of office life. 

It will also see desks repositioned. So, out go islands and pods where colleagues face each other. Instead we will see colleagues seated increasingly side-by-side. It still allows for essential social contact, but avoids direct face-to-face interaction.

In order to further reinforce these biophilic principles, desks will face a different direction too - looking out onto windows. It will also serve to remind many of the benefits of working in the garden during lockdown. At the same time, clever colour use can provide the illusion of walls melting away and beckoning the outside in, fostering a greater sense of well-being for users of a space. 


Utilising External Space

Offices will also increasingly come to be not solely defined by what goes on within their four walls. Outside spaces will become significantly more important as they are adapted and reconfigured for working and reflecting, socialising and eating your lunch. You may no longer host clients in a meeting room - these could now take place in a car park that’s been transformed. Exterior paints from the Dulux Trade Weathershield range can easily be used to repurpose an unused outbuilding, or perhaps an old gazebo can be given a new lease of life with colours from the Cuprinol range; both structures providing shelter whilst offering that unique boost the connection with nature gives us. 

For those businesses without access to outside space you might find balconies taking on new functions. With the addition of heaters for colder months they can become healthy meeting spaces.

Convincing staff that it’s safe to return to the office is one of the biggest challenges employers now face. Refreshing the workplace provides the clearest signal that their welfare is a top priority.

Picture: a green painted wall.

Article written by Lisa J Pilley | Published 12 October 2020


Related Articles

2023 Office Design Trends – Pantone's Colour of the Year

Pantone’s Colour of The Year has been revealed as the crimson red tone "Viva Magenta" and is predicted to dominate interiors, graphic design and packaging...

 Read Full Article
Tranquil Dawn To See In The New Decade

The colour of the year all good interior designers will be clamouring for in 2020 wait for it...Tranquil Dawn, as revealed in the Colour Futures 2020...

 Read Full Article
In Pictures – Skyscanner’s Soho Office Fit-Out

Travel search engine Skyscanner’s London office has been refurbished by BW: Workplace Experts. The company occupies two floors of the Ilona Rose building in Soho...

 Read Full Article
Inside Soho Estates New HQ

Take a look inside Soho Estates' new headquarters, located on the top floor of new-build Ilona Rose House. The 7,500 sq ft space is the property company's...

 Read Full Article
Inside Europe Arab Bank’s First Recycled Office Fit-Out  

Take a look inside one of the UK's first recycled office fit-out projects, at London’s Europe Arab Bank in Park Lane. Workplace design, strategy...

 Read Full Article
High Performing Buildings – November's Roundup

This month’s high performing buildings roundup looks at the enduring workplace trend of biophilic offices. Biophilia is the human drive to connect with nature...

 Read Full Article
Landmark Partners with Art in Offices on Competition for Student Artists

London’s art students could see their work showcased publicly and win a series of prizes as part of a competition from Landmark Space and Art in Offices. Artists...

 Read Full Article
In Pictures – JetBrains' St Petersburg Office

In 2019, two eight-story towers became the new office of JetBrains in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is now a best-in-class example of a "green...

 Read Full Article
Clerkenwell Design Week 2021

ThisWeekinFM attended Clerkenwell Design Week, which was held from 6 to 8 July 2021 and showcased a range of innovative workplace interiors. Clerkenwell is an area in...

 Read Full Article
How Plants Can Create a Thriving Office Post-Pandemic

Can interior plants create a healthy, thriving office in the post-COVID era? As restrictions lift, many businesses are starting to consider welcoming staff back...

 Read Full Article