Informal workspaces are a strategic use of your existing office space. They are much more than having a ping-pong table available for team-building exercises.
It’s an important step in ergonomics. Furniture equipment should meet the needs of the worker instead of making the worker use the equipment at personal expense.
Planning and designing informal office workspaces will:
- Accommodate remote workers and accommodate staff who work full-time in the office
- Encourage collaboration among a diverse workforce
- Promote transparency
- Utilize spaces that would otherwise sit empty for hours on end
Why should you refresh your work environment and plan to use informal spaces?
With informal workspaces, you can make your office a welcome destination by using space that “will reflect the organization’s purpose, vision and culture … and inspire a workforce,” as Blake Searles, senior managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle in Los Angeles, said. Jean was addressing attendees during a panel discussion of Navigating Workplace Needs, hosted by the LA Business Journal in 2021.
How Informal Workspaces Emerged
Google and tech startups in the early 2000s did more than change how we access information. They changed the standards of a professional office setting. Programmers and other tech creatives, who were often recent college grads, showed up in jeans and T-shirts.
The idea fit into the California lifestyle of beaches and mountains, and led the way for informal workspaces.
Informal offices turned into beanbag chairs with programmers glued to their laptops. They played foosball or ping pong during break times or problem-solving discussions.
Tables like these are fun—and can help reduce workplace tension which is why 2010 Office Furniture carries the Scale 1:1 Nomad Conference Table. You can gather a team around it for planning, use the surface as a whiteboard, or have a robust ping-pong match during breaks.
Photo: Scale 1:1 Nomad Conference Table
Many white-collar companies never adopted the hip tech approach, and many stayed with the traditional, closed-wall settings of individual executive offices. That is, until open office plans with freshly designed cubicles and bench seating became the go-to trend, a nod and step toward informal workspaces.
Photo: DARRAN Honey Workstation
The need for privacy and personal space remained and thanks to the widespread use of laptops and cell phones, companies began setting aside dedicated areas like lounges for employees who wanted time away from being elbow-to-elbow with others.
Photo: ERG International Hetfield Table
Ideas for Office Informal Workspaces
See how a variety of office settings are arranged on the 2010 Office Inspiration page.
Here are a few ideas for creating an atmosphere that’s unique to your company’s brand and workflow—allowing for both structured and informal workspaces:
Each of the many office plans meets specific needs and builds on trends of earlier years like open office floor plans. Critics said one of the downsides was that concentration was impaired. 2010 Office Furniture provides Open Plan solutions with many open plan desking options that also allows for personal space.
Photo: Friant Dash Workstation
When COVID-19 led to mandatory remote working then employees found they could be in an informal setting of their homes or coffee shops yet remain productive. Virtual meetings kept staff tuned into the corporate office.
Getting employees back into an office that truly supports their work was a concern.
The colorful Upbeat Office, or the minimalist office in the Scandinavian style, and the use of nature in the Green Office show how the work environment can be pleasing and even preferred over remote locations.
But nothing truly replaces face-to-face interactions.
So it’s out with walled individual office space, all-day tasks done only at the cubicle or workstation, and in with informal workspaces. A key benefit is that more office space is used throughout the day.
Photo: Stylex Free Address Tables
How Informal Workspaces Maximize Office Usage
When workers were expected to stay at their desks several hours a day, portions of offices, like breakrooms and conference rooms, sat empty for hours at a time. Spur of the moment or planned meetings were held at desks, which could be intimidating in certain work relationships. And other times, important meetings might be postponed while employees waited for a conference room to be available.
There’s less need to step into a designated conference room. Common areas can be used for small group meetings away from workstations. And minimal tables for monitors and online meetings can be set up so they remain unobtrusive.
Photo: Source International Scape Lounge Seating
Stepping out for a working lunch can be a nice change of scenery, or a meeting at a coffee shop can meet the same need. But a breakroom where lunch and coffee are available can serve a similar purpose in the mornings, during lunch, or in the afternoons.
Encouraging mobility makes the office more functional and dynamic than only having specific desks where all the work is expected to be handled. This is why informal workspaces accessible to everyone works, and make good use of otherwise unoccupied office spaces.
Informal Spaces are Professional Spaces
Informal spaces can certainly serve collaborative efforts and meet the needs of individual employees. Planning your space is essential so your team has room for those important spur-of-the-moment ideas that lead to greater productivity and professional satisfaction.
Photo: Scale 1:1 Nomad Conference Table
In today’s world, boundaries are blurred between personal lives and professional careers. Informal spaces help employees relate to each other and meet the need for social interactions.
Rely on Expertise and Experience
Contact the team at 2010 Office Furniture for help to create your informal workspaces. Get trusted advice from their combined half-century. They’ve provided solutions for distinguished clients throughout Los Angeles County, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.
Read Also: Design and Plan Your Office for Collaboration and Inspiration
Main Photo: OFS Edge Collaboration Spaces
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: DARRAN, ERG International, Friant, Scale 1:1, OFS, Source and Stylex