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Top 5 Things to Consider For Your Office Walls and Cubicles

Whether you're moving into a new office or reconfiguring an existing area, the basic choices you make about style and space will have a big impact on your company's image and your employee productivity. While you are probably already thinking about lighting, furnishings and storage, the range of options available for your office walls may not have occurred to you. Before you commit to an office design, consider these factors for ways to use your building and cubicle walls to positively shape your office interior.

1. Incorporate your brand

Your company may have already paid for professional logos and branding materials to reflect your professional values and product. Or maybe you're a new start up still clarifying your image and materials. Wherever you are on your branding journey, consider your office design to be part of that process.

Continue your logo theme into your office spaces for a personalized and consistent look. Whatever emotion or connotation you want your customers to have, help your employees feel at home in that atmosphere by working it in to their surroundings. This can be as simple as incorporating the logo colors in your wall paint or the fabrics for your office cubicles.

If you don't have an obvious color connection, you can mimic the theme of your brand through your color pallet in more subtle ways. For example, if your company has a sleek, modern brand, use simple, modern colors and bright metal materials. If you're cultivating a more sophisticated or upscale brand, choose colors and materials that reflect that choice like dark wood and upholstered fabrics.

2. Design space for the customers you want

Are you trying to attract young, adventurous clients? Or older, more traditional customers? Your product may help guide the choice, but your space should appeal to the people you serve. A bank's interior, for example, should project security to its customers, while a travel agency may want to appear playful and bold. The colors and styles you choose for your space will convey those messages to your clients.

Even if customers won't directly visit your office space, setting a consistent mood that helps your employees connect with and better serve your target audience will increase the clarity of your brand and the focus of their productivity. You might want to feature success stories of positive customer reviews in your wall art or ask your team to display kudos and accolades they receive in a public space where it can spark conversations about success. Build those opportunities in to your office design by leaving open wall space for rotating examples or a bright and inviting space that encourages conversations.

3. Use color to shape mood

Wall colors, along with the accents provided by office chairs and other accessories, influence both customer and employee perceptions. Here are some common moods you may want to intentionally create in your office using color:

  • Refined sophistication can be implied with neutrals
  • Confidence and freedom come with blue tones
  • Calm and security can be invoked with greens
  • Responsibility comes from deep tones like burgundy or navy blue

Traditional wall colors such as beige or tan are not the only way to signal trustworthiness in your company. Even long-established companies with traditional business practices have successfully used bright wall colors to extend the values of the company and brand into the office décor.

If you're interested in playing with dark or bold colors but don't want to commit to painting huge areas, use your cubicles as pallet to incorporate fresh tones. Both the fabrics for the paneling and the materials for the frames can be customized to create swaths of color that set a mood without overwhelming the space. If you're really timid, start small by simply pinning fresh fabrics over the cubicle panels to see how things will look for a temporary periods before making a more permanent commitment.

4. Cubicle choices

If you use cubicles, you know they take up a lot of space and so play a large role in the esthetics of the office environment. You'll need to consider the following factors before choosing cubicles:

  • Height: The size and layout of the walls themselves will shape the type of workflow that can take place in your office. High walled cubicles, for example, may feel awkward in software design firm where they would hinder innovative collaborations. An open concept office, by contrast, won't serve the needs of a legal firm where confidentiality and focused individual work is a necessity.
  • Materials: Employees work best when they don't feel confined to a tiny space. If using small cubicles is necessary, you can offset the size of the space by compensating with light colors and materials to create the illusion of more space.
  • Freestanding vs panel construction: there are two main types of cubicles, each with practical benefits and drawbacks. Panel systems will be more flexible and have more personalization options for power and desk configurations. Freestanding systems will be more portable but less customizable. If you are able to make a choice based on more than budget and space constraints, consider the message a flexible workspace sends to your workers and clients- you care about their needs and want to be responsive and flexible to meet them.

5. Glass cubicle considerations

You may be tempted to purchase glass cubicles to increase the openness of your office space or create an airy, light-filled environment. Unfortunately, glass cubicles have been shown to reduce productivity, and even cause workplace accidents. Use other materials and style techniques to achieve the look you want.

Here are the main concerns with glass cubicles:
  • Practical concerns: While not every office requires maximum privacy, glass cubicles mean NO privacy which leaves them feeling vulnerable, untrusted, and on display. There are no opportunities for private conversations to diffuse workplace stress or share developing ideas, and motivation and focus can decline.
  • Safety: known as "the bird factor", workers in areas with glass cubicles have been known to accidentally spam into the glass on multiple occasions. This not only is disruptive and embarrassing, it can increase your workplace injuries and even increase your required liability insurance coverage.
  • Lighting concerns: while glass does let in more natural light, multiple reflective and refractive glass surfaces in an office can actually move light around so much that it interferes with using computer screens and increases eye strain. Office temperatures may rise from the additional sunshine, making employees sleepy or uncomfortable.
  • Lack of storage: traditional cubicles have fabric or board panels that can be used to personalize the space or to brainstorm or share ideas in progress. Safety and training materials can be easily displayed via hooks, shelving, or pin boards. Glass cubicles provide none of these storage and display options.

No matter which office wall style you choose, keep your bottom line in mind by comparison shopping for the best furniture to suit your needs. Start with your functional requirements and ideal style requests, and look for ways to achieve those aspirations within your budget.