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Your Guide to Great Office Common Space Design (w/ Examples)

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Author: Glen Fairbanks | President
Your Guide to Great Office Common Space Design (w/ Examples)

We all react to space on a visceral level. Maybe you can’t always put your finger on what makes a space great, but you know when you’re in an outstanding environment. Today’s businesses know that attracting and retaining talent often takes more than a generous salary and benefits package. The emerging workforce is looking for more connection, purpose and positive energy in a workplace, and the common spaces at your office are part of that package.

With hybrid and remote work structures taking hold in many organizations, those who formerly spent 5 days a week in the office may now only spend 5 days a year in the office. Odds are, they won’t have dedicated desks and will work from a common area. A common space doesn’t have a set definition, it could be an office lobby, a kitchen or café area, an open space, a reception area, or something else. Common spaces will vary due to layout and floorplans, but it’s important to have a common space for employees to congregate in any office.

Quick Navigation
Why is an Office Common Area Design Important?
Start with Space
What’s Your Ideal Office Common Space Layout?
Environmental Design: Branded Materials and Beyond
7 Amazing Common Areas We Love
How DGI Can Help

Why is an Office Common Area Design Important?

A quality office common space gives your employees a comfortable place to gather, work away from their desks, collaborate, brainstorm, take a break from work and more. Common spaces are places where employees can connect and communicate, which is important for company culture.

As with executive offices, boardrooms and lobbies, every component of your office common area contributes to your organization’s culture. Deciding what elements to choose and how to deploy them in your space comes with not only design, but also with technology and product considerations. This guide is a great start for creating an office common space that reflects your unique company and the dedicated employees.

Start With Space

Are you starting from scratch with new construction or are you renovating or remodeling an existing space? You can create a terrific office common space from the ground up or with space you’re already using. You can consider things like the size of the space, the primary function, and timeline of the project. It’s also important to keep budget in mind when planning.

What’s Your Ideal Office Common Space Layout?

Here are a few questions to get you started:

How big is your team?

Do you anticipate everyone using the common space simultaneously, or are breaks and time away from personal workstations staggered? Certain office common space layouts are better suited for different-sized groups. For example, a long, powered, counter-height table might suit a small team who wants to gather for spontaneous collaboration or sharing a meal, but a larger team might require conversation areas throughout the space.

Is group interaction essential to your common space?

As we mentioned above, a single table may facilitate spontaneous conferencing, but you might prefer comfortable chairs and couches and occasional tables, or even a more modern cafeteria style layout. Considering the outcome of your space will give you a starting point for planning.

Will you use the common area for meetings, presentations or other work-related events?

You’ll want to consider those factors in your design. Perhaps you need re-configurable furnishings or additional AV tech and sound management, such as an LED video wall and acoustic wall treatments.

Does your team need power supplies or other docks?

It’s important to think about laptop docking stations and power supplies when designing your office common space layout. Whether you have employees visiting from another site or guests visiting your office for the day, access to power is important.

Environmental Design: Branded Materials and Beyond

Environmental – or experiential – graphic design is more than just branding your common space. Environmental graphic design combines interior design, architecture and industrial design to affect how people navigate, interact and feel in a space. Everything from the wall colors to the sound shoes make when walking on the floor can impact the environment and affect the experience.

Digital signage and custom branded sound management are only the beginning. DGI’s custom printing capabilities, branded sound management product lines and print and media expertise provide custom solutions to communicate your organization’s identity and create an inviting space for clients, employees and visitors.

Furniture and Technology

Where and how your team sits matters just as much as the space they sit in. Your ideal common space will be welcoming, with seating options tailored to the way your organization works, and how your workforce is best satisfied. Will you want a mix of comfy chairs and sofas, as well as tables and chairs arranged for conversation and downtime?  Or will you focus on conferencing and collaboration seating, such as long tables, or round tables with ergonomic seating?

Maybe a Bit of Both?

Are you ready to bring media into your office common area? An LED wall is a great mixed-use solution for a variety of wall spaces. During business hours, offer employees and guests infotainment or news and human-interest broadcasts related to your industry. Run relevant social media feeds or give your employees something to smile about. Use an LED wall as a living canvas to display art or calming graphics.

Your office common space can double as a meeting area for company-wide trainings or webinars. When it’s time to relax and bond, you can show a movie or binge-watch a series as a team. LED walls are versatile and customizable and add an interesting element to any space.

7 Amazing Common Areas We Love

modern office design with green personal areas

  1. Raheen Library at Australian Catholic University – Bold colors and clean lines offer a vibrant, productive common area with a casual approach to workspaces and a place for conversation and collaboration.modern office design with plants and brown furniture
  2. WeWork Yeouido Station – The main lounge is casual, professional and welcoming with, pops of color that give the space character. It has specific areas for conversation (sofas) and breakout collaboration (booths) in addition to small and long, multifunctional tables). Airy and light, this space is augmented with invigorating live greenery.modern office design with minimalist furniture
  3. University HealthSystems Consortium Chicago OfficesAccording to, Cannon Design describes the project in terms of how “the theme of connection — specifically as it relates to systems of the body — is at the core of our design vision.” These offices feature expansive views of downtown Chicago. We love the modern, soothing palette and visually interesting dividers that allow the skyline to be seen from the whole room.modern office design with yellow walls
  4. Initiative Media New York CityThis lobby, while not strictly a common space, incorporates a few of our favorite design elements. The on-brand color, large-format graphic logo in a focal position and LED wall could easily translate to a gathering-centric employee common space.modern office design with plants and hanging paper fixtures
  5. Etsy Brooklyn Headquarters – Etsy’s office features a fresh and funky common space that’s on brand without showcasing the logo (check out those unique light fixtures). Industrial elements mix with live greenery, natural wood accents and pet-friendly floor surfaces for a casual feel. Natural light and a mix of seating areas facilitate all kinds of work and conversation.modern office design with home feel
  6. Unow – This historic Parisian building features a common space with comfortable lounging furniture and imposing antique style accent pieces in muted colors and natural finishes. The space features modern elements, like a glass-walled conference room with a bold graphic.  modern office design with neon signs and neutral walls
  7. Thunderhead – Muted gray provides a unifying base tone for pops of bright color throughout. The kitchen area includes large-format graphics, a counter-height bar and dramatic accent lighting that gives the space flair. Quilted booths, long conference tables and sofas in the offices create a fluid transition from strictly work to a more casual common space.

How DGI Can Help

You’ve asked the questions and checked out some inspiration. Your vision for a unique office common area is taking shape, but what are the next steps? DGI’s team can help you navigate the process!

From Concept to Completion

As a premier large format digital printer and a leading provider of audio and visual communication products and services, we’ll work closely with you to design custom-built solutions that brilliantly communicate your message and brand. Our services include consultation, installation, training and support.

VR Design Services

Utilizing an advanced VR headset and cutting-edge software, DGI VR transports you into your new space. Before your session, DGI will work with your architect and designers to load the specifications, layout and potential equipment for your future space so you can see the impact of your choices in minutes and discuss alternatives in minutes – instead of hours or days. Save time and money by having all the right equipment and experts on your project from the start.

You can virtually move around the room to explore the viewing angles. Experience the reach and coverage of speakers and displays. The virtual tape measure feature allows you to check distance and size instantly. Upfront work with DGI VR ensures you’ll have an efficient and effective buildout with minimal costly modifications.

Next Steps

To maximize your team’s potential – and your ability to attract and retain new talent – your office common area needs to reflect your organizations mission and culture. DGI continually invests in industry-leading staff and cutting-edge design equipment. We stay up to date on conference room design trends for every project scope and pride ourselves on being at the forefront of workplace design and audio visual services.

With a vast range of expertise spanning industries, we can assist at the start of a new project or help update an existing space. Our process begins with an analysis to establish a clear understanding of your culture and overall project goals. Next, our design and technology teams will perform a site survey to identify any acoustic or visual challenges. The teams will also assess infrastructure requirements and any key aesthetic factors in the space such as the type of lighting, windows and floor layout.

DGI’s experts offer the audio visual and print design, integration and soundproofing experience that you need to bring your dream common area from vision to reality. From our knowledgeable sales team to our expert engineers, there’s a DGI team member ready to help you. Contact us with any questions or to receive a consultation.

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Glen Fairbanks | President

Glen joined DGI in 1994, just as the large format digital printing industry was emerging. He was originally hired as a telemarketer, quickly rose to inside sales, then managed the customer service department. From there, Glen moved to outside sales, becoming a top performer and exceeding goals by selling over a million dollars several years in a row.

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