If you want to create a social space in the office here’s how:
What is a social space?
A social space in the office is a place where people can relax and socialise. It can be a room, a dedicated corner with soft seating or even a bench table. Another term for a social space is a breakout area, or ‘a third space’ – a middle ground between work and home where one can carry out a job function as well as meet and interact with other like-minded people.
Why is a social space important?
These types of areas and social spaces are important because they provide a space for people to relax and communicate away from their desks and other formal environments. In more relaxed settings, where staff can communicate more casually, creative ideas and conversations happen. A place that encourages social interaction and rejuvenation fosters a dynamic and productive working environment.
Many offices may already have what they think is a social space, like a kitchen area, or a sofa, but does it really serve its purpose as a social space? Do people feel relaxed in this type of setting, can people think clearly next to a boiling kettle or someone rummaging through the fridge? Probably not, which is why it is important to think properly about creating a dedicated social space or spaces within the office.
Offices in 2022 will inevitably have more floor space to play with as it’s become clear that offices are now being used at less than full capacity. WFH and Hybrid working that was adopted during the pandemic will no doubt continue once things are back to normal. According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, from small businesses to large companies, approximately 70% of companies will adopt a hybrid model by 2022.
So, is now the right time to think about social space? Rows of desks and meeting rooms not being used could now be replaced with up-to-date breakout furniture, acoustic booths, offices games and coffee tables. All these items will make your social space pop and will give everyone something to talk about – and a place to talk about it!
So, let’s look at some of our furniture that is fast becoming popular in social spaces:
1. Stream Acoustic Booth
The Stream Acoustic Booth is a great choice for social spaces because the high sides provide an enhanced level of acoustic and visual privacy compared to ordinary sofas. This booth also comes with a table for a laptop, tablet, coffee and tea, in fact, everything is required for an informal meeting, one to one or just a general catch up. There are also options to add integral power and connectivity such as power sockets, USB’S to keep your hardware fully charged, enhancing your time in the Stream. Additionally, this booth is available in various sizes and can seat 2, 4 or 6 people and comes in a range of commercial-grade fabrics or antibacterial vinyl’s.
2. The Haven High Back Sofa
The Haven High Back sofa is more hotel lobby than an office break out but that’s why so many people love it! The Haven High Back sofa range provides excellent personal privacy, a haven, within a busy world. A place for either quiet contemplation or communication and collaboration. Designed by Mark Gabbertas the Haven sofa, like many of Marks designs has both an elegance and a lasting aesthetic.
3. Bean Bags
Bean Bags are great for making social spaces fun and not contrived or conceived. Bean Bags come in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes so finding one to work in your dedicated social space should not be a problem. We supply several beanbags which come in a practical choice of materials ranging from cotton, faux leather, faux suede and corduroy all in a range of colours to compliment your brand or colour scheme.
4. BuzziTwist Freestanding Acoustic Flexible Screen
If you’re finding it difficult to plan your social space then BuzziTwist may be the answer. BuzziTwist is a sound-absorbing curved moveable flexible screen that takes on a contemporary twist to traditional partitioning. You can easily bend and curve BuzziTwist to create a quiet hub or small social space.
5. Social / Reading Room
The Rooms range is designed to define space and create a sense of place and is perfect for creating social spaces within the office. It is a flexible and reconfigurable free-standing structure designed to create informal and formal workspace solutions to meet, socialise, focus and collaborate. Rooms are available with a variety of walls to create spaces with endless functionality, these include acoustic, whiteboard, upholstered, glass and venetian trellis walls.
6. Office Ballz Breakout Seating
Office Ballz are a fun alternative seating solution that is ideal for social spaces. They will help to keep your posture in check and help you strengthen the muscle groups in your back and legs. Available in a host of calming colours and fabric options with a choice of coloured zips too! Office Ballz are comfortable and inviting - every social space should aim for that!
7. Ping Pong Table
Okay, maybe this might be more games room than social space but who cares?! Playing a game of ping pong is a great way to relieve stress levels and let off some steam before or after a meeting. This beautifully designed ping pong table comes from the RS Studios in Barcelona and has the fun elements and playful touches associated with the Mediterranean lifestyle. These tables are available in three sizes, small, medium and tournament size for those serious contenders.
8. Buzzi Mono Acoustic Light
Define the social space with these elegant acoustic light shades from BuzziSpace. These pendant shades not only look intriguing they work well and balance the need for diffused lighting and acoustics. The felt body has a large surface area and the cylindrical design traps sound waves within its circular body. You can also combine different suspension heights to prevent sound from travelling in large spaces with high ceilings.
9. Olopa Industrial Bench Sets
Bench Sets are great for social spaces and there are so many styles to choose from panel end, hoop leg, dining height and poseur height versions. Wagamama introduced bench style dining to the UK in 1992 and the bench trend has been working its way in to cafes, restaurants, offices, schools, universities ever since! Bench sets are great for bringing people together to eat or drink and socialise - perfect for your new social space.
A good social space does not rely on furniture alone because there are many other factors that need to be considered such as integrated technology and security and speed of data exchange. Power and fast, reliable WiFi are the minimum requirements for social spaces.
Social spaces are also useful in solving open plan office problems which usually consist of noise and visual distractions. Facilities managers are starting to incorporate social spaces as a way of tackling these problems. Acoustic booths and pods and bench sets work well as acoustic ‘circuit breakers’ and create a more harmonious office landscape.
Social spaces can also double up or take the place of meeting rooms. Traditionally we would book the meeting room out at certain times and bring people into the same place. Social spaces break this down and create a more relaxed environment for group and one to one meetings. Most companies will feel very comfortable bringing people into these spaces, making them feel closer to their brand, energy and company culture.
If you're thinking of creating a social space in your office, please get in touch. Our in house design team can work with you to visualise the space, ahead of the procurement process, using the latest in 3d technology.
Thanks for Reading!