Making sense of the workplace: touch

In today’s modern workplace, employees are seeking more from their working environment. Providing a positive workplace experience has become paramount to attracting and retaining the best talent, and how your workplace feels plays a big part in this.

Surprisingly, we often overlook the importance of our sense of touch. However, the textures around us can affect our mood, behaviour, our connection to a brand, and more. Let’s explore how you can enhance the textures and tactile elements in your workspace to improve the wellbeing and productivity of your employees.

Experimenting with layers

Mixing different textures can capture and evoke the senses. Imagine a comfy breakout space with soft furnishings – the combination of functional materials and layered textures makes the area welcoming. Shiny materials can also bring depth through reflection. It’s important to think about how the textures in your office combine to influence the environment as a whole.

Colour and texture

Let’s think beyond colour! Brands can be more than a digital colour code. If you have a standout red in your palette, you can balance it with textured elements.

Introducing textured weaves, carpets, and yarns can send a different message compared to a ‘flat’ red. Smartly using complementary colours often evens out a dominant colour. The key is to step back, understand the message you want to convey and recognise how texture, the materials and their quantity, can enhance your colour choices.

Nature-inspired design

Biophilic design refers to design inspired by the natural world. It’s about engaging the senses to connect with the environment, and it’s often linked with plans, trees and the outdoors.

Take sheet steel, for example. Cut into it, add some texture, and place a light behind it – you’ll create dappled shade, a sight many find relaxing.

Another smart texture technique involves blending real and artificial plants. Picture a plant wall with real plants in the front (touchable) and artificial ones in the back layers. Your brain won’t notice the difference.

Building belonging

Take a leisurely drive through a charming English village, and you might recognise the place just by the unique stones that make up the buildings. Infuse your workplace with a sense of belonging by incorporating local materials to celebrate your heritage. From local artwork to features inspired by your surroundings, there are plenty of ways to get creative with this concept.

Comfort is key

Everyone craves warmth and comfort, they’re fundamental human needs. In the past, offices hesitated to offer too much comfort, fearing it might make employees too relaxed. However, we now realise that providing accessible comfort can enhance performance and productivity. The positive impact of this became evident when home working became the norm during the pandemic.

Shaping positive habits

The textures around us can shape our behaviour, and organisations can use this to their advantage. Consider fast-food restaurants; specific materials can prompt quick, efficient interactions, ensuring speedy table turnover. Understanding how your employees connect with their workplace environment lets you design a space that’s not just attractive but highly functional and efficient. 

Tailoring to tastes

Preferences can vary widely between people. Some people will like the feeling of sand because they love the beach – others will hate it! That’s why in design, it’s crucial to create different touchpoints that resonate with employees’ unique preferences and needs.

Engage your senses

Texture plays a vital role in the spaces we create. It goes beyond just aesthetics, influencing behaviour and fostering comfort. Being mindful of texture is crucial for designing a workspace that promotes employee well-being. While the specific fabric of your breakout room sofas might not seem like a top priority, it can make a significant difference to your workforce.

Here are our top five texture considerations:

  1. Layer different textures for depth and interest: mix and match textures to add depth and make spaces visually interesting.
  2. Transform branded colours with textures: use textures like weave, carpets, and yarn to enhance and transform branded colours.
  3. Create warm, comfortable spaces: utilise textures to make spaces warm and comfortable, providing employees with areas to relax.
  4. Define space functions with textures: match textures with the function of each space, creating a cohesive and purposeful environment.
  5. Map your workplace journey: understand your workplace layout and consider how literal touchpoints can cater to the diverse needs of your employees.

By paying attention to these texture considerations, you can craft a workspace that not only looks good but also feels right for your team.

Learn more about designing for the senses.

Want to know more about workplace design? Visit our website here.

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