Interior design websites and magazines often feature apartments that are economical and minimalist in style. It might seem that this is how most people arrange their homes. But if you look at the average apartment, in Poland or abroad, it will turn out that it has little in common with the style promoted by the media.
When fitting out their houses, choosing furniture and decorations, people are guided not only by how all those things look, but also their convenience and functionality. People realise that they will be using those things for a very long time, and so they will have an impact on their comfort. People just want to feel good at home. Not without a reason, the key word running through interior designer’s talks with investors is "cosiness." Rooms referred to as "cosy" most commonly use soft finishes and materials (carpets, cushions), warm colours, plants, natural materials (wood, brick), warm light and small accessories (books, photos, paintings, ceramics), which are all the things that you rarely find in a typical office.
So, if people feel comfortable in cosy interiors, why are most offices their opposite?
Despite the fact that we spend an average of 40 hours a week at work, which is quite a portion of our time, most offices are decorated in a very raw style, dominated by cold colours, sharp edges, cold light and artificial materials. This kind of design has an impact on the well-being of the people using the space, which is why the trend to introduce home items to offices has been on the increase in recent years. Usually the "base," which means the workstation furniture system, is not different from the furniture used in offices before, but in other areas. For instance, wooden furniture and other accessories previously reserved only for home interiors, e.g. floor lamps, curtains or wallpapers, have become present in meeting rooms. Interestingly, in one of the conducted studies as many as 80% of employees said that works of art in the office improve the general atmosphere and make them feel better.
Home atmosphere is expected to support employees' well-being and make them more willing to perform their professional duties.
It has a relaxed, family and friendly atmosphere. Employees like to decorate their surroundings with personal accessories.
Anna Marszałek, Senior Workplace Research & Spaceplanning Consultant
 BCA and International Association of Professional Art Advisors, [w:] Art in the workplace benefits both employees and company, 15.04.2015
Office interior design helps companies realise diverse targets, from business goals to visual aims. Although office work in different organisations looks similar (employees work mainly at desks and in meeting rooms), it is not possible to apply a single office arrangement style to all companies. What should we take into consideration when choosing interior design? What are the characteristic features of the most popular office arrangement styles? We warmly invite you to read our summer guide titled "#MYoffice ‒ a guide to office styles."
During the next few weeks we are going to present various office arrangements. Before we take a closer look at different office styles, it is worth answering the question concerning the role office interior design plays in a company.
Office as a company's showpiece
For many companies, business relationships are a priority. It is therefore desirable that a client entering the company's office should get the impression they are dealing with a reliable and professional business partner. To obtain that effect, office design must be consistent with the company's business profile. No investor is likely to believe that an architect can design a functional office space if they cannot take care of their own space; if their office furniture is a random jumble and their office is a complete mess.
A well-thought-out approach to creating your brand is closely connected with coherent communication. An office space is one element of such communication that creates the first impression during business contacts which take place in the company's office.
Organisational culture ‒ what is it?
Another important role of office interior design is to reflect organisational culture.
Organisational culture is a set of beliefs and rules prevailing at a specific company. It is the building block used to build the external image and desired employees' behaviours. It helps to understand what the organisation promotes, how it works and what it considers important. The concept of organisational culture is often compared to the personality or the soul of an organization, constituting its identity and making it stand out from other companies.
Organisational culture shapes the way a company functions. It can be observed by analysing the atmosphere, dress code, preferred and appreciated attitudes and values, management style, methods of employee communication, relationships and goals.
The most visible element, however, that largely builds organisational culture is the space occupied by the company. Being properly designed, it can effectively enhance the impact organisational culture exerts.
There, where innovation is an important element, space is generally designed to stimulate employees to come up with new ideas. While, in the case of a company that is more attached to a code and promotes professionalism in dealing with the client, space will have a more formal character.
For example, an interactive agency should have an original interior with colourful graffiti on the walls, while toned down colours and heavy wooden furniture would be more appropriated for a law firm. In the first case, you can imagine that the atmosphere in the company is casual, employees have more informal contacts, there is no fixed dress code and they shape the space themselves, e.g. by bringing in some personal decorative items. Interior design will emphasise those specific features of the organisation and make employees feel comfortable.
In the second case, the interior would impose a completely different behaviour. An employee would not come dressed in a flannel shirt and sneakers to an elegant office highlighting the prestige of the profession. Relations between employees will be more formal, and employee impact on the space much smaller. Here, every personal touch must match the design so as not to downgrade its importance.
Office design and organisational culture are mutually related. On one hand, interior design is determined by organisational culture. While on the other hand, an office can be intentionally designed to shape organisational culture or support its change.
Employee comfort is becoming increasingly important
The changing demographic situation has a direct impact on the labour market. These days, as many as four generations (Baby Boomers, X, Y and Z) work together in the office, each with a specific approach to work as well as different needs and requirements. According to estimates, over the next 10 years the Millennials (generation Y) will make up 75% of the world's human resources. Their expectations of potential employers are completely different from those of previous generations. The typical dull office where their parents used to work is not enough anymore. The generation Y expects visually appealing interiors designed in line with the latest trends, offering great flexibility and comfort. This is confirmed by statistics showing that just in the BPO sector, 81% of employees would like to see the office first before signing a job contract. Employers are aware of the fact that they must take account of these requirements in order to attract and keep talents. Therefore, attractive space providing comfortable working conditions becomes a bargaining chip in the recruitment process, and a factor that affects employee satisfaction.
The word "style" invariably runs through articles about interior design. You can often hear about Scandinavian, industrial or Provencal style. Boundaries between those categories are often fluid and a single space may have the characteristic features of two different styles. Not every style has a specific name, or it is hardly identifiable as such, which is why style names we use are quite descriptive and conventional.
During the next weeks of July and August, we are going to present 6 office styles that are most often chosen by companies.
- Home-like office
- Minimalist office in Scandinavian style
- Office in industrial style
- Modern, hi-tech and futuristic office
- Modern and creative office based on biophilic design
- Traditional office
Style is definitely not a list of products that have to be in a space so that it can be qualified for a specific category. However, talking about a specific style most people imagine some characteristic elements. And this is what we would like to show. We will add a short checklist to each office style that will include questions about the priorities as well as a description of the desirable image and work styles. This checklist will help people quickly verify whether a certain office style matches their company or not.
Everyone likes to have a little bit of freedom
Even the space that has been planned out by a designer from A to Z may be missing one key component: freedom for employees to arrange their own space.
In research carried out by Craig Knight from the University of Exeter, subjects were assigned to work in different types of offices: 
Giving employees a certain level of freedom to decide about the final look of their office space is beneficial to both parties. Employees are more satisfied because they have more control over the environment, and their work is more productive at the same time, which is directly translated into higher profits for the company.
It turns out that the decision concerning the choice of the right interior design style should be discussed with employees. A one person's vision may prove wrong in a given case.
Anna Marszałek ‒ Senior Workplace Research & Spaceplanning Consultant
Anna Marszałek is a graduate of the Architecture and Urban Planning faculty at Cracow University of Technology. Since her studies, she has been designing corporate and private interiors. Her interest in the influence of buildings on their users' health, behaviour and well-being has led her to Nowy Styl Group where she explores this issue in the context of workplaces. She is currently creating and conducting research processes that result in optimal office space projects for the organisations and employees surveyed. She is also responsible for analysing her research findings and the way they are translated into interior arrangement.
 The Relative Merits of Lean, Enriched, and Empowered Offices: An Experimental Examination of the Impact of Workspace Management Strategies on Well-Being and Productivity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: 2010, Vol. 16, No. 2, 158 –172
 BPO and Shared Service Centres: employees speak out on workplace. Office buildings attributes as a competitive advantage in the war for talent. June 2015 Skanska Jll
A workplace influences employees continuously. According to research carried out by the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE), it determines 24% of people's job satisfaction. Therefore, providing employees with comfortable conditions for performing everyday duties seems to be crucial.
Let's start with matching the office type to the needs of a particular organisation. Currently we can differentiate four main types of office: a cellular office, an open space, a zonal office and an Activity Based Workplace, all of which are characterised by special arrangements of walls, windows, doors and furniture that differ in terms of their functionality. We invite you to familiarise yourself with our analysis, in which we present both the advantages and disadvantages of various space arrangements.
4 office types
Because of the different space arrangements, each of the four office types creates a work environment that supports different work styles.
A cellular office consists of closed, shared rooms designed for working and managerial offices located along the corridors. This arrangement usually offers a large number of storage places (cabinets or open shelves). By definition, a cellular office is equipped with a few huge rooms dedicated to formal meetings and a social zone (a canteen).
+ it facilitates the concentration process
+ it ensures confidentiality and privacy
+ it offers space for organising formal and official meetings
+ it allows for personalising the office space
- it isolates teams from each other
- it hinders free communication and the exchange of knowledge
- it lacks the possibility to share office devices – every room is usually equipped with its own printers, fax machines, etc.
- it makes it difficult to manage teams and monitor their work
An open space is based on the concept of a huge space equipped with rows of desks. There are fewer storage places compared to the cellular office. Usually there are meeting rooms with mobile walls that can be quickly rearranged. In this arrangement, we recommend implementing at least a few places designed for holding spontaneous meetings (soft seating) – these spaces allow employees to discuss current issues without needing to book a room, and they help section off desk rows.
+ efficient flow of information and knowledge
+ possibility to hold quick consultations between employees
+ no problems providing feedback
+ space and office devices are shared by employees from different teams = greater integration
+ possibility to rearrange the office space and adjust it to the company's development
- high level of noise
- lack of comfortable conditions for performing quiet and concentrated work
- lack of privacy and work or document confidentiality
- lack of comfortable conditions for holding phone conversations
A zonal office is designed to give employees access to different zones that support them in performing particular tasks. Depending on the needs and work style of the organisation, the office is designed with various different spaces. For example, if cooperation is a crucial aspect in a particular company, then meeting zones will be dominant in its space arrangement. Desks are placed in an open space, often with a few partition walls that improve work comfort. This office type is characterised by a large number of meeting rooms of different sizes and diverse areas designed for holding spontaneous meetings. In order to ensure employees perform particular tasks effectively, the office arrangement should include telephone booths and one-person rooms for undisturbed work.
+ access to zones that support employees in performing particular tasks – comfortable conditions for holding meetings and phone conversations, as well as working in the quiet
+ efficient flow of information and knowledge
+ quick consultations between employees within an office, which do not disturb other colleagues
+ lower noise level than in an open space
- lack of privacy and little work or document confidentiality
An Activity Based Workplace is a solution that ensures access to different zones facilitating three basic activities undertaken by office employees: administration, concentration and communication. The arrangement of this office type includes a large number of meeting rooms of different sizes, places for spontaneous meetings, telephone booths, zones for undisturbed work (a reading room, a silent room) and an auditorium.
In terms of mobile departments in this work environment, we can also observe the concept of desk sharing, which means that employees do not have assigned desks; there are fewer desks than employees.
+ possibility to choose a workplace to match the activity being undertaken
+ flexible work style
+ facilitates communication between employees
+ access to zones supporting work performance
+ possibility to change the environment and work near different people
+ knowledge exchange and greater integration with colleagues
- lack of desks assigned to particular employees
- no possibility to personalise a workstation
- obligation to work in zones designed for performing particular types of task
- principle of tidying a desk after finishing work and storing personal belongings in a locker
How much does it cost?
Nowadays, when every square meter is precious, it is worth taking into account economic aspects as well as the work supporting elements when choosing an office type. Because of their unique space arrangements, each of the office types presented occupies a different area and can include a varying number of desks.
Clients often have a strictly defined space and must decide on how many employees will use it. The table below shows a comparison between the number of employees and the number of desks in each of the four office types in a sample area of 913 m2.
Activity Based Workplace
Number of employees
Number of desks
As the table shows, a cellular office can accommodate a significantly smaller number of employees than an open space, due to its closed space arrangement. However, taking the same aspect into consideration, the difference between an open space and a zonal office is not so significant. When choosing a zonal office, companies "lose" a place only for four employees, while gaining access to various zones that support employees in performing their everyday duties. The qualitative difference is significant to the employees.
An Activity Based Workplace is the most efficient office type in terms of the work space it offers. This results from the desk sharing concept that is implemented in mobile departments. According to this concept, there are fewer desks than employees and the employees are obliged to share workstations with their colleagues. The flex indicator measures the work flexibility level, which amounts to 0.7 (7 desks per 10 employees from mobile departments); with this we can ensure work spaces for 104 employees who will occupy 77 desks. However, before implementing this solution, it is worth planning an internal information campaign and workshops to facilitate change management. Our experts have many positive experiences conducting these processes.
New technologies and work flexibility enable us to arrange offices in an interesting and functional way. However, it is not an easy task to create a space that is not only modern, but also adjusted to a particular organisation's needs. No office type is better or worse; everything depends on a company's character, its business processes and its employees' needs. We always want our projects to hit their targets; therefore, we are eager to advise our clients on the solutions that will be most beneficial for them. When needed, we also conduct research and analyses concerning, for example, the desk occupancy level, efficiency of meeting rooms, activity profile of particular teams, or relationships between departments. An office is an investment that should be well thought out.
Ewelina Adamus, Workplace Research and Development Senior Consultant
Brand competency confirmed with top award: we win "German Brand Award 2017" in the category "Interior and Living" for outstanding brand management
The "German Brand Award“ is the top award for successful brand management in Germany sponsored by the German Design Council committee and the German Brand Institute. It discovers, presents and makes awards to outstanding brands and brandmakers. In 2017, in its second year already, the German Brand Award gives out accolades to the personalities and companies which are pioneers in the world of brands on account of their innovative brands, their logical brand management and consistent brand communication.
In essence, the German Brand Award can be summarised as follows.
"Committed to the competitiveness of the German brand, praised by top designers, backed up by an expert jury from science and commerce, the German Brand Award is a unique communication forum, giving companies the opportunity to put the entire range of their brand competency on show", says Gordon Arnemann, Nowy Styl Group Managing Director, Marketing and Distribution Germany. The Nowy Styl Group showed here that it is leader and pacemaker in its overall brand competency.
The prizewinning brand presentation of the Nowy Styl Group
The "German Brand Award 2017" confirms the success and excellence of the Nowy Styl Group's brand management officially, putting it in black and white. The road to this award is a real challenge.
"Whoever comes out on top against the high-quality competition here really has proved that they are one of the very best", declares Corinna Graf, Nowy Styl Group Marketing Manager Germany. This is underlined by the reputation of the Design Council, the knowledge and skill of the jury and the demanding nomination procedure. The furnishing specialist is delighted by the award of the German Brand Award 2017: "Winner the Nowy Styl Group, brand in the category Interior & Living".
The success speaks for itself
The Nowy Styl Group convinced the high-powered, independent and inter-disciplinary jury of experts with their all-round competency in the decisive assessment criteria: brand perception / brand characteristics, distinguishing from the competition, homogeneity in appearance, design quality, brand fit, independence, degree of innovation, aesthetics, product graphic and product semantics, user-friendliness, functionality and ease of use, usefulness, ecological quality, social acceptability, accessibility, symbolic and emotional content, durability, relevance to the target user group end economic success.
Applause in Berlin
The personal, certified award of the "German Brand Award 2017" was made to the Nowy Styl Group, represented by Gordon Arnemann and Corinna Graf, yesterday at the official awards ceremony in Berlin.