6 Office Must Haves

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We’ve all referenced them before.  Whether it’s packing for a big trip, moving into a dorm room, or even having a baby, a must-have list is crucial for determining the essentials you can’t live without.  Believe it or not, the same idea can be applied to office design.  When companies take a leap and transform their work environment, the first step is discovering what workspace features are critical for success.  Time and time again, our team hears the same drivers repeated by clients of all industries.  Coincidence, trend, or fact, these six must-have features top the list for workplace design necessities.

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This isn’t a new concept.  We’ve heard it for years.  But it still remains a fundamental request for employees.  Removing hard-wall offices from the perimeter glass to open the windows for all to enjoy is a movement that became popular decades ago.  If that’s not feasible for traditional office cultures, providing glass office fronts to filter daylight is a favorable compromise.  The theory of nature, greenery, and improved oxygen is also tied to this concept.  More and more, we see plants, live walls, and water features celebrated design elements in office spaces.  And why be confined to four walls?  Employees are requesting actual work settings outside.  A recent survey issued to a large R&D customer revealed 65% of employees ranked the outdoors as their preferred space to work when removed from their personal workstation or office.  Opportunely, furniture manufacturers such as Landscape Forms have made great strides in activating the outdoor work experience by designing sun shades and portable charging devices to supplement the expanding offering of ergonomic outdoor furniture solutions.

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Ah, yes.  With the tech-savvy, work-when-and-where-I-want Millennial generation gradually taking over 70% of the workforce population, it’s no wonder this feature is in high demand.  As it should be.  Collaborative technology in the workplace is integral for companies on many levels.  For mobility – being able to share information from anywhere at any time is crucial for companies who support people and resources across the globe.  For innovation – having state-of-the-art tools that enable breakthrough ideas quickly and dramatically helps companies stay ahead of the curve.  A personal favorite is Bluescape, a visual collaboration software that allows teams to meet, share, and develop ideas on a limitless canvas.  For functionality – clean, simple, user-friendly solutions that save workers time and hassle when connecting with colleagues.  Digital tools are changing the way we work more than ever before, and undeniably more advancements are coming down the pipeline. 



A sense of belonging is important to employees.  Coming to work every day to a space that emanates company values, mission, and community contributes to feelings of security and loyalty, which ultimately leads to higher engagement.  Whether it’s incorporating branded paint colors for pops of richness, or naming conference spaces with titles that are unique to business endeavors, or showcasing the company’s heritage as an artistic landmark, there are many ways to capitalize on brand identity through large or small gestures.  ArtSource, an art gallery in Raleigh, NC, offers a rotating art program for organizations wishing to exhibit local artists as a means to leverage community prosperity.

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The number one complaint in the workplace is noise.  With the evolution of the open plan, employees are more susceptible to audio disturbances.  How do you counteract sound transfer when walls are eliminated and panel heights lowered?  Unfortunately, there is no end-all solution for this gripe.  But there are ways to improve acoustic privacy.  Behavior change is the most noteworthy.  Protocols and etiquette must be adopted for workers to thrive in an open plan.   Like taking loud conference calls away from the desk, or saving the social conversation for social spaces.   Sound masking is another must-have for open plan scenarios.   Acoustic ceiling tiles with high NRC ratings paired with dense carpet are simple to finish solutions that will deaden sound transfer.  Other accessories such as acoustic wall panels, screens, and decorative ceiling elements can help reduce noise.  One of our favorite partners, Buzzispace, offers a portfolio of decorative acoustic solutions to remedy noise challenges in the office.



We’ll start there.  Most workers enjoy a good cup of joe to get their juices going, whether it’s first thing in the morning or for an afternoon pick-me-up.  According to a national survey performed by Keurig, 37% of employees prefer free, daily fresh gourmet coffee or tea over a company’s annual holiday party.  Now let’s filter that down…. what’s even better than a supreme caffeine fix….. a place to enjoy it.  Companies are yearning for a destination place where employees can escape the day to day grind and refresh their mind and body with an invigorating change of scenery.  A well-done café space within the office environment that enables socialization, change of posture, games and media, and of course good coffee ranks high on the must-have list.



One of the newest must-haves to move up the list, quiet rooms are intended for employees to practice mindfulness.   With workers’ desire to constantly be connected to the digital world (Gen Z being the biggest culprit), employees are more likely to suffer anxiety and social detachment due to constant connectivity.  “Techno-stress” is a term coined for the interference of technology with our health and happiness and is feared to become a major health epidemic in the years to come.  To combat this phenomenon, companies are incorporating tech-free zones to encourage employees to be present in the moment and promote positive mental and emotional health habits.  These quiet spaces can take on many forms, from library spaces, to meditation rooms, to yoga studios. 

So here you have it.  The top six workplace design features requested by our customers.  How does your company’s must-have list match up?


Michelle Eckhart
Director of Ideation
PMC Commercial Interiors