OCCUPANT comfort and design go hand-in-hand. Today we spend over 90% of our time indoors. The indoor environment has become one where design really makes an impact on us in terms of material choices. As we think about flooring in offices this needs to be a consideration – occupant comfort is paramount.
Shaw Contract carpet tiles manufactured in Scotland have reportedly been certified Indoor Air Comfort GOLD – meeting the need of increased focus on Indoor Air Quality in relation to Health and Wellbeing. The certification helps to promote low emitting products and shows compliance with relevant VOC-related requirements in the UK and Europe (governmental and voluntary). Indoor Air Comfort GOLD certificates are directly accepted as proof from programmes for sustainable buildings like BREEAM international and LEED.
Underfoot comfort is particularly relevant for occupations requiring long periods of standing or walking. Increasingly, traditionally ‘sedentary’ workers are being encouraged to move around. In offices, for example, sit-stand desks and standing height meeting tables are being introduced to prevent long periods of sitting.
Says Shaw Contract: ‘Shaw Contract’s ComfortWorx backing solution provides a solution for underfoot comfort and acoustic comfort. Critical today is an understanding of the role acoustics plays in the workplace. Sound privacy and noise levels are common grievances among office workers. Exposure to prolonged unwanted, fluctuating, or random sound will not only influence productivity but can lead to physiological stress responses.
‘Sound absorption for quieter working areas is an important consideration for open-plan office spaces. Carpet tiles can help with impact sound reduction, which can be halved with Shaw Contract’s ComfortWorx backing. ComfortWorx can also offer a 65% improvement in sound absorption. However, there are also areas in offices where interaction and collaboration are encouraged. Delineating break-out areas or even helping create stimulating environments, designers can use carpet tiles to create a sense of energy in the office using colour and pattern.’
Another key trend is commercial offices moving towards encouraging a more collaborative approach to work and accommodating new, hybrid working patterns. This can involve changing interior configurations to create more flexible and comfortable open-plan layouts. Desks are separated with low or transparent panels, or partitions are removed altogether.
Flooring choices will not only assist for wayfinding and zoning but need to help meet the needs of different activity areas.
The company continues: ‘Shaw Contract’s carpet tiles feature in the exciting fit-out of the #RockMe Trading Floor at the HALO project in Kilmarnock, Scotland. This new facility provides various flexible workspace solutions within a thriving community where small businesses can grow, scale, co-create and develop.
‘A mixture of creative space – from hot desks, collaboration pods, event space to studio office provision – the fit-out needed to be adaptable and scalable. With an urban, colourful, and vibrant look, the concept is to provide a space that can accommodate businesses as they evolve. The design direction was provided by Keppie Architects, working alongside Scottish based interiors company Rakkaus.’
The flooring design helps guide the visitor or occupant through the Trading Floor, creating an eye-catching wavy walkway using carpet tiles from the Kindred collection in style Memory. While carpet tiles in style Belong provide the flooring solution for the main workspace areas.
Staff welfare and amenity benefits were key in the design brief, and that Shaw Contract’s carpet tiles are Cradle-to-Cradle certified and manufactured locally were also key considerations in the flooring specification of this project.
Meanwhile the Auxiliary collection was the go-to choice for UK flooring contractors Selby Contract Flooring for its client Newbury Electronics. Selby took a client brief for an eye-catching design in this leased office space.
Designed and project managed by Selby, the tech manufacturer’s workspace in Berkshire was reportedly brought to life with some carefully considered colour choices.
Says Shaw Contract: ‘Selby specified style Complement in colour Pebble and Lagoon, and style Detail in colour Pebble/Lagoon, with this combination creating a bright and sophisticated flooring design throughout. The colour palette reflects the client’s blue and grey branding, while bringing in a pop of energy with the choice of Lagoon – a warm, turquoise-tone blue.
‘Colour and material choice isn’t simply about decorative design or corporate branding. Part M of the UK Building Regulations stipulates a minimum difference in light reflectance values (LRVs) between two adjoining surfaces. A practical example is skirting boards to be in a contrasting colour to the floorcovering.’
Colour zoning and light contrast also provides for safe wayfinding. Essential to those with visual impairment, particular attention is necessary between areas of raised flooring, steps, and gradients.
The emotional and psychological effect of colour choice is being increasingly understood. Selection will influence people’s mood and perception within their working environment. With an estimated 10% of the UK population said to be neurodiverse, workplace design can be focused to create a truly inclusive space.
Air quality, personal comfort, acoustics, ergonomics, light and colour choices are all intrinsically linked. Flooring choice is a key component within this evaluation. It directly impacts on the overall look, feel and functionality of any office space.