One great looks I've recently seen scattered throughout the world in many different offices is that of the use of carpet and other flooring for space definition. We've talk a lot about the rise of the open office floorplan, which among other things has brought with it the breaking down of traditional room barriers like walls, windows, and doors.
I believe this lack of barriers can lead to several issues in your office design:
How Do You get Around?
In one office I worked in, there were two main areas where employees worked. Within one these two areas were an array of desks with no natural passageway for navigating through the maze. Naturally, people just walked through the desks without giving a second thought to whether or not they were interrupting you.
In the other, desks were similarly arranged with a channel from the front door leading through to the breakroom. The pathway was covered in wood planks and made a clear path from one part of the office to the other. Even though there were more direct routes by cutting through the desks, people chose to follow the path. And of course, this had the great effect of being less disturbing for the employees.
Whose Space Is Where?
As mentioned above, the lack of an easily navigable office created the general issue of distraction. This stems from the fact that without space defining features – which in offices were traditionally walls – people don't really understand personal space and will therefore invade it.
Problem Solved: Define Your Space
One solid solution to some problems that occur because of a lack of space definition can come through the simple use of differently colored flooring that sets apart one space from another. The goal of this simple idea is to give people visual cues as to where these barriers exist – though there may not be a physical barrier anymore.
What does defining your space mean?
Here is a great example below – by including a band of carpeting that is just wider than the casual seating area, it is fairly obvious where activities should take place. Sitting down and working within the confines of the carpeted area, and walking moving around on the cement area.
Imagine that the seating were located more to the middle of the image below – there would be a walkway on the right and left. By positioning the furniture properly, it eliminates any sort of desire to walk through the seating area and instead invites proper usage.
There are many different ways that this can be adapted. Some of the examples below are from rooms with desks, other are from receptions, and yet others are from casual seating areas. In all cases, the use of a much differently colored carpet or tile marks out where oen space end and another begins.
What ways have you used to define space in your office?