Here Are 5 Things to Think About When Designing Your Next Commercial Building

Traditional commercial buildings used to have bland cookie-cutter designs with little room for imagination. Today, our shared workspaces are much more lively and individualistic. It should be every architect’s goal to create buildings that inspire the people who work there. Here are X things to think about when designing your next commercial building.

1.  Design With Employee Productivity in Mind

A commercial building’s floor plan plays a huge role in employee satisfaction and productivity. It must have clear walking lanes and allow for easy collaboration between departments. Traditional office buildings typically have a balance of closed offices and communal workspaces, giving more privacy to higher-ranking employees.

As the modern workplace has evolved, open floor plans have taken precedence with the goal of creating more interactions. However, these designs haven’t been as effective as expected. According to a 2019 study from Harvard Business Review, open offices decreased human interactions by 70 percent while digital interactions overcompensated.

Open floor plans also don’t account for noise control, which also affects employee performance. Your design must break up the open space with walls, columns and screens. Aim to create two different work zones – one where employees can quietly complete their individual assignments,  and one where they can come together to work on bigger projects.

Lighting is another major factor that influences employee productivity. Effective lighting improves our mood and attentiveness while we’re in work mode – especially good old-fashioned daylight. However, individual workers have different preferences. The best solution is to provide plenty of natural light and give employees the tools to adjust the building’s artificial light fixtures.

2.  Provide Recreational Spaces

Work-life balance is one of the highest priorities among the national workforce. Your commercial building must also provide a balance between work and play. The following recreational spaces would make great additions to your design plan:

  • Fitness Center: A physically healthy workforce is a productive workforce. A fitness center will help employees stick to their wellness goals and develop closer friendships with each other.
  • Game Room: A game room might seem like a distraction, but it provides many relevant team-building opportunities. Ping pong, pool, board games and other fun activities will help workers develop camaraderie fast.
  • Coffee Corner: Coffee is an integral part of millions of people’s daily routines. Many people can’t function without it. A small coffee shop in your commercial building would be a great money maker and provide a huge morale boost.
  • Library: A library serves as a valuable source of information and a quiet work area, both of which will always be beneficial to employees.

Commercial buildings aren’t strictly business anymore. Today’s workforce needs a balanced environment. A few recreational areas will dissolve stress, foster closer working relationships and help employees unlock their creative sides.

3.  Implement Eco-Friendly Features

As a commercial architect, you have a social responsibility to make your buildings eco-friendly from floor to ceiling. The simplest way to fulfill this responsibility is by adding sustainable appliances, such as smart thermostats, water sensors and light fixtures. These devices will automatically monitor the building’s energy consumption and help workers adjust their habits.

The building materials should also be natural and durable. Try to incorporate as much rustic wood, metal and tempered glass as possible. Your roofing choice is also a crucial detail. A built-up roof has six protective layers of materials that promote energy efficiency and require minimal maintenance.

You could even install an alternative energy source, such as solar paneling. Generating extra green energy will help you save on utility costs. It will also give your building a unique appearance that demonstrates your commitment to sustainability.

4.  Focus on Furniture

Commercial buildings must also be comfortable – both for employees and guests. Don’t be afraid to splurge on high-quality furniture throughout the building. Deck out the lobby with couches and armchairs. Put plush sofas, beanbag chairs and other comfy seats in employee break rooms to help them relax. Provide ergonomic desk chairs with adjustable seating options.

Pay close attention to the color and texture of the furniture. The work-oriented spaces should have neutral colors like gray and brown, with sophisticated textures such as leather or suede. This design evokes calmness and professionalism.

On the flip side, you can get more creative in the communal spaces. Use bold and energetic colors in these rooms to enliven the room’s occupants. Aim to create a clear visual dichotomy between work areas and recreational areas.

5.  Prioritize Worker Safety

One of the cardinal rules of architecture is to never sacrifice safety for appearance. Always make worker safety your top priority. Design clear walking paths and multiple evacuation routes on each floor. Hire a contractor with a clean safety record who will follow all local codes and regulations. You don’t want a lawsuit on your hands.

You must also install a wide range of security features, including cameras, motion detectors and alarms. A reliable security system will give employees and guests peace of mind.

Design for the Modern Workforce

Commercial buildings designed for previous generations of workers were uniform and uninspiring. Safety and functionality are still important, but they’re no longer enough to keep today’s employees engaged. You must design your commercial building for the modern workforce, which means promoting productivity, work-life balance and sustainability.


Tags: architecture, commercial, design

Author: Maja Markovski


A 35-year-old female architect with a passion for innovative, sustainable design. I blend creativity and functionality to transform spaces into beautiful, practical environments.


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