Google's UK campus has an indoor "park" area complete with lounge chairs and bean bags where employees can work away at their laptops without a traditional desk and office chair in sight.
The search engine giant isn't alone in its unusual office spaces. Apple is world-renowned for its company culture, with a new spaceship-style headquarters set to open next year. Epic, a prominent electronic health record company, has a treehouse where workers can meet to collaborate. In Australia, Atlassian's beer on tap and game tables help make it one of the best places to work.
Why do these tech companies (and other organisations) place such an emphasis on the design of their workplaces? Because atmosphere matters, and whether you're trying to fuel creativity, productivity, open-mindedness or optimism, setting the stage with the right surroundings and catering to comfort can make all the difference.
The same is true in the exhibition hall, where event organisers and participants need to establish just the right space for guests to encounter brand messages, hold conversations about offerings and build business relationships. That's why even more affordable options – like exhibition packages for hire – should offer flexibility in design.
The power of place
Imagine that you're walking home alone late at night. It's dark and raining slightly, with the wind howling at your back. On the flip side, think about the same route, but this time it's the middle of the day, pleasantly sunny and your best mate is by your side. You'd probably have entirely different thoughts running through your mind and might feel more optimistic in the brighter setting.
In short, the world around us directly impacts how we feel, think and respond. That's why enterprises are starting to break away from cubicles, hoping to unleash their workers' creativity by surrounding them with interesting decor and creating places where they can find the most comfortable environment for whatever their task or mood.
To evaluate this trend, researchers have conducted studies to understand the significance of surrounding factors, such as colour, lighting, furniture, noise, temperature and overall design.
For example, a 2009 report in Scientific Journals revealed that lighting and spatial arrangement have the greatest impact on productivity in an office environment, with light impacting energy and mood. More recently, researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and Ohio State University observed that older, less optimal office spaces caused workers to be more stressed, the Wall Street Journal reported. Similarly, a University of British Columbia study found room colour impacted short-term memory, attention to detail and accuracy.
Beyond employee productivity
It's not just about employee creativity and performance: Organisations also take these factors into consideration when designing spaces for meetings with clients.
Investment News highlighted how a wealth management advisor exchanged traditional client meeting rooms for large, comfortable, informal settings modelled on patient care spaces, for instance. The idea was to create the right "ambience", where customers would be more likely to engage openly in the sensitive conversations they needed to have.
For the same reasons, establishing the perfect space within your exhibition stand or conference booth can help fuel a successful marketing event. From the basic structure and layout to the finishing touches, custom-built stands and hire packages alike should give you the optimal space for meeting with business partners and customers.
While bar stools and iPad displays might be the perfect setting for customers to peruse your digital catalogue, a couch and coffee table could make visitors comfortable as they chat about their needs or preferences. From there, just the right lighting as well as your organisation's colour and branding can shape a positive encounter, tailored to fit any purpose.
Presenters at trade shows and conferences have different goals and strategies – their spaces should match to suit.