Martine Speight, at Shaw Contract, outlines the key considerations when specifying workplace flooring, illustrated by Shaw’s recent work at the headquarters of commercial fitout specialists Consensus Workspace.

The workspace has changed. Organisations know that they need to offer a genuinely welcoming environment for their employees – especially in the current climate – as a relaxed workforce is naturally more creative and productive.

The flooring plays a huge role, as it impacts many of our senses throughout the day. It needs to be durable and practical, but with the right shade and texture, as it can shape the whole interior - and impact the mindset of the team in several subliminal ways.

COMPLEMENTING TEXTILES Texture is everything: it adds depth to a room, it impacts on the acoustics, it gives warmth and provides softness to generate comfort. We always work closely with interior designers and on the Consensus project, Helen Hampson- Smith at Smith Brothers Design incorporated a lot of cork, which illustrates this point well. It’s used as an acoustic backing to our Concrete and Composed Rigid Core LVT, providing added sound dampening from foot traffic, and it has been used to fantastic effect on the walls and with eye- catching seating in the collaborative area. Cork is sustainable, strong, fire-retardant and renewable so it ticks a lot of boxes while delivering a series of natural, flowing touchpoints.

BRING COLOUR IN The boardroom at Consensus was fitted with our Haven Collection of carpet tiles in Apricot. This multilevel loop carpet tile seeks to evoke a feeling of home through comfort and familiarity. It sets the tone for the whole room, which has been filled with colours from the Dulux Colour Futures palette. The pinks and mauves are warm and welcoming and move away from the intimidating cliché of the boardroom. This is a room where long meetings take place, where important decisions are made. It’s vital that those in it feel at home and relaxed and the décor is symbiotic in its contribution to the ambience.

CREATE ZONES Different textures, colours, weaves and patterns on the


floor can create zones in openplan spaces. For example, at Consensus, we provided concrete-effect resilient flooring in the hallway and kitchen area, then used our Inside Shapes carpet tiles in the collaborative meeting area. These dynamic tiles use geometric patterns in subtly contrasting shades from one colour palette to celebrate shape and encourage creativity, in a durable long-lasting product.

Those designs are then continued through the finishing touches. Pictures, plants and ornaments all mirror the geometric design which completes the whole feel of the space: the user automatically feels at home.

SEEK SUSTAINABILITY Younger employees are much more eco-conscious than previous generations. Their ethics will soon start to dominate the workplace. Almost half of UK companies say sustainability is key to their growth plans and 66% plan to improve their internal practices, according to HSBC’s Made for the Future Report. This includes interiors: Shaw Contract introduced the first Cradle to Cradle Certified flooring product in 1999 which focuses on material health, product circulation, energy and resource management and social fairness. Clients want their products and suppliers to deliver on all levels now – and rightly so.

Décor is definitely getting more muted in the workplace – the bold, bright and ‘in-your-face’ offices of the nineties are reserved for the few: today there is a greater emphasis on more subtle backdrops which allow brands to maintain their personality through softer colourways and texture patterns, all combined to create the feeling of ‘home’.

Nobody wants to work in a sterile office. By liaising closely with an interior designer to coordinate your flooring with your furniture and spaces, you can ensure your professional environment performs as a true creative hub, welcoming your team and your customers into a space where they can connect, collaborate and accomplish.

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