How to Do “Resimercial” Office Design Right

To attract and keep good employees, companies are making work look more like home. Learn how to get “resimercial” right.

Incorporating sofas, lounge chairs and other home-like touches into your office may sound like a mere design undertaking. Actually, it’s a strategic move. Companies are using this concept — sometimes called “resimercial” design — to foster creativity and collaboration, as well as recruit new staffers.

“Today’s workers, particularly younger ones, are drawn to places where they can let their hair down a little and have some fun on their breaks,” explains Peter Brodsky, Assistant Vice President of Staples Furniture Group. “The resimercial approach can allow for this and, done right, it can help to boost engagement and productivity.”

But it’s important to make sure your design is carefully considered, Brodsky adds — putting in a few new pieces of furniture won’t necessarily make an impact. Read on to learn three key success factors.

Be Genuine

Bean bag chairs and Ping-Pong conference tables may fit in at some workplaces, but feel completely out of place at others. Consider your culture and the profile of your workforce when you’re choosing furniture or recreational items.

“Just because something looks cool doesn’t mean it’s right for your company,” Brodsky says. “If your design choices are inauthentic, people will notice.”

If your culture is a bit more buttoned-up, for instance, traditional pieces and neutral tones might work better than bright, modern items. Keep the look cohesive throughout the workplace — in meeting spaces, breakrooms and elsewhere. Pay close attention to the reception area; along with reflecting your company’s identity, it should be warm and inviting. Soft fabrics, throw pillows and table lamps can lend the right touch.

Focus on Function

The purpose of a space should guide your furniture-buying and setup decisions. If a room is intended for individual work or quiet contemplation, for example, a few comfortable armchairs, soft lighting and even a bookshelf could help to set the right tone. For collaborative work, clusters of chairs around a table may be a good approach — and an area rug can help complete the look.

In some cases, companies opt for maximum flexibility, so a private space can be made into a group work space, or vice versa.

“Lots of what’s available is actually mobile — wheeled tables, mobile whiteboards and movable power outlets, just to name a few,” Brodsky says. These sorts of pieces let you adapt a space to your needs, without having to keep them there when they’re not in use. Having this flexibility keeps employees productive and allows for more freedom in making design decisions.

Gather Input

Surveying employees is a good idea for a resimercial project. When decisions are made solely from the top, there’s a risk that they’ll miss the mark. Though individual responses may vary widely, some common themes often emerge that help to guide decisions.

“Unless executives have asked employees, they may not really know what’s best,” Brodsky says. “They might assume that if they buy some cool furniture and put in a Ping-Pong table, people will automatically use them. But it may not work out that way.”

A survey may also bring up potential problems that would hinder a successful rollout, such as unreliable Wi-Fi in an area meant for group or individual work.

“It’s important to consider not only the physical elements, but the entire experience of a space,” Brodsky says. “If you’re going to invest in creating a space that employees will enjoy, you have to be sure they can function in it.”