5 signs your PR agency is designed for creativity and productivity

July 10th, 2015 | by Beth Daniher

The design of an office space is vital to how we PR consultants work. When an office and its resources are planned around the unique needs of the agency, employees do their best – and most creative – work for their clients. From floorplan to design features, a custom space can foster a culture and atmosphere that keeps your agency connecting, collaborating and creating.

If your PR agency’s space is designed with these considerations in mind, you can be assured that they are equipped to do high-quality work on your behalf:

Open concept floor plan = the anti-cubicle

An open concept office space not only creates a fun, collaborative environment for staff; it also allows ideas to be shared more freely and organically across teams. A shared workspace ensures colleagues are informed and connected, with a communal knowledge of client and industry happenings. Without private offices and closed doors, the barriers of a perceived office hierarchy are banished – which can help staff be more comfortable, casual and confident around each other. Importantly, an open concept design can buoy real-life conversations between colleagues (and minimize the dreaded email exchange time suck). Though the open office movement has its opponents, it provides an atmosphere that is naturally conducive to productivity – particularly when measures are taken to ensure that some rooms stay intact.

Phone booths/call rooms

Open concept PR agencies with small, private telephone rooms get their best work done. Media pitching and participating in conference calls from desk phones might disturb surrounding colleagues, and general office chatter might distract those making calls. In an open concept setting, small phone rooms are integral to productivity – and mean that prized meeting room spaces remain available. Small work spaces allow employees to focus quietly on their tasks, or have a private conversation when needed. According to a study by the Gensler architecture firm, companies that provide a selection of alternative workspaces are more likely to yield more satisfied, higher-performing employees.

Chalkboard or white board walls – not just for the classroom!

In PR, creativity is a commodity that must be fostered for the client’s benefit, and chalkboards and dry-erase boards can play a key role in creative brainstorming and strategic ideation. A rainbow of chalk and markers, when paired with a blank canvas of chalkboard or whiteboard walls, can stimulate creative juices and a childlike sense of wonder. Heck, the doodles drawn on your agency’s walls might just form the basis of your brand’s next award-winning campaign! From an internal culture perspective, allowing staff the freedom to use their hands to sketch, write jokes, or have conversations on these walls can help to build office morale – and offers a welcome reprieve from our screen-saturated work lives.

Comfy communal lounge space – for work and play

An office designed with a comfortable lounge area can work wonders for agency productivity. Think of it as a corporate living room. Alternative spaces for work (and non-work) activities give employees a break from their desks – and an all-important change in scenery to keep brains fresh. A welcoming lounge space can host informal discussions between colleagues, recreational activities (bonus points for a television or Nintendo Wii U!) and even special events. Furnished with cushy couches, funky chairs and inspiring accent pieces, the communal lounge brings colleagues together, building social connections that are shown to bring physical and psychological benefits.

Lunchrooms… and the demise of desk eating!

At one time or another, many of us have fallen victim to the habit of eating lunch at our desk. But mealtime offers an opportunity to step away from our work and take a well-earned break. According to Fast Company, even taking a 15-20 break is a proven way for employees to boost concentration and energy levels. A kitchen space doesn’t just serve a utilitarian purpose – i.e. a place to eat your tuna sandwich – it also gives employees a chance to connect and develop a sense of camaraderie. Sharing a meal in a casual, positive space allows a free-flowing discussion of recent news, pop culture, trends, or that new event space that just opened up across the street. So a communal kitchen space also helps keep staff informed – and happy. Bonus: a harvest table that creates a family-like atmosphere goes a long way in solidifying a workplace culture.

Beth Daniher is a counsellor and lunchtime advocate at Cohn & Wolfe | Toronto.

NOTE: Cohn & Wolfe Toronto is moving! Effective July 20th, we’re moving next door to 320 Front Street, Suite 1501.