Flooring is fundamental in the move towards creating offices that are both productive and healthy places to work in, says Nick Egan, Technical Manager, Gerflor.
Flooring plays a key role in the design of office interiors from major, new office developments to the refurbishment of small to large scale work premises. But how workplace design is approached is changing as the move towards making soulless, bland offices with isolated workers into a thing of the past is gathering momentum.
Employers, designers and specifiers are increasingly aware that warm, inviting and attractive offices encourage a happy, productive and engaged workforce. It has been reported that there is as much as a 30% difference in workforce performance in what is considered the best and the worst places to work. Light, comfort, air quality and noise levels are ranked as contributing factors.
There is also much research into workspace design trends which shows that creating stimulating, lively offices can help recruit and retain talented employees. A company’s brand, image and dynamics are conveyed the moment staff, clients and potential customers enter the premises.
The increase in mobile workers due to the digital era means flexible spaces are often required as well as multipurpose areas for informal meetings, idea sharing and work breaks. Therefore, workspaces ideally need to be adaptable so that reconfigurations are easily made to meet both current and future needs of office layouts.
Hard working floorings
Vinyl flooring manufacturers are working hard in the design and development of flooring innovations that provide the aesthetics, function, versatility and performance that floorings require to contribute to better ‘working’ office environments.
Creating zones in open plan spaces through floor design, as opposed to putting up partitioning walls, is increasingly popular in residential and many contract applications. In offices this works exceptionally well, as clever floor design can be used to form areas for individual and collaborative working, while uniting the overall space and natural flow of an open plan office, however large or small.
Luxury vinyl tiles (LVTs) tick all the boxes when it comes to innovative flooring solutions for new build and office refurbishments. Available in a raft of on-trend designs, colours and finishes, they offer the scope needed to realise the vision of workplace designers and those responsible for office interiors. Imaginative use of colour alongside different designs and finishes like wood and marble used together, for example, can give impact and define spaces, whilst balancing the aesthetics and function of the building.
As vinyl lends itself to infinite design possibilities, flooring designers and manufacturers of LVTs are pioneering trends like ‘mix n’ match’ styles and over-sized planks and tiles. Offices can therefore capitalise on the latest designs, colours and finishes to express individuality and reflect a contemporary or more traditional image, according to their business type and taste.
Office flooring must also be durable, withstand regular footfall and resist damage and indentation from office furniture and equipment. High performance LVTs with a hardwearing 0.55mm wear layer will accommodate medium traffic in typical small to medium sized offices. But where heavier footfall and usage is anticipated a flooring with a 0.70mm wear layer will stay looking good for longer. This may apply in larger open plan offices, entrances, corridors and other communal spaces.
The addition of advanced surface treatments will protect the flooring further and provide extra resistance to damage. For busy offices this is a plus as most vinyls with built-in, protective PUR surface treatments require little, low cost maintenance and can usually be easily cleaned and maintained simply with neutral detergent and water and without wax or polish. Additionally, some areas within offices also require slip resistant floorings that do not compromise on style and must address both aesthetic and safety needs.
Creating better places
As quieter, comfortable offices with improved air quality are in demand, a vinyl flooring with 12db levels, or higher, of sound insulation will help lower impact sound and contribute towards a less noisy environment. Also, compact acoustic floor tiles with a sound absorbing cork underlayer, offer the comfort of carpet coupled with the durability and easy maintenance of vinyl flooring.
Today’s environmentally-sustainable vinyl floorings are manufactured using responsibly sourced raw materials and recycled content. However, all materials emit VOCs and some products impact negatively on air quality inside. Those that meet the highest international standards and have low VOC emissions can contribute to improved indoor air quality and well-being. Floorings with outstanding results when assessed in accordance with ISO 16000, show extremely low VOC emissions.
Installation choices keep offices at work
Some LVTs and sheet vinyl floorings are now available in dry back and loose-lay versions. It is possible to install loose-lay, interlocking LVT systems over most smooth, dry, clean and hard existing smooth surfaces without the need for adhesives. Ideal for speedy refurbishments, loose-lay LVTs can keep offices open for business as usual for the maximum amount of time possible during installation.
Likewise, loose-lay compact, vinyl tile systems in attractive designs are ideal for offices. Designed for straightforward, economic fitting, they can be laid over ceramics and resin floors, thereby minimising subfloor preparation.
As loose-lay floorings can also easily be lifted, they are well suited to offices where reconfiguration may be likely. As the average length of an office lease is under 10 years, they can offer a flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditionally adhered floorings.
Innovative, design-orientated, vinyl flooring solutions are playing a pivotal part of creating office interiors that today’s specifiers, designers, employers and employees want and need to enhance and improve the day-to-day working environment.
Learn more about Gerflor solutions, ask for a free sample or contact us to speak to a specialist today by calling 01926 622 600, emailing email@example.com, or visiting gerflor.co.uk for the latest innovations.