How right environment can foster creativity and productivity in your UAE workplace

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Considering that many of today’s office employees spend more time at work than at home, it’s important that working environments should be comfortable, efficient and inspiring places.

A well-designed office space can breathe life into an organisation by boosting creativity and output among employees and give the business credibility – all good news for a company’s bottom line.

“The new global economy continues to affect competitive advantage,” says Samer Mashal, the head of Abu Dhabi-based DVision Interiors. “The UAE is setting the trend of the global office design market, with companies keen to utilise creative space management solutions – new start-ups need to stand out by welcoming the latest designs, layouts and themes in office space.”

Whether it’s adding a few carefully-placed Philippe Starck chairs to the reception area or undertaking a complete interior design overhaul, there are numerous ways to revamp a workspace.

“Good office interior design brings together form and function to make the space inviting and aesthetically appealing, but also comfortable,” says Mr Mashal. “From the lighting, the furniture and the equipment to how it’s all positioned, everything needs to work in unison.”

But when is the right time for a company to commit to such as investment, bearing in mind capital may be needed for expansion and hiring staff? According to Mr Mashal, it’s during the preliminary planning stages.

“An initial investment strategy should be treated like a blueprint for all future investments. It’s important to take a step back and plan how you want to come across to your clients and consumers in your new office space. You should never consider money spent on office interior design as anything other than an investment.”

This was the approach taken by Nooruldeen A Agha, managing director of the Dubai-based branding and advertising firm Elephant Nation. Moving from Business Bay into rented space in Tecom’s Grosvenor Business Tower, the company’s new office has been transformed into a modern creative hub.

“We didn’t want standard office furniture or a corporate vibe – in fact nothing about this space is standard – instead, we have sofa beds, bright lights and vibrant colours. Now we have the flexibility to work in a creative space that makes us feel comfortable and inspired,” says Mr Agha. The result is a hip and dynamic-looking workplace, designed and built from scratch, with furniture sourced from outlets throughout the UAE as well as overseas.

Elsewhere on the office design spectrum is the law firm Al Kabban & Associates. With more than 22 years’ experience in the UAE, the practice outgrew its original space in Dubai’s Deira and recently purchased offices in Business Bay’s Prism Tower.

“Our old office was small for our growing numbers,” says operations manager Majid Al Kabban.

“We decided it was time to take the next step forward and create an environment that reflects our image, brand, experience, passion and commitment to our clients. Switching our location to Business Bay also puts us in the centre of the city’s business hub.”

Creating an inviting space was the main goal along with improving its overall functionality, continues Mr Al Kabban: “Legal consultants often work 12-hour days, therefore it’s crucial that the work environment is tailored to provide all the tools required to be creative in writing, handling and arguing a case.”

The acquisition, design and development of the new office took about 18 months to complete and has been time and money well spent: “The benefits have been tremendous,” reports Mr Al Kabban. “We have noticed an improvement in the attitude and overall productivity of our staff, an appreciation from our clients and an increase in the number of new, high-calibre clients visiting our firm.”

Careful thought was placed on the design of the office layout right down to the finer details of colour, texture, light and architectural features to enliven the work environment. The new office accommodates four meeting rooms to allow for a number of simultaneous client meetings, thereby reducing waiting times.

Other features include an increasingly tech-enabled working environment; clients are only allowed to access the reception, waiting areas and meeting rooms, with entry to certain offices restricted by advanced security including state-of-the-art CCTV cameras and fingerprint-controlled access doors.

In terms of running costs Mr Al Kabban admits the new office is significantly higher than what they were used to previously. “But as the saying goes: you get what you pay for. Quality has its price, and as long as we’re offering a quality service then we must surround ourselves with a quality environment.”

Despite many firms renting rather than purchasing office space, Mr Mashal says it still makes sense to invest in the interior: “When a company rents an office space they will have to redesign and do some sort of interior decoration anyway, so I believe it’s worth it and helps to represent your company in the best way possible.”

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