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25 April 2017
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WE CAN LEARN FROM PUB DESIGN

Nigel Oseland is is founder of the Workplace Change Organisation and Workplace Unlimited
Nigel Oseland is is founder of the Workplace Change Organisation and Workplace Unlimited

11 April 2017 | Nigel Oseland


I’m training to be a beer sommelier and also part-own Haresfoot Brewery, so I receive regular updates on the industry’s activities from the Morning Advertiser – the pub trade newspaper. 


I was interested in a recent article, ‘Top pub interior design trends for 2017’. I have always thought that the pub offers so much more that can influence office design. 


Traditionally, pubs had several rooms – a public bar, lounge, family room, or snug. Each was differently arranged and furnished for different purposes. Pubs now tend to be open-plan yet they still offer a range of distinct spaces – stools at the bar or around a large ‘kitchen table’, or secluded nooks with semi-privacy created by screens. The lighting is also selected to enhance each type of space. Raised floor levels, mezzanines and balustrades create zones without partitioning the space. 


The Danish term hygge is gaining traction in workplace design. It refers to comfort and a warm fuzzy feeling. Hygge design can promote well-being, help to re-energise workers and foster social interaction. Pubs offer this and as well as a range of drinks and food, which along with open fireplaces supports our inclination to share.


I’ve had some of my most creative ideas down the pub. A relaxing eclectic social setting promotes behaviour quite different from that in the sterile corporate world. I know of a few organisations that offer a beer to their staff on a Friday afternoon. It’s usually a mix of education and socialising – and both knowledge sharing and social interaction help build trust – a prerequisite to collaboration. 


So it’s not surprising that co-working spaces like WeWork offer free beer to members. Co-working spaces are on the increase, but pubs have always provided such space. And co-working in pubs is more appropriate now that just drinking coffee in them is acceptable – and most offer free Wi-Fi. Just choose a nook or snug if you want to work solo or work in the more open areas to network.


Nigel Oseland is is founder of the Workplace Change Organisation and Workplace Unlimited