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Workspace – the final frontier on the quest for a happy crew

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Workspace – the final frontier on the quest for a happy crew

When it comes to the look and feel of your workplace environment, would you boldly go where no-one’s ever gone before? Charting a course past the boring and mundane and into a different reality, for the good of your crew members?

“I’m giving it all she’s got Captain!”

The way your office space looks and importantly feels can have a big impact on employees who are seeing the same walls day in, day out. It can also help them feel welcomed, inspired and energised, and even boost their productivity.

But there’s even greater potential hiding amongst those paint tins and wall decals….

Your workspace could be a tool in an even bigger picture, helping to change perspectives, building positive engagement and generating a powerful feeling of connection.

Here we take a closer look at how a creative workspace environment could become a force for good and some of the organisations whose designs are out of this world!


What makes a great workplace environment?

The days of neglected, scruffy noticeboards; stained and squeaky swivel chairs; and battleship grey walls are gladly numbered. Not to mention the token pots plants often found sitting miserably in the corner.

With a little thought and creativity, there’s plenty that can be done to make a workspace an inspiring place, where all elements beautifully combine to create somewhere that’s positive, inspiring and productive.

Firstly, a great workplace needs to provide an environment that enables staff to do their job – that’s why they’re there after all! It must work for the people using it.

It should reinforce the organisation’s values and culture and encourage positive working practices. It should also reflect the brand look and feel.

Importantly, it needs to be somewhere people like to be!

Connection is the key here. Generating a connection to each other, a connection to the brand, and a connection to the essence of the organisation.


Workspaces that are out of this world

Google – captain of personality

Google is well known for having created some of the coolest office spaces in the world. Importantly, the design elements are an exact reflection of the company’s personality and ethos – being young, vibrant and playful.

Take a peek

Ok, so we can’t all have a space like Google – and most of us don’t have the budget to do so either – but we can take a leaf out of their book and learn from the way they’ve been bold in using colour, furniture and wall graphics.


Sky – commander of connections

The team from Alive were lucky enough to visit the Sky Campus in London, where we were blown away with what we saw.

On entering the building, your eye is drawn to a 100m-long ‘high street’ and upwards to a glazed box on the first floor that overhangs the atrium. That’s where Sky News is broadcast from 6am-9pm every weekday.

What this does is form a very visual connection between the ‘end product’ and why everyone is doing what they’re doing – so cementing a sense of shared purpose.

Sky has achieved a clear connection for employees between their day job, whatever that may be, and the programmes that are being produced. And that’s powerful.

Take a look for yourself

The designers have made great use of the space, treating each area differently, but ensuring there’s a natural connection and flow throughout the whole building.


Dammit, Jim!

And then, there’s how not to do it… 

Just stick a logo up, it’ll be fine!

One of the most common traps organisations can fall into is treating the design of their workplace environment in the same way as they might a corporate brochure.

For example, covering all the walls in the brand colours, sticking the company logo all over the place and adding the values and mission statement wherever there may be space.

But overloading on branding – even when combined with chucking in a token ping-pong table or X-box – is unlikely to achieve much. A successful workplace environment has genuine depth. Everything happens for a reason.

You need to start by considering the values and culture that underpins your organisation. How might the physical environment be designed to reflect these?

5 steps to putting your mark on a workspace

  1. Do some reconnaissance missions

Think about other workplace environments you’ve been in – what worked and why? What stood out for you? Encourage employees to share things they have seen too.  

  1. Ask your employees

Find out what they want and need. Spend time observing their behaviour and gathering feedback about what stands in the way. Identify which areas may be blocking the creative process and what would help to make the office more inspiring. That way, you’ll also be getting buy-in from the start, as employees help to shape and develop their own working environment.

  1. Get in the zone

Creating dedicated zones for different types of activities can be really effective. Think about spaces to work solo, collaborate, brainstorm or have more formal meetings. Include areas for colleagues to share thoughts on projects they’re working on while interacting in a natural, relaxed environment. Remember, simply having an open-plan office is not the answer to getting team members to interact and collaborate.

  1. Space identity

Differentiate your different zones using creative design to facilitate and reflect the various activities your employees will be using them for. For example, brainstorming areas could have comfy chairs and scatter cushions, inspiring wall graphics and clever lighting. For the zone you are in, think about how you might enhance the experience for its particular purpose.

  1. Get colour smart

Colour can play a key part in creating a productive environment. This doesn’t mean you have to paint the walls in your brand colours and plaster them in your mission statement. Get creative and don’t forget your secondary palette Think about wall graphics and clever features that truly reflect your organisation’s culture and personality.


Making a connection

If you’re serious about turning your workplace into a great place, then we dare you to be brave! Get your workplace environment working as hard for you as your team members already do.

If you’re asking your people to buy into and live and breathe your company values, then developing a workplace environment that physically and visually embodies those messages, is key. Anything else would simply be highly illogical. 

So…second star to the right — and straight on ’til morning!

By Amy Archer, Creative Leopard for Alive!


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Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

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Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

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Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

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Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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