Office parks are the new "it" places to work. They offer everything that a traditional office park has, in addition to plenty of space for employees to collaborate and innovate. That creativity in design is something that's becoming more important than ever as we face increasingly complex challenges like climate change and sustainability.

We need to separate our traditional viewpoints from the cement towers of older office park design and open our minds to innovative creations that foster a sense of collaboration and build community identity. Here are the key components of creating a sense of place in your office park:

Building Community Spaces

You can create a sense of community by providing spaces for people to meet and gather. These can be informal, like a coffee shop or cafeteria, or more formal, like an auditorium or conference room. But no matter what kind of space you choose, you want to be sure it fits the goals of your office park, has enough space for an audience, and provides the amenities you need for residents to succeed. As a side note, never forget the importance of good bathroom placement!

Prioritizing Accessibility

Accessibility should be a vital component of any office park design. Not only is it an essential factor in creating a sense of place, but it improves employee experience and enhances overall satisfaction with your workplace.

As part of this effort, some companies have begun prioritizing accessibility features like wheelchair ramps at entrances, elevators that are large enough for wheelchairs, accessible restrooms with wide doorways, designated parking spaces close to buildings, and even lower countertops in break rooms so that wheelchair users don't have trouble reaching them. There is a delicate balance between legal requirements and personalization that residents will appreciate.

Creating an Identity

Identifying your company's values and culture is an excellent place to start with office park design. What do you want employees to feel as soon as they walk into the building? Is it important that each department has its own identity, or are there specific spaces where everyone will congregate regardless of their role in the company?

This comes down to the various colors, materials, and design elements that support your overall feelings and goals as a business park. Not necessarily branding, but a way to self-identify the space so the surrounding community feels welcome and appreciated.

Incorporating Nature

Nature is an integral part of your employees' lives. It can help them feel refreshed, inspired, and renewed. Office parks that incorporate nature into their design create a sense of place for employees, which in turn leads to better collaboration and community.

Create outdoor spaces with plants and trees that provide shade and privacy. These areas should be located near buildings so people can easily walk between them if they want to take a break from working inside all day long.

If possible, include a fountain or pond in one area of the park so people can enjoy listening to its sound while they're taking breaks away from their desks. Even a tiny waterfall can make an excellent addition.

Providing Opportunities for Socializing

It's easy to overlook the importance of creating opportunities for socializing. After all, you're probably thinking about how to design your office park to accommodate its employees' needs. But if you don't consider how people will interact with each other at work, you might end up with a very isolated office park design that doesn't support collaboration or community building.

Extend the Design onto the Rest of the Property

The building is only part of the office park design. The rest of the property should also be designed to be a place that people want to spend time in, and can be used as a destination for events or social gatherings. You can do this by creating walkable paths through your property, including outdoor seating along them, and even adding decorative lighting or art installations along those paths.

Do not forget to focus on the roads, parking areas, and pathways where your visitors will travel the most. You want them to get a positive experience from the moment they arrive at your office park property.

Office parks can be a great place to work, but they need to be designed with balance in mind. They have the potential to be more than just places where people go each day. Instead, they can become communities that foster collaboration and productivity.

As long as you take the time to consider all the various features of office park design, you can have a beautiful space that people will enjoy for generations.