Questions to Ask When Specifying Commercial Flooring for the Workplace
Flooring is a large part of any construction budget, yet often seems to get lost in the conversation. Discussing these five basic questions at the start of your next project will help focus your flooring selection and ensure you have the right design, performance and budget for your space.
Here are some important questions to consider asking before choosing the flooring for your office space:
What is the culture of the company?
The space should reflect the culture of the company. Employees – especially Millennials – are looking for their space to be authentic and not too contrived. It’s understandable that everyone gets excited about the tech start-up workspace that consists of playground slides and graffiti, but if this isn’t your culture, or isn’t what your customers and employees are expecting, then don’t force it. Your floor is one of the largest visible surfaces in your space, and it needs to reflect your brand. You can push the envelope a bit, but instead of the floor, use surfaces that can be easily changed, and that are less expensive to alter – like paint. Quiet and calm, bright and loud, luxurious, cost-focused, basic, eclectic – each of these can be communicated through the right flooring solution.
How will the space be used?
Be specific. A basic answer of “it’s an office” isn’t truly how it will be used. Will it be an open workspace or a series of offices and cubes? Will people have sit/stand desks, or will they all be seated? Is it a lively, communal space with ping pong tables or a quiet heads-down working think tank? Are you expecting a lot of people, foot traffic and coffee? Are you concerned about noise or sound level? Is it customer-facing where you want to portray a specific image, or is it back of house where you can pare down some features and benefits to keep within your budget? We realize the intent could change but be as detailed as possible to assist in finding the best flooring solution.
How long do you plan to stay in the space before you move or renovate?
This question really helps address two key attributes: performance and design. As with most product categories, flooring can also be broken down into good, better and best in terms of performance. If you’re looking at a short-term lease of five or so years with expectations of moving at the end of it, then it may not make sense to invest in products targeted on a 20-year life cycle. Similarly, if you are creating your company’s dream office and don’t have plans to move, then an investment in the highest performing flooring is a wise investment. On the design side of the equation, you may want to take less risk in color if you are looking for a long lifecycle. That 2017 trend color may look out of place in 2027. You can always find fantastic designs at almost any price point. Make sure to keep that renovation or relocation schedule top-of-mind as you go through the selection process.
How will people be entering?
It seems strange that a flooring company would be asking about doorways and entrances, but here’s why: if people are entering directly from the outside you will be exposed to very different soiling risks than if your space is inside a large building where people have walked through corridors and up stairways to get to you. If you open directly to the outdoors, make sure you use walk-off solutions at each entrance. This will capture the sand, dirt, salt and mud before it gets to your new flooring – ultimately extending its life and protecting your investment.
What is the cleaning schedule and budget and do you think either will be reduced in the future?
Be honest on this one. At first, most will say that the budget is set and dedicated funds will be available to cover all the appropriate cleaning for the life of the space. Then the excitement of the new workspace wears off and when cost savings initiatives kick in, the cleaning schedule or budget (or both!) gets reduced. The key decision here is color selection. That ultra-light colorway on the floor looks stunning when first installed, but regardless of how good the manufacturer is, we haven’t found a way to get the coffee to jump back into the cup. Spills happen. If you don’t think you’ll have the budget to keep that super-light color floor clean, it may be best to darken it up a bit.
Answering these questions up front will help you navigate through the tens of thousands of flooring options that exist and ensure your flooring exceeds your expectations. As always, we are here to help if you get stumped or want to talk through your options. Let us know how we can help!
Mark Oliver, Vice President of Workplace and Retail Segments
Using his expertise in identifying product portfolio gaps and finding creative solutions for growth, Mark works with various teams at Mohawk to better understand and react to shifting trends in workplace and retail. Since joining Mohawk in 2010, he has managed the carpet tile, woven and aviation businesses for the world’s largest flooring manufacturer, launching some of the latest innovations and solutions in those businesses. Mark previously held positions in product development and product management at Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach, Reebok and The Home Depot. Whether helping to introduce handbags, hardware or flooring, Mark has worked to bring innovative products to market that have shifted brands’ customer perception and become a foundation, and even a springboard, for growth.