How To Make Your Office Space More Wonderful

The benefits of a harmonious office space are numerous: whether it’s natural light giving an 84% drop in eyestrains, headaches and blurred vision, or 65% of UK workers believing a better designed office would improve their productivity. PLATF9RM build our spaces to inspire connections, community and a healthy working culture. (We also like pretty design, natch.) But how can other offices do the same? We called two local specialists to find out current office and workspace trends, and get some simple tips for making yours look wonderful.


Blurred Lines

“The biggest change in the marketplace is awareness,” says Dave Blood, of Love Your Workspace and Posture People. “Wellbeing is very much the recent buzzword – whether it’s physical or mental health.” This is due to increased societal discourse around these issues, but also down to working practices evolving and updating quicker than your Mac’s operating system.

“A lot of people aren’t stationary at their desk anymore – they’ll be floating around in different places and working how they want. It’s called activity-based working,” says Chris Sparham of Rap Interiors. This is helping to blur the lines between work and play, with breakout areas, sofas, televisions and beer fridges often part of the mise-en-scene in the modern office. “It’s about making the space a little more homely,” says Chris.

Dave Blood,  Love Your Workspace

Dave Blood, Love Your Workspace

Chris Sparham,  Rap Interiors

Chris Sparham, Rap Interiors

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Work This Space

Higher demands for space mixed with a difficult financial climate have created a unique set of challenges for those in the business of making offices wonderful. “Clients want their spaces to work harder,’ says Dave Blood. “One thing we’re often seeing is companies reducing desk sizes to avoid a move. So a company might fit 30 people into an area previously for 20, but they also want to free up space for soft-seating breakout areas or high table with stalls for people to eat lunch.

What about building a mini pool table – will this classic tech company trope erect a mighty spike in employee wellbeing? “2009 to 2010 was when we saw the start of a shift in what people wanted from their workspace,” says Dave Blood. “Employers were chucking in table tennis tables and suddenly they were apparently a forward-thinking employee with this funky office. Now it’s about allocating space that’s going to be used for the different ways people want to work.

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Feeling Ergonomic

According to 2016 research by the Work Foundation, musculoskeletal problems accounted for 9.5millon UK sick days in 2015/14 – approximately 40% of all work-related ill health. Increased knowledge is leading us to a new trend of investment in ergonomic furniture.

“Employers have developed an understanding of the benefits of people being set up correctly and comfortable in the workplace,” says Dave Blood. “It’s now seen as an investment in staff rather than pure expense. You get a return because the employee takes less time off due to back problems, or they stay for longer so there’s less recruitment costs. Or maybe they’re just more productive because they’re not experiencing discomfort at their workstation.”


Plants, Wonderful Plants

Plants can dial-up the atmosphere of a dreary office and, according to this 2014 study, can increase productivity by 15%. They’ll also purify the air and make sure we’re all sucking in more oxygen, thus helping our alertness.

“It’s bringing the outside in,” says Chris Sparham. The idea has its roots in the biophilia which, broadly, is a hypothesis that humans have an innate connection with nature. So an office with some blooming aglaonemas or philodendrons will make us all feel content and more motivated to make that cold call at 4pm on Friday afternoon. “In general, plants will help clear the air and make employees feel happier,” says Chris.

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Play It Soft

When it comes to the colour and furnishings, the chrome and black leather of offices past seems as dated as the gender pay gap. “We’re very much seeing a softening of colours,” says Dave Blood. “There’s a much stronger blurring between the lines of the furniture you have in your home or your office. “

Dave says wood is coming back – for sustainability reasons but also to enhance the biophilic and homely appeal of spaces. “It’s partly bringing the outside in, but those old classic chrome sofa legs create a harsh, corporate look. It’s something that’s just designed to sit in an office, rather than somewhere you’d choose to spend your time.”

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Acoustic-tic-tic-tic Boom

2011 study in the British Journal of Psychology said that “speech and office noise can disrupt performance on memory for prose and mental arithmetic tasks”.

“Acoustics is our biggest growth area in the last 12 months,” says Dave Blood. “It’s a by-product of the recent workplace trends.” Dave says that he’s going into a lot of spaces to literally “suck out” the sound of that nice-but-noisey recruitment guy at the end of your table.

He uses noise cancelling software that gets tuned to the office’s unique sonics, and emits a sound compared to the barely audible hum of air-conditioning. “You might have a relatively quiet office and perhaps one or two loud people – you need to bring the background noise up so you can’t hear them, otherwise you will bring your own volume up as compensation,” Dave says.

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9 Alternative Ways To Celebrate Pride

 

Pride is woven into Brighton’s identity as tightly as the Palace Pier, Brighton Rock and seagulls. Each year approximately 400,000 people descend for a weekend of parades and parties as we celebrate the past, present and future of the world’s LGBT community.

There are hubs where the Pride action goes down and for the outsider it can feel like, if you’re not partying at St James’ Street or Preston Park, you’re not doing it right. But there’s so much happening across the city, so here’s our alternative guide to Pride 2019.


DIY Pride – Queen’s Park

DIY Pride is now in its third year and was conceived for those who believe Pride has deviated too far from its radical, politicised, roots. A chilled, family friendly event with no focus on dressing or impressing, it’s perfect for those who want to feel pride without the pressure.

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Open Day at Brighton Dome

Brighton Dome is offering a chance to escape the crowds with face painting, badge making, craft workshops and a low sensory area. Taking place in the cafe bar and mezzanine, it’s an ideal space for anyone that finds panic in the parades.

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David Hoyle & Friends: The Pride At The End Of The World

In a time where everyone’s looking for a tribe, David Hoyle is refreshingly tricky to pigeonhole. Avant-garde, post-drag and post-gender, this master of cabaret promises a shfaceow – aided by friends – that will be as raw as it is humane.

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Almighty Brighty’s PRIDE Community Clean-up

More than 100 tonnes of waste were reportedly collected after 2018’s Brighton Pride and anyone who’s visited the beach on Sunday morning will testify to it being a rueful sight. Lush, in conjunction with Boho Gelato and PLATF9RM faves Bird & Blend Tea Co., are organising a community clean-up. Swing by the shop from 7am to pick up litter pickers and bags; instore you will find workshops and music, along with free drinks and ice cream. 

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Pride On The Beach at Bison Beach Bar / Sea Lanes

Bison’s beach bar at Sea Lanes is one of this year’s seafront secrets. Near Concorde 2 on Madeira Drive, it’s far enough away from the hoards to not get invaded the second the sun comes out. Hove’s 7Bone will have their burger truck in residence over Pride weekend; between them and Bison, they’ll be donating 50p from each burger and 25p from each pint to Brighton charity, Allsorts Youth.

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Kylie Silent Disco - i360

Silence isn’t a virtue normally associated with Pride or children but parents can buck the trend with this kids’ silent disco on the boarding deck of the i360. Fear not: adults are welcome to grab a headset for a singalong of ‘Old Town Road’ as well.

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Volunteer!

One of the joys of Pride is the light shone on Brighton’s many charities and socially conscious organisations. With parades to attend, they
will be all be stretched during this time so extremely welcome of the offer for some support. Why not speak to PLATF9RM chosen charity, Clocktower Sanctuary?

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Pride Brunch Life Drawing Class @ The Walrus


Many Brightonites will start their Pride Saturday with a solid breakfast and cocktails. The Walrus is offering the chance to continue that tradition whilst partaking in some life drawing. Draw a nude, chow down on a Full English (no sausage jokes, please) and welcome the day with a mimosa. Pride has arrived.

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Wait until ‘locals day’ on Sunday

There is beauty in the madness of Pride. There can also be stress and crowd anxiety, not to mention gently simmering frustration at our streets being used as public nightclubs/toilets/bedrooms. If you like your Pride dialled down several notches, hit the streets on Sunday when the sound systems still play but the crowds have returned home.

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For Pride this year, PLATF9RM is honoured to raise money for the Allsorts Youth Project. Their work listens to, supports & connects children & young people under 26 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or unsure (LGBTU) of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

We are proud to support our LGBTQAI+ community and pleased that we live in a city that champions all the beautiful diversity that makes our city thrive. Any support to this is greatly appreciated. 

Member of the Week - Emily Mounsey

On your marks, get set, BAKE ...Introducing Emily Mounsey founder of Big Spoon, a company created to bring out the best baker in all of us. Her easy-to-do cake kits allow baking novices to make show-stopping desserts for any occasion.


Hello Emily. So it seems baking has become a bit of a cultural obsession over the last few years. How does Big Spoon appeal to wannabe bakers out there?

I have recipes passed down from my Nonnie (grandma), which I still use today but baking has evolved and there are so many new trends and styles to try and as a result there are loads of wannabe bakers out there! Who can blame them? Big Spoon appeals to keen bakers but also the novices who might not know where to start with a cake...which is why I provide all of the equipment you need. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get involved no matter your level of skill.

Big Spoon’s ethos is that anyone can bake amazing cakes; your cake kits include lions, unicorns and pineapples - oh my! Where did the idea of cake kits stem from?

The idea actually came from my old boss...she said there was so much pressure to create a show stopping cake for her little one’s birthday parties. She wanted me to make the decorations for her, so I decided to go the whole hog and create an entire kit!

Baking seems to be everywhere with The Great British Bake Off to Nailed It all over our screens, where do you see Big Spoon heading in the future?

I am so happy GBBO is back! I have grand plans for Big Spoon’s future, but in the immediate future there will be a handful of new kits appearing with a completely different look. I have been working on a collaboration with a company in Portslade...all will be revealed soon!

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You recently did a PLATF9RM Learns: To Decorate Sugar Cookies with Big Spoon. How was that experience for you working and teaching fellow members?

I absolutely loved it! I was over the moon to be asked to do a Learns session, and even more excited when I realised it was National Burger Day. It was so much fun decorating burger and fries cookies, and everyone had their own interpretations, including a triple burger! It was amazing meeting other members and having an hour away from our computers. Baking can be really therapeutic!

So you joined the PLATF9RM Community in March. How has it been for you and has it helped to grow your business?

I couldn’t wait to join! I was on the waiting list ready for The Grounds to open and it did not disappoint. It gave me a real focus and structure as I had starting a business very lonely. I joined in March, became super productive and launched Big Spoon in May. I honestly could not have done it without this place.

Have there been any surprises during your time at PLATF9RM so far?

The PLATF9RM members and staff are all so happy to share their skills, it really is amazing. I have definitely learnt a lot and made friends along the way. My unexpected surprise was being asked to supply treats to The Grounds...you can now find my Nonnie’s flapjacks (among other things) in the cafe!

You studied Patisserie at Leith’s School of Food and Wine in 2018. Was cooking something you always wanted to do for work or were you planning on doing something completely different?

I was TERRIBLE at baking! I owe a lot to the Hummingbird Bakery cookbooks, they taught me the basics and transformed by cakes from crispy looking biscuits to big fluffy ones! I was working in the Beauty industry but baking on the side for friends and family. It got to the point that I was getting a lot of requests so I applied to the council for a food hygiene rating so I could start to sell my cakes, that’s when I knew I wanted to bake full time. When the opportunity arose for me to study at Leith’s, I grabbed it and it was one of the best things I have ever done.

What drew you to living and working in Brighton?

I am from Yorkshire so moving to Brighton was a big deal for me! I was living in the countryside without a regular bus or a corner shop, and I’ll be honest, cities scared me! But Brighton doesn’t feel like a city at all, the people are amazing and it is so relaxed. When I first moved here I was commuting to London, which was terrifying, but Brighton felt like a great compromise. I have been here for almost 8 years now and I definitely consider it home, I don’t think I can ever move away from the sea now.



Last question; What would be the cake of your dreams?

The cake of my dreams would be made by Katherine Sabbath...look at her Instagram...you will be obsessed. Raspberry sponge, layered with passion fruit curd, covered in swiss meringue buttercream and decorated with her coloured white chocolate studs. Delicious!

Thank you so much Emily

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

9 Minutes With - Emilie Lashmar

Emilie Lashmar's passion, creativity and infectious enthusiasm for making work wonderful has earned her the title of Creative Director at PLATF9RM. Her days are hectic and full of surprises, but there’s absolutely no doubt that Emilie lives and loves her job. We caught up with her to find out why.


Emilie, you’ve been flying the PLATF9RM flag since we first opened the doors! Your role has evolved from Membership Manager through to being our Creative Director. What does your day to day look like?

My main goal at PLATF9RM is to Make Work Wonderful. I want us to provide an unmatched experience for our members. My role is really varied, which I love. I work across the entire business and running the day-to-day. I get to collaborate with our freelance members, our copywriter, our graphic designer and our social media team to make sure we stay true to our PLATF9RM brand. I’m also on our board, so there’s strategic activity to keep me busy too. I really enjoy making use of all of our different co-working areas throughout the week.

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Over the course of almost three years (!) at PLATF9RM you’ve given some of the fabulous Brighton Creatives the chance to shine. Which commission or collaboration are you most proud of?

I’m going to say our ‘Beer O’Clock’ beer!

You’ve seen all of our projects go from drawn plans to real-life which means you know every corner of PLATF9RM. Where’s your favourite place to work from?

It’s got to be The Grounds. I even had my very recent wedding reception there! I love the atmosphere, and the space is just gorgeous. It's a playground for business creative adults. So much light, greenery and colour. The 7m high ceilings provide real impact. I feel so fortunate to sit in a place Seb had envisioned for so long.


We want to open up The Grounds every evening and weekend and make it a real creative community hub with food, drink, music. I can't wait for our first weekend brunch!


If I really want to get my head down I’ll work in our PLATF9RM office at Tower Point, or the Library at Hove Town Hall. Meetings in the Penthouse are perfect for more creative thinking.

What’s your dream version of PLATF9RM?

Our Hove site, with our Brighton site on top and a few more floors in between, plus a rooftop bar! There would be a media floor with a podcasting room, gaming and screening facilities and a creche or nursery. Maybe there would be a dedicated games room, and hotel rooms or apartments to stay overnight in. It would be a whole coworking + living complex, perfect for work and play.

With almost 13 years of Brightonian life behind you (lucky), what is it that you love most about our city?

Perhaps it’s clichéd, but the people. There are so many kind, creative, brilliant people in this city. They’re closely followed by autumn sunsets on the beach.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I’ve been going to Berlin every year for over a decade. It always feels like returning to my spiritual home! I just got back from my last trip. We stayed at Michelberger, where I felt totally welcomed and part of something greater. I hope anyone coming into contact with PLATF9RM feels something similar.

Considering your love of music and going to gigs, I speak for all of the team when I say we were surprised when you went through a ‘Baby Shark’ phase. We’re pleased you’re over it now. What’s your go to album or song at the minute?

I was so late to the party on the Baby Shark thing! But I stand by it being a great song. Now I’m playing the album that Lana Del Rey released on 30 August on repeat.

What’s been your PLATF9RM highlight?

It has to be the Kickass Women event last March, which we hosted just after the opening of Hove Ground Floor. It felt really special to see such an inspirational event come to life in our brand new venue.

What do you bring to Make Work Wonderful?

I bring my whole self to work each and every day, and I champion an open and honest culture, where everyone feels heard and valued. I use creativity to problem solve and encourage others to do so too, and always aspire to lead with positivity, creating a fun and supportive space for the team.


Thank you so much for answering these questions Emilie!