Office Design

Guest Blog: Create a Modern Feel For an Older Commercial Space

Holly Welles
September 18th, 2018

Finding the perfect space for your growing business is a challenge when inventory is low and demand is high. Out of the commercial properties in the United States, only 12 percent have been built since 2003 and more than 50 percent were built before 1980 so even if you do find a space, it’s likely going to be a little dated.



There are many benefits to revamping older commercial space into something modern and usable. The optics of an outdated building suggests the company isn’t doing well, even if you are. If you want prospective employees to see the benefits of your company, you must show them you understand the value of investing in modernized office space.

If your commercial space is due for a makeover , focus on upgrading the following components.

1. Update for Environmental Compliance

One way you can attract employees is by seeking out green certifications such as LEED or BCorp. Attaining this often requires updating for environmental compliance and going above and beyond to retrofit an older space with energy-efficient systems, including HVAC and plumbing.

However, small changes, such as energy-rated lighting, also have an impact on creating a green space that saves your company money on energy costs. Since older buildings are notoriously dim, adding lighting upgrades is a must.

If you’re on a tight budget, start by replacing current bulbs with LEDs to instantly brighten up the space and save on energy costs. You can save as much as 75 percent on energy costs with this simple solution. If the space is not well-lit, you may need to install track lighting or recessed lights throughout the building. To add natural light without changing the outside of the building much, consider adding skylights throughout or lengthening windows.

2. Restructure Workspaces

workspaces office design for modern feel

Depending on the initial purpose of the older commercial space, you may have one of two problems. First, the property may be one big, open warehouse-type space you’ll need to separate into zones. Or, the space may already be divided into chunky offices and boxy rooms that don’t suit your needs for movement among departments.

Today, more and more companies are looking at flexible workspace with moveable walls, open areas and plenty of common space for brainstorming and interaction with fellow employees. Think about the needs of your company — not only today, but in the future — when choosing how to revamp the space.

Look at unique features of the building. If the building was once a bank, can you use the vault as a meeting room or breakroom space? Can echo-prone, spacious rooms work for a modern office with the use of thoughtful rugs and ceiling panels? Instead of tearing out unique components, consider how you might better use them for your needs.

3. Show Character and Add Modern Office Perks

modern office design and older buildings

Sixty-one percent of workers want a workspace that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Showing off the character of an old building can mean keeping some of the original architectural features and personality of the original building.

At the same time, you need to add some of the more modern perks of working in an office, such as inviting break spaces and quiet rooms for naps or yoga. Don’t be afraid to add antique elements to your reception area and down hallways to add even more character to the building.

4. Choose Time-Saving and Space-Saving Software

If you plan to revamp an older commercial building into a cutting edge  office space, managing your occupancy ratio can be tricky. One way you can maximize your space and modernize the process is by using desk booking software. By adopting this type of workplace strategy your employees will have more flexibility and we all know flexibility and talent retention go hand in hand.

Employees can more easily navigate a modernized workspace with the help of mobile technology like Visual Directory, where resources, coworkers and open desks can be located quickly. Flexible environments have their benefits, but only if they are navigated efficiently.

Furthermore, collaborative tools can permit stronger communication among employees while reducing the need to disrupt workflow with unnecessary meetings. Explore available platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams to decide which work best for your company’s size and culture.  

Be sure to compare costs and figure out the exact needs for your space. Ultimately, using technology to improve workflow and desk bookings makes the transition to a modern setting as impactful as possible.

Modern Feel Combined With Nostalgia

The best designs offer all the modern conveniences while still keeping some of the nostalgic character of the old building. Remodeling an old building can seem a bit overwhelming at first, so don’t feel you have to make all the changes at one time. Focus on the most important safety features to start, such as wiring, roofing and plumbing, and then move to the aesthetics and usability of the space.

Photo Credits: The Creative ExchangeRose LamondUnsplash