Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova.

Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova.

Imagine for a moment that you could rebuild your office to look however you wanted. What would you do?

That’s what the executives at Shutterstock – a photography, illustration and video marketplace – were tasked with last year as they planned their move to the Empire State Building in the heart of New York City.

Because Shutterstock appeals to creative-minded professionals, and those looking to improve on those skills, the office space needed to showcase and echo that creativity.

Turning two floors of that historic building into a creative workspace was no small undertaking. But the move can be seen as a microcosm of a larger transformation currently taking place in the Big Apple, with more members of the tech community, such as Etsy, Tumblr and Gilt calling the East Coast home.

Now that the logistical headache of moving has passed and everyone has settled in, a different vibe has come through. It’s hard to put into words the difference a well-designed office can make for workflow and communication, but the changes go far beyond the excitement of new digs.

Since our move, I’ve interviewed people across departments in the new space to find out how it has impacted their work. Here’s what I discovered.

Transparency matters

By now it’s a well-documented fact: Closed doors and empty walls can lead to feelings of isolation. If you want to preach transparency and collaboration, your office space should reflect those values.

Our new space was built with interior glass walls, and while part of that decision was aesthetically motivated, perhaps more importantly, those glass walls help to convey a culture of transparency.

No matter the company, people want to be noticed and to feel and stay connected. We’ve discovered that an open environment can achieve this effect simply and elegantly.

Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova.

Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova.

Keep things out in the open

Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova.

Photo by Bilyana Dimitrova.

Every company structures its hierarchy and workspace differently. What’s important to remember is that the two go hand in hand.

At Shutterstock, our teams view the openness of our new office as a motivating factor. It puts all of the conversations and collaboration on display, in the open.

Some people might assume an open concept office is an invitation for noise and disruption, but we have found the effect to be transformative: Instead of feeling isolated and keeping to themselves, by creating an intentionally open and collaborative physical environment, people feel empowered, visible and personally responsible for their work.

Lunch brings people together

Not every company can invest in a state-of-the-art cafeteria. That said, it’s worth considering how to foster an environment where people can choose to sit together, away from their desks, and grab a bite in peace.

It might seem like an afterthought, but we have found that communal leisure spaces make a huge difference. Pre-lunch conversations keep going, and a casual environment means ideas are shared more freely. On top of that, when we dine together, we grow closer to one another and we trust each other.

It’s a fact at every office, and outside of business, too. These well-used breaks, in rooms that encourage people to relax, can be the impetus to make the most of an afternoon at work.

Natural light inspires us

We changed the clocks a few weeks ago to extend the daytime. People prefer natural light. Letting natural light in through big windows will help your employees concentrate and be happier. No one likes working in a basement.

But there’s more to it than that. Windows to the outside world provide a constant reminder of life beyond these walls. It gives people the opportunity to look out, appreciate the view, and to dream.

This article was adapted from a blog post on the Shutterstock blog.