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Focus zones are essential for IBM employees to absorb, develop and refine ideas. The requirements and size of Focus zones may be different based on the needs of the IBM workforce population. For example, research teams work differently than sales and marketing groups. The configurations below are designed to meet a variety of focus workstyles for IBM employees.


Signature moments

Working within an open workplace floor plan requires a variety of Focus zones in addition to a typical workstation. Our toolkit includes library tables, focus rooms, phone booths, quiet cars and libraries, plus enclosed offices for executives in Band A and above. The proximity to natural light and dynamic brand elements keeps our Focus zones active and vibrant.

Finish palette
Focus zones should remain neutral in material palette and finishes, reserving color expression for brand identity elements and artwork. Warm wood, contrasted with concrete floors, creates hierarchy within the interior architecture. Carpet and felt ceiling systems mitigate sound pollution.
focus zone finish palette

Color strategy
While a spectrum of color is encouraged for Connect and Collaborate zones, we use a more restrained finish palette for our Focus zones. Accent colors can be used with environmental graphics and signage or with custom art installations.
focus zone color strategy includes accent color on art
focus zone color strategy is muted
focus zone color strategy is quiet
focus zone color strategy is quiet

Brand expression

Environmental graphics and signage can be executed on feature walls within Focus zones. These surfaces should anchor the open floor plan with clear sight lines for maximized visibility. Our IBM patent wall, IBM Plex® collage or various supergraphics can be selected to best complement the surrounding architecture and design.

Site-specific art installations can also support a localized sense of culture. Artists should be chosen from the local region and selected in collaboration with the IBM Global Real Estate and IBM Brand Design teams. Learn more about brand expression.

brand expression on focus zone wall
brand expression on wayfinding sights
brand expression on signage
brand expression on art wall mural
brand expression in rebus pattern
brand expression on wood wall art
brand expression in hallway


A variety of desking configurations may be used in Focus zones. The recommended size for sit-stand desks is 30″ x 60″ or a minimum of 24″ x 48″. Spine height shouldn’t exceed 42″ above the finished floor. If non-adjustable desks must be used, IHS approval is required and separate, shared standing-height tables must be provided in accessible locations. Pedestals aren’t permitted for movable desk solutions or with 24″ x 48″ desks. Movable work desks invite configuration options, and may be placed in clusters of 4–8 depending on work needs. Workstations should be equipped with ergonomic task chairs. Mobile whiteboards should be in close proximity for working sessions.

Focus zone alternatives, such as the library or a quiet car, may use table lamps to evoke a sense of hospitality and intimacy. Bookshelves can provide a visual and acoustic barrier.

Focus zone desk area example
focus zone standing desk example
focus zone desk example
focus zone chair example
focus zone bookcase example
focus zone chair examples

Flooring and ceiling

A neutral carpet tile is recommended for Focus zones to help mitigate sound. When possible, open ceilings are recommended. Ductwork, sprinkler pipes and the underside of decks should be painted white or gray. Focus zones should use lensed linear pendant lighting in a combination of direct and ambient applications. Fixture layout should be based on the 2x Grid and be rhythmic in orientation. Variations in layout are permissible as long as foot-candle requirements are met at the work surface.

Table lamps should be incorporated at the work surface to cue a quiet atmosphere. Occupancy sensors may be used for lighting control as needed. Layout and design should be coordinated with the lighting consultant.

focus zone floor and ceiling examples
focus zone flooring example
focus zone carpet flooring example
focus zone floor and ceiling example
focus zone ceiling examples