How your office layout can boost your business
The refurbishment of your workspace is a major undertaking and a substantial investment, so you want to get it right first time with the best design to suit your business. The smartest firms will understand that good office design boosts employee collaboration, productivity, satisfaction and engagement. But what is good office design?
If an office comprises of crowded spaces that evolved without thought or design, where employees are sat on uncomfortable chairs, with glaring fluorescent lights, little natural daylight and no space to swing a lever arch file, then these aren’t going to be very productive or happy employees. If teams have to book out a dark and dingy side office to meet because there’s no central, easy and accessible place to collaborate, then that doesn’t make for good team work, and you probably won’t see too much in the way of creative business development or forward thinking.
Now imagine the alternative – a large cool and bright, modern open space with large windows letting in natural daylight, with a combination of break-out areas for spontaneous gatherings and fruitful teamwork, and private, sound-proofed cubicles for quiet contemplation and concentration.
Design for collaboration
Open office layouts have been popular for a few decades now, mainly due to the feeling of employee closeness that an open-plan design cultivates, and the means for employees to collaborate more easily. But open layout means more than having no walls; it means differentiating between individual work zones and communal areas where people can gather to discuss work (and play). A communal area that uses multi-purpose furniture, such as booth seating or large tables, and is properly lit with good connectivity can be a great output-boosting space for quick and informal meet ups.
Design for productivity
But, just as employees need a place to come together to discuss and collaborate, they also need somewhere quieter for deep work. Sometimes the ability to concentrate and focus is vital to getting a task done. In an open office, with no walls to divide spaces, noise levels will be harsh and disruptive for someone who’s trying to concentrate. This can quickly have a detrimental effect on their productivity, engagement, performance and stress levels.
A quiet area is away from the activity and bustle of the open-plan area. Consider a small room or rooms (with plenty of natural light), office pods, or dividers to separate an area without closing it up altogether. Glass screens make good dividers, reducing the noise, without blocking the light or creating a closed-off area. Whatever works for your office and your environment – the key to productivity is providing a tranquil place for employees to think in a busy office.
Design for well-being
The benefits of employees having a restful break away from their desk cannot be overstated. Given a space to relax – to relieve eyestrain from staring at a screen or neck tension for sitting for too long, employees are revitalized and work more productively.
Science has shown us recently that sitting down is the new smoking. And by giving employees free access to relaxation areas, means they are likely to get up and move around frequently. This helps to reduce work absences through back problems – a leading cause of work sick days.
Another important aspect of wellbeing is to ensure plentiful access to natural light. Proximity to large unobstructed windows will keep employees awake and alert.
How does your business work?
It’s a big decision to make – ensuring the right layout of your office to ensure optimum employee productivity and collaboration. If you’re having trouble understanding what changes you need to make, then start with these questions:
- What type of work does your business do? Is this likely to change or evolve in the next 5 years?
- What is the ratio of collaborative to quiet work?
- Does your office culture encourage spontaneous collaboration?
- To what extent do you value flexibility and choice over how work gets done?
- What current workplace behaviors would you like to change?
- How do you currently support work productivity? What works?
- How do you want visitors to perceive you when they enter your space?
There are numerous ways to design and plan an office refurbishment. An office space that doesn’t consider the work patterns of its employees is risking their productivity, mental health and morale. But an office environment that offers a variety of work stations for employees to choose the optimum environment for his or her best work facilitates a much more productive business. Identify the everyday work pattern of your employees, and you can find that sweet spot.