The job of a good office design is to ensure maximum productivity from your staff while also keeping them comfortable and happy as they work.
This does not mean going back to the 90s and organizing your employees into grey cubicles. Rather, it means striking a balance between privacy and light, while thinking about the best ways to keep them focussed and to create an environment conducive to creativity and great work.
Very often, the devil is in the detail. In this post, we’ll take a look at some simple changes you can make to your office layout that will improve workflow and output.
Air quality is something that a lot of managers and CEOs will overlook but that is absolutely fundamental to the health and effectiveness of your workforce. Here in the UK, we are considerably less likely to have air conditioning installed but that doesn’t mean we can’t consider things like air fresheners and humidifiers – aim to keep the humidity at around 30-50 percent to reduce dust and mold – as well as just keeping the windows a jar. Keeping the office generally clean will also make a big difference as it means less dust will circulate in the atmosphere.
If you do have air conditioning meanwhile, then make sure that your systems are well-maintained and regularly cleaned. This is just one way that you can improve the health of your staff by improving the layout and cleanliness of your office.
Bring in Some Green
Plants not only further contribute to better air quality but may even encourage creativity! Studies show us that the color green helps to make us more relaxed and therefore more creative and this is felt most strongly by adding plants to desks and windowsills.
It is thought that this effect is to do with our evolutionary psychology. In the wild, the color green would have signified that we were in an environment rich with natural resources and this would therefore have helped us to enter a ‘rest and digest’ state. Today, the effect is still felt and can help us stay calmer under pressure while also thinking in a more ‘out the box’ manner.
In fact, this Daily Mail article suggests that houseplants can make workers 40% more productive. So there you go!
It’s not necessarily a requirement that your office adhere to a minimalist design philosophy… but it usually is a good idea!
Minimal office layouts are advantageous in a number of different ways. For starters, they tend to feel larger and more spacious, which most people find more comforting and relaxing. At the same time, an absence of clutter will make it easier to stay organized and keep track of files, materials and tools. Apart from anything else, minimal layouts are easier to keep clean and tidy, which means that your staff will spend less time working in chaotic and disorganized environments. Don’t just think about the office design that looks the best when you first have it fitted: think about what will be the easiest to maintain and work in over time.
Comfort & Style
Although your office is obviously a place of work, you shouldn’t neglect to provide your staff with some quality, comfortable and stylish Office furniture to ensure not only are your staff able to work in comfort but you’re also jazzing the place up!
The recently launched Office Furniture London specialise in providing businesses with modern and vintage designer furniture, perfect for fitting out Offices. If you’re unable to find the right furniture for your office then you’ll likely want to call in the help of some experts, who will not only be able to source some high-quality, stylish items, but they’ll also know exactly how you should incorporate them into your current office design without affecting it’s atmosphere.
Thinking in ‘Zones’
Articles on kitchen remodelling will often discuss ‘work zones’. A work zone is a space in the kitchen where you’ll be in easy reach of multiple countertops, perhaps a utility such as the stove and maybe the sink. This means you can stand in one place and multitask without having to keep traipsing up and down the room.
The same thing can work well in an office too. Chances are that you will have clusters of employees from each department working together so think about what they need and make sure it’s in easy reach. Rather than having one printer and scanner in the middle of the room, give each group access to one that they can reach without walking far. The same goes for stationary and a filing system.
Likewise, if you’re creating workspaces that different members of staff can use, then you again need to ensure that they include all the essentials within easy reach.
You might think that adding places for your staff to hang out and chat would be counterproductive and lead to procrastination and people standing around shooting the breeze rather than working. In fact though, giving your staff places where they can interact is an important way to encourage collaboration between departments and even foster good ideas. In his excellent TED talk on ideation, Steven Johnson suggested that ideas don’t come in a flash but rather gestate over time – and that conversation and discussion is a crucial part of this process.
Apart from anything else, letting members of your team occasionally cross path is a good way to keep everyone on the same side and avoid convergence and divergence amongst departments and in-groups.
Speak to Your Staff
While these hacks can help to boost morale, creativity and productivity, it is important to recognize the individual differences within your team as well. Everyone is different and so what helps one person to work well will not necessarily help someone else.
This is why it’s important not to think in terms of simple ‘tricks’ that will help everyone to work better but rather to sit down and have discussions with your individual team members. What you will likely learn is that some of those team members prefer working privately, while others will prefer working in larger groups. Some members of staff will like their workspaces to be bright and spacious, while others will prefer to be in their own little bubble. Make sure you treat your team as individuals and design your office accordingly as far as possible. A great office design is often one that is designed democratically!