Need a more creative workspace at your office? Cubicles just aren’t cutting it anymore.
Imagine showing up to work. You walk past the shiny metal slide in the entryway; through the brightly colored orange door in the neon green wall; past the bean-bag chairs and pinball machines in the glass meeting room; until you arrive at your workspace and desk (which is on wheels) in the middle of a large, open office with 50-plus other employees.
If this sounds familiar, then you might work for a company like Google or Amazon: companies that are investing more and more in initiatives to enhance creativity for their employees.
Somewhere along the line of modern business, managers and leaders found that a vital proponent of a successful business is creative and constantly changing perspectives within their respective markets.
Now, with the increase in technology-based enterprises, there seems to be an evolutionary shift in priorities for the modern workspace. Creativity is craved and catered to in the ever-expanding worldview of international companies.
How do businesses achieve this cultural shift? What are some of the setbacks to prioritizing innovation over productivity?
Many offices are finding that comfortable and creative spaces help foster strong company culture and are an integral part of building team camaraderie. Not only this, but they are actively helping employees stay motivated and interested in their work.
As Ohio University suggests, allowing employees the opportunity to play on the job—such as with video games or activities—gives them creative freedom and a much needed mental break from the constant mediocrity of office tasks.
Of course, allowing pets in the office can do that as well.
What other ways can companies help the motivation of their employees through a creative workspace? Here are some of the best options for the modern office.
Research has shown that sitting for eight or more hours a day can be taxing on your back and on your mortality. Due to this, office managers have begun to favor the standing desk as an alternative for the typical office setup.
It’s true that standing desks can help combat issues associated with back pain, weight gain, and heart health. They are considerably more comfortable than sitting down all day, and can help keep employees energized with their attention on their task. Yet, standing desks come with their own health risks; mainly ankle swelling, knee pain, and circulation.
The tradeoffs are manageable, however, with an adjustable “sitting to standing desk” that allows your employees the option of both.
Some options can be installed on pre-existing desks and are considerably cheaper than the electronic desks. There are a plethora of standing desks on the market, but be sure to keep an eye out on the adjustable options. Healthy employees in the workspace are important!
Standing desks play directly into the importance of a wellness-centered work structure. Wellness is more than exercise, though, and workplace ergonomics are extremely impactful on company health.
Ergonomic plans focus on items that improve posture, prevent awkward positions, and emphasize safety. For example, businesses that have a “box lifting” policy for employees understand that ergonomics are important for the health and structure of the back. Similarly, ergonomic keyboards help the joints of the wrist, hand, and arms.
When constructing your office furniture for the workspace, be sure to take ergonomics into account. Look for back rests, foot stools, and office equipment that works with the body’s joints and curves. Providing joint relief for your employees will help them work longer and stay healthier.
Variety in life keeps things interesting. The same goes for the office.
Offering couches, chairs, bean bags, or pillows will help employees feel comfortable in a normally sterile office setting. Some workers don’t mind sitting at their desk all day, but some need the sweet relief of a lounge on the couch while on their laptop. Allow them the space to do just that, and they will not only feel more relaxed, but they might be more motivated to get out of bed in the morning.
Some great options for workspace furniture can always be found at Ikea Business for a reasonable price, but check your local furniture outlets for the best options.
An Engaging Break Room
Break rooms are where offices like Google, Amazon, or others really shine. Some of these companies have even introduced video games into the office as a form of relaxation.
Some high level executives might see this as a waste of precious time for their employees, but employees see it as a great chance to recharge, relax, and bond with coworkers that they might not normally interact with in the office.
The idea of incorporating fun objects and activities into an office break room is gaining attention fast, as it has shown to work well as both a stress reducer and work motivator.
Creating an engaging break room gives many employees the option to mentally (and physically) “clock out” for a short time. It helps them recharge and continue to develop their creative juices so they can return to work full of ideas. Video games may not be a viable option for everyone, but books, board games, art supplies, and ball pits could provide a similar mental release for hardworking employees.
Let the Light In
Bright and open offices offer some surprising advantages to employees. In a recent collaborative international study, researchers found that windows in a workspace not only improve the mood of employees, but directly affect the amount and quality of sleep they receive on a daily basis. It also directly impacts an employee’s level of productivity.
For some employees, though, light can be more of a distraction than a benefit. This is especially true for coders or programmers. Yet, screens that reduce glare and shades can always help mitigate the distraction of light on the screen without losing the benefits of light for employees.
No matter what your office specialty, be sure to let the light in. Employees will benefit from the sunlight and the office will feel more open and inviting to anyone that comes by.
Breathe Easier with Green Air
Plants can do wonders to improve office morale and employee health. They are shown to reduce stress and improve internal air quality; an important benefit for those in the heart of smog-city.
NASA began a study in 1989 that looked at the effectiveness of certain plant species in removing toxins from the air. The study is ongoing, but their current list can be viewed on Wikipedia to give you some ideas on what plants you can bring into the office.
Amazon surprisingly ships plants for a reasonable price, and offers free shipping for delicate plants through Amazon Prime. Of course, supporting your local greenhouses or nurseries is always a great option, but check out the online realm during the winter off-season as an alternative.
Whiteboard walls aren’t just for the classroom: they can be extremely effective in brainstorming activities in a workspace as well.
Studies have shown that paper is still a more powerful tool than computers when it comes to reading and comprehension, so allow whiteboards to be an option for brainstorming sessions.
Additionally, “brainwriting”—or the process of writing down ideas and allowing others to build off of that initial idea—is known to be especially powerful in collaborating with large groups. Often times the more introverted employees don’t have a chance to speak, so “brainwriting” gives them an option to voice their opinion or share their idea.
Whiteboard paint or coating is also an option, and many offices have painted their entire building to act as a giant whiteboard for the team. Starbucks, Zappos, and Google have all used the company ReMARKable Coating, but other options are also available at The Home Depot and online.
One of the major downsides of having an open office space is the constant chatter of employees. For some, it’s an opportunity to brainstorm, create connections, or just vocalize their thoughts. But for those listening in, it can be extremely distracting. In fact, the talkative employee is considered the biggest distractor in a workplace setting, as was discovered in an office survey with a New Jersey HR and talent company, Lee Hecht Harrison.
So what is an office manager to do? The best option might be to offer a quiet space for your employees—a workspace away from the chatter where employees are explicitly told not to talk.
For those employees that need complete silence, or are having a hard time concentrating; offering a “quiet room” will help them stay productive. Fill the room with more plants and comfy chairs, and your introverted employees might never want to leave.
If your office doesn’t have the space for a room dedicated to complete silence, then offer an alternative such as noise reducing or canceling headphones. PC Magazine put together a list of some of the best pairs this year complete with a guide on how to shop for the best options.
Apps for Flexibility
Flexibility is a booming trend in the business industry. As technology continues to advance, having remote employees is an increasingly easier possibility for many offices.
Remote work is especially useful in cases of employee injury, minor colds, or disability. Giving employees the option to stay home instead of working in the office can be both motivating and a stress reliever for workers of all sorts.
As an office manager, trust and delegation are important aspects to keep in mind for remote employees. Luckily, apps exist that can help many managers keep track of their employee’s work, and will help employees stay motivated, on task, and feeling like they’re sitting at their office desk.