A well-designed office can pay big dividends
The offices in which we work do not merely serve as a backdrop upon which we complete our daily tasks — they can play a massive part in how productive and efficient we are. With a Gallup poll revealing that more than half of workers admitted to being disengaged at work, better office spaces could make a huge difference.
However, engagement won’t be the only benefit that comes from a redesigned office. For one thing, innovative design helps use space better. Shifting modular furniture around can unblock natural light sources, which will brighten the office and make it feel fresher. Better design makes employees more productive, too — working amid a beautiful space will boost inspiration. Finally, redesigned offices often provide more collaborative spaces than before. Beyond conference rooms, a new workplace will have clusters of chairs and communal worktops so everyone can gather, talk, and produce something new.
That all sounds great, of course — but creating such a vibe requires a bit of elbow grease. Here are four tips for designing this type of space:
1. Let Them Move
Employees want options when it comes to office furniture. One of the top features they request are sit-stand desks, which allow them to work on their feet or in a chair, thus promoting movement during the day.
You can do them one better by setting up a floorplan that inspires movement. Rather than clustering everyone together, spread desks and offices apart so they have to walk to see and talk to one another. These short strolls will get the blood flowing, which boosts energy and productivity. Taking breaks has long been shown to do just that — giving employees a chance for a mental break as they walk to a colleague’s office or a far-off conference room will only refresh them.
Of course, promoting a more collaborative environment in which staffers feel welcome to get up, walk around and chat about work-related issues starts with their higher-ups. A more relaxed company culture will keep employees on their toes — in the literal sense, anyway.
2. Don’t Settle for Traditional Office Tones or Lines
Let’s face it: Most workplaces come with less-than-inspiring decor and color schemes, and it somehow looks even worse beneath a cold fluorescent light. So, spruce things up with a bit of color. You can paint the walls a more pigmented hue, hang colorful artwork or both. Everyone who works near the art will gaze upon it and let it inspire a bit of creativity within them. When the art you’ve chosen starts to feel dull or stale, swap it out for a new design. It’ll be worth your money to have inspiring new shades, patterns and messages on the walls.
Don’t stop with just the color scheme when improving an office, though. Be sure to reorganize desks and seating to avoid the stark, straight lines most offices have. On top of that, choose pieces that can easily be shifted and swapped as teams reshape — your office setup can change as you figure out what seating arrangement works best.
3. Make Health a Priority
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration makes employee protection its mission. As such, it has strict regulations in place to ensure a workplace serves its staff well — it even dictates how sanitary and safe an office bathroom has to be. For example, they require business owners to provide ADA compliant facilities. However, some companies have implemented healthy practices beyond what OSHA requires of them, and they have noted that their team has become more efficient and productive along the way.
For starters, the aforementioned sitting-and-standing desks help staffers reduce the time they spend sitting all day, a practice that has adverse effects on a person’s health. Allowing and encouraging breaks, as well as walking meetings and conversations, can keep the blood flowing, too.
Some offices keep their staff energized by stocking the kitchen with a range of healthy snacks, all of which are free to peckish employees. To that end, bigger companies even have in-house cafes where they serve meals — a light lunch will provide fuel, while heavier, unhealthy options can cause the mid-afternoon lull so many people experience. The more healthy additions you offer, the better, as employees avoid sickness and feel energized and productive because of them.
4. Bring in the Green
Just the sight of nature can improve a person’s productivity by 15 percent. A window to the outdoors, therefore, can inspire employees throughout the day. Letting in natural light will improve the look and feel of the office — we’ve already touched on how uninviting harsh overhead bulbs can be.
Of course, not every office building has green surroundings. You can still take advantage of the natural productivity boost nature provides by outfitting your office space with indoor plants. Plus, having greenery indoors adds a bit of visual interest and makes the whole office feel more comfortable. On top of that, plants can help filter and clean the air, and the mere presence of greenery has been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress, too. All of that will undoubtedly forge a better, more efficient workforce.
Make It Work
The office itself plays a big part in a company’s productivity. Don’t settle for the basic cubicle-and-conference-room setup you have now — play with the layout, colors, art and greenery to inspire creativity and hard work at every level.
Written by: Megan Ray Nichols, BOSS Contributor
Megan is a STEM writer and blogger at https://schooledbyscience.com/