The office has become something of a contentious topic in recent months. Since the lockdown conditions of the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated that remote working was not only possible, but viable and productive, employee cohorts across the country have been divided on how to move forward. Remote working remains a popular provision for many, but there are many still that prefer the structure and regimen provided by an office environment.
Progressive companies are better-off catering to all, both to satisfy individual worker preferences and to keep pace with further societal developments. But for newer businesses started up during the pandemic, creating an office space is not quite as intuitive as for others. What might such a business consider when seeking to create a new working space for its staff?
Naturally, the employees should be the priority in any decision-making related to the office. This is not just for the sake of maintaining high productivity, nor for maintaining a safe working environment, important and legally necessary as that may be. This is also a morale issue, where poor decision-making could inspire higher staff turnover and a poorer industry reputation. To this end, layout decisions need to place positive results at the forefront, in terms of contentment and comfort as well as more direct KPIs.
Create Communal Spaces
Communal spaces have always been a part of office design, whether in the form of reception areas, break rooms or conference rooms for meetings and other official business. Communal spaces are also extremely important to building cohesion in a team, especially where that team may previously have only interacted online.
As well as ensuring private meeting rooms and conference spaces are available for groups of employees to book, you should consider having some form of open-plan hot-desking space that employees can choose to use. This can help take workers out of their own environment, and inspire cross-collaboration throughout the day.
Invaluable as communal spaces are to the cohesion of the team, it is still important that staff members can find privacy and quietude where they need it. This does not mean a return to cubicle working, but does mean making some smart choices about how the office space is divided.
At the same time as constructing private offices for executive staff, the business might partition parts of the space off to break line of sight down the space. These partitions could be used to form private pods for work, or could simply delineate departments. The physical barrier dissuades complete openness, but does not mitigate the positive impacts of investing in communal space.
Letting the Outdoors In
Lastly, a small additional consideration can make a big difference for a working environment. Natural themes and colours have a palpable calming effect, and the relatively inexpensive practice of adding plants to an office space can give it some form of liveliness. Natural light is also a powerful thing for worker contentment; offices with less windows might consider utilising mirrors to bounce more light around the space.