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Improve Staff Morale Through Collaborative Office Refurbishment

What Is Collaborative Office Refurbishment?

Collaborative office refurbishment is two armed approach to refurbishing and improving your office space. It's collaboratively working with all the employees who use your office as their workspace to make design decisions and shape the way your improved space is designed. It's also ensuring that the new refurbishment creates a more collaborative and cohesive place to work.

As the office staff are the end users of the refurbished or redecorated office, it's wise to make sure that they have as much input as possible when it comes to shaping and designing the new working space. 

How It Helps & What You Might Learn

Including staff of all seniority levels in the decision making of the design stage of an office refurbishment shows staff that they are valued and trusted. It also shows that the management team or business owners understands that the general workforce are the lifeblood of the company so their environment needs to be something which works for them.

The more that staff can shape their working environment to be how they want it, the more it increases the feeling of ownership and responsibility. This in turn breeds an attitude of taking pride in your work and trying to be as productive as possible. Staff feel more like they own the office and it's they who have shaped it, therefore it is they who now feel empowered to keep making it a success.

This minimises the subliminal feeling of having the workspace thrust upon them by "The Business". This nuanced mental attitude to the work environment is fed by the Millenial  generation's attitude to life in general and the fact they're now the dominant generation in the workplace. Whatever they're doing and where they are doing it needs to make sense and have justification. Having a say in how your office is furnished and laid out helps to promote this feeling.

Which makes for a happier and more productive workforce.

Tips For Making Collaborative Refurbishment Decisions

All of this is not to say that you should let staff have free reign to make any design decision they so wish. Not every bit of feedback you hear should be implemented. Engage with and listen to a professional designer because there is a lot of office theory to consider when designing an effective workspace.

Workers might tell you that they want to do away with the open plan set up and have private working booths because the current open plan setup is too noisy and distracting. That may be so, but being stuck in private offices or cubicles is not good for mental wellbeing and employee morale.

The key is to try and work out what emotions are driving the wishes of employees and what goals they're trying to achieve by suggest X, Y and Z for the new office.

For example, if the current 100% open plan layout is "too distracting and noisy", is it because nearby colleagues are causing a distraction when conducting their work or is it because one employee is too tempted to chat to colleagues whilst working? The former might mean altering the layout of desks and teams, whilst the latter might mean creating a dedicated quiet space for staff to disappear to when working on high-focus tasks.

Try to read between the lines of employee feedback and their desires to see whether they want things like sofas and bean bags because they look cool (but they won't use them) or because they find it hard to switch off and recharge their batteries at lunch (because there's no informal place to sit and relax).

How To Improve Morale Through Collaborative Office Refurbishment

Here's some quick ways to make sure a collaborative office refurbishment works to improve morale.

Canvas Employee Opinion On What Currently Works

Via email, online survey or a paper ballot box, find out from your employees which features of your current office work well. Ask what they like about the current layout, furniture, equipment and facilities. Ask staff to name one feature they'd want to make sure was in the new office if they were to move location tomorrow.

Find Out What Doesn't Work In The Current Office

At the same time, ask employees in the office to state one thing they would change if they could about the current office. This could be anything from internet speeds to heating to difficulty in finding paperwork.

Analyse The Feedback Carefully

And look for themes in the feedback which staff present. Are problems related to layout and proximity of certain colleagues (as in, if the accounts department find it hard to quickly communicate with procurement)? This means space planning needs considering.

If a number of employees are mentioning things relating to similar topics - meeting space, comfort levels, storage, breaout space - make sure these are addressed or preserved when you complete the refurbishment.

Keep Staff Informed - Feedback Their Feedback

Using a noticeboard, web page or newsletter, keep staff in the loop with developments in the design process of the office refurbishment. Make sure you tell staff "What you told us" and "What we will be doing" in order to highlight that you are in fact listening to collaborative feedback from staff.

If possible, isolate specific quotes and points from employees and clearly show what the resolution to the comment (positive or negative) will be during the refurbishment. For example;

You Told Us: The office is often too busy and noisy to work on tasks which are hard to concentrate on.

What We're Doing About It: The refurbishment will include a dedicated "Do Not Disturb Room" where people can work on high-focus tasks. It will be just like the rest of the office but will be a silent space.

Create A Collaborative Office

Your refurbishment should leave you with an office which promotes collaboration and this in turn improves morale. This isn't achieved by simply creating an open plan layout, but it includes providing space where co-working and group working is encouraged and made easier.

Make sure there are shared working tables where people can gather round resources or computers and work on problems together. Have plenty of places where ad-hoc discussions can happen and brainstorming is made easy.

Having desks with free space, where people can sit for a short duration whilst working with a colleague, is a good way of encouraging staff to work together on tasks. A colleague can take their laptop and notepad to another's desk and work there for an hour. This promotes a culture where staff can go and sit where they need to, depending on what they're working on and who they're working with.

It's about offering choice. That's how to create a colloaborative office which boosts morale.

See More Theory On This And The Products Which Help Achieve It

We've put together an inspiring paper full of products and ideas to help make sure your office works to improve morale and the experience at work. We've attended the leading design fairs and shows, studied the latest in office and workspace theory and put together some informative, interesting reads, with a round up of the must have tech and furniture trends that you need in your office. Open this free guide by pressing the button below.

image of the guide with bullets

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