Increasing productivity in the office by using intuitive design is one of the surest ways to increase both employee job-satisfaction and the company’s bottom line.
Happier workers are understandably more productive – and more productive workers are typically happier.
Learning how to make the most of your office with a productivity led design is essential for creating that winning cycle of productivity.
The Times Are Changing – It’s Time For A Redesign
With the advent of cloud storage, collaborative documents and online communication, there is a lot more flexibility when it comes to how people are able to work together without being in the same physical space.
For your current workforce, the idea of an entirely remote office is likely a non-starter. It is too unnatural. It is also still impractical due to the way staff do need to physically be in the company’s physical world office together – as opposed to “being there online” at home or at the nearest Wi-Fi connected coffee shop. But the next generation of adults will be fully prepared and equipped for remote working and web-based offices, dipping into a shared office as-and-when.
This means that the technology for a remote office is available but the completely remote-ready workforce is still at least a whole generation away. In the meantime, we still need fully functioning, physical offices.
The challenge is how to make sure the offices remain productive when a growing number of employees are communicating solely on their screens and feeling that their work practices have outgrown their work environment. That’s where an appropriate office design comes in.
Choose Your Office Layout – Open Plan or Isolated Workstations? Do Both
The change from individual cubicles for each employee to wholly open plan offices was widely accepted over the past 10 years or so. All but the most archaic offices now utilise open plan for easier communication, increased accountability through being “on show” and increased mentoring opportunities as younger employees can see how more experienced colleagues operate. Forward thinking companies such as Google and Facebook have utilised open plan offices for these very reasons – the latter employed Frank Gehry to design the largest open plan office space in the world.
Mark Zuckerberg and Frank Gehry look at a model of the new Facebook office. Photo: AAS Architecture.
However, there is a growing realisation that totally open plan offices can actually become counter-productive.
There is the perpetual fear that solely open plan can be too distracting – what if somebody is completing a complex and high focus task whilst surrounding colleagues are enjoying a quick catch up about the weekend whilst completing a more menial task? The latter pair may be benefiting from a boost in morale and camaraderie but the former will be gaining nothing but a feeling of frustration.
There are even some health risks to open plan offices which hamper productivity massively. The Scandanavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health has found that workers in open plan offices have significantly more days of sickness absences than workers in cellular offices.
There is obviously a need to strike a balance.
One of Elm’s free-standing meeting/work pods. Find out more by clicking here.
Meeting pods and solo work areas are a great way of offering employees flexibility on where they work and when. Hot-desking is another variation of this which can breath new life into a stale office layout. This is an idea explored at length by The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Feintzeig who spoke to the people at a company called Kayak.
Kayak plan who sits where based on personality and working style, rather than simply by job role. This practice is used routinely in education and it is reported to work well in an office environment too.
Choose Furniture That Aids Productivity
Desks and workstations should be ergonomically suitable. Adjustable chairs, raisable desks and screens, and moveable keyboards are all vital to ensure that people are comfortable as they work. If they are comfortable, it is one less thing to think about and so helps productivity. It will also reduce aches and repetitive strain injuries, resulting in less lost time and higher productivity.
Stand-up desks for working and meetings also increase productivity as people tend to work quicker and are more focused.
Desks should also have adequate storage and filing for each employees. Paper trays, drawer organisers and some space to add personal affects are key to making a productive work environment.
Incorporate Intelligent Storage
A centrally organised storage system is a great way to boost productivity as it it will make keeping individual work spaces more well-organised a breeze. They will also be a central point of focus at the beginning and end of a task or day, as well as forcing workers to move around the office when retrieving the materials they need.
A storage wall is also an effective use of space.
Plant life and natural light are two medically proven ways to boost employee health and with it productivity. The oxygen released by plants keeps people healthier and fresher whilst natural lighting (or natural style electronic systems) help reduce screen fatigue and mental effects of prolonged spells under false lighting.
Add A Little Fun and Individuality
And finally, don’t be afraid of adding a little fun and a touch of originality to your office design. Collaorative artwork, a genuine work-free eating area or somewhere to unwind for ten minutes are all great ways to increase worker productivity.
They also foster a spirit of working somewhere where they are trusted and valued, as well as at a company who isn’t afraid to do things a little differently. This should begin to emanate into working practices.
Thinking of Refurbishing Your Office Soon?
If you are interested in or are planning to refurbish your offices, why not use our FREE checklist to help you ensure you have covered all the relevant aspects of the project.
The sheet is fully printable and includes advice and the ability to sign tasks and track their progress.