Expanding the office footprint and hiring new employees is an exciting time of growth for any business. As the business owner or leader of the organization, however, be aware you don’t fall for the generic ideology of replicating the same ‘tried & true’ office footprint. Or worse yet, following the latest trend, like switching to an open office space regardless if it is the right fit for your organization or not. This is where work environment or office design come into play.
Work environment design is a concept that many misunderstand; consequently, an inadequate look and feel of the workspaces still prevail. Headcount per square foot formulas are what often drives workplace design decisions and budgets. This approach often results in subpar workplaces that cram employees into cube-farms, which lead to the hidden cost of low productivity.
Ineffective human interactions and ultimately high turnover are what we have experienced in uninspiring and poorly-designed workplaces. One study found that many office workers spend more time sitting than retired people. This constant sitting can lead to an unproductive mental fog, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes.
What do your employees need?
Today, employees’ needs are evolving, as are their expectations of the environment in which they want to work. Companies benefit when a vibrant, multi-activity, sensory office design and fast communication technology balances with the preferences of multi-modal engagements by employees and customers within the space.
Work is no longer just “a place where we go,” it is “what we do.” The workforce of today is agile, virtually mobile, and collaborative. Employees use the workspace differently, but organizations still frequently provide workspaces that will sit empty when employees are in meetings, teleworking, in the field, or on vacation.
Companies are paying substantial sums for individual spaces they are not using, while the call for collaborative space is at an all-time high and still growing.
Have you thought, in your business, of strategically creating an engaging and active environment for your workplace with inputs and buy-in from your teams, understanding their preferences first?
You may wonder how leadership can determine the best course of action when expanding the workplace footprint. My advice is a two-fold approach addressing the project’s needs:
- Workplace Strategy
- Workplace Design
We define this first step as a dynamic alignment of the organization’s goals, workflow patterns, culture, and visual identity of the company with the work environment to enable peak performance and reduce costs. A customized workplace strategy is our preferred way to set successful workplace projects apart from costly ones that don’t produce results.
What does customized look like?
- Flexibility and efficiency in the use of office space that was once dedicated, often unoccupied and expensive, predictably leading to a twenty to fifty percent improvement in asset performance
- Flexibility of choice for employees to be their most productive in a variety of work settings.
- Increased opportunities for face-to-face and virtual collaboration, nurturing the belief that the role of the “office” is to support interactions that facilitate vital business priorities such as knowledge sharing, innovation, and speed-to-market
- Considerable cost savings associated with the real estate portfolio, due to space-reduction opportunities and altering workspace standards
We tailor the workplace strategy to the business outlook, then we drill down to the needs of its occupants and visiting customers. We are specifically looking for engagement, along with enabling their buy-in and consensus toward a change that fits within the company’s culture.
This stage also addresses and analyzes future behaviors in the way we work, collaborate, and innovate – that’s where you find the most significant return on investment. The physical work environment – buildings, private offices, cubicles, open desking, meeting rooms, quiet rooms, maker’s spaces, brainstorming hive – the right mix, has a significant effect on people’s behavior and performance.
The workspace strategy informs us how to develop an office design master plan. This will include choosing the appropriate visual and functional solutions like:
- Furniture and furnishing selection
Workspaces designed for and around people are most likely to be flexible, comfortable, and support productivity over time. This is due to taking into account the needs and limitations of those who occupy them.
Noise is a common issue in most workplaces. Interestingly, it can both enable or disable productivity based on individual preferences and the kind of work being done. The key is enabling employees to control the noise by providing access to rooms with doors and acoustical separation when needed.
- Demountable walls
Demountable walls are perfect for creating a great variety of spaces where none existed and can also assist with noise control.
Typically, a mix of both natural outdoor lighting and indoor lighting is most conducive to a worker’s ability to stay alert. The sensory change and variability are also important because a lack of visual stimulation can dull the senses.
How people perceive color can vary due to their culture and life experiences. However, there are some common thoughts about how color is most likely to be perceived, be it overtly or subliminally, in the workplace. For example, Brighter colors area associated with higher focus and work accuracy, while softer blues promote calm and clear creative thinking.
Material selection will affect employee comfort can provide visual stimulation while reflecting a company’s brand. Durability is also a consideration that can save money in the long term.
Workplace strategy and design can seem overwhelming
Although the choices are endless, having the vision and strategy in place first, along with the right office design map, will ensure success.
The execution of the project then lies with trusted partners, such as office furniture vendors – Collaborative Office Furniture, who brings an extensive array of affordable furniture options to create a compelling design. The furniture, furnishings, and demountable walls are all highly visible elements resulting from a successful design customized to the business needs. Visit the link here to view our Commercial Interior Design Services.
Our aim, with design and its strategy, is to set up your company for improved productivity through the workplace. This is done by distinguishing physical space as a visual and physical ‘broadcast tool’ for your brand in the eyes of both your employees and customers.