In the knowledge economy, employees are the engine the keeps companies growing and innovating. Smart organizations understand that their most important goal is to provide them with the tools at the office to spark their creativity, stimulate communication and increase their productivity.
Reason why effective office design can become a very powerful tool for managers to support workers’ activities. It can also be used to give them a place where they can learn, grow and thrive, while adding to the bottom line of the company. Work environment should empower the traits and qualities its inhabitant need in order to perform at their best. Amara Pope, a writer for Time Doctor, suggest that personalizing your work space and creating your own ideal environment is a great way to boost your productivity levels – even for remote workers.
Here are 7 office design ideas that decision makers can use to harness this powerful tool and increase the overall performance of their employees and their business.
1. Optimize Office Space
Offer space flexibility: Provide employees with different spaces for different tasks by balancing open spaces with more private areas. The idea of productivity based on collaboration has turned open spaces into a paradigm for the modern workplace. But smart managers know that a truly productive office is also about flexibility. This means a one-size-does-not-fit-all approach that provides employees with a wide array of space types that adapt to their specific needs.
“A truly forward looking workplace incorporates elements like personal work booths and activity-based work areas, different-sized meeting rooms, informal ‘collaboration zones’ and purely social areas and creates the perfect balance for their employees to thrive,” says Ed Nolan, senior VP for workplace strategy at JLL, a real estate service firm that is refreshing its Chicago headquarters.
Escreo does just that by its combination of color, shape and adaptivity options. It allows creation of customizable and task-oriented areas that are suited to its inhabitants’ needs.Imagine having a dry-erasable wall in your meeting room that not only serves it’s purpose, but also compliments the interior thus implementing a certain mood in the staff that’s using it. It can generate a collaborative atmosphere with just the subtle touch your employees need in order to perform at their best.
Encourage collaboration and brainstorming through space: Create open hubs and wide lounges connected by ample hallways that encourage interaction and where people can meet and start conversations. You can also use whiteboard paint to turn walls into brainstorming and creativity areas that engage employees and spark ideas and innovation.
Provide spacious areas: It’s important to design an office where employees can freely work and move without disturbing others. Overcrowding is linked to poor performance. So always ensure that workers have a buffer zone in which their personal space is safe.
Ask your employees what they want: According to their own survey, JLL’s employees of all ages wanted working environments that adapted to their needs. But other studies have linked open floor plans with less satisfied workers and constrained creativity. Conducting employee surveys allows for a more tailored office design based on their own preferences.
Create clear boundaries between areas: Customize each office space to the department and its workers so no distractions can hinder their work and members of the same area can reinforce teamwork and identity.
Think about space for client meetings: If your office will allocate space for clients to come in, create a comfortable space that showcases the values and brand of the company. It can also feature welcoming arrangements and accessibility for the handicapped and elderly.
2. Streamline Your Office Workflow with Technology
Increase productivity through connectivity: Promote the use of IT collaboration solutions like Slack, Bitrix24 or Hipchat. They allow employees to instant message, send information, create and supervise tasks, conduct meetings and manage projects from any place, all in one platform. This will eliminate time wasters like excessive emails and pointless meetings.
Automate when possible: Paying a monthly fee for cloud-based services can be cheaper than paying upfront for the technology. Some startups have seen such a rise in their online services that going completely virtual has greatly reduced their operating expenses.
Track individual performances: Talent management software like PeopleFluent, PerformYard and Trkstar helps managers get a better perspective on employee’s performance and identify personal strengths and weaknesses.
Provide real-time feedback: Automating feedback creates a better working environment based on constant guidance, suggestions and reviews. Cisco’s People Deal, created from employee’s feedback is a people-centered manifesto where the company explains its stand on issues that go from maternity leave to food services.
3. Create an Organizational Plan
Create and organizational master plan for your office: “Setting or redesigning an office is always a great chance to start over and create an organizational master plan”, says Craig Jarrow, a productivity and time management expert. “Start by asking your employees to de-clutter their personal space by deciding what’s essential for them at that moment and creating a specific space for that,” says Jarrow. “This will minimize movement and distractions and increase productivity.”
Create functional spaces for specific activities: Once the essentials are covered, provide easy-to-access and clean areas for storing and shelving boxes, documents, equipment or inventory through which employees can save time and money.
Streamline paperwork: The average worker wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for important documents, which only adds to the mental overload of employees.
“In the digital age, more offices are going paperless and use collaboration apps like Evernote or Google Drive, so I always ask my clients if they really need big filing cabinets or huge piles of papers taking up space,” says Jarrow. “Cloud solutions can help them store everything they need digitally and perform regular backups to safeguard their information.”
Look for cost-effective ways to enhance organization: For the office that can’t make the jump to paperless right away, there are affordable and easy-to-use solutions to keep information overload tidier, like whiteboard paint walls to vertically lay out and organize ideas or projects or color-coded vertical desk file sorters to have quick access to files at moment’s notice. You can also consider DIY solutions to hide cords and wires, use labeling systems to organize information and divide drawers for better organization.
4. Use Furniture & Modularity to Your Advantage
Invest in furniture: High-quality furniture might be one of the best investments for an office because it makes employees happier and less prone to typical workplace ailments such as neck, back and shoulder pains. Provide adjustable elements so workers can adjust their workspaces to meet their needs and use flexible furniture to create different space types for impromptu meetings, workshops or solo work.
Create different workspaces in one area: Use folding walls and demountable modules to create tailored spaces that can be stacked and moved around to adapt different environments in one single area and increase innovation and collaboration at the same time. Or apply Escreo to any wooden piece of furniture in order to unlock new features and turn it into a flexible area for quick brainstorm sessions.
Use modularity to cancel noise: One of the challenges of open space layouts is noise management. Noise-reduction products or demountable glass walls can easily adapt to bigger office settings and open up new and private working spaces.
5. Implement an Office Color Philosophy
Use color to encourage specific actions from employees: High wavelengths colors like red or yellow fit better with fast and energetic places and can help you energize employees toward a goal, stroke creative types’ egos or stimulate physical activity. Low wave length colors like blue or green are perfect for meeting or waiting rooms and can improve efficiency, ignite deep thinking and provide a general feeling of focus and concentration. A palette with different shades of whites, browns and grays can help businesses convey sobriety, trust and responsibility.
Consider color’s effect on space: Optically powerful colors like red, yellow or light hues of green and blue can narrow a room, while less intrusive colors like blue, white and some shades of gray, green and purple can give a small office a sense of spaciousness. Colored wall and illustrations can also add some personality and character to office spaces.
Use color intensity to make spaces feel brighter: Lighter color tones can increase the amount of natural light reflection inside a room.
Implement organization through color: Color-specific areas and color coding systems can simplify processes and increase organization.
6. Consider Nature, Views and Light
Maximize daylight penetration at the office: Corner offices might block natural light from reaching most employees in more enclosed areas. So placing bullpens closer to windows, tearing down specific walls or using glass where privacy is not required could help workers receive more outer light and have more inspiring views.
Look for cost-effective and eco-friendly lighting solutions: LED lights and light sensitive switches are more beneficial than harsh fluorescent lights. Smart lighting systems like Phillips Hue can help you maximize indirect lighting.
Think green: Getting outdoors can do great things for the body and mind, but if it’s too difficult to provide spacious and well-aired green zones for employees, promote the use of plants in the office. Adding a small potted plant to a desk or a spider plant to a hallway is one of the quickest ways to maximize employee’s levels of calmness and satisfaction.
7. Support Employee’s Well-being
Create an active workspace: Even the best office in the world will make employees unproductive if they feel constrained and chained to a specific spot. Do some research on active design for the workplace, create specific hubs that promote activity and encourage employees to stretch and move for 10 minutes every now and then.
Consider air quality and smell: Good air quality or smell are not necessarily a priority for office managers, but evidence suggests that good ventilation and specific scents can have an enormous impact on productivity, morale and attitude and add a signature to any space. Invest in air fresheners and use aromatherapy to choose an emotion to convey to your workers and your clients.
Add meditation or nap rooms: More and more companies are customizing isolated rooms for employees to disconnect from work responsibilities, unplug from digital overload and maybe doze off for 5 minutes. This will help them charge batteries and refocus for the rest of the day.
Use “good”noise: Ambient and white noise apps can make employees more productive and create a positive effect on their creativity and alertness.
Use walls to inspire employees: For WeWork CEO Miguel McKelvey, if you come to the office with a frown on your face the rest of your day will suck. So to keep everyone’s spirits high the company walls are usually covered with colorful and inspiring quotes or images. And since you should trust to us when it comes to it, dry-erasable walls a great for relaxation and blowing off some steam. All it takes is for you to grab a marker and start doodling. Or play a quick game of tic tac toe to pass the time. Anything that would help you recharge your batteries and dive right back into action.