What comes to mind when you think about a “successfully designed” workspace? ...increased productivity, employee satisfaction, or capturing a brand identity? (See more about branding here.) We may be able to answer the question, but how do we create those healthy work environments that engage employees and encourage efficiency all while providing a sense of community in the office place? Unfortunately, a newly renovated office doesn’t always equate to employee satisfaction or productivity. That’s why we try to create a solid office design that's both functional and appealing.
Every company is different - that’s what makes every one of our projects unique. When we sit down with a new client we find it's important to really get to know them; see what their business is all about; what their brand is; what their needs are and how their office functions day-to-day. Gathering information on what facilitates, or hinders, a company's productivity, assessing their current physical environment (i.e. storage, security, technology), and conducting simple employee interviews, can reveal insight into workplace performance, effectiveness, and overall well-being which can help us arrive at a successful design solution.
OPEN OFFICE VS. PRIVATE OFFICE
There’s been a shift in the layout of workspaces, with more and more offices opting for open space plans to allow collaboration among team members and easier reconfiguration for future growth, compared to the more permanent and closed private office concepts. If not carefully planned and designed, however, the open office design can have a negative effect. Distractions from colleague’s conversations or constant phone ringing can kill productivity and morale. For a successful open office plan, support spaces are vital. Private spaces, such as a small conference room or breakout area, should be planned to allow individuals to take a private call or have a quick meeting free from interruptions. If noise level is a concern, select finish materials with sound absorption properties or think about installing a sound-masking system.
Sometimes we all just need to step away, take a break, and clear our mind. Providing a space to escape office stressors can increase employee productivity and motivation. These areas should be comfortable and can serve many purposes – impromptu meeting spots, a place to enjoy lunch, or just a secondary option to escape the mundane routine of being at a desk all day. These spaces can come in the form of a small separate enclosed room or pod, or can be solved with furniture. Having a variety of unassigned workspaces can boost employee creativity and make working more enjoyable and relaxing.
An improper desk set-up can wreak havoc on our bodies. When selecting furniture for your work environment, it's all about adjustability. Office task chairs should have adjustable seat heights, back rests, arm rests, and lumbar supports. Mouse and keyboard trays should sit at a height that allows your elbows to be bent at or near a 90 degree angle to prevent wrist strain. We highly encourage the use of monitor arms, since monitors do no lend themselves to be adjustable on their own. Monitors should be an arm’s length away from where you’re sitting and your eye level should fall 2-3 inches below the top of the monitor casing. Adjustable height tables are also a great option, allowing you to stand while working which reduces the spinal pressure and muscle fatigue associated with long durations of sitting. Checkout Humanscale’s Healthy Workstation Guidelines further here.
BRING THE OUTDOORS IN
If your space has access to daylight, make the most of it. Harvesting daylight is not only economically efficient, but natural sunlight aids in Vitamin D production which can reduce stress and boost energy leading to improved work performance. Shown below, this concept works great with open office plans, allowing all employees a view and access to daylight. Enhance your space more with plants – they’re great for air quality, too.