The Harvard Business Review doesn’t mince any words: cubicles are the worst. That’s something workers have known for a long time, and numerous workspace design trends have emerged over time in an effort to mitigate the worst aspects of cubicle-bound office life. Cubicles are noisy, extremely limiting in space, and their design fosters feelings of dissatisfaction and depression. Their very presence makes running an office challenging: you want your workers to be comfortable with their environment to help keep them engaged.
If you’re not investing time and money in designing a workspace that engages your employees, you’re losing out on both worker satisfaction and productivity — productivity that can be dragged down by as much as 20%. If you’re in need of a worker-focused redesign strategy, here are seven workspace design tips to improve your environment.
When it comes to health, sitting is the new smoking. Workers who sit for long periods of time have an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions. You’ve probably felt it with “tech neck” or wrist pains from typing too much. This makes ergonomics crucial to the best office designs, whether it means investing more in special computer chairs for workers who prefer sitting — the Herman Miller Aeron is a popular choice — or introducing adjustable monitors and desks for those who prefer to spend more time standing. Without the distractions of physical discomfort, ergonomically minded offices can increase productivity by over 20% and reduce losses in workdays by 75%.
2. Pockets of Privacy
Collaborative spaces can do a lot to encourage creativity, but sometimes people work best when they have some private crunch time to focus on their own tasks. Research has shown that people are more productive when in private, and the negative effect of disruption and noise on workers that needed privacy outweighed any positive benefits of a common space. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to ensure isolation and privacy for employees who need it, whether it’s in the form of soundproof rooms or liminal nap pods.
3. Visualized Values
Big tech giants and their mini-city campuses might be at the cutting edge of workspace design, but you don’t always need a long list of perks and amenities to make your space reflect well on your company. They certainly help, but the bigger picture involves something more personality-driven in design. In short, the entire space should also serve as a reflection of your company’s values, visions, and ideas. A company that makes stylish products can reinforce their aesthetic and create a striking first impression with interior design that matches their visual language. A long-running business can draw from and fuse elements from decades of history. And even something simple as a subtle use of branding colour schemes can instill that sense of values. It all depends on your company’s outlook; feel free to consult our portfolio for a wide range of examples.
4. Cutting Edge Technology
Employee engagement also means knowing just who you’re engaging. And with millions of baby boomers undergoing a retirement wave, paired with a trendline in members of Gen Z graduating college and entering the workforce, it helps to see that generational shift as an opportunity to keep your technology up to date. Younger workers are digital natives, using tech in ways that are versatile and deeply integrated into their work and daily lives. This means that tech should be savvily integrated into the workspace, not as an obtrusion or a novelty, but as an integral part of the office culture and its physical space. This is especially important with the advent of wider-spread Working From Home culture, where video conferencing, cams, and projectors are key to making the WFH experience as seamless as possible for both at-home and in-office workers.
5. Lots of Light
Again, the Harvard Business Review has spoken. Employees’ needs for natural light actually outranked their needs for amenities like onsite daycare or cafeterias. That means keeping your office well-lit is an efficient and beneficial highlight of your workspace’s design. It’s not just about turning up the bulbs, either: large windows and south-facing orientations take advantage of natural light. The same goes for layout, as airy central areas that let in lots of outside illumination can become energizing collaborative spaces. There’s health at stake, too: workers that were exposed to some amount of natural daylight reported decreased eyestrain and headaches, as well as improvement in their mood. Over a third of workers surveyed in America reported that they don’t get enough natural light, so evaluating your in-office space should factor in the possible need for a plan to include more lighting options for the next year.
6. Foster Health
Many of these tips overlap with an important theme: the fostering of employees’ health and wellbeing. Improved ergonomics and natural light are some of the more familiar options, but you can also have a profound influence on worker productivity by using colour theory. Colours like blue engender feelings of calm, shades of red engender aggression, and green hues can evoke optimism and compassion. It’s beneficial to choosing colours for your space that evoke your company’s culture while leaving your employees in a positive mood. Other more utilitarian design elements can encourage other healthy habits — filtered water coolers or beverage-stocked kitchenettes to encourage hydration, for example, or menu plans to promote healthier eating. And ensure that the air quality in the office is top-notch as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Organization estimates that employers lost billions from worker inefficiencies and sick leave caused by poor office air quality.
7. Green It Up
There’s another time-tested way to instill that green feeling of optimism and compassion in your employees while simultaneously improving workplace air quality. In fact, it might be the oldest tip in the book: plants have been central to making offices feel welcoming for ages, and have become just as integral to the workplace environment as telephones and file cabinets. At the end of the day, plants are beautiful and calming. They make a great first impression on any visitors to your workplace and provide mood and productivity boosts to your working employees.
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Workspace design is an overhead cost that might be one of the best investments you can make. A well-designed workspace keeps your employees healthy and happy, and healthy and happy workers are more productive.
When re-evaluating your current workspace, think about the following questions.
- Is there a balance between private and collaborative areas?
- Is there enough natural light?
- Are the workspaces ergonomic?
- Does the space foster health and well-being?
If you’re answering yes to these questions, then you’re on your way. If not, you have plenty of options to update your workspace.
Contact us with any questions or book a consultation with us today.