Office is now more than just a place where employees work. Today, employees spend more time at their workstations than at their homes blurring the boundaries of work-life balance. Most organizations are placing employee well-being at the heart of business strategy and are adapting to this change by designing their interiors to make the space work-friendly and engage the employees to increase productivity. Making an office work for your employees isn’t rocket science – natural light, well-monitored temperature, good facilities – even the smallest changes show that you value your people and their well-being. This will be mirrored in how they feel about their job.
Gone are the days of the gray, bland and boring office. Offices have moved from this stereotype by introducing a lot more colour to their space, innovative furniture, breakout areas and café’s to name a few. Nowadays, a lot more offices are embracing the idea that creative work environment helps stimulate minds and inspire innovation. Today’s offices are spaces that generate buzz thereby emerging as crucibles of creativity and social hubs.
The reasons why office design is important and how it can enhance your work life are plenty. To begin with, a person’s surroundings has a considerable impact on his/her mood in dramatic ways. It has an impact on how we think, work and behave. An inefficient workspace will inevitably drain the effort and energy that could otherwise be focused on productivity. When we stop work to relieve our backs, adjust the light or wait for the moment where noise levels lower before making a call, we are exposed to the stress caused by an inefficient workspace. Lighting, temperature, storage, desk space, acoustics, air quality etc have a major effect on performance, wellbeing, positivity and even staff retention.
An ergonomic office space should provide both protection and comfort, as well as boost positive behaviour and enhance well-being. To start with, the appropriate use of colours, textures and lighting along with basic design principles will help promote a sense of belonging for an individual and create an identity specific to the company. This helps in creating awareness about the brand and culture amongst the employees as well as visitors. Break out spaces also promote psychological restoration, enhance internal communication and build team spirit, acting as a bridge to otherwise unrelated departments. It is also important that employees should have a sense of control over the office environment, which can lead to reduction of workplace stress by empowering individuals with the ability to alter the conditions of the environment to suit their needs like for example the sense of freedom to alter the temperature, use blinds to reduce the sun glare etc.
Accessible technology forms the core of office design and companies today are offering flexible office spaces and services to give the employees suppleness to execute their work. It goes without saying that the office should be wired to support Wi-Fi to maximize the flexibility of the space. The layout of your office no longer needs to be dictated by where the network connection and outlets are located.
Comfort plays a critical role in the physical and psychological well-being of the employees. Making sure that workstations allow users to adjust seating, computer equipment placement, lighting levels, workspace layout, work surface heights and ventilation will offer a more flexible environment. A chair should have adjustable height, depth, length, and angle and the lumbar support should sufficiently fit the lower back. The chair should also be on a five-caster base for stability and should ideally also have adjustable armrests. A good ergonomic chair should promote flexibility and encourage the natural movements of the body whilst providing support.
The importance of natural light is often over-looked, but daylight exposure should be a major factor when planning and designing a workspace. Apart from being cost effective and energy efficient, increasing natural light exposure will have a positive impact on mood and productivity. Natural light can also help one to focus on detail and colour more clearly and can therefore prevent eye strain and the headaches that artificial light can cause.
Noise and lack of privacy are considered to be two of the primary sources of stress in the office workspace. Open plan layouts are becoming an increasingly popular design solution to meet the needs for increased density, but people often associate such workspaces with the loss of privacy and increased noise levels. Such problems only exist as a result of bad planning. When designing a workspace, it is advisable to consider the type of environment you are trying to create. Consider whether your workforce would perform more efficiently in an environment that embraces team collaboration, solitary working or working as an overall community. Often a mixture of all the three is required and therefore flexibility is the key factor.
An innovative and healthy office means thinking about encouraging movement, getting people out of their chairs and around the office, bumping into colleagues to share thoughts/ideas. It means creating an environment that people love to be in.