Key things to consider when designing your workplace

It is incredible how much a workplace design can impact on the performance of your staff. Did you know that greens and blues are believed to be restful and can help lend positivity to the well-being of your team as they evoke feelings of. happiness. And when your team is happy, they’ll be more committed to the job.

That said, your colour pallette shouldn’t be your only consideration when looking for ways to retain the best staff and help your business to succeed. When designing your office space, you should also factor in the following:

Employee Engagement

FACT: happy employees are loyal employees.

The happiness and well-being of your employees matters as this collective of people are the foundation upon which your business will either flourish or fail. This means you should take great care in ensuring that they are happy – and stress-free – as the more optimistic they are, the more productive they will be.

More importantly, their well-being will feed into their work behaviour. And this can prove advantageous to you as it will enable them to see the bigger picture, while encouraging them to be open to: new ideas, taking risks, communicating, accepting change and embracing challenges.

To help you with this, we recommend the following tips:

  • Ensure there is plenty of natural light – according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep and Sleep Disorders, natural light can help improve a person’s quality of life, whereas dark offices can leave you feeling despondent, unmotivated and driveless.

This is because light in general can help to brighten the space and breathe life into the room; creating an environment where ideas and innovation can thrive.

  • Ensure office furniture is optimal – for instance desks, chairs and screens should be kept at the right height to ensure that employees remain healthy and productive. The simple act of having a desk that is too high can place strain on the wrists and arms of your employees which over time could cause injury. A simple DSE assessment can ensure that you’re ticking all the right boxes here.

 

  • Ensure there is plenty of space for eye-to-eye human contact – while you don’t want your employees to spend their days talking instead of working; it is important that they can engage with colleagues otherwise they will feel isolated and trapped. For this reason, you need to offer them a balance whereby they can focus when they need to, but can easily chat when necessary.

Another point to consider here is cognitive overload and the danger of too much technology. If employees cannot take regular breaks from tech, they’ll eventually become anxious, withdrawn and unmotivated. To stop this from happening – and ensure that they remain in the present – you need to offer them spaces where they can connect with others (one-to-one) and make eye contact. This will elevate their mood and invigorate their work ethic.

TIP: design areas that allow workers to manage how much sensory stimulation they receive. By carefully selecting the right materials, textures, colours, lighting and views, you can create a sense of calm. At the same time you want to avoid filling your office entirely with cubicles as this can evoke feelings of loneliness and stress. Instead, have desks strategically placed in appropriately distanced clusters occupied by colleagues or teams who collaborate regularly – and place dividers between desks so that they can get privacy when they need it and avoid distractions/interference.

  • Monitor and control air flow/temperatures – the positioning of air conditioning and radiators matters, as they can spell the difference between employees becoming uncomfortable because they are too hot or too cold. Managing a heating system will enable you to control the temperature of the room and find a setting where everyone is happy, comfortable and able to focus on their work. Adequate ventilation and fresh air flow is vital to keep people feeling awake, alert and healthy too.

 

  • Health conditions – if you employ anyone with underlying health conditions, such as asthma then we recommend that you investigate how the chemicals in paint and air fresheners/diffusers might affect them. Could they trigger an allergic reaction, breathing difficulties or sinus irritation? Find out – the health of your team is paramount.

Productivity & Functionality

We touched on this a little in the section above, as research proves happy employees equal productive employees. Yet, how can you achieve this level of commitment and passion just from the furniture you use, or from the way you layout the office?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure there are areas where employees can freely collaborate, connect and share ideas, as well as escape when they need to focus i.e. somewhere that is quiet and peaceful. These two environments will ensure that you accommodate both their work and emotional needs. For instance, breakout rooms allow employees to step back from technology – and potentially stress – as they can physically move away from their work; while partitions offer an element of privacy where they can easily detach from the conversation when needed.

 

  • Sound – noise in the workplace can be distracting and can affect the success of the office, as each team/department will require a different level of noise. For example, you can expect open spaces to be noisy as team member’s talk and share ideas; while meeting rooms should be designed to block out noise from the main office. To help keep noise to a minimum you can use noise friendly flooring and sound absorbing furniture e.g. wall partitions, couches and filing cabinets. These will help to reduce acoustics created from people speaking and keyboards clacking.

 

  • Create customisable workspaces that employees can modify to suit their specific needs – employees thrive when they feel that they can control their environment, as it gives them the freedom to change their workspace into one where they feel 100% comfortable and at home. And this makes sense, because by giving them a sense of individual influence they won’t feel constricted or confined by enforced standardised designs.

The key is to give them the opportunity to personalise/customise their individual space i.e. with family photos or by offering them an adjustable chair/back support to improve their comfort levels. The more comfortable they feel, the more efficient they will become.

Tip: give them choice/control over where and how they work, and design for transparency i.e. so people can see and be seen. This will build up trust and loyalty.

  • Hygiene – regular cleaning and sanitation of the workplace should be in place. This creates user confidence that their environment is safe and clean and ensures the longevity of your new investment. This extends to the communal / public spaces as well as individual workstations.

 

  • Natural light – like we mentioned in the last section, lighting can influence employee moods and help them to feel more motivated/energised.

 

  • Ease of use – it is essential that everything is easy to use and understand, otherwise time will be lost trying to make remote controls work (instead of working projects). And all of this lost time adds up. For this reason, make sure all of your staff receives training on new systems/equipment and that they feel confident using them. This will eliminate stress/anxiety as they’ll know exactly what to expect.

TIP: you should always put the functionality of your office over the aesthetics to ensure that your working environment is dynamic and stress free.

  • Accessible amenities – toilets, kitchen, breakout area and meeting spaces should be easy to use, access and locate.

 

  • Space – trying to fit everyone into one space can feel constricting and make employees feel trapped. This feeling of pressure will feed into their productivity and will make it harder for them to focus as they’ll feel as though they are constantly being watched. Instead, try to ensure that there is plenty of space between desks – and in walkways – so that employees are able to breathe more easily. This is also a key factor in creating safe workplaces post-COVID 19 as social distancing is critical to keeping employees safe.

 

  • Bring the outdoors indoors – research has shown that incorporating natural details – natural textures, patterns, lighting and live plants – can enhance people’s ability to function effectively as they’ll be in a better mood.

In other words, you need to take the ergonomics of your workplace into consideration and analyse what can be changed/removed to improve efficiency i.e. adjustable chairs, the height of a worker’s eye level; tailored workspaces, etc. This will eliminate the risk of long term health conditions (neck and back pain) and will boost morale, as your employees will feel valued, cared for and safe.

Sustainability

With zero waste stores and recycling growing more prevalent, creating a sustainable workspace has never been more important. In fact, research points towards employees wanting to work for environmentally conscious businesses. This suggests that by making your space more sustainable, you will attract the best of the up and coming generation.

  • Use office furniture that can easily be dismantled/re-assembled/repaired time after time (slotting technique) – not only will this minimise replacement costs, it is also considerablye better for the environment.

 

  • Minimise the need for print outs and documentation by investing in your technology – large screens and mobile devices allow colleagues to share presentations and documents across the team effectively.

 

  • Incorporate waste, recycled and recyclable materials into the design of the office e.g. floorboards, blinds, etc. Likewise, if there is an opportunity to repair/replace equipment or upcycle old furniture (to be used for something else), then take advantage of it. Consider this during your fit out too, research into local businesses who will take away your strip out to repurpose and recycle.

 

  • Solar panels – if you have got the roof space, add solar panels and use them to help manage your energy usage/electricity.

 

  • Water collection – similar to solar panels, if you have got the space to install a system that can collect and reuse rainwater, consider using it for AI water technology.

 

  • E-Charging Points & Bicycle Parks – take this opportunity to also upgrade your car park / buke park facilities and encourage your employees to play their part too.

Branding

While functionality is essential, your workplace designs are the perfect place to showcase your brand and reveal more of your story, personality, ethics and beliefs. This can range from using imagery from the town where you first started, to aligning the colours of your brand into your furnishings. All of this will help your employees and visitors to feel engaged with your brand from the moment they enter your office.

Facilitate storytelling – go beyond your graphics and logos to incorporate thoughtful, unique features that will help you to tell a comprehensive story of your brand. From the materials you use to the lights you hang up; all of this can help to offer employees/visitors an immersive experience that is engaging and memorable.

There are a lot of aspects of your workplace design that can help to positively improve employee experiences, engagement and ensure that their well-being, functionality and happiness is maintained. From carefully planning out your office space, to selecting furnishings that are employee focused; it is possible to create a supportive and nurturing environment that will amplify performance.

For assistance with creating the perfect workplace design for your team contact us at Resolution Interiors today. With the right plan you can bring your brand to life.