Estimated reading time: 5 mins
More and more, employers are starting to accept that offices are an asset to the business and that, when they’re used well, they have a lot to contribute. At the same time, employees from all over are sighing a breath of relief. But how exactly does the design of the office impact your team’s performance, team, mood, and even the company culture as a whole? To figure it out, we’re going to look at what you might be doing wrong and the changes that, bit by bit, can make a drastic transformation for the business as a whole.
Room to breathe
The first issue to address is the terrible clutter problem that a lot of businesses have. There are a lot of things that contribute to this. Standards for personal cleanliness, keeping certain areas clear, and tidying regularly play a part. But so does how you choose to decorate the office. Clearing the office clutter creates a cleaner office, but cleaner is also better for the mental health of the people working there. Clutter is a distraction, first and foremost, which gets in the way of productivity. But it’s also a serious contribute to stress. It’s not just about how many objects are on any one table, but whether an office’s layout and design is closed in and claustrophobic or more open.
Let there be light
The lighting in the office has a similar impact as clutter does. The less natural or warm lighting in the office, the dingier and darker it feels which contributes to stress. In general, the more natural lighting you can afford, the better. But task lighting has a major role to play, as well. Most offices have the vast majority of employees working at a computer or another sort of screen at a desk. With this reliance on electronics comes a lot of what is known as blue light. Blue light has not only an impact on our ability to relax and focus, but is a leading cause of eyestrain.
Privacy, not isolation
Above, I mentioned how more open office designs tend to be better for the team mentally. But it’s not as simple as that. There are two extremes to avoid. The first is overreliance of cubicles which isolates employees, makes them feel closed in, and is all-around bad for a cooperative corporate culture. But wide-open spaces can be just as bad, tending to be more distracting when employees need a little focus to work. The right idea to create different zones for different kinds of work. Using commercial window tinting for more light-friendly partitions can give privacy without completely isolating people. The kinds of additions allow you to create private spaces, while also allowing for more open zones like conference rooms better suited for cooperative work and team cohesion.
Liven things up
It’s a cliché, but it’s true that being surrounded by four walls all day can make people go a little stir crazy. You don’t have to create an entire outdoor working space, but there have been plenty of studies showing the benefits of introducing more houseplants in the office. They are great for lifting the mood, adding a little more colour to an otherwise dull aesthetic, and they are natural stress-busters. They even have the added benefit of improving the air quality inside the office.
All work, and no play
You might think that keeping the office space entirely dedicated to business and professional use is the best way to ensure that people stay as productive as possible. But you have to account for the times that they don’t want to or have to stay productive. In particular, if employees lack a break space away from their desk where they can relax and recharge, they are much more likely to burn out through the day. It’s why the majority of offices have a problem where the last hour or two are significantly less productive and see less done. Create a proper space for breaks that allows people to have a little more fun in the office. Not only will it help them work better, but they will see it as a perk of the job. It shows you care for all their needs, not just their output.
Have some personality
The actual design of the office will have a big impact itself. Don’t go for the serious, drab colours you think might be most appropriate for a professional space. While your employees are there to work, they work at their best when they’re feeling motivated, engaged, and more creative. To that end, design with that in mind and give the office a little more personality. You can even go a little further and help them add some personality of their own. When employees are allowed to decorate their own work spaces it has a plethora of benefits. For one, it makes them feel a little more in control. But best of all, it makes them feel truly part of the team, because they have a slice of themselves in the office, rather than feeling like they’re forced to fit in.
The walk, breathing branding space
Your clients and business partners might also be visiting your office. In that case, think of the brand when you’re deciding the aesthetic. A publicly visited office should be as consistent with your branding as your marketing would be. For one, it creates a consistency that makes that brand more powerful. But it also establishes a mindset, an identity within the workplace that employees can follow. Don’t forget that the office has to be welcoming at the same time, however. Focus too much on the style and not the practicalities of a proper waiting room and it will harm the perception of the business and how it treats people.
If you’re serious about business, you can’t afford to offer half-measures in anything. That includes the physical workspace. The tips above are just the start of creating a space that benefits you, your team, your clients, and the whole business. The rest is up to finding what works best for you.