by Karen Spiller | Workspace Science
Workplace design is one of the larger benefits an organisation can offer. By creating a great work environment it will influence and effect the likely hood of retaining/obtaining highly valued & qualified workers.
It is important to understand what works for your business and your employees. As some businesses are expected to be more fun and vibrant for example tech and creative types. Where as legal and financial bodies can still be vibrant but they wouldn't be as playful as having a slide in the office like Google. This is not to say they couldn't, but it would not be usual and does not necessarily align with the corporate type image, wished to be perceived.
Studies completed over a variation of workers, started to highlight some key areas of importance, from workers being deterred by outdated décor, lack of natural light and they would even turn down a role if they did not like the workplace environment. But how does an organisation know what is right for them, when looking to make change?
Sometimes what can happen when trying to achieve this, organisations will 'tell' a design agency or an architect what they want. In a small amount of instances this will be successful but in most cases it is ill invested. When working with any level of experience of agency or architecture firm, there needs to be collaboration. By mutually integrating ideas of vision, experience and trend. This is the way a structured and relevant design can be conceived, respectful to brand image and trend.
Organisations spend a lot of time and money on creating a brand image and building a name through their products or services. So this is why their workplace environment should also be a reflection of this.
There are many moving parts of 'Design' which will need to be understood, when making this investment to the Organisation and its workplace environment. It is advised that three core areas are understood, which will contribute to the revised design for the 21st century and future workplace/s. These areas are 'People', the 'Workplace' and the available 'Technologies'.
'People' - when looking to improve productivity and wellness, the workspace per employee and the space they have access to, is key to performance. It seems obvious that if you sit in a dark corner cubicle away from the world, it will impact morale and work level. Surprisingly these types of office layouts still exist!
'Workplace' – the workplace environment such as office layout, furnishings, aircon, lighting, lack of greenery, and even colour can impact the performance of employees, and the pleasurable experience of external visitors.
'Technology' – complicated policies being set up which are difficult to use, will hinder engagement and productivity. If accessing the building, sharing documents, arranging meetings or simply being able to log in are all a challenge, you make your employee and customer experience a negative one.
So we can see that 'Design' is a unique challenge to each business type and individual organisation. Organisations can choose to make change like - Fagan & Wallay who where moving office and made the necessary design and refurbishment, relevant to how they needed their space to work for them -
''Moving into the newly designed and refurbished space has added value to our company. It has increased positivity and productivity amongst staff as they feel they belong to the company and its heritage whilst subconsciously aligning with our culture and values."
- Sam Fagan, Systems and Project Manager
But on the positive you do not have to do everything straight away, you can evolve over time (sighs of relief). For example if you are not looking to move office, you can take steps of progressional change. This could be by starting to look at flow of your workplace environment, areas that could be considered -
Entrance Area/ reception –
- Does this represent the image you wish to portray? Colour, branding, adequate amount of light, available seating etc
- Can visitors easily make themselves known and check in? Is there a digital visitor check in, is the reception manned, do you print visitor badges or are visitors anonymous.
Office Workspace -
- Do staff have allocated or shared desks? Has the ratio of shared desks been considered relevant to type of role and skill.
- Does the desk and seat work for the role of the employee? Variations of standing, seated desks and booths can increase productivity.
- Is the flow of the desks, printer/s and kitchen mean employees are away from there seat an adequate amount of time? Layout of shared equipment and amenities is key to allowing employees a break away from there workspace to help with wellness.
- Are there collaborative spaces to allow employees time away from their standard desk? This allows alternative environments for various communication and collaboration externally and internally.
Meeting Rooms -
- Are there varying sized and type of meeting space/s? These should vary to have environments suitable for internal and external meetings. Whilst also utilising space to meet business purpose.
- Are technologies such as Video conferencing easily usable? This will waste time and inconvenience the meeting objective when having to call for assistance.
- Are the temperatures and lightings adjustable? This is necessary to keep engagement and interaction of employees and visitors. It is also desired to have variable lighting depending on using white boards, projectors laptop presentations etc.
'Design' influenced by 'People','Workplace' and 'Technology' will always produce the best business version, relevant to your organisation. By understanding the necessities vs nice to haves, you will deliver a workplace environment to be proud of and one that employees want to be a part of.
and being productive due to the influence from their environment. They feel energised, believe in the business mission and can be part of achieving the vision. Having no need to look for pastures new!