The way offices are designed has evolved from more than just putting desks and computers in space. Now, many business owners are recognizing the importance of how the layout of a workplace can impact their employees who spend a huge chunk of their day inside these spaces.
Aside from improving productivity, a great office environment can also affect the health and wellbeing of office workers, decrease employee turnover, and boost staff morale.
Different factors have to be considered in creating an effective office layout. Depending on how you implement these factors, it can significantly influence the productivity of your employees.
Are the work desks of your employees too close to one another? Or are they spaced too far away to encourage collaboration? Do you have different employees with totally diverse job roles intermingled with one another? Maybe you did not think about the need for private meeting rooms for your team? All of these concerns have to be addressed when space planning your office.
Space planning refers to the process of allocating workstations, equipment, furnishings, and other office necessities to maximize the area available. This is the time when you decide where inside the space you’ll position different business departments, how many employees will work in one area, and what type of desk layout you will implement.
Years back, many traditional office settings adopted the cubicle workstation layout to provide a certain measure of privacy to each employee. In recent years, however, open office layouts are becoming more popular with shared tables and workstations. Having a hot desk system where employees do not permanently occupy a specific space is also being used by many organizations.
There are ongoing debates on which type of layout is more effective when allocating space for employees. If you look at each system, each has its advantages and disadvantages. When deciding what to apply, you have to consider the unique needs of your business and staff members.
For example, having cubicles or private offices are often preferred by employees like accountants or quality control officers who need to concentrate on their tasks. On the other hand, creative companies who typically prefer collaborative environments may benefit more from having open office layouts. Still, there are many creative employees like writers and graphic designers who like to be left alone so they prefer a quieter space.
Since different types of employees have different work habits and preferences, it will be helpful to create a layout that is flexible and optimized to your needs. For instance, if you run a creative business, you can apply the open layout but at the same time allow for private spaces that employees who need minimal distractions can use.
Accessibility of communal spaces and equipment
Communal spaces are shared by multiple people in an organization. The accessibility of these spaces has to be strategic to support the workers and keep them productive.
One good example that is often taken for granted is the placement of the coffee break room. Many business managers question whether coffee breaks kill or boost productivity because of the time employees spend during these breaks. According to a survey, UK workers spend an average of 18 hours a year going out of the office to get coffee.
If your coffee break room is located in a far-flung area in the building or if you don’t have a break room at all, this will contribute to lost time. However, if you plan your office space to include a coffee break room that is easily accessible and that serves a good brew, this can minimize the amount of time your employees spend popping out to get themselves a cup of coffee.
Other areas you should consider during space planning include meeting rooms, presentation areas, copy rooms, washrooms, and where shared equipment are placed. For instance, it’s illogical to place a colored printer often used by graphic artists on a separate floor near the finance department. Not only will it waste a lot of time, but it can also result in complaints from your staff.
Amenities to make employees happy and healthy
When Google first released photos of their offices, many people applauded at how creative and cool these spaces look. It was so different from what was expected from a tech company because instead of rows and rows of identical cubicles, Google had café-style lounges and futuristic work pods.
However, what is worth mentioning is that in addition to these cool-looking work areas, Google went the extra mile. Their offices featured fitness and wellness centers, bowling alleys, foosball tables, and free gourmet meals.
According to Google, providing these facilities to employees within the office is a way for them to make their employees happier and healthier. As many studies suggest, happier and healthier employees are more productive.
Google’s highly publicized offices inspired many other businesses to follow the lead. However, it does not necessarily mean that you have to buy your building or build an indoor pool to make your employees happy and promote healthy lifestyles.
Thoughtful additions like having vending machines with healthy food, negotiating a corporate gym discount, and an onsite massage chair are just examples of things your employees will appreciate.
Ergonomics is an important consideration when designing your office space. It is not enough that you have ample space for everyone or that you’re buying the most expensive furniture. You have to make sure that the employees are comfortable in the environment for them to be efficient and productive.
One of the most basic requirements when it comes to having an ergonomically designed office is ensuring that the workstation is physically comfortable. This includes the type of chair provided, the height of the table, and how the computer is positioned relative to the user.
Does the chair cause back problems or leg strains? Are the arms supported well? Is the computer monitor too small that it causes eye strain?
Other aspects that need to be looked at are the following:
- Cooling / Heating
- Colors (walls, desks, and furnishings)
- Clutter and storage
Maximizing productivity through office design
The design of your office plays a big role in the productivity of your employees. When deciding on an office layout, it is important to keep in mind that every business is unique, therefore, you need to consider the needs as well as the culture of your organization to find out what will suit you best.