Offices can be rather uninspiring places especially if they are tucked away from the view of the public and customers. Grey rules supreme with little thought going into pleasant or upbeat design features. In addition, many of these work spaces lack simple modifications which can make them much more efficient places to work in. It is baffling why this is still the case. There has been a raft of research to show that well designed and pleasant offices contain more efficient and happier workers. In addition, office furniture makers are being increasingly innovative with their furniture ranges to make them better for modern working environments.
Office Improvement’s as Rewards
Companies spend a fortune on staff incentive schemes and away days to make their teams feel valued and reinvigorated. Small and cheap improvements can be made easily that will have a big impact on how your staff feel and work.
Why not just improve the access to electric sockets in the office so your mobile staff don’t have to scrabble around on all fours to find a socket for their lap top? Wouldn’t that show that you value and respect them more than a pub lunch? Or why not add some comfy seats and lumber support cushions to the office? You could also provide a comfortable area for informal meetings with a small investment in suitable office furniture. London office furniture company Cubewing provide some good examples like the standing meeting desk to the left and the semi-private cubby to the right.
All open plan offices need rooms or areas that are quiet for times when staff need to concentrate to meet a deadline or deal with a complex issue. However, these areas are often completely left out of office design’s or only available to management via their offices. The lack of these concentration spaces shows a lack of respect for staff and ratchets up the stress levels. Find or make space for an area like this which is open to all staff members. This will be particularly motivating if a manager or managers has given up some of their space for the greater good! You should also consider a white noise machine in these areas (which are now really cheap) as studies have shown it can improve the performance of complex tasks by 2%.
These types of improvements with give you the manager or owner a long-term pay back. They are also a great way to reward a team equally and make everybody feel valued. This is important as many reward schemes can be divisive if they are targeted at only a particular grade or job type.
Office Improvement’s as Change Agents
Mergers, changing cultures and structures are often difficult for people to accept. You should consider using staff’s physical environment to help signify what you are trying to achieve.
If you are merging staff from another office let the new merged team have a new shared identity by replacing some of the outdated screens and desks with some modern pieces in a new refreshing colour scheme. And improve the staff’s coffee break facilities or lunch area to give everyone a boost. Make sure you arrange seating so staff are mixed together to facilitate social and professional interactions and prevent the old teams grouping together.
If you want people to work together better you will need to facilitate this via comfortable informal meeting areas and desks that can accommodate one or two people pulling up a stool for a quick chat (you’ll need to get some stools too!). Why not buy a few under desk mobile stool/storage cupboards (touchdown seating to those in the know, see left). You staff can secure and organise their paperwork and use it as an extra seat for short at desk meetings.
Consider bringing a few plants back – I know they can be messy and need watering but just one plant per square metre has been shown to boost productivity by 15% increase.
Office Improvement’s For Safety
Nothing makes a member of staff feel more undervalued than having valid complaints about their working environment repeatedly ignored. Every time they see of experience this niggle it will enforce negative feelings towards their job and their bosses – this is not conducive to a happy and productive workplace.
Untidy and chaotic wiring, poor quality seats, inappropriate desk layouts and a lack of comfortable places for small meetings are all high on the list of employee niggles.
Your staff should never be rooting around under desks messing with cables or running them across the room creating a trip hazard. If this happens in your office invest in desks that have cable conduits and make sure there are loads of network and power points at desk level. If there are clearly not enough sockets for your staff and equipment you need to remedy it as a matter of urgency – staff who waste 30 minutes a day trying to get their equipment set up are going to be pretty annoyed and much less productive.
If your team spend hours a day at a desk then you have to invest in decent seats and wrist raisers. You should also buy a range of computer mice that staff can try or rotate to prevent wrist injury. You should do everything you can to make your team move every hour. Have some standing meeting desks and move the coffee machine and printer across the office.
If you have a team that use a lot of computer equipment and or paper make sure their desk areas are big enough to accommodate what they need and provide sensible storage so your team can organise and tidy their work spaces. The cost of a few mobile storage units and overhead shelves is very small.
In conclusion don’t overlook the opportunities your office space offers you to reward your staff, show you value them and to improve productivity. The right investments in the working environment provide a long term payback and they don’t have to be significant. It can be as simple as changing the thermostat by a degree!