Every business should continually try to improve its productivity and get the most impact out of its staff and office space for both the long- and short-term. Recent problems in the UK and global economy have made productivity an increasingly-important issue for businesses of all sizes, and small and medium-sized enterprises could find that failing to maximise the productivity of their workspace could prove to be the difference between sinking and swimming.
There are a range of different design elements and features you can use to boost the productivity of your working environment, however. Consider the following factors and you might notice a significant spike in your company’s bottom line following relatively little investment.
Collaborative working areas
It’s no secret that workers can struggle to focus when they have not had a break for a while. Many experts think it is almost impossible for people to continually work at a computer terminal for eight solid hours without a little downtime – if you don’t make time for breaks, the breaks will happen regardless!
But a few minutes reading the news headlines are a few unproductive minutes. People don’t really need breaks for relaxing and unwinding – instead, they simply need to stop performing a task. If staff have the ability to leave their desks and continue their work in a different environment, they might not need a break at all.
Consider establishing lounge areas with connectivity points and working areas, so people can leave their desks and continue working in a fresh environment. Conference rooms don’t have to be left vacant when scheduled meetings finish – staff that need to collaborate with each other should be able to use these rooms easily when required, and they should contain all the fittings and features these personnel need to complete their jobs.
Freshen up the office design
It’s hard to work in stilted and unpleasant areas. Not only will they worsen the mood of your staff – with this effect snowballing as time progresses, potentially leading to high staff turnover and low morale – but they will also encourage laziness and stifle the imagination.
Research has shown that bright areas with plenty of natural light promote productivity and creativity – exactly the kind of qualities you want in your employees. If you can redesign your office to maximise the amount of natural light, then you will undoubtedly see your employees become happier and your productivity grow.
It might be unfeasible for you to increase the amount of natural light in your existing office space, but artificial light can also be helpful. Dull lighting and strip-lighting might be associated with unpleasant interior designs, but if you use mirrors, glass and reflective surfaces, you can enhance the efficacy of artificial lighting sources with very little outlay.
Other studies have revealed that plant life can substantially improve the wellbeing of office workers and can act as a ‘restorative element’. Even a plant on a desk can have a big impact, but floral features throughout the office can create a calming, relaxing area full of greenery that will boost the wellbeing of your staff and that is scientifically proven to improve people’s attention capacity and willing to work.
Fuse open-plan and closed-plan office layouts together
Open-plan offices might seem like they’re all the rage these days, but the supposed benefits of this kind of office design aren’t as clear as you might think. For instance, people who don’t need to collaborate may be disturbed by people who do, while staff who need to talk with each-other might find they can’t be as frank and open as they would like because they are concerned that other people can hear their conversations.
However, businesses have largely moved away from cubicles as they are associated with reduced worker morale and a lack of socialisation. Workplaces don’t need to be lonely – but ironically, an open-plan office full of silent workers can feel a lot lonelier than a cubicle!
Modern office design trends frequently fuse open-plan and closed-plan layouts together to create a range of different areas that can be used for a range of purposes. Furniture can be chosen and arranged to create quiet collaborative locations within the central hub of the office, and staff’s workstations can be organised to provide everyone with their own personal location while providing ample opportunity for quiet conversation and communication.
The ideal solution is an office that encourages staff to ditch their headphones by offering plenty of privacy and sound insulation when required, while containing plenty of clever areas that can be used when conversation and communication is required.
Ergonomic office design
Did you know that musculoskeletal problems are the second-most common reason for staff absence, after mental health problems?
If your staff spend most of the day sat down on a chair hunched over a desk, they will begin to suffer aches, pains and other body problems in a surprisingly short amount of time, and these can distract them from the task at hand. All workstations should be adjustable so that monitors, chairs and desks are perfect for each member of staff, ensuring that good posture is promoted and musculoskeletal problems are avoided.
You may want to ask staff to make certain that their workspaces are perfect for their unique requirements. Provide a little staff training on ergonomics, posture and safe working positions, and then perform occasional checks on workstations to understand if your advice is being followed. Feel free to point out if a staff member’s posture or workstation will lead to health problems – they’ll thank you in the future!
We’re dedicated to helping businesses get the most out of their office designs. If you want to find out how you could improve your firm’s productivity with an office redesign or some new furniture for your business, then contact us – we’re ready to help you out!
Take a look at our case studies for other ideas on improving workplace productivity.