It’s no secret that workplace design has a huge impact on output. This is why things like inspirational sayings and houseplants have been staples of office environments for a few years now, and it’s why office refits and cutting-edge designs have long been key indicators of success.
Now, as employees face a shift back into the office after a year of working from tailored home spaces, companies can expect far more awareness of office environments overall, and of the things that prevent efficient business as normal.
Of course, no company can implement the personalised experience of a home office, but knowing how accustomed employees have become to offices tailored to their tastes means that this is the best possible time for employers to spruce up and reassess their commercial premises. Notably, right now, it’s crucial to consider an office design that works for every single employee, ensuring a smooth return and continued satisfaction even outside of the home office. Here, we’re going to look at a few key focuses that can make this possible.
A variety of working spaces
Open plan office environments have been a popular business go-to since as far back as the 1940s. However, even before the pandemic, texts like Susan Cain’s Quiet threw the effectiveness of open plan setups into question. As employees return after over a year of working in peaceful, private home offices, an enforced open setup is certainly guaranteed to put a few cats among the office pigeons.
Obviously, some employees are going to embrace this social arrangement with open arms, especially considering that isolation was a major downside of lockdown working for more than half of home workers. For others, this taste of a more peaceful, private working setup means that open-plan working will lead to significant dissatisfaction and productivity downfalls.
To ensure that they’re catering for all sides of the return divide, employees could benefit from providing a variety of working spaces wherever possible moving forward. Obviously, flexible work facilitates this to some degree, but even within the office, implementing private office cubicles for those who feel they need them could make a huge difference, while an ongoing focus on a generally open plan space could be the perfect way for everyone to return to work as normal.
Adaptable work stations
The opportunity to control everything from airflow to light quality in-home offices is a large part of why the WFH switch increased productivity as much as it did, ensuring happier employees who didn’t have to worry about overheating or light-induced headaches.
Bringing this benefit back to the office is dependent on a manager’s ability to provide adaptable working stations even in open-plan environments. This may seem like a stretch, but it’s possible to achieve this goal with surprisingly little effort. While these changes might not be quite the same as a private home office, they at least make it possible for more people to achieve the working conditions that they need to thrive.
Providing lamps on desks rather than blinding overhead lighting is the simplest possible option here, ensuring that employees who want a little extra light can do so without imposing it on anyone else. Equally, installing window shutters like the ones you can find out more about here, ensures that each employee working near a window can decide how much sun exposure/natural light they want to work by without impacting others. Desk-based fans or heating units are also a fantastic solution, ensuring individual employee comfort at any given time.
While small steps like these may cost a fair amount by the time you’ve furnished every desk, they’re efforts that will soon pay for themselves. After all, as well as boosting productivity and thus profits, every one of these steps helps to cut back on broader office utility bills as you step away from standard lighting/heating implementations.
A focus on universal concerns
While the small details that we look for in an office inevitably vary among employees, some universal focuses are always worth zooming in on when you’re trying to get everyone on board. By tailoring office spaces towards these concerns, you make it far more likely that your commercial space can keep everyone happy.
Perhaps the simplest example of this is the need for a clear, cohesive environment. Cluttered desks or wires everywhere certainly don’t create productive mindsets, or particularly suit anyone’s working preferences. By comparison, precise, spacious desk positions and clear corridors between units ensure a sense of cohesion and calm that, when paired with general office cleaning services, is sure to enhance satisfaction across the board.
Equally, while bright, bold office colours might work for certain team members, the vast majority of employees favour crisp, simplistic colours that create a sense of calm and certainly don’t distract. In this sense, white or cream walls can help to keep more people happy, and working well, regardless of their personal decoration preferences.
A push for employee feedback
All other things aside, there’s no way that an office is going to appeal to your employees if you don’t also take the time to ask them what they would like from the space. Hence, asking for feedback with specific regards to decor/setup at least every six months is a crucial part of getting this right.
Obviously, the results from feedback like this are going to be varied because your team is varied, but by reading through and taking note of these comments, you should soon start to see recurring themes or priorities. By merging these mutual requirements, and forever returning to that feedback throughout, you put yourself in the best possible position to create an office environment that at least appeals to some key aspects of generalised expectations and requirements.
It isn’t easy to please all of the people all of the time, but it’s certainly not impossible. With these pointers to hand, you may even find that you can create an office better suited to employee needs than their efforts back home, ensuring a smooth, and happy, transition back into the office when it matters most.
Copyright 2021. Article made possible by site supporter Jeremy Bowler.