Creating a Great Office Design to Boost Employee Potential

Creating a Great Office Design to Boost Employee Potential

Creating a great office design that appeals to the people who work there is a recent, and important trend in office layout and planning. Does your office provide an environment that’s productive and comfortable? Have you taken a holistic look at it?  Interestingly enough, past design principles that rolled out in the 1950’s are still very strongly in play today.  Read on and learn how to evaluate your workplace to help create a great office design that can help boost employee potential.

When Offices Started Shifting

The layout of offices from the industrial era of the 20thcentury were usually set up in a hierarchy. Employees were meant to come in and serve the company with little thought given to the employee experience. Heavy manufacturing of automobiles and steel, along with aerospace, fueled much of the nation’s economy and provided high-paying jobs for executives and for laborers.  Office design and planning usually reflected the rigid patterns needed to produce the end products. The workplace was typically “rote and uninspired” as author Nikil Saval describes in his book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace.  A new view came along during the mid-century, wrote Saval, when two German brothers who worked in the furniture business with their father started a consulting company. They saw an office as “an organic whole, made up of finely interlinking parts and an enormously complex network of paper flow.”  Their work, roughly translated as “office landscape,” led to the start of the break room and gave an early model for an open office design with limited use of mobile partitions and plants to create sections.

Questions to Ask About Your Office

The digital revolution has changed the world as much as the industrial revolution and has led to new office layouts. Flexibility, comfort and employee wellness are key. Workstations with height-adjustable surfaces and modular lounge chairs offer creative ways to meet employee needs.

Consider this to evaluate your own office styles and needs.

  • What phase is your company in: start-up with funding, a mature corporation or somewhere in between?
  • Do you have an open office arrangement, cubicles, or a mix?
  • Does the space seem cluttered or not used effectively?
  • If a new employee comes onboard, how do you decide where the new hire will work?
  • Do you have many project or freelance workers who only need occasional spaces?
  • Are your office workstations and chairs ergonomic and promote wellness?
  • Are there designated focus or concentration zones?
  • Do you use plants effectively?
  • Are wires exposed and risk being trip hazards?
  • Have you maximized the flow of natural light?

Future Proofing for a Great Office Design

Future office trends are happening right now. They include: maximizing natural light to boost morale and productivity, using energy smart devices and downloading apps to make mobile communication as seamless as possible.  In addition, designating collaborative work areas as well as separate zones set aside for personal focus will continue to put emphasis on employee well-being.

Remember, in a competitive marketplace, a well-planned office environment provides an advantage. Create an organic flow in an office layout and employees become more engaged, than if they feel they’re just showing up to a haphazard arrangement of desks and chairs.  Employees see their working environment as an extension of the company’s brand. They perform the tasks that attract customers and clients, and they’re the first to know if the brand promise is authentic or not.

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Designing Your Office for Better Inter-Office Communication

Designing Your Office for Better Inter-Office Communication

Communicating well in an inter-office setting is more than just having a conversation or written memos exchanged between two or more people. Well-designed and planned spaces promote collaboration and sharing ideas.  This leads to an in-depth understanding of goals and objectives and how to reach them boosts productivity and morale. The end result leads to satisfying outcomes for customers and for employees.  Read on below and keep key furnishings in mind that impact inter-office communication.

Re-Imagine Office Walls

Walls are barriers. They define space and through much of the 20thcentury, walls stood between executives and the rest of the company.  The open-office concept has brought the walls down, but sometimes they’re necessary. For large open-office spaces, the right kinds of architectural walls can provide quiet zones where teams can pore over documents and plans without disturbing other workers.  Manufacturer Trendway has three distinct types of easy-install walls: the Clear Wall with options related to clear glass or glazing; the Trendwall, a solution that’s more sustainable than drywall; and the Volo Wall which features attractive movable panels.  Remember to use walls to guide inter-office communication, not prevent it.

Replace the Traditional Cubicle

Cubicles now offer personalization and customization that are more appealing than the old-school, traditional gray ones. Today’s office cubicle options define space, allow for privacy, but invite collaboration. In addition, many have removable panels as the need for privacy changes.  A plus is choosing cubicles that maximize the flow of natural light, which is known to be a morale booster.  The Friant System 2 has attractive colors and styles that are easy to configure and reconfigure.  Initiate Workstation by Hon offers durability and long-term value. It provides an appealing space for individuals and yet offers room for quick huddles and conversations, contributing to improved inter-office communication.

Create Conversation Spaces

Open, informal spaces can encourage conversation and flow of ideas. Or they can be areas to delve into topics that are mission-critical.  A wide variety of creative seating arrangements are available to meet the personality of any office.  Coact from First Office fits in offices that have flexible seating arrangements or structured private offices. It balances structure and freedom.  Supportive and cushioned chairs are available with the Domo Lounge by Arcadia. Tablet and power port accessories are also available to power your electronic devices.  You can also customize tables to accommodate spreading out charts and supporting documents.  Remember to match furnishings with your company’s communication style to encourage collaboration and positiveinteractions.

Inter-Office Communication

Checking off these items above will surely contribute to better inter-office communication, and can help integrate it into your company culture — all in all promoting an office that his more productive, successful and happy.

Creative Office Layouts that Engage Employees

Companies with unique and creative office layouts based around their brands, as a result, inspire and engage their employees to live out their brands’ promises on a daily basis. The following companies have unique office décor and settings to make employees feel a part of the mission and core strength.  Remember not to try and copy them. There’s only one Google and one Dropbox. But instead, adapt their ideas to inspire creativity, enhance collaboration and create your own engaging workplace experience.

Edmunds

Edmunds.com is all about cars and you see it immediately when stepping into their Santa Monica office that houses a couple of hundred employees. Edmunds launched in the 1960s with paper car reports at newsstands and remain recognized as the Car People who make car buying easier.  Their mission is clear once you walk in the door. A classic Corvette is suspended above the reception desk and the extensive coffee bar is decked out in chrome wheels.  The office space is flexible with mini-meeting rooms that are easy to duck in and out of. Departments are arranged with workstations in open areas and there’s plenty of room between them.  Edmunds has been rated as one of the best places to work in Southern California every year since 2010.

Dropbox

Having spiral bound rings above your desk gives a mix of closure and openness. Dropbox has a unique approach to office design and is aware of the drawbacks of the open offices. The file-sharing tech firm has described how providing various types of spaces for employees can allow people to come together in teams to work on a problem and then disperse to work on the details.

Google

Spaces for work and places for play describe in general how Google offices are designed and laid out. The company logo is always present and is integrated into the design. In its relatively recent Pittsburgh office, Google in white letters is neatly painted across a red brick wall to pay respects to the original building.  Google offices include pool tables and foosball games with a design that reflects some of the local flavor.  The innovative and now legendary search firm gives a local, at-home vibe for its employees no matter where they work.

AirBnB

AirBnB’s international offices show that the reception desk represents more than an afterthought. In its London, Sao Paulo and Singapore locations, the reception area is modeled after a front porch. The offices are created in tandem with local design firms and pull on the mission of living anywhere.  The headquarters in San Francisco have work rooms that are modeled after actual apartments and in Singapore there’s bleacher-style seating to hold informal meetings.

Urban Outfitters

In Philadelphia, Urban Outfitters pays homage to a 125-year history of shipbuilding with the layout and look of its design studios. An old navy yard feel is integrated with today’s technology and office comforts.  The office design has been honored by the National AIA Honor Awards Jury for its “tension between old and new … indoor and out … all of this while holding in character with the corporate image.”

What About Creative Office Layouts for Your Company?

You’re probably not trying to make headlines or win awards with your office layout, but does it serve your employees well and represent your brand effectively?  Planning a creative office space that also supports the company’s goals and objectives well takes deliberate thought, but the result is a boost in productivity and office morale.

Consider ways to refresh your workspace. Contact 2010 Office Furniture for expert input based on many years of experience helping corporations, universities, and small businesses throughout Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Easy Guide to Calculating Space for Best Office Layout

Trying to calculate how much space you need for your office layout is no easy task. Industry guidelines state that an office should have about 250 square feet per employee, but the amount of space that’s really needed can vary widely.  Let’s look at the basics below and assess the variables to measure.

Consider the Number of People

Determine how many people are impacted and their needs.  Individuals play different roles. How many are admin, sales, or in a technical capacity like engineering? A nonprofit organization will have admin and those designated to carry out the program.  List the number who need private offices and individual desks and how many will share workstations.  Also, decide if the number of people that will be working today will stay about the same for the near future and then decide if growth will be likely or if fewer people, especially in the case of freelance or temporary help.

Measure the Room and Open Space Sizes for Layout Planning

If existing rooms are permanent, then you can measure the available open space and how much room each department may need.  In a large open space, temporary rooms can easily be constructed using architectural walls and work spaces designated with today’s flexible cubicle systems.

Decide on Storage Space and Use

Storage can be done in a layered fashion. A designated central area, departmental storage with filing cabinets and personal storage at workstations and private offices are all options.  It’s easy to amass clutter so make sure that what’s needing stored has a lasting purpose. Just like people moving in or out, storage needs can change.

List Out the Overall Facilities

The space you need and have available is unique to you. There are variables that will certainly impact the footage needed for your optimal office layout.  Make sure to consider space and furnishings for:

  • Reception area – how much space do you need for a reception desk and guest chairs
  • Computer room to house servers and other related equipment
  • Break room – refrigerator, sink, cups, plates and table
  • Copy area and designated work area that salespeople may need to assemble collateral
  • Training area – will space be set aside for a designated training area?
  • Restrooms
  • First Aid and Emergency supplies – usually kept in a break room and restrooms for smaller companies

Have fun and be creative, and just make sure to plan your existing office space as effective as possible!

How to Create an Experience-Driven Office Wellness Program

An effective overall office wellness program goes beyond checking blood pressure and office exercise to fight work-related illnesses or weight gain. Let’s take a holistic look at making an experience-driven employee office wellness program that’s right for your office.

Office Wellness and the Ambiance

Provide value to your employees in the same way that you offer value to potential customers and existing customers.  Look at the overall atmosphere in the office and find ways to make large or small improvements. Provide an espresso bar and baskets in a break area filled with healthy snacks like granola, fresh fruits and vegetables.  Natural lighting has been proven to boost morale and is a desirable perk. Maximize the flow of outdoor light and green up spaces using indoor plants. In our tech-heavy world, a connection to nature becomes more important than ever for an overall sense of well-being.  Bottom line: create a satisfying and nurturing experience that your employees will love.

Office Wellness and Workspaces

Give employees the freedom to work where they’re most comfortable, or to stay put in one place. An office design should bring out the best in people so they can be as productive as possible. Structure and habit work well for some while other staff may like more of a free-range office concept.  There are now a huge variety of desks and chairs that are available to meet a variety of needs. It’s possible to have assigned workstations and more flexible areas where someone can move to and work.  Don’t require someone to sit in one place and work on coding or do market research. If they’re achieving what they need to do, and they have the furnishings to support their work then let them take responsibility for their outcomes.  All in all, provide an atmosphere that keeps stress to a minimum and rewards quality.

Creative an Office Wellness Program

Find ways to integrate wellness into daily work. Do postings on an attractive cubicle partition or architectural wall that encourage fitness and good health.

Food is a major ingredientin a person’s approach to wellness.

  • Post recipes of easy-to-make salads.
  • Arrange employee discounts with local stores on produce and organic lunches.

Exercise is another key to staying healthy.

  • Set aside an area that’s no more than 8 feet by 10 feet and have an exercise ball and free weights.
  • Install a treadmill.
  • Post pictures of favorite walks and hikes that employees like to take.
  • Bring in a personal trainer once a week to give ideas and answer questions on topics like staying in shape despite a busy lifestyle.

You’ll see that an investment in a holistic office wellness program will yield to a payoff that will translate to a healthier, happier and more productive company.

How to Foster Better Office Communication

How to Foster Better Office Communication

A lack of better office communication leads to many workplace challenges. Misunderstandings arise and employees are often admonished to get a job done, “no excuses.” That shuts down problem solving dialogue as people retreat to their desks. Here’s how to set the stage and create a culture for better office communication and create a confident and cohesive team.

Communicate Clearly

Think of office communication as a process that flows top-down and then flows from the bottom up. Communication top-down means making sure the staff knows organizational goals and how those fit the company’s mission and vision. This brings employees together and gives a feeling of significance if they see how they’re contributing to a clearly set goal and mission.  Bottom-up office communication is also important. Listening to the challenges that impede progress from sales personnel to those in production or in customer service definitely contrubutes to better office communication and can help troubleshoot and improve internal functions.

Communicate Specifically

In a department meeting or in a one-on-one setting, communicating specifically is best, and helps better office communication. It’s easy to deliver good news like record sales and zero customer complaints. When delivering tough news or when uncertainty is in the air, being specific is challenging for leaders and for employees.  Executive leadership is supposed to “know everything” and, for legal reasons, may have topics that can’t be fully discussed like why a specific person had to leave or if merger talks are in the works.  It’s best to say when an issue can’t be put out in the open since being vague sounds like something is being hidden.  Ask individuals and departments for their feedback to give them responsibility for their outcomes. If a department is falling behind on something like production, then ask them to come together as a team and identify reasons. Then have them present those specific reasons. This way, they don’t feel they’re being blamed.  Ask them to include challenges that may prevent them from achieving improved outcomes.

Communicate as a Culture

Set the stage, or lay the foundation, for a positive communication experience in the workplace. Just like customers have “touch points” during their buying journey, think of employees having “touch points” in their workplace experience. It’s more than motivational sayings taped to the wall.  The environment sets the stage for a culture of better office communication. Furnishings define workspace areas, places to have focused conversations and areas to take a break.  Here’s an idea. Walk in the door. How inviting does the reception area look with the existing desk and chairs?  Do workstations support people in their tasks, allow for privacy and for collaboration? Remember that areas that are supposed to inspire interaction and flow of effective communication is key. Set up meeting areas where an exchange of ideas and discussions can take place by using co-op meeting spaces and architectural walls.  Investing in the right equipment and furnishings shows the commitment to each employee’s well-being.

Achieving Better Office Communication

By tackling office interactions clearly, specifically and with purpose, it opens the door for better office communication flow as a culture — all in all promoting an office that his more effective, productive and happy.

Mastering the Activity-Based Office Layout

Mastering the Activity-Based Office Layout

What is an Activity-Based Office Layout

To promote a more productive office, steer clear of the traditional and stationary individual work desks.  Instead, try an activity-based office layout — with work zones, collaboration areas, and places to focus.  The activity-based office layout is a variation on an open office floor plan and foster activity-based working.  Activity-based working means that instead of specific one-man desks where a person works all day, employees can access a variety of spaces throughout their work day. Informal areas are a fit for impromptu meetings and personal areas are available for phone calls and a chance to retreat briefly from a workstation.

Office Layout – Workstations

An activity-based office layout lets employees work in areas that are personally comfortable. Sometimes it’s necessary to work closely with other team members, so select workstations with the styles and customizable features that support a team’s needs.  Privacy is often an issue so choose desks and open-plan benching with partitions that can be removed or installed.  There are many quality workstations available today that are designed for the different personalities that make up a team, along with the needs of individuals. The G Series Desk Lounge is a good example, with a layout that can provide room for four workers, and a casual seating space with a sofa-type cushion. The workstation can be configured if people want to work in pairs or if someone needs to work alone, and the desk surfaces are height adjustable.

Office Layout – Joint Areas

What happens if a focused conversation has to take place and others can’t be interrupted? Create an area for collaboration!  When designing an activity-based office layout even with small workspaces, there are plenty of options for creating collaboration areas. Conversation pods, or co-op meeting spaces, and modular lounge furniture that is easily re-configured make it possible to get ideas out in the open without interrupting flow in designated work areas.  Also consider architectural walls that define space but let light filter through the room.  If spaces seem cluttered and tight, consider what furniture can and needs to go.  A design firm in London, Oktra, did an office overhaul so more collaboration among team members could take place. The company tossed 30 percent of its desks and increased the size used for sharing ideas. An area was also created for employees to use their phones.

Office Layout – Concentration Zones

Healthy boundaries are needed in the workspace — and key for the activity-based office layout. Employees are a mix of introverts and extroverts.  A constant barrage of communication indefinitely can wear people down, and introverts especially need to be able to have a chance to pull back from others when necessary.   Create concentration zones with individual pods, like a privacy booth from KI. Its design reduces surrounding noise and restricts peripheral vision.  Also, playing quiet background music like instrumental jazz and using plants to demarcate space can help create areas for taking a personal call or getting into an assignment.

More Office Space Ideas

When considering to revamp the workplace with an activity-based office layout and create a productive setting with a personal touch, then present a concept and ask the employees for their ideas on designs and touches that they’d like.  There are many things that can be done, even if initially it seems like an impossibility.  For example, if the office can’t afford to install a company gym, maybe consider installing a treadmill or two. That gives employees chances to take a walking break during the day.  It’s also a great idea to keep your office happy with food.  You can bring in catered coffee with a barista once or twice a week, depending on the budget, or have a monthly taco bar.  Bottom line: create spaces for these type of activities that encourage your staff and keep them happy.

2010 Office Furniture offers expert ideas for companies in all industries needing furniture that fits available spaces, goals and objectives. Submit your needs here to get input on space planning, ergonomic furniture and the accessories needed to create an office that brings the most out of people while providing a positive office and work experience.

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Move, Sit & Listen: The Basics for Holistic Office Wellness

Promote holistic office wellness by helping staff move, sit, and listen. It’s easy to put it into the daily routine with a low cost and high potential returns. Here are three categories to use in evaluating your approach.

Office Wellness with Movement

Furnish your office for activity. Our bodies are meant to move and not sit in one place for hours at a time.

This write-up from Office Vibe shares important facts: up to 80% of Americans work in jobs that require little to no movement; and research shows that employee medical costs fall by $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs.  Here’s what happens with a sedentary lifestyle at the office and at home. Pressure builds on the lower back and joints while key muscle groups can weaken. Blood circulation suffers and, ultimately, less oxygen flows to the brain.  Office wellness that includes movement can be subtle. Show employees stretching exercises to do while seated. Encourage them to take a brisk walk down the hallway every couple of hours or scoot around the block outside during lunch.  Install height-adjustable desks for individual offices and for workstations. Start getting used to it slowly by using it in a standing position for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

Wellness When Sitting

Sitting seems like a non-stress activity that shouldn’t have any impact on our bodies. Not true. Make no mistake that sitting without moving creates stress.  Gravity is at work, plus the way we sit can aggravate key areas of the body like the neck area, lower back and hips.  Employee wellness should focus on sitting with proper posture while using ergonomic chairs and workstations and desks with height-adjustable surfaces. Here’s why:

  • Proper posture is when a person is sitting in front of a computer with a relatively straight back and not straining to see the screen. Leaning forward strains the neck because our heads weigh as much as a heavy bowling ball. That gradually pulls the vertebrae out of alignment and pinches the nerves running from the brain to the rest of the body. Blood flow is reduced and pain signals increase.
  • Ergonomic chairs have a real-world benefit that adjust to the contours of the body and evenly distribute weight. They allow for natural movement, too. Not all chairs are quality ergonomic so look for those with lumbar support, waterfall seating to relieve stress on the legs and adjustments for armrests, height and tilt.
  • Height-adjustable desks and workstations conform to individual needs so it’s easy to sit properly. This reduces the flare-up of ailments like carpal-tunnel syndrome.

Another danger to sitting is when people slouch on chairs or sofas and cradle a cell phone with their neck and shoulder. Remember, our bodies and the parts that make it are a whole. A daily repetitive motion like this can throw us out of alignment.  That’s why stretching and regular intervals of movement are beneficial.

Listening Properly

Another part of office wellness isn’t so obvious, but it can reduce stress a great deal. It’s listening properly.  By nature, people want to have their voices heard and know that their ideas and opinions matter. Personal interactions are easily misinterpreted because personality differences come in such wide ranges. This is true in a family and it’s certainly true in an office setting.  And as much as we sometimes try, we can never really fully separate our personal lives and needs from our work and professional lives. Broken relationships, sick kids, and other personal issues distract from the tasks at hand.  Learning to listen well can reduce internal stress—that’s the jangling nerves that we don’t see. Executives, mid-level managers and hourly workers can all use reminders on how to stop, hear what the other person is saying, and repeat back what they’ve heard.

Having designated areas for quiet conversation and personal reflection is key. Semi-enclosed meeting pods and seating arrangements that allow for one-on-one or individual time provide focus and reduce distractions. Leave cell phones behind and don’t take a laptop to go online.

Achieving Holistic Office Wellness

Office wellness can easily be implemented in the everyday work setting. For ideas on how to plan and furnish an office for better office wellness submit your questions and needs to us!  Our 2010 Office Furniture team of experts have a combined of five decades of experience helping start-ups, nonprofits and leading corporations throughout Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.