Reasons to Refresh and Improve Office Layout

Reasons to Refresh and Improve Office Layout

Steps to Improve Office Layout

A need to boost office morale and improve communication within or between departments are among the reasons to refresh an existing workspace and improve office layout. Today’s modular style furniture offers easy-to-implement solutions.

Let the Sun Shine In

Improve office layout by boosting overall morale with more natural light. Southern California is bathed in sunshine throughout the year, but office workers with desks removed from windows don’t get the benefits.  A 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine concluded that employees with access to plenty of natural light were more alert and productive during the day and slept more peacefully at night.  Another finding published in the Harvard Business Review showed that natural light in offices is more desired than on-site fitness centers and even perks like bringing one’s dog to work.  Make sure desks and work areas are within 25 feet of windows. For best results, install light tubes and larger windows.

Turn Private Cubicles into Group Work Pods

Changes in a work settings often evolve. While the company’s mission may remain the same, new client accounts or launches of product lines may be a call to improve office layout and allow workers  to streamline their communications.  New hires and workers from different generations can have unique expectations for what they consider a comfortable office setting. Stop and consider if your current layout allows members of different departments to communicate as effectively as possible.  Offices with multiple departments may want cubicles in certain areas to make work easier like a sales team that has to be on the phone. A finance department or production team may work best with open plan benching to share ideas and information with each other.

Use Modular Walls For Privacy and Transparency

Create a flexible conference room. When private conversations or group discussions are needed, install transparent architectural wallsto create boundaries within an open atmosphere. Equip the area with a wireless printer and flat screen monitor.

Create an Open Break Area

Many employees prize relationships in the work place. Provide an open break area with lounge chairsthat are clearly styled for individual, private space and other lounge furniture that’s easily configured for a small group.

The Mindset to Improve Office Layout

Refreshing an existing office space takes a little imagination and a knowledge of the available furniture and accessories.

Image Source: Groupe Lacasse

Benefits of Using Open Plan Cubicles in Los Angeles

Companies using open plan cubicles in Los Angeles are reaping the many office benefits they offer. Today’s many styles of open plan cubicles in Los Angeles provide defined personal areas without creating an atmosphere of barriers. In addition, re-configuring an office to accommodate growth over the years is easy and affordable.

Cubicle Styles

It’s important to understand what the many cubicle styles are in today’s office environments, and what works. Stylishly colored cubicles that blend in well allow a company to display its own distinct brand instead of a haphazard collection of desks or one-color partitions. Gone are the days of drab gray.  The modern office is all about color.  You’ll also find that many open plan cubicles in Los Angeles these days help alleviate the sense of claustrophobia. The EO+ Workstation by Global is a good example of modular panels that are visually pleasing and use translucent glass to let light filter through. This system works well in a spacious office or compact location. The Initiate Workstation by HON is similar to the EO+ and allows for each person to add their own distinctive touches to their workspace. When collaboration is important, consider cubicles by Friant like the Interra, Tiles, and System 2 workstations.

Easy Cubicle Configuration

Flexibility is important for large corporations in and around Los Angeles as well as entrepreneurial start-ups. New accounts or a need for better employee to employee communication can necessitate change.  Open plan cubicles can meet the fine line needed for discussion and idea sharing while offering privacy when a team member needs to withdraw from others and work in a focused manner.  Cubicles are easy to configure whether new hires come through the door or an office needs re-arranging to service a major account. Yet, the steel and aluminum parts are durable for a long life.

Considerations for Space Planning and Design

Knowing how to properly plan and design a space requires an understanding of what makes an office function well. Consider present needs and how the team is arranged and the impact of projected future growth.  In an open office setting, private areas become important for people who need to withdraw. A space doesn’t have to be large, but it should be defined in some way. Lounge chairs or hanging plants create boundaries without feeling like barricades.  Open plan cubicles make it easy to provide defined workspace, personal break areas and places for shared equipment like copiers.

Image Source: Friant

Easy Ways to Reduce Office Stress and Create a Welcoming Atmosphere

Easy Ways to Reduce Office Stress and Create a Welcoming Atmosphere

The Dangers of Office Stress

Office stress is the greatest threat to employee health and productivity. Short tempers and walking or sitting with slouched shoulders are signs that someone is under stress. Work comes with a lot of stress, especially for companies trying to grow and win market share. Putting together a wellness program is a good idea, but here are easy ways to reduce tensions in the office.

Reduce Clutter

Some people are naturally better at organizing desks and drawers than others. Ask them to share their tips for keeping a desktop or workstation clean and neat. Provide adequate storage for personal belongings and work-related materials such as brochures and office supplies. Use modular open plan benching units that are easily configured like Staks Open Plan Desking by First Office.

Listen

Society is noisy, especially with social media newsfeeds that broadcast opinions on every subject available. Encourage people to take personal social media breaks. In open office environments, personal phone calls and impromptu conversations add to the chatter. Create listening spaces with modular units like the Co-op Lounge by Arcadia or Coact Modular Lounge by First Office. Both help define a meeting space without creating barriers.

The executive team may be used to giving orders, but company leaders and managers should also develop listening skills to hear and address concerns that employees have. Maintaining eye contact, absorbing concerns, and re-stating what the person has said are important steps to listening well. Don’t be too quick to offer solutions. Someone may simply need to share what’s on their mind regarding their work or personal life in order to process. Once they talk about it, the subject can be done. Note action steps that need followed up on and make sure they agree.

Create Shared Experiences

Stress will increase if an employee feels isolated in trying to overcome a problem. Create an environment within departments or across the company where it’s okay to share concerns and invite solutions.  Give credit and recognition to employees who come up with innovative ideas.

Move to Alleviate Office Stress

Encourage people to get up and move on a regular basis. This could be to stretch at the desk or walk down the hallway or outside around the block.  Install a treadmill near a break area for people who want a walking break. Encourage exercise with discounts on gym memberships and have the team post their favorite places to walk and hike.  Ergonomic chairs and height-adjustable personal desks and workstations are also key in reducing office stress. Proper posture when sitting and typing keeps the head and neck balanced and aligned so there is less stress on knees, elbows and wrists.

Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Encourage people to drink plenty of water throughout the day and reduce the amount of sugary and fatty foods they eat. The body adapts to many conditions and people eventually won’t realize the toll that chronic inflammation takes.  Let people know that they’re in an environment dedicated to helping with office stress, where they can also take control and be empowered to help .

Use Office Plants

Indoor plants create a pleasant atmosphere, help filter the air, and even absorb sound. Researchers have found that using office plants reduced blood pressure and employees felt alert. Plants can be used to define personal and departmental work spaces in open office environments.

Reduce Your Office Stress

We’re here to help!  Share your needs with us here for creating an office environment that’s free of office stress, and help create a welcoming atmosphere for your company.

Image Source: OFS LeanTo

Office Design Layout Best Practices

Office Design and Layout Best Practices

Setting up an office or re-designing an existing office design layout that creates efficiencies on the job and provides a welcoming atmosphere takes an understanding of corporate needs and individual behaviors. Here are the best practice principles that companies throughout Southern California can use to lay out an office.

What is the Purpose of Your Office?

Knowing the purpose of the workplace may seem obvious. Work has to get done, clients and customers serviced, and payroll met. The reason those functions exist is to support a company’s vision and mission.

A vision statement shows what a company aspires to become while a mission statement reveals how the organization carries out its daily tasks. Plan and design an office design layout that supports current work while allowing flexible options for future change.  A production company near downtown Los Angeles may plan to roll out a series that inspires residents of different races to work together in their communities, while an accounting firm in Glendale wants to be known as setting the highest possible standard of integrity.  Having a clear vision and mission statement and then making sure every employee understands why they come to work each day to a space that’s well-organized provides a competitive advantage. This boosts morale and creates a motivated workforce.

Now let’s dig deeper.

What is an Office Space?

Today’s digital world makes working remotely possible in many professional industries. But the work begins with a specific location. An office serves as a central hub of identity and communications for employees, vendors and clients.

A good example of identity is in today’s university systems. As you drive through Los Angeles, Orange Counties and the Inland Empire, you’ll notice signs for branch campuses of many different colleges and universities.  Although higher education is decentralized, the core values and mission come from a central location.  A franchise is also a good example of a central office with standards and values that’s replicated through like-minded locations.  One obvious way an office can form a clear identity is through its design and set up.

How Do Employees Use the Office?

Employees in different industries are going to use offices in their own unique ways. Knowing their needs becomes critical in creating an office design layout that serves everyone’s purpose.

For CPAs in an accounting firm who may want or need their individual space to focus and talk to clients, executive desks may be the best option. For marketing firms with designers, writers, and other creative professionals who have to come together to brainstorm and then complete their work, shared desks and workstations can work well.  Real estate brokerages have agents who are primarily out with buyers and sellers, but need an office space to copy papers, consult with their clients and sign contracts.  Know who’s in, who’s out and what percentage of time the space is needed. Understanding this will help you choose the workstations and private desks that fit your office needs.

Do Clients Use the Office?

Professional firms vary widely in how clients use an office. Small web design firms may go out 90% of the time to see clients while clinics and law firms will often have clients or possible new clients stop in.  Every office should have a multi-use space that can be comfortable for people stopping in and gatherings for staff. It can be a functional space for meetings and trainings and act as a marketing tool that convinces potential clients to do business with your company instead of a competitor.  Use a reception desk and guest chairs that invite someone to step in and sense a connection.

Office Atmosphere

Included in a well-planned office are the elements that contribute to the overall atmosphere like lighting, temperature and personal effects. Maximize Southern California’s abundant sunshine, use smart controls for energy efficiency, and create an area or defined zones for people to pull back from deadlines and the crush of work to be quiet and get refreshed.

Image Source: Friant

Use Benching Workstations to Create A Cohesive Workspace in Los Angeles

Use Benching Workstations to Create A Cohesive Workspace in Los Angeles

Companies of all sizes in Los Angeles can maximize space and create a positive work environment by using benching workstations. Use our office layout system guide below for a seamless flow from the front door to the storage areas.

Flow

A well-designed office space has a seamless sense of organization whether, it’s a studio in Playa Vista or a high rise in Century City. It’s not just people working away on laptops or chatting with clients and vendors.

It’s important to realize a flow should exist from the moment someone enters the reception area. Consider how the appearance of the reception desk and guest chairs impact an office environment.  An organic flow would lead naturally to a work area with benching workstation configurations. Options include seating for several workers in a length-wise arrangement like the Icon Open Plan Workstation by AMQ.  Create a different brand appearance and visual impact with rounded benching workstations like the Intermix Work Open Plan Desking by First Office or the Verity Open Plan Benching by Friant.

Definition

Imagine a large office space that literally has no internal walls. Areas can easily be defined even in such open office settings. The style of desks and workstations set expectations so walls aren’t needed.

Benching workstations are flexible in their configurations and different shapes can delineate specific departments. A production team of designers or engineers can use one particular shape and cluster while a separate style can be for administration.

Break areas can be established with individual chairs. A creative approach would be using modular lounge chairs to establish relaxation centers between departments or in one central area. This addresses the need for a shared experience while respecting individual privacy and down time.

Expectations

A well-designed office lays out expectations for each area and helps employees respect the company. A 2017 Gallup study, State of the American Workplace, concluded that staff who have a personal area are 1.4 times more likely to be engaged in the workplace.

Space planning and its successful application reflect a company’s brand and speaks to the corporate culture. For younger companies, a cohesive office speaks to staying power and allows workers to look to the future.

An established corporation can refresh its office space using current benching workstation solutions and add a new vibe to the surroundings.

Image Source: Friant

Use Open Plan Workstations to Improve Office Communication in Los Angeles

Use Open Plan Workstations to Improve Office Communication in Los Angeles

Open offices are widely used layouts, so entrepreneurs and office managers in Los Angeles should know how to use open plan workstations to enhance and improve communication.

Cohesion

An office design has to make sense. It takes the pieces of what makes an environment work and brings them into a unified whole. A cohesive design acknowledges the separate entities that interact. Leadership sets the tone and pace, administration supervises the flow of cash and people, while the technical talent and workers make the products and provide the services.

Open plan workstations fit the needs of a variety of for-profit industries and non-profit organizations. Small teams working within larger companies can use open plan workstations in clusters or pods. A creative team working at a mid-size PR firm in Santa Monica can have one designated area for working while account managers can have their own area. A robust non-profit can have admin centered around one style of workstations while the program team can operate in a distinct, designated area using workstations that have a completely different style.

Collaboration

Sharing ideas face to face is an important form of collaboration. An open plan workstation gives team members chances to have conversations and focus on the ideas that matter. The design and spacing has to work in everyone’s favor.

Critics say that open offices killed collaboration. Reseacher Ethan Bernstein of the Harvard Business School (HBS) tracked workers who moved from cubicles to an open office setting and found that they tried to avoid collaboration rather than seek it out. In a July 2018 article for HBS, The Open Office Revolution has Gone Too Far, Bernstein says that workers who have a constant audience may try hard to look busy, put on headphones and avoid interaction.

Open plan workstations aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach. A variety of configurations are available to match personalities and departmental demands. The Synapse Open Plan Benching by Deskmakers is straight-forward while the Crossroads Workstation is a “revolutionary take on office furniture systems.”  Smart planning will configure workstations to allow for collaboration when necessary and provide space for individuals to focus.

Communication

Office communication is much more than one employee talking to another. Communication includes emails, keeping company social media accounts up to date, and phone calls with vendors, clients and potential new clients.

A growing office is a buzzing place. How do you keep the communication in its proper channels?  In an open office, a space without walls, departments can have their own open plan workstations in well-defined areas. In the center of the floor, create a place for phone calls or in-person conferences using modular walls and focused meeting pods. Shared equipment like copiers can be off to one side that’s easily accessible by each area.

An open office can be a vibrant place that attracts top talent when it’s laid out effectively. Use open plan workstations to not only improve office communication but also support specific goals and objectives.

Image Source: Global Sidebar

Benefits of Benching Cubicles

Benefits of Benching Cubicles

Benching cubicles merge the desire for close collaboration among employees while offering the personal space needed for focused work. An office can still have a friendly, open feel while defining work space.

Selecting Benching Cubicles

A variety of flexible configurations are available for benching cubicles. Guidelines for selecting a design that best fits an office can take traits into consideration like:

  • Collaboration Versus Privacy
  • Personal Storage Needs
  • Interaction With Clients and Vendors
  • Use Of Height-Adjustable Workstations

Benching cubicles can be configured in many different ways. Arrangements are flexible to accommodate either a few people or several employees working in close proximity.

Some cubicles have a minimal design like the Razor Cubicle Height Adjustable Table by Open Plan Systems. Others, like the Initiate Workstation by HON, maximize personal space while using translucent partitions that allow light to filter through the office.

Reasons to Use Benching Cubicles

Setting up and installing a benching cubicle is easy. As a company grows and changes occur, new configurations can happen in a way that’s fluid—no tearing out walls or displacing lots of workers.

This system is a good example of mass customization. The partitions and use of height-adjustable workstations can be customized for just a few employees or dozens of people. A company can use specific styles and office layouts to reflect its brand.

Flexibility and quality materials are one and the same. Today’s systems are designed to last and withstand heavy use.

Secondary Benefits of Benching Cubicles

A clean, well-designed office attracts the best talent on the market and makes workers from all generations feel comfortable. Benching cubicles can provide a logical flow in the workplace while allowing for workers to personalize their space. The feeling of a shared, positive experience or sense of community is important for younger hires.

Benching cubicle partitions, plus accessories like plants and attractive storage units, can absorb sound and create boundaries so private space and workspace is respected. If someone is walking from the front door to a back area, they don’t have to feel like they’re stepping on someone’s toes or invading a personal boundary.

Benching cubicles along with modular lounge chairs can also give workers the freedom to take business calls or work on their laptops in different locations. People don’t have to be tied to a desk. Every workplace has a style that’s unique to the corporate culture.

Image Source: OFS

Get Moving to Promote a Healthy Office

Get Moving to Promote a Healthy Office

Promoting wellness for a healthy office is as simple as stand, stretch and walk. Office wellness programs should begin with a focus on common sense and lifestyle tips. All of them should be budget-friendly and many don’t have to cost anything at all.

Why Movement is Important

Healthy people move regularly. That doesn’t mean you need strenuous workouts or need to arrange an office killer hike. But getting up to walk briskly for about five minutes each hour will get blood circulating and reduce strain on the body’s joints. Movement also promotes blood flow to the brain so foggy thinking is cleared up.  Consider walking or stretching in the office with a colleague. Have a chat about a client account or professional goals while on the move – at least on occasion. A write-up in the Harvard Business Review, How Simply Moving Benefits Your Mental Health, describes that moving in sync with someone else boosts self-esteem, and overall healthy office.

Now, get moving.

Standing

For someone working on an intense project, it’s tempting to sit at a desk and gradually slump over a computer screen. Gravity begins pushing on the head and straining the muscles along the shoulders. Eventually, the spine becomes mis-aligned from the pressure since an average head weighs from ten to fourteen pounds. A height-adjustable desk or height-adjustable workstation offers a standing break. This isn’t about burning calories since standing won’t burn many at all. A new perspective, though, can generate new ideas and reduce strain on the lower back. Adjustable desks are flexible not just in their movements, but also in their configurations like the G2 Height Adjustable Desk from OFS. This allows each office to be arranged based on personal preferences.

Walking

This is one of the easiest ways to move and promote a healthy office. At the top of the hour, or once every 90 minutes, get up and walk briskly around the office for about five minutes. Improvise by going up and down a staircase or taking a walking break outside.  Brisk strides can burn the calories that standing won’t. It’s a good way to chat with a colleague over important issues, too.

Stretching

Gently stretching the arms, legs and torso is an easy way to promote movement and maintain a healthy range of motion. The goal with stretching is to reduce or eliminate musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The most common MSD complaints center around lower back, neck and shoulder pain.  Some industries and occupations are more at risk than others for MSDs, including nursing, workers in light manufacturing facilities and warehouse and construction operations.

But sitting in one place without moving is also a problem for a healthy office. Here’s why: have you ever seen a RV sit in a driveway for a long period of time without being driven?  Problems occur. Tires start going flat because air isn’t properly distributed. Hoses crack from lack of use and the Southern California sun beats down on seams.  The principal of movement is the same for our bodies. Inaction leads to various health problems and challenges while regular movements keep the staff limber and healthy.

Image Source: Global Terina Tables

Tips for Creating an Inter-Generational Workplace

Tips for Creating an Inter-Generational Workplace

Many don’t even think about it, but having an inter-generational workplace can sometimes have its diffulties.  A company with Baby Boomers on one end of the spectrum and new college grads entering the workforce on the other has a challenge in creating an appealing office environment for both. Copying fads and trends isn’t the answer. Promote trust and integrity with a focus on achieving the company’s goals and mission.

Here are easy to follow guidelines in designing an office space where different generations can thrive.

Generational Workplace Tip #1 – Make Distinct Areas

Create spaces within offices that have clear functions. If individuals are taking breaks from their work, then respect those private areas and don’t hold impromptu work-related meetings. Instead, create conference areas using walls that are easily installed or removed.

Offices that are designed to promote collaboration should also provide break areas that are removed from workstations. Personal phone calls and conversations are less likely to create distractions.

Don’t try to create the perfect working environment, but plan functional spaces that allow work to get accomplished and areas for individuals to take breaks.

Generational Workplace Tip #2 – Work Space

Baby Boomers had parents who came from an era when executive workplaces had a lot of private offices. Southern California’s aerospace industry, automobile manufacturing, and sprawling studio lots came from that era.  High tech companies transformed formal, private workspaces into more casual shared space with emphasis on collaboration. Younger workers may focus more on personal feelings and relationships.

Keep a company’s goals front and center as the unifying factor between the generations.  Use modular workspaces to encourage collaboration while allowing for as much privacy as possible. Open plan benching solutions like the G Series Desk Lounge provide one way to strike a balance.

Generational Workplace Tip #3 – Personal Space

Offices have used numerous approaches to make work less stressful, and a bit more playful.  Ping pong tables and foosball are some ways that companies have sought to interject an atmosphere of play into work. Installing slides that go from the second to first floors is also another idea and can seem fun to some but infantile to others.

Lounge chairs make a statement and also help with personal spaces. Some are highly individualized like the Connection Zone by KI. It signifies that someone is seeking private time to make a call or read.  Furniture like the Agora Vog offers more versatility and allows for employees to be alone or meet in clusters as desired.

Some workers face tough realities in their lives outside of work. Single moms, grandparents involved with grandchildren and their own parents, and dual income families face unique stresses. Personal space at work can help them juggle the many complex responsibilities they face.

Generational Workplace Tip #4 – Uncluttered Space

Clean pathways from one area to another allow people to focus. Clutter dissipates energy. Use workstations that have plenty of personal storage space such as the Interra Cubicle and arrange filing cabinets and other storage solutions to mark work areas.

Image Source: Friant