Plan Your Office Branding for the Employee Experience

Plan Your Office Branding for the Employee Experience

Corporate branding usually focuses on the customer, or user, experience (UX). But what about the employee experience? Planning and furnishing your office spaces properly can lead to engaged employees who are champions of your brand.

Planning the Current Work Environment

Remember when the open office came under criticism for its distracting noise and lack of personal space? Office managers purchased quality benching solutions, but then critics noted that employees needed personal space. Privacy screens were made part of the design, like with the ODS Artiv Open Plan Benching.

Modular cubicles became another way to create personal workspaces within the open office.

Then Covid-19 hit and completely upended the open office. Companies immediately adjusted to accommodating remote workers, a term once given to graphic artists and other freelancers. Now, finance departments, marketing and a host of others were in their homes or parks logged on to Zoom meetings instead of having in-person huddles.

The debate between fixed walls and the advantages of an open office were no longer important.

But offices in Southern California are re-opening as the rates of infection have dropped. Counties are in different phases of opening so how will your current work environment change?

Which employees will work in the office full-time, and who’s splitting their office presence with remote work?

Traditionally, emphasis was placed on the need for individual work areas and one or more meeting spaces, but now areas designated for group meetings or huddles may outweigh the importance of space for full-time individual work areas, even in a time of social distancing.

Why does the topic deserve attention?

Plan your office space as a strategic part of your corporate branding. Make a commitment and investment for your employees. As you do, they’ll believe more firmly than ever in your brand and your mission. As they feel more comfortable in the work environment and know what’s allowed, the messages about your brand’s promise will flow organically to your customers.

Merging Top-Down, Bottom-Up Strategies

Listening and gathering feedback from employees is essential, but, let’s face it, at the end of the day, leaders are held accountable for the decisions they have to make.

Planning an office space and creating employee engagement means gathering the individual perspectives from people who have different learning styles and shaping them into a cohesive whole. A final outcome won’t always make everybody happy. But rather than overriding their opinions, respect each person’s voice and you’ll create goodwill.

Getting input from the experience of employees is similar to listening to your customers and what they experience. It’s an inside-outside approach to creating a strong brand.

Make the Office a Community Destination

Work has to get done. We know that. Marketing, sales, production, and customer care all aim toward one goal—satisfied customers who are ready to buy again and talk positively about the corporate brand.

As you scan the office setting, consider the work area as a community destination and not just a functional location where people must come in to get work done. Companies who have experienced Covid-19 know the need for offering employees flexibility.

A reason that a main office and its physical space will remain is because people need a rallying point in their work, or a community destination spot. That’s how you can re-think your office space. So even if you have employees who split their time between the office and a remote location like home, having a comfortable space to come to can work well.

Plan the following key areas:

  • Workstations
  • Meeting areas, like a dedicated client space
  • Personal space
  • Break areas

Use the necessary shields and protective equipment so your team feels safe.

Do you envision fewer daily workstations and a greater use of meeting areas?

Personal office space in the traditional office setting and at remote settings can get cluttered and uncomfortable. Your office can be a place for the team to come meet, or stop in to do work and get away from the distractions of home.

This type of set up is normal for professionals like real estate agents who are out meeting people and only stop into the office to do paperwork.

Tips for creating a community gathering spot include:

  • Having the essential tools that employees need
  • Attractive lighting with as much natural light as possible
  • A contemporary look and comfort that they can’t provide on their own like quality ergonomic chairs and workstations

Employee Experience Branding from the Inside Out

A welcoming office promotes employee engagement.

Employees who believe in the brand are a catalyst to a better customer experience. When your brand means a lot on the inside, then it’s more likely to get noticed on the outside.

Read Also: The Best Office Spaces are Responsive to Employee Needs
Main Photo: HON
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: HON,

Designing an Office to Support Your Employees

Designing an Office to Support Your Employees

Every important trend has a human element that we ignore or don’t consider. This can happen when designing and planning an office for maximum productivity. It’s important to remember that the end result has to support the people who work there.

Sounds obvious, right?

But we often put things before people. Look at it this way.

In the past, what did web designers do to rank a website high? They worked to get the attention of the search engines while ignoring the needs of the people who read the site. Keywords were stuffed into articles even if that hurt the readability and cheapened the user’s experience.

But now, pleasing the human reader is the most important variable in ranking a site.

The same can be said for the office as noted in this post, The Best Office Spaces are Responsive to Employee Needs. We have all this great technology, but do we use it to support the employees as well as we possibly can? A well-designed office weighs the needs of the people.

Know Your Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the study of fitting a working environment to people, instead of making people fit the environment. Providing height-adjustable desks, proper office lighting, ergonomic chairs and accessories are part of creating a workplace that allows workers to move at their best.

Design with a focus on ergonomics and you’ll make great strides toward having an office where people are supported as they focus on their tasks.

Achieve that by laying out a floorplan and then deciding what furnishings are necessary.

Get Input

Ask your employees what matters to them. How do they work best and what would they like to see in a work area? Create a scale like the one in the article 7 Factors of Great Office Design in the Harvard Business Review.

Ask your team how strongly they prefer permanent walls compared to open spaces, or if they like spaces that “promote conversation and lingering.”

Define Spaces

Make areas well defined. That may seem easy to do, but if space is at a premium, then it’s not easy to separate workspaces with lounge areas or the breakroom.

Make areas for workstations clear with enough storage to reduce clutter. Keep break areas clean and make sure personal areas in an open office setting are quiet.

If your space has room for a rec area, then bring in foosball tables or ping pong tables that easily fold and can easily be moved when extra space is needed.

Plan Easy Navigation

A supportive office is easy to navigate for people whose sight is impaired and face challenges moving around. Have workstations in clearly designated areas with clear pathways that lead to personal quiet areas and breakrooms.

Use indoor plants to create boundaries between defined areas. The plants help to deflect sound waves, freshen the air and add a touch of color.

Light Up

Natural light is welcomed in the office. Enlarge windows as much as possible and use skylights or solar tubes to bring in as much of the sun as you can.

Light is a natural morale booster. It helps employees get into a rhythm of sleeping well at night and staying as alert as possible during the day. Use desk lamps at workstations and computer areas so workers don’t have to strain their eyes to see.

Make sure stairwells and other darkened areas are well lit to reduce the chance of accidents.

When laying out a plan and designing an office to support your employees, evaluate your ideas by asking, “How will these conditions benefit the people working here?”

Designing an Office to Support Your Employees

Get expert input on your space planning needs. The team at 2010 Office Furniture has nearly 50 years of experience in helping Southern California’s most distinguished corporations, universities, and other nonprofit organizations.

Read Also: Plan Your Office Branding for the Employee Experience
Main Photo: OFS Heya
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: OFS

Repurpose Your Office Space for the Post-Covid Work World

Repurpose Your Office Space for the Post-Covid Work World

(IMPORTANT NOTICE: The recommendations on this article about Covid-19 in the office are NOT from health experts, and have not been medically tested nor proven as an effective cure or prevention for COVID-19 or any other diseases.)

The stay-at-home orders forced employees into flexible and remote working arrangements. Now’s the time to implement the best office strategies to maximize workflow and personnel needs.

A Great Time to Repurpose Your Office Space

The office is often seen as a place where you had to show up if you had a job, but the Covid-19 stay-at-home order changed that perception. Companies were forced into repurposing office space when their teams had to work remotely.

Employees in Southern California are returning once again to their previous work environments, as you can tell by the freeways that are getting more crowded.

But don’t just put everyone back in the same workstation. Instead, pause and review:

  • What worked during the pandemic’s stay at home orders in Los Angeles, Orange, or nearby counties
  • What could have worked more effectively
  • How will you be able to repurpose the existing office and make it serve more effectively than ever?

Put those hard-earned lessons to the test.

Let’s start with the purpose of an office.

Why We Need an Office

Traditionally, the office was the place where nearly all employees come to the workplace because that’s where communication and decisions happened. Teams met there, managers relayed goals to others beneath them, and directives were given and followed up on. You had to go to the office, unless you were in outside sales and seeing customers in a place like El Segundo one day and Irvine the next.

Telecommuting isn’t new, and while it was tossed about as an option most employees kept going to the physical office. Now, during Covid-19, we discovered the routine of working remotely.

Let’s be realistic. Office spaces are opening up again and it’s important to have a central location or off-site locations that act as office hubs. Not everyone is going to work at home indefinitely or in some type of isolated environment.

Why?

As noted in the Harvard Study of Adult Development, people want social interactions. Healthy relationships reduce stress, and we feed off the energy of those in our department or colleagues from down the hall.

If we only work at home by ourselves then we’ll miss the funny comments from the office comic or the greetings when we walk by the receptionist desk to our cubicle. We take those little things for granted, but they’re important office morale boosters.

At its best, an office provides the tools and space to collaborate and solve problems or serve customers. Some workspaces work well in sequence under the same roof. A clothing company or manufacturing facility in Gardena or Ontario can have designers working on computer assisted design (CAD) and seamlessly send their work into production.

If a problem arises, then it’s easy for someone in production to halt the machines and huddle with the designers.

The role of an office is supporting people so they can excel in their tasks and work together to create a successful company.

But as we’ve seen in 2020, not all employees need to be in the same physical setting full-time. Sometimes, the office works well as a space to rally around where you can set and clarify goals before employees head to their home offices or other remote workspaces.

Two Types of Workspaces

We’re seeing two main types of work environments emerge: centralized workspaces and decentralized workspaces.

We’ve relaxed the hierarchy that was once the standard in our country’s industrial era, like at the old Goodyear plant that employed thousands in Van Nuys or the aerospace facilities near the South Bay.

Employees in most industries can now produce work from their homes.

What does that mean for space utilization?

Consider this. A highly centralized company that had either fixed walls or an open office plan had to make sudden changes during the height of the pandemic.

Suddenly, you had to connect with your team remotely.

As restrictions are relaxed, you could insist that everyone come back in and take their assigned places. Or, you can evaluate what office strategies worked and how you can now harness the advantages of a decentralized or flexible work environment.

Here are three important takeaways:

  • Keep corporate goals as clear as possible
  • Communication is more strategic than ever
  • Trust is critical in a flexible office environment

The goals from upper management remain a guiding force. They always have been, but when you’re in the same place all the time, casual conversations and questions reinforce those goals.

In a flexible or decentralized workspace, find ways to help your team internalize those goals so they remember them.

You have to trust that your team that is going to get their work done, even if they’re not physically present. This gives the opportunity for them to be engaged and take ownership.

How to Use Your Office Spaces

A manager in a centralized office that either had fixed walls or an open office floor plan may feel that the amount of space is wasted unless it’s filled with people.

If that’s the case, consider all these uses of space in a flexible or decentralized office environment:

  • Additional room for client huddles
  • More space and freedom for collaboration
  • Areas where you can create on-site social media posts
  • Places to sit and have smaller team meetings two or three times a week
  • More room to train new hires and let them gain experience

Keep in mind that the open office plan came under fire for invading privacy. Employees were known for tuning out their colleagues by wearing earbuds or headphones and thus eliminating the hoped-for collaboration.

Finally, with flexible office spaces you may have workers coming into the office as a break from their home offices and the distractions they encounter there.

Make use of modular office furniture solutions or architectural walls for break areas and workstations to help repurpose your office space.

Plan and Repurpose Your Office Future with Experts

A company doesn’t just form and happen by accident and neither does a productive office. Supporting your employees with the tools they need requires design and planning.

The team at 2010 Office Furniture provides layout design and services in addition to supplying you with quality furnishings that can help repurpose your office space. Lay out your office design and plan based on your corporate goals and then get the desks, ergonomic chairs and accessories needed to maximize well-being and productivity.

Your office is not a static environment.  It’s dynamic and requires that you manage spaces so that they support your team as effectively as possible.

Read Also: How to Help Protect Workers in Open Office Floor Plans from Covid-19
Main Photo by: Trendway
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: Trendway

(IMPORTANT NOTICEThe recommendations on this article are NOT from health experts, and have not been medically tested nor proven as an effective cure or prevention for COVID-19 or any other diseases.)