Creating Your Best Work Environment to Boost Your Brand

Creating Your Best Work Environment to Boost Your Brand

Think through the times you’ve stepped into an office setting and wondered about the work environment. The warning signs were likely subtle, weren’t they?

  • How was the office planning and layout?
  • Did the furnishings seem functional and up to date—or out of date?
  • What about tension? That’s the people part.

All of these elements contribute to the quality of the workplace. This becomes part of the company culture—a daily living out of the values that your business stands for.

A positive company culture is similar to office ergonomics. In ergonomics, the work environment is designed to support and meet the needs of the workers. A healthy or positive company culture recognizes that employees have needs. Those individuals are supported to blend their talents and create great products, achieve more sales or help customers be satisfied.

They are motivated to turn the company vision into reality.

Staff and executive decisionmakers have to communicate and place trust in each other for the best possible outcomes. Details like dress codes, restrictions or freedoms on where to work, and perks like benefits create a positive or negative culture as noted in a write-up on culture in Investopedia.

If you’re wondering how to improve the office work environment, now you can read on and learn how.


Photo: HON Voi Workstation

Company Culture Impacts Personal Energy

Company cultures form from the existing needs. A start-up in fast-paced do or die moments is quite different than a mature corporation where departments are neatly laid out and each person’s work is clearly defined.

Let’s say there’s a younger company moving into Hollywood, intent on disrupting the entertainment industry. They’ll have an entrepreneurial buzz and excitement that’s missing in an older organization.

Start-up offices and mature ones impact people and their energy. Any work setting can help someone thrive or suck the energy out of them and the room.

Not every person wants to work in a frenetic, high-stakes office unless stability and profitability are in sight. Working in a tried-and-true cubicle environment, in an area like the Mid-Wilshire District, where the most exciting event is the second hand ticking away on the clock isn’t a career dream, either.

Tricky, isn’t it?

Now let’s look at how two basic office layouts impact workers.


Photo: OFS LeanTo Lounge Seating

Consider these two layouts and their challenges:

  • Open Offices — can dilute the energy that people bring to their positions
  • Walled, Private Spaces — can make employees wonder what secrets are shared behind closed doors


Photo: HON Empower Open Plan Benching


Photo: Krug Artemis Height Adjustable Executive Desk

How do you make sense of it all?

Realize that you can plan and design an office to have different environments.

The open office should utilize modular furniture to create private areas. Employees can take phone calls, type on their laptops and have small group discussions without disturbing others.

Providing a range of workspaces helps create a positive work culture.

Give team members freedom to work from a part of the office that best suits their need. If someone wants to step away from the desk and work in a lounge chair, then let them. Infuse an entrepreneurial spirit into the office and let people take responsibility for how they work.

This doesn’t mean the office space becomes like one giant recess time Monday through Friday. Instead, you’re respecting the qualifications of each employee and trusting them to handle their tasks. After all, if they earned undergraduate or graduate degrees and are responsible for their families why not trust them on the job?

Trust and working together toward a clearly defined goal boosts morale and that keeps the energy vibrant.

Make sure the physical space supports the work with the proper layout and equipment. Here’s how to create an office that supports everyone’s work.

Start with knowing what you want to and need to achieve. Don’t just rely on architects or interior designers to do it for you.

The 2010 Space Planning Strategy weighs:

  • Your company’s goals
  • How your team interacts to reach those goals
  • How their personalities affect their work habits

Doing this creates a relationship between your company’s brand identity and the workplace. Customizing your plan takes you to the next step in creating the best possible work environment.


Photo: Global Swap Tables, FreeFit Workstations & SAS Seating

Proper Space Planning Creates Identity

Here’s a tip to improve the office environment: focus on space planning.

Office space planning provides a plan for workflow and balances that with the needs of employees.

Done well, can you predict what happens?

Your staff will develop a connection to the space.

This personal tie, one that’s internalized, is an important step in creating the best work environment for your company. It’s a principle that transcends industries.

Whether you have an engineering firm in El Segundo or a growing, small business in the Inland Empire, be deliberate in how the space is laid out. An article in the Harvard Business Review, How to Make Sure People Won’t Hate Your New Open Office Plan, describes a concept called “place identity.”

If employees believe the space “aligns with their self-image and enhances their sense of belonging” then this is typically what happens:

  • They’ll become more engaged
  • They’ll build their personal brand
  • They’ll be more likely to cultivate a positive work environment


Photo: OFS Brands Dallas Showroom

This is where leadership has to channel the energy by sharing the vision for the office space, being enthusiastic about it and letting people adapt the space to their needs.

Use these principles to guide your planning:

  • Determine which employees have to talk with each other on a daily basis
  • Count how many employees need extended hours to focus on projects
  • Know which employees need to sit close to printers and copiers
  • Note how often small group huddles or large group meetings are needed
  • Do clients visit often now or will they visit more often in the future? If so, is there adequate space to host them if inter-office meetings are happening?
  • What growth and changes does the company project? Will this include using temporary workers when demand is high?

Planning for change creates a positive office workspace while reacting to circumstances eventually makes people tired, creates uncertainty and leads to a negative workplace culture.

Now that you have a map of interoffice communication and workflow you can supply your great work environment with the right furnishings.

A Welcoming Space Helps Form a Positive Work Culture

Every morning when your team walks through the front door what’s the vibe that they’re bringing in and what’s the vibe that will greet them?

Once they leave the work setting at night and walk in the next morning you’ll have no control over their personal lives. People will experience some type of family crisis like the death of a relative while others are bragging about their kids’ sports achievements.

Moderate the personal highs and lows by creating a comfortable place that provides positive energy and channels conversations. Little things matter.

Present a welcoming atmosphere beginning with the office reception desk. An inviting and stylish design versus a boxy, bulky fortress can reinforce your company’s brand.

Open office plans have plenty of critics but some of the positives include not feeling boxed in. Let as much natural light as possible flow throughout the work setting. Make sure there’s adequate storage space at each workstation and for each department.

Bring in cozy and comfortable accessories to define space like attractive bookcases with embroidered pillows on the shelves and soothing artwork on the walls.

Here’s an example of how this works. Do you know why real estate agents stage homes for sale instead of simply showing an empty shell of a house?

Staging gives the potential buyer an understanding of the home’s potential. Furnishing the office helps your team members experience the potential of working together to achieve the goals that are set before them.

Creating a nice look in an office can be done in a budget-friendly manner. No one has to feel like the office is being decorated at the expense of their salaries or bonuses.

Attitudes brought in from the outside can mesh into a work atmosphere that’s pleasant and supportive. People will feel valued instead of feeling like they’re forced into a survival mode so they don’t get fired.

Furnishings set the stage for a positive workplace. You also create brand equity in people.

Remember, your employees are dedicating themselves to the company. Yes, they need a job that pays the bills and lets them enjoy a decent quality of life.

They also interact with the brand promise every day. They see what happens on the inside and can tell if your company does or doesn’t live up to what you tell customers.

A well-designed office setting positively reinforces the brand among your team. The result is achieving the best and most positive work environment possible.


Photo: DeskMakers Overture Reception Desk

Define Key Areas

Use workstations that help people do their best work. Modular furniture is a strategic purchase since it’s easy to re-configure spaces as changes take place.

Evaluate what works best for the work that needs done and the personalities of your employees. Work surfaces that accommodate several people, known as open plan benching, has one type of functionality while cubicles provide another type of function and form a certain atmosphere.

Your team’s introverts will thank you for the private break areas so they can withdraw as needed to get refreshed.

Meeting spaces are important and architectural walls create clean, well-defined areas for trainings and larger groups. These can be clear ceiling-to-floor walls or a cubicle-style room for small group huddles.

Now that you’ve designed the space for positive productivity, take it a step further to encourage healthy living and reduce absenteeism as much as possible.

Make Office Wellness a Priority

A healthy workplace includes how our bodies react physically to the surroundings and our emotional well-being. Productivity and positive energy face setbacks when people are struggling with bad backs and aching joints.

Here are two ways to take care of the body:

Ergonomic office furniture adapts to a worker’s body and physical needs. Height-adjustable desks help people set the work surface to a position where they can work comfortably and maintain good posture.

Quality ergonomic chairs allow feet to be flat on the floor and keep the knees relaxed. Ergonomic chairs will swivel easily based on a person’s natural movements. Arm rests reduce strain on elbows and shoulders while the chair provides proper lumbar support. Leading manufacturers of ergonomic chairs include 9 to 5 Seating, SitOnIt and Friant.

Computer keyboards and monitors should be at a height where wrists don’t have to be bent to type. Adequate lighting and screen protectors reduce eyestrain from computer monitors.

Encourage your employees to stretch or get up and take a brief walk every 90 minutes to two hours. The purpose isn’t to burn calories but to keep blood circulating well. That reduces foggy brain syndrome by getting oxygen flowing to the brain.

Care for emotional states by providing break areas with healthy snacks. Decorate with plants to bring nature indoors and create a positive ambiance.

You may have a manufacturing facility, legal office or direct a program at a university. Your core strength is turning out a quality product or service, but you should also offer resources for employees who are in a personal crisis.

Ask local gyms if they’ll offer group discounts. Provide chair massages once or twice a month during lunchtime.

Check on counseling and mental health services if you offer insurance. Your local city in Los Angeles County, Orange County or the Inland Empire may have a local college, university or faith community where graduate students need clinical hours for a degree like a Marriage and Family Therapist. Counseling services can be accessed for low costs.

Put it Together for a Positive Workplace and Culture

All of this shows employees that you value them and you’re dedicated to their well-being. This is an important way to keep them engaged on a day-in, day-out basis.

Creating a positive workplace doesn’t just happen and it’s not the result of having a charismatic company president or entrepreneurial founder. Those personalities set the tone, but it’s the setting, furnishings and small perks that show people that they’re important.

This will encourage buy-in from them and that makes it easier to retain top talent. Engaged employees who want to do their best leads to a tremendous competitive advantage in the marketplace.

What creates a great office varies from one industry to another and from culture to culture. This leads to a feeling of “We’re in this together” and the forms cohesive units.

Studies by the organization Great Places to Work reports that a sense of community is the biggest driver of employee engagement in the United States and Canada.


Photo: Trendway Semi-Private Workstations

Several companies in California made the Great Places to Work’s list of small to medium-sized companies including Network Capital in Irvine; WestPac Wealth Partners in La Jolla; and Invoca in Santa Barbara.

In Europe, fairness is critical and “psychological safety” is prized in Latin America. Workplaces in Asia and the Middle East were shown to be the unhappiest work environments.


Photo: Trendway Workspaces

Get Expert Input

The 2010 Space Planning Strategy helps you prioritize and create a positive work environment.

Get input from 2010 Office Furniture on your space planning needs. Call or submit your questions.

Our team has more than 45 years of experience serving corporations, universities and small businesses throughout Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Read Also: Creating Ergonomic Workstations for Office Well-Being and Productivity
Main Photo by: Trendway
Resources & Special Thanks to: Investopedia, Harvard Business Review, Great Places to Work & Respective Product Manufacturers: Trendway, DeskMakers, Global, HON, Krug and OFS

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

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.

Read Also: Planning Office Layouts for Today’s Workplace Needs
Main Photo: OFS Brands Kintra Table
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: OFS Brands

Leading Principles of an Effective Office Layout

What is an Effective Office Layout?

Principles of an effective office layout that are followed well should lead to an environment that creates connections between people and supports a successful workflow. Layout and design principles aren’t just for huge corporations in downtown Los Angeles or tech giants in El Segundo. They’re needed in all industries, big and small.  Universities, tech start-ups, leading corporations and small businesses all need to consider the impact of an office on people — how space is utilized, and how relationships between departments affect workflow. Employee morale and wellness become underlying issues to address.  Read on to consider these office layout principles and how to adapt them.

The Office: Personal Collaboration

Offices can welcome or intimidate. They can also inspire creativity or reveal stress and clutter. Workspaces impact people in every industry, including academia. An office design research study from 2011 showed how students were impacted by the office layout of their academic advisor’s office. The author, James Eckerty, concluded that “our physical environments can be a powerful tool for creating welcoming and collaborative environments.”  Effective layouts were “spacious and neatly arranged,” wrote Eckerty, “and allowed for students to make eye contact with their advisor and also easily see the computer.” In the study, about half of the students surveyed noted that seat placement set the tone for the meeting.

To stimulate collaboration in a private office setting, consider using desks with comfortable guest chairs. Enhance the office layout with a potted plant to create a relaxed atmosphere.

In an open office setting or spaces with cubicles, there are creative seating arrangements that can be set up for focused conversation like Focal Point by OFS or Co-Op Lounge by Arcadia.

The Environment: Personal Wellness

A pleasing environment boosts productivity and keeps morale high. Natural light and green plants are considered essential for a pleasant office environment. Bringing nature indoors adds an aesthetically pleasing element to the workspace but it also has important health benefits.  Maximizing natural light infuses employees with energy and helps maintain a physical rhythm that promotes a restful night’s sleep.  Plants reduce the amount of bacteria in the air and provide needed humidity. They also offer a change of scenery and color.  Movement is another feature of an optimized office layout. Height adjustable desks and tables offer flexibility. Ergonomic chairs support natural body movements to reduce pressure on the spine and joints.

The Space: Personal Time

During the early to mid-20thcentury when heavy manufacturing ruled the economy, companies ran in strict top-down fashion. Executives had their personal space to create the directives that mid-level managers and laborers had to follow.  However, today’s thinking economy that’s digitally driven and connected has created a greater need for collaboration and consensus. Open office layout and desk arrangements and cubicles make sharing ideas and data easy.  Personal space to regroup and focus mentally now becomes important.  Make sure to provide a lounge or space where it’s easy to take a snack break or work individually. Provide seating options that are flexible and can be arranged for one person’s needs or for a casual interaction.

An Office Layout for Your Most Important Resource: Employees

Don’t forget that as a business, your most important resource is the people that work for you.  Following these principles of an effective office layout can keep personal satisfaction high and lead to greater productivity.  But effective offices don’t just happen. Workstations, cubicles and break areas need a well-planned space to provide maximum support.  If you are interested in designing your office for a more effective office layout, please don’t hesitate to ask us for help.  Our office furniture experts are here to guide you and help you every step of the way.

Read also: The Basic Criteria for a Good Design and a Good Business
Main Photo: Nucraft Tesano Community Table
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: NucraftStoryblocks