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.
Image Source: OFS Obeya