Developing a Supportive Office Work Environment

Developing a Supportive Work Environment OFS Denro

Imagine the benefits of a supportive office work environment where you enter in the morning knowing that you’ll face challenges, and as you head to your workstation you get a comment from a team member, “Let me know if you get stuck and I’ll be glad to help.”

You smile. Just think how great it’d be if the comment came from the person you’re reporting to, or even the CEO.

You adjust your desk to the height where it’s most comfortable, settle in your ergonomic chair, and get started on the day. Your responsibilities require close attention to detail, but you feel assured that others are sharing in the experience.

Is that scenario filled with wishful thinking or can it be a reality?


Photo: Maverick Desk Ascend Height Adjustable Desk

Defining a Supportive Office Environment

Let’s start with the positive elements of a helpful office and supportive office work environment.

  • Staff is asked to participate in setting realistic goals that are achievable.
  • Company leaders know that challenges are ahead, but rally their team in a promising way like, “If we sail through this storm then we’ll have bonuses to share and a stronger market position.”
  • The right accessories and equipment are available for workstations, breakout rooms and lounges.
  • Deliberate thought is given to planning the office space for both comfort and productivity, with attention to details like maximizing natural light and ensuring that ergonomics play a key role.
  • Personal space is provided so employees are free to move around if that helps them work productively. They’re given respect to make decisions and take ownership of their situations without fear of reprisal or punishment.
  • If staff runs into a problem, they have team members or upper management willing to listen and problem-solve together.


Photo: Encore OFS

Why Workplaces Break Down

Life isn’t lived in a vacuum. A company by nature has to interact with vendors, customers and is staffed by employees who experience personal ups and downs. People get tired and fall ill or their career goals have changed. They may want positions with more responsibility – or less.

A business has multiple moving parts.

Even a solo professional has to remain up-to-date on not only core strengths, but handling taxes, finding new clients and keeping current ones happy. A business with 20 to 50 employees or a corporation or university faces even more complexity.

Business strategies range from improving a business’ core, gleaning data from financials and knowing the latest technologies to leverage.

The external world is complex, too. Every industry has hundreds or thousands of competitors.

Many, although not all, are looking to improve and gain new customers. The digital age makes it easy for customers to do their own research to find new brands and suppliers. Maintaining brand loyalty and keeping current customers happy is an on-going task.

Navigating the daily ups and downs means that wrong decisions are sometimes made, competitors make breakthroughs, and a myriad of outside forces impact local and international economies.

Think back to late 2019 when companies were planning for 2020. No one would have had Covid-19 on their radar. You can’t plan for every emergency but you can maintain a supportive office work environment in good times and tough times.

Leaders Impact Workplace Culture

The attitudes and behaviors of a CEO, vice president, and even a mid-level manager can determine if a workplace is supportive or filled with uncertainty and tension. Leaders truly have to understand and evaluate their own capabilities—and that’s not easy.


Photo: OFS Obeya

Strong personalities can easily take credit for what others have done; leaders can make poor decisions, and those who are insecure will pass blame. Autopilot can work well for airliners, but companies don’t have that option. They just can’t hit a button labeled Forward, and then sit back and relax.

Every day is new.

How can leaders develop a positive office? Start with the basics.

Make sure the vision of the company and its mission statement are clear, and then follow through with the team so they understand and adhere to the organization’s overall goal and direction.

Positive leaders also invest in the internal environment and understand that satisfied employees are key to the brand promise.

No operation, no matter how large, has unlimited funds, but corners shouldn’t be cut in terms of obtaining the most effective office layout and furnishings. Today’s modular workstations and accessories for lounges make it possible to create an uplifting interior while keeping the budget under control.


Photo: OFS Yelly

Leaders know that decisions like cutting expenses and allocating resources are difficult. Getting counsel from trusted outsiders can give much-needed space to reflect and evaluate.  These are key in creating a supportive office work environment

Foster Employee Communication

People who are loyal to the company are the greatest asset to any operation. Create a personal system where they’re allowed or encouraged to make their goals known upon hiring. Do performance evaluations, but also get a sense of how they’re doing in their personal lives and where they’re headed professionally.

Your organization may be a large university or a manufacturer so the personal input and any type of counseling you provide for employees will be quite limited. But you can make your team aware of resources available like nearby counseling centers, gym memberships or other outlets that benefit both physical and mental health.

Supportive workplaces don’t just happen but are developed through an office that’s well-laid out, people who commit to doing the best for each other, and leaders who offer the same respect they would like to have.

Create a Supportive Office Work Environment

Take a step in creating a supportive office work environment and bringing positivity to your workplace. Consult with the team at 2010 Office Furniture about space planning and furnishings that bring out the best in your staff.

Contact them with your needs.

2010 Office has nearly 50 years combined experience working with Southern California’s most distinguished corporations, nonprofits, universities and emerging small enterprises.

Read Also: Ways to Make the Workplace More Kind and Caring
Main Photo: OFS
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: Encore, Maverick DeskOFS

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


Photo: Friant Novo Workstations

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.


Photo: Friant Interra Cubicles

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?


Photo: HON Abound Cubicles

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.


Photo: HON Chicago Showroom

Why does the topic deserve attention?

Plan your office space as a strategic part when you plan your office 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.


Photo: Loftwall Desk Shield

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.


Photo: Friant Shield Screens

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.

As you plan your office, keep the following key areas in mind:

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

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

Photo: Loftwall Desk Shield

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 as You Plan Your Office 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: FriantHON and Loftwall 

Designing an Office Layout for Maximum Productivity

Designing an Office Layout for Maximum Productivity

Your office may have plenty of desks, chairs and computers but, as you’ll agree, that doesn’t mean the layout and floor plan are designed for the greatest possible level of productivity.

A productive office layout that helps everyone get their jobs done isn’t something you just pick up at an office supply store like Staples or Office Max. A well-planned office space isn’t a commodity—it’s unique to your work environment and what you want to achieve.

Before looking at the elements that create a favorable place to work, consider why you want to plan your office layout.

Here’s an easy hint.

  • Question: Who comes into work each day?
  • Answer: The people.

Your office layout’s goal is to support people so they can function at their optimal level.


Photo: OFS Staks Workstations

Talking about an office layout and furnishings to help us work efficiently seems old school. Most chatter focuses on digital smart tools and the Internet of Things.

Offices have been so taken for granted that we forget that workstations, partitions, and even the break room are intended to support people and the outcomes they’re trying to achieve.

So what has to change to make your office more than just a functional space? Before jumping into the solutions, let’s first get an understanding of what is an office layout.

Defining an Office Layout

write-up by Rivier University noted the importance of taking a holistic approach to designing a work environment. Most layouts will only consider how the furniture and equipment like printers and copiers are arranged.

Here’s something else you need to include: space.

Adequate space for employees to work and take breaks can reduce stress and help them to focus.


Photo: Nevins Leaf Living Walls

Make the office appealing. Aesthetics play a key role in how pleasing the environment is for employees. Use soothing colors and let as much natural light as possible flow in. Indoor plants are attractive and they can freshen air and are proven to boost morale.

Types of Office Layouts

Planning and designing the office workspace will depend on the type of work needing done and the physical space limitations. Here are three main types of offices:

  • Open plan offices
  • Offices with private rooms
  • Hybrid office layouts


Photo: OFS Range Open-Plan Benching

An open plan office works well with fast-paced organizations where groups need close collaboration. Start-up tech companies made the concept popular. This layout is seen as budget-friendly since there are no or few walls to re-configure as space needs change.

Offices with private rooms benefit companies where individuals like attorneys and healthcare professionals have confidential client meetings in person or over the phone. This plan is associated with hierarchical companies where the president is known for having the large, stereotypical private office.

Hybrid office layouts have both open floor space and areas that are partitioned. A mostly open space is divided by modular cubicles or workstation pods that are grouped together. This layout is popular in companies like call centers or banks where some privacy is needed.


Photo: Trendway Volo Walls

3 Basic Tips for Designing a Productive Office

Keep the following principles in mind if you’re wondering how to plan a new office layout.

  • Communication is Key

Create an office layout that works well by understanding how much inter-employee communication needs to take place and how often departments need to collaborate.

Who does most of the communication? Does a project manager handle assignments from various teams? If so, this person, or small team, can be in a central location and act as a hub.

Do managers from different departments frequently share information in-person?

Create a central location where they can meet without interrupting those doing their work.

  • Break Areas are Essential

People need to step back from their daily tasks and take a breather. In an open office setting, workers still need quiet places to think, do some work privately or take phone calls.


Photo: OFS Coact Modular Lounge

Designate break areas that can be temporary work-free zones.

  • Keep Open Spaces

Don’t cram and pack people together. Provide space between workstations so workers don’t feel cramped. It’s like white space on a page.

If you see a printed page or webpage that’s jam packed with words, your eyes will glaze over and you won’t want to keep reading. White space is inviting and lets the reader skim the text. Open spaces inside an office are also inviting and welcoming.

Crowded spaces backfire, even in open office settings. People block each other out instead of collaborating. Architects and interior decorators won’t guide you through the layout process so you need to customize your space.

The lack of personal space is the biggest threat to a productive office, according to design publication Dezeen.com, as described in an article Open-plan office design is preventing workers from concentrating, study finds.

A well-designed office space creates enough privacy for employees to focus on the challenges in front of them and allows for collaboration.

This give-and-take approach to space planning is the 2010 Space Planning Strategy.

  • Ask Employees for Input

Create employee engagement by asking people to give input on what works well in their personal workspace. Get their feedback on their personal experience of what works well and what improvements can be made.

If you don’t want to overhaul a layout, but improve it then see which of the typical problems your office is experiencing.

Office Layout Problems to Correct

Do you recognize the following list of challenges in your office?

  • Distracting Noise
  • No personal space
  • Increased risk of catching colds, illness
  • Regular interruptions
  • Reduced job satisfaction with higher risk of talent turnover

Critics blame the open office. However, offices with thick cement walls can create a bunker mentality and make people feel blocked off and left out.

The office space itself is neutral. It’s how you plan the layout that impacts workers. Both introverts and extroverts can function in an open office plan, as noted in an article on the website of Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).

The most satisfying office layout for workers is one where people have a choice in where and how they manage their work. An effective office plan can have a variety of private and open spaces.

Strategies to Tackle Office Layout Issues

Make an office as appealing and productive as possible by balancing the need for privacy with the need for collaboration.

This is challenging since there are seating arrangements that are communal like open plan benching. Open plan benching is a long work surface. Desking solutions like the ODS Artiv Open Plan Benching can have attractive privacy screens attached to create personal workspace.

When employees in an open benching situation need extra privacy, let them use the offices of those who are on vacation or family leave.

Reduce noise in an open-plan benching arrangement by installing cubicle-like partitions or bookcases holding plants and fabrics between seating areas. Use plenty of indoor plants to bring nature inside. Certain plants will absorb sound waves and refresh the air.

Install architectural walls or cubicle pods to create a conference room or designated conversation zone away from workstations. The interiors can have white boards and projectors to maximize interaction.

Create a small library or fun room as a break area.

If someone has a cold but is well enough to come to work, let them work in an area that’s away from other employees.

Develop a protocol for employees to let others know when they can’t be disturbed and need extended time to focus on a project.

An office layout that’s designed for as much productivity as possible will go beyond the placement of workstations and equipment. Other elements, like lighting, keep people alert and productive.

 


Photo: Humanscale Vessel Lighting

Lighting Design in an Office Layout

Natural light is the most important lighting system for office productivity. Open office designs allow as much natural light as possible to flow through the space.

Does your office design let workers share the light? Desks should be within twenty-five feet of windows. For those farther away, install solar tubes or office skylights if possible.

Keep artificial light at levels that are bright enough without creating glare. Offer screen protectors to shield people’s eyes if they spend long hours on their laptops or desktops.

Install lighting controls or task lighting solutions at individual workstations so employees can use the amount of light that works best for them.


Photo: Humanscale Element 790, Horizon 2.0 & Infinity Lighting

Plan to Use Quality Workstations and Ergonomic Chairs

A workstation is not just a workstation. A manager will need a cubicle layout that accommodates two or three people to have more personal meetings than a programmer or graphic designer who needs extended time alone.

The best desking solutions are modular and are designed to let people work together well.

The Desk Makers Teamworx Open Plan Desking can accommodate a few people without making them feel crowded.


Photo: DeskMakers TeamWorx Open-Plan Benching

Use benching solutions that define personal work areas such as the ODS Lift Table Height Adjustable Workstation. This is especially useful for shared workstations since each employee can adjust the surface to a comfortable height.


Photo: ODS (Office Design Studio) Lift Height Adjustable Tables

Ergonomic furniture isn’t just a passing fad. Quality chairs promote good posture and support the body’s natural movements. Armrests support the shoulders and upper back while the back of the chair should complement the body’s natural curve and provide lumbar support.

Workers stay comfortable and reduce the risk of strains in the lower back muscles, the elbows and knees.

Adjust the height of a chair so a person’s feet are comfortably flat on the floor and they can look at the computer screen without having to tilt their head forward and lean down.

Planning on what products to use and where to place them makes the most of your available space.


Photo: OFS Obeya Architectural Structures

Get the Expertise You Need

The 2010 Space Planning Strategy can show you how to accommodate your workstations and your break area so that spaces are well-defined and laid out in a logical fashion.

Make the office work for the whole person. Maximizing productivity doesn’t mean just churning through a to-do list. Instead, it’s a strategic process to provide solutions for your customers.

Invest in people by designing a layout that supports their skill set and you’ll boost the overall 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: Choosing the Best Benching or Desking Workstations in Los Angeles
Main Photo by: OFS
Resources & Special Thanks to: Rivier University, Dezeen, SHRM & Respective Product Manufacturers: OFS, DeskMakers, Humanscale, Nevins, ODS & Trendway

The Benefits of Open Plan Cubicles for Los Angeles Businesses

The Benefits of Open Plan Cubicles for Los Angeles Businesses

Open Plan Cubicles May Be the Answer

Dividing an office space isn’t easy, but open plan cubicles can help businesses and nonprofits in Los Angeles budget for growth and be flexible during down times. Today’s cubicle solutions create an open and welcoming atmosphere while providing a space to focus.

The Workspace

Los Angeles is home to more than 244,000 businesses, according to the LA County.Gov’s Business page. No other county in the U.S. has more women and minority-owned businesses. Of all the decisions that are made in running an operation, the use of cubicles or desks may not appear to rank high in importance. But an office layout and the types of work surfaces used impact productivity and employee morale. Think of the pebble-in-the-shoeconcept. Something small that goes wrong eventually causes a tremendous irritation. And an office environment is no different.

The right equipment impacts work performance and eventually impacts profitability. Yes, a bookkeeper and even a graphic artist can work on a desk with a wobbly leg, but the imperfection is a distraction from the work that each person is meant to do and complete.  Open plan cubicles are an investment for maximum performance.

Flexible Solutions for Flexible Employees

Open plan cubicles can support employees who work in the office every day, salespeople who need to be out and about, and employees or freelancers who work remotely but need an occasional day in the office.  Since the cubicles are built for flexibility, it’s possible to have just one or two work areas and expand to several if the need allows.

Open Plan Cubicles Fit the Need and Style of the Work Function

For employees who need to be on the phone and making calls outside, a system like the EO Workstation by Global may work best while the Crossroads Workstation by ODS can work well for programmers and those doing data entry.  List the types of individual functions or departmental functions to get an understanding of the best cubicle systems. Consider the amount of time that’s needed to connect with potential clients, welcome visitors to the office, or stay focused on work internally.  One open plan cubicle system may not work for everyone since small businesses and large corporations all have a myriad of functions to keep them operating.

Cubicle Systems are Durable

Expect open plan cubicles to last thanks to well-manufactured parts. Cubicles give offices flexibility in how they fit together but they are made to last and withstand rigorous use. The systems are also equipped to handle cords and cables so it’s easy to plug in.

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