By Reno Macri
Over the past few decades, office design has emerged as one of the most important considerations for business owners and facility manages, and an essential part of getting the best out of employees. Indeed, research has shown that a good office fit-out can positively impact on productivity, morale, engagement, health and retention rates.
As a result, many businesses are striving to create modern, employee-friendly workplaces, which are able to get the absolute best out of staff members and, in turn, maximise business results.
Workplace flexibility has been one of the biggest trends in recent times, with businesses embracing the fact that employees like to work in different ways. In fact, a recent survey found that 76% of people believe they do their best work at home, in a public space like a coffee shop, or in the office outside of traditional working hours.
Despite the fact that 70% of offices still have open plan designs, owing to the improved collaboration they facilitate, the drawbacks are becoming increasingly apparent. According to a Steelcase study, 95% of workers value workplace privacy, but only 41% feel they are able to work privately.
From an office space planning perspective, one solution is to offer a combination of quiet and collaborative spaces, and afford staff the freedom to drift between them, based on their needs at the time. In addition, putting the infrastructure in place to allow for telecommuting and flexible office hours can produce productivity rewards.
When it comes to creating an employee-friendly workspace, the well-being of your staff should be the priority and there are many steps you can take to not only make your office more comfortable, but also a more innovative place. For instance, Human Spaces report a huge number of health benefits associated with biophilic design.
The inclusion of natural elements in the workplace offers businesses the chance to get truly creative. Steps towards achieving a more biophilic design could range from simple measures like ensuring natural light gets in and including plants and greenery in the workplace, to bolder steps like having outdoor working areas or green walls.
Looking after employees also requires you to give thought to your office furniture. Get Britain Standing encourage companies to introduce sit-stand desks, to reduce workplace inactivity, while companies like Uber and PwC have taken the innovative step of introducing sleeping pods, allowing employees to take power naps.
Think Outside the Box
Finally, to be truly innovative, you need to think outside the box and try to introduce ideas that you might not typically associate with a place of work, but which fit with your overall values and culture. Google leads the way on this, with its headquarters featuring pool tables, a slide in place of stairs and free food.
Innovation can lead to the re-imagining of even the most basic office features. For instance, Yodle Inc. decided to turn their stairs into a collaborative area, where employees can sit down, have personal conversations, eat lunch, give presentations and work together on projects away from the hustle and bustle of the office floor.
“Workplaces all over the UK are creating breakout zones and gaming areas, where staff can chill out, chat, and stimulate their creative juices,” says Alison Coleman from The Guardian. “Organisations that foster a workplace culture of creativity are likely to have happy, motivated employees, who are more loyal and more productive.”
Reno Macri is a founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions, an office interior design and office fit-out Company in London.