Office Space

Extreme Makeover: Office Edition

Posted by Stacey Papp

Surrounding your workers with a comfortable, pleasant environment can have a positive impact on productivity. Many psychologists agree that a room filled with natural light will leave people in a much better mood than one lit by fluorescent bulbs. Plants create a fresh, natural comfort that can't be replaced with artificial decorations. These are just a couple of small ways you can make your office a more pleasant place to work. Thinking strategically about what you want your office space to achieve can set a foundation for a more productive work environment.

As a small business owner, it's up to you to create an office space that encourages a positive work environment for your team. After all, 90% of senior executives responding to a Gensler survey said they believe a better physical work environment will positively affect the bottom line, the American Management Association reported.* It's time to add office design specialist to your business-management toolkit. 

Digging Into the Basics
Creating a workspace that encourages employee engagement doesn’t have to be about tearing down walls or building an in-office waterfall. Here are a few easy design tips that can make a big difference for your office:

Allow for freedom of movement. An office can feel oppressive if people are climbing around desks and maneuvering around stacks of paper or supplies. Design your layout so everyone can easily navigate the office.
Avoid visual clutter. A few decorations are nice, but don’t cover every inch of your walls with pictures either. Leave spaces where the eyes can rest so your workers can look up from their desks and have a few moments of peace.
Store items where they are used. Employees shouldn't need to walk all over the office to get to items they need. Store office supplies, tools and similar essentials in close proximity to where they’re often used to make life easier for workers.
Accommodate your entire staff. Workers who spend most of their time in the field - such as drivers in service fleets - still benefit from a personal space in the office. You don't need to give each driver a desk, but you can take an under-used part of your office and turn it into a lounge or casual meeting space so your drivers have a place to consider their own when they are in the office. You can take this to another level by encouraging drivers to decorate the space with personal items to make it even more inviting.
Make your office match your brand. Your office space can reinforce your culture when you use signs, colors and decorative items to highlight your ideals as an organization. For example, creating a bulletin board or similar display to showcase customer testimonials and awards can showcase the results of your brand in action.

Creating a Sense of Community

Establishing areas that foster personal connections in the office gives people a sense of ownership within their work space. A recent Forbes report emphasized this concept by pointing to Google's strategy of nesting employees in groups of six to eight people.* Creating these nests within the office establishes family-like territories within the large organization, which can foster a sense of personal connection with co-workers and the company as a whole.

A common lounge area can give your drivers a chance to stop in the office at appropriate times, share stories about their day and eventually learn valuable lessons from one another and the office-based employees who support them. What's more, the personal connections developed in these spaces creates a sense of community in the workplace.

Ease Stress by Dealing With Clutter

Clutter is not inherently bad. Some people thrive with a measure of disarray in their lives. That said, clutter becomes a problem when it starts to create stress. For example, a messy desk can drive a nearby co-worker's stress levels through the roof. Consider two solutions to this problem - setting aside organizational spaces so people have enough storage to avoid clutter and/or asking employees to take a few minutes each week to clean their desks.

Don't Change for the Sake of Change
Intentionality is vital when making design decisions. Think about why desks are located where they are, what your drivers do when they are at the office and how you want employees to feel in the workspace. Looking at the specific needs of your workers while designing your office will help ensure that your final layout drives productivity and make your business a better place to work.

Now, it’s your turn. Post some pictures of your office digs on Twitter and Facebook!

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