When designing a new office space, it’s sometimes hard to determine the best way to approach the process. That said, taking a look at the latest trends and working practices of businesses lately certainly gives us some pointers. So what is there to consider?
Work is a way of life for many individuals, even with hybrid working, long hours can be a reality. So if business owners really are bringing people back to the office, this can be either rewarding or frustrating depending on how effectively your office is set up.
It’s really important to consider what’s important to your staff as well as what your office looks like. It can’t just be an aesthetically pleasing space. If it is not functional, it simply won’t last long.
I’ve teamed up with APSS to bring you this blog where they discuss office design for businesses of all sizes.
A Changing Workplace
Sustainability and longevity is a primary concern for many businesses. COVID-19 changed the way we work and we are still adapting in the wake of the pandemic.
Businesses who initially thought they would never return to the office full time, are now reconsidering after seeing a decline in productivity or morale thanks to remote working. This can be due to a number of reasons, however the ability to confer with your team easily and have office banter is high on the list.
Companies are fighting to fill jobs, that’s a fact. The Office of National Statistics confirms vacancies remain “historically high”.
This means there is more competition to provide a good workplace culture and a setting that appeals in order to entice new talent into a business. Ensuring a good office design has now become a recruitment tool in addition to enhancing productivity, creativity and showing off the company’s modernity. A bespoke office design over the traditional grey carpet and magnolia walls has become very popular in the twenty-first century.
These changes are resulting in new concepts for office and work area design. There is a greater need for flexible working space than ever before.
When coming up with a new office design, businesses need to consider the organisation’s current needs. At the same time they need to predict the company’s future within the design and the adaptability required to meet those needs. It sounds complex, but futureproofing your workforce starts with their environment. A happier workforce is more productive, will stick around longer and will feel valued.
Making Accessibility Happen
Accessibility is a huge issue and there really is no excuse in this day and age not to build in inclusive and accessible design into an office by default. While going to extremes is not needed, the most basic of amenities for those with disabilities or conditions that prevent them from accessing an office should really be factored into a plan.
Effectively, all accessibility design guidelines should be met, if not exceeded. Creating an inclusive and accessible office guarantees a varied range of people will use it. Consider both apparent and invisible limitations, as well as how the places can be used without assistance. Spaces and facilities should be provided to avoid separation, segregation or unnecessary effort.
Room To Live
It’s essential to determine the organisation’s spatial and physical requirements. In brief, how many rooms or spaces do they require? How many employees do they have? What size cafeteria do they require, how many sanitary facilities do they require?
These areas will serve a number of purposes. To get architectural about this, the functions directly influence how the room is constructed. Ignoring this is to throw logic out the window.
For example, if the office requires high levels of concentration, care needs to be taken to reduce noise. A pleasant working atmosphere free of distractions should be fostered.
Wellbeing can be classified as a buzzword at times, but needs to be part of the conversation when it comes to office design.
Employees need to feel supported and have the amenities to thrive. Employees who are physically and psychologically fit are more likely to be engaged and motivated at work.If something stops them in their tracks it can often be hard to win back their trust and motivation.
Good office design has been linked to improved employee health and well-being. It has also been proven that higher productivity, staff retention, and a sense of community can all occur too. All the more incentive to put time and effort into designing a workplace people actually want to spend time in.
It may sound obvious, but you should provide a comfortable, healthy working environment, as well as good indoor air quality through a combination of natural and mechanical ventilation. Design facilities for reflection and ensure that lighting, acoustics, and colours are used to relieve stress.
Adding in a biophilical feel will also improve staff wellbeing providing that tie to nature.
Lighting, Camera, Action!
Lighting can really make or break an office space. Too much strip lighting and glare can really have a detrimental effect on productivity and even employee health, both mental and physical, so to have a considered approach in this manner is important. Natural light is essential for health and productivity.
In traditional offices this may not be something you can arrange, but in newly-created office buildings, there should be more than enough chances to make it happen.
The greeting area, for example, might be constructed to be airy, bright, and friendly. While business areas may have more targeted illumination and glare-reduction methods. Softer lighting should be used in quiet areas and regions for reflection.
A workplace’s lighting design will improve the mood and activities of the spaces. Both natural and artificial lighting techniques are used in lighting design.
Sound off! Acoustics Matter
Acoustics, like lighting design, can be a highly personal thing for employees. Some employees find open plan workplaces difficult to work in because noise levels and distractions surrounding them can have a detrimental impact on productivity. However, if an office is excessively quiet, some people find it unsettling.
Finding a suitable acoustic balance is really very important. Acoustic materials that absorb excess noise can serve to increase team communication, provide privacy for private phone calls, and allow staff to focus more effectively on complex or intense jobs.
Having a choice of acoustically constructed venues allows personnel to choose the best space for their needs, such as group discussions, formal meetings, and so on.
Employees often just want to feel secure at work, and it’s not much to ask.
Security measures are frequently a significant concern depending on the kind and location of the office. The way you enter an office should feel welcoming, combining this with simple security measures should be an easy thing to make happen.
These are just some of the things you need to consider, but there’s a lot to be said for gut feel, aims and continuous improvement. If you have a vision for your office, then making it happen can be incredibly satisfying to watch it happen.