Offices have come a long way since the days of tiny cubicles, brown swivel chairs and noisy photocopiers. With ever evolving innovations in design and technology, the workplace is now a much more pleasant place to spend time.
The importance of a comfortable environment for employee engagement is understood well by serviced office providers and this is highlighted by Skyline in their guide to offices in London. In fact, the comfort of any of your staff on business trips, or visitors to your company, should also be considered when looking at where they stay overnight. Serviced apartments are a much more restful and well equipped alternative to hotels, and Signet Apartments offers comprehensive guidance on the numerous benefits that are included. Many elements of office design and resourcing can be taken and implemented in your own business environment to improve conditions for your staff. Here we look at just a few examples.
Office Layout and Design
Cubicles: Whilst people don’t like to be in tiny cubicles, neither is the completely open plan office popular either. Open plan design has been found to disturb staff more frequently because they could hear multiple people on the telephone around them and there always seemed to be someone passing their desk. A better option is to group people together, either in smaller offices or by screening them off with partitions.
Hot Desking: A popular recent trend has been towards hot desking. This does work well for people who are only occasionally in the office, perhaps because they work from home or are often on the road, as it means that you have to devote less space to desks which stand empty for the majority of time. However, for those employees who come into the office frequently, hot desking can lead to more frustrations than it solves. Disadvantages for staff include: the fact that they don’t have a place to store their equipment, that they are constantly on the move and therefore don’t get to know colleagues and finally that they are unable to personalise their desks, something that makes employees feel more settled and included at work.
Breakout Areas: A nice addition to the office environment has been breakout areas. These are sections with comfortable seating and relaxed lighting, where people can chat, take personal telephone calls, eat lunch, have coffee with colleagues or even hold impromptu meetings. It has been shown that meetings held in informal areas such as these are highly productive in terms of coming up with creative ideas.
Materials: The materials used in the design of the office are now available in numerous options in terms of colour, pattern and style. There have been vast improvements in office furniture, both ergonomically and style wise, and in the use of lighting, heating and cooling systems.
Eco-Friendly: An eco-friendly office is now also important, so it is possible to save natural resources by installing auto switch-off taps and lights which only come on when there is someone in the room. People think more carefully about waste disposal and about creating a paperless office. Even cleaning products are purchased for their green credentials and hand-towels and paper products are FSC Certified. All of these small steps add up to a big change in corporate responsibility and help employees to feel better about the impact the company is having on the environment.
Technology: Computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones are getting ever sleeker and ever easier to connect to the internet wherever you are. Offices now often have Wi-Fi connectivity which means that employees can group together in any meeting room or breakout area and work collaboratively on projects.
The spread of cloud computing also means that employees can transfer large files virtually and therefore work at home and during business trips more easily as well as at their desks. Even printers and photocopiers are smaller, quieter and more eco-friendly.
All of these improvements add up to an environment where people like to spend time. If employees feel that their working space is a pleasant and lively place to be, which is designed with their needs in mind, they are much more likely to be invested in the success of the business and to be loyal to the company brand.