Has your entire office suddenly decided to call in sick or work from home, leaving you wondering why?
Once you rule out obvious factors like a week-old tuna fish sandwich in someone’s desk, or the realization that today is a national holiday, you may want to consider whether your office furniture is a demotivating factor.
What does your current office décor bring to mind?
- Cheapskate chic?
- The latest in 1960’s communist-bloc design advances?
- An unusually well-organized dumpster like this photo?
Okay, your office design probably is not that bad, but is it demotivating by nature?
More importantly, how can you determine the aspects of it that your employees find demotivating?
Here’s a novel thought…
You may find that simple changes in office design may make a large difference in employee happiness and motivation, which will lead to greater productivity. But how do you begin?
A tool that we use is TypeForm for any democracy voting decisions for the company or what featured lunch we are going to choose. It is free and an amazing application to have anonymous voting and a great way to see what your employees really think!
Take a Realistic Inventory on your Office Environment and Furniture
Consider the following factors as you ponder redesigning your work environment and potentially buying new office furniture.
What does your company do, and is your office design suited for that field?
More importantly, figure out the “Why” behind the design and how it tells the story of your office. Taking lessons from the book “Start with Why”, by Simon Sinek and applying that to even your office environment will be very useful.
- In case you haven’t read it check it out a free chapter here -> Click Me
Does your office environment match your company culture? Have you even defined your company culture?
This is the secret sauce to the entire development. It is a proven fact that if you build the framework of the layout and design around the culture and vibe of your company, it will create long term success.
- Just look at Google’s office and how that contributed to attracting & retaining the best talent around the world.
Are there physical impediments to your worker’s success
(Poor lighting, uncomfortable chairs, holes in the floor, bugs the size of cocker spaniels, etc.)?
Do you want to encourage physical movement about the office?
How can you balance collaboration and the positive effects of getting up and moving around the office with possible reduced efficiency?
What do your employees feel would make them more productive
(with respect to the office environment – not raises, promotions, or giving half of their work to an intern)?
Do you have a sufficiently comfortable and larger place to hold group meetings?
Do your meeting areas and open areas have the suitable technology for today’s business environment?
Now you have an idea of what needs to be done.
All you need is the vision to execute it…and the money.
You may not be able to implement everything because of cost limitations, but the chances are good that you can achieve most of it and provide a great improvement in employee productivity and morale.
Don’t forget to blend these improvements with your company culture. Your choice of décor gives a strong message, and that may conflict with your type of business.
- Are you comfortable in a messy accountant’s office?
- Would you trust a bank with psychedelic paint schemes?
- An interior design firm that operates out of a series of soulless cubicles?
They may all be perfectly competent companies, but you will probably be less willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
This is true for internal motivation as well. “Soulless cubicles” do not send a message of creativity; they send a message of cost-efficiency and conformity.
However, those properties are not exclusive.
A clever design can set the lighting, furniture, and colors to maintain a comfortable environment, yet provide everything necessary to promote efficiency – however you define that for your business.
Start With Personal Work Space
Provide sufficient lighting and comfortable, ergonomic chairs and desks in an uncluttered arrangement. A 2009 Study from the Journal of Public Affairs, Administration, and Management found that lighting was the top property affecting productivity. It’s hard to be productive when you can’t see well.
Blend in the technology necessary for that employee’s work space in an unobtrusive fashion
– for example, minimize the clutter of wires and keep sight lines such that workers are not straining or twisting to perform their office tasks.
Next, consider the psychological factors that employees may not even realize they need in their work areas, such as more open spaces and wall/décor colors that promote the preferred frame of mind (see the Color Affects system by Angela Wright as an example).
If possible, consider higher ceilings or orientations that optimize natural light without providing glare.
Expand to Larger Working Environments
Now expand the principles to the larger work area. Spatial arrangement within the larger work area was listed as the second-most important factor in the study noted above.
Does your work naturally lend itself to more collaboration and an open space? A good blend is to have a relatively open environment with hideaway areas of minimal distraction (and not just closet-like refuges, either).
Set the ratio of space by gauging your employees’ comfort level with the potential background noise and distractions of an open space.
Don’t forget the ergonomics of group spaces, either. This applies to both the open areas and meeting spaces.
You want them to be comfortable and flexible enough for all types of collaborative efforts, but not so comfortable that they are used for group naps
(unless that’s part of your culture – and if they are, are you hiring?).
Just makes you want to buy one right?
Be What You Are as a Business
Finally, lay on the finishing touches that define your business.
What is the voodoo that you do (as a company) so well, and how do you want to announce that message to the world through your choice of office design?
Search for unique design elements that fit your corporate style. For inspiration on office designs our favorite site is OfficeSnapShots.com . (Stephen does a great job curating the best of the best!)
By taking your workers needs and wishes into account and working from the individual work spaces back toward the overall office environment, you can create a visually pleasing and efficient environment that reflects your company’s style and values.
Behold your fabulous new work space!
Your office design and your employees are operating in perfect harmony. The workers are happy, tasks are getting accomplished, and all is well.
Now all you have to do is to figure out who keeps leaving tuna fish sandwiches in their desk.
Seriously now, who’s doing it!?