Here’s the situation:
You’ve finally found the space that screams, “THIS IS THE PERFECT
OFFICE FOR US!”
It’s in the right place, the price is right, and you’ve committed to it. You can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief.
Except you can’t.
Because you don’t have a chair…
Oh, and you don’t have desks or tables or any other office accouterments…
Before you decide this is going to be easy and make a call to “Cubicles Я Us” step away from the smartphone and think.
Tossing up fake walls will achieve that rat-in-a-maze look from above, but it probably won’t optimize your work space. It will likely just make your employees feel like rats in a maze.
Thinking about office design before you actually start ordering furniture is the most important step in creating an effective work environment.
Everything from the type of furniture you choose, the layout of said furniture, and the color choices you make will set the tone to make or break productivity.
Don’t be overwhelmed. This is the part where we help you out. 😉
Space: Your Final Frontier
This is your space. The place you are going to build your dream.
Consider the word space in all of its forms. My guess is that none of them are cluttered. Keep that in mind as you create the layout. Wall-to-wall furniture isn’t necessary, in fact, it’s counterproductive.
How do you best use the space you have? Find the sweet spots.
This graphic explains it best – without the astronaut feel!
Each employee will need a place for working independently. This is their quiet space where they can carry out tasks without tons of interruptions. It will also give them options for storage so things don’t get too jumbled.
You also need dynamic space where teams can talk and share ideas and collaborate.
The last consideration is the flow space between the furniture. There should be ample room to move around without bumping into someone’s desk. Those are the main working spaces. An informal break room or casual space is valuable for building a feeling of community in the office.
As a side note, although “space” might always seem dark, your space should be full of light. Natural light enhances productivity and just makes everybody happier.
Let’s get serious for a minute.
There are actual research studies out there about office design.
One study in particular was based on office layout in a college setting, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
Two office layouts were used by advisors in the Academic and Career Development Center. One office featured a layout in which only the corner of the desk was between advisor and student. The other was more traditional, with the desk between the student and advisor.
While the first arrangement was deemed more positive for an initial reaction, 63% said it was very welcoming, both layouts resulted in positive collaborations. Students had the opportunity to write in responses and feedback and that showed that both layouts created a first impression of the advisor.
The first layout (without the desk between the participants) resulted in 74% of students responding that the arrangement made the advisor seem more approachable and 46% said that they felt it set the mood for the session. Both layouts were liked by students. The desk position was the only variable considered in this case study.
Office A (49.6%) or Office B (50.4%)
6a) Briefly explain why you thought that picture made the advisor appear more approachable:
(Post Survey was paper and provided by advisor after advising session)
Read each question carefully and select the answer that best fits your experience.
1) What was your first reaction to the advisor’s office as you walked in?
|Layout A||Layout B||(participants could select from the following responses)|
|63%||59%||Very welcoming – Office layout surpassed my expectations.|
|37%||41%||Welcoming – Office layout was welcoming.|
|0%||0%||Unwelcoming – Office layout could have been a little more welcoming.|
|0%||0%||Very unwelcoming – Office layout was very uninviting.|
2) What was your first reaction to the seat placement in relation to the advisor?
|Layout A||Layout B|
|74%||71%||Excellent – Placement made the advisor seem very approachable.|
|26%||26%||Good – Placement made the advisor seem approachable.|
|0%||3%||Poor– Placement made the advisor appear not as approachable.|
|0%||0%||Unacceptable –Placement made the advisor appear very approachable.|
Please explain ________________________________________________
3) (Based on your previous answer) Did your first impressions of the layout and chair placement change by the end of the session? (if yes, select “Better” or “Worse”)
|Layout A||Layout B|
|39%||24%||Yes – My reaction changed for the better.|
|61%||76%||No – my reaction stayed the same throughout the session.|
4) My collaboration with the advisor during the session was:
|Layout A||Layout B|
|80%||85%||Frequent: I asked many questions; collaborated and worked together|
|19%||15%||Fair: I asked a few questions; some collaboration|
|1%||0%||Minimal: I only answered the questions the advisor asked me|
5) The placement of the chair impacted our collaboration and my expectations of the session:
|Layout A||Layout B|
|46%||27%||A lot: Felt it set the mood of the advising session.|
|34%||29%||Some: Felt it had an influence on the session.|
|9%||12%||Very little: Felt it would have been the same regardless of seat placement.|
6) Did you like the layout of the office?
|Layout A||Layout B|
|9%||12%||Did not make a difference|
In your office, you must consider your employees and how their spaces will impact their responses to you, each other, and the work environment in general. Even the most subtle changes to how your office is laid out can make major shifts to one’s mental state. Numbers never lie.
Finding that Balance
Now that you are completely baffled by having space, let’s consider something really off-the-wall.
Take all of this information into account and find a balance of openness for collaboration and approachability, as well as, spaces for quiet, independent work. You should be thinking of efficiency and convenience.
Plan for single workspaces in one area with open, communal areas for collaboration. It can be done.
Now You Need Chairs
Once you’ve figured out the layout, furniture comes into play.
Office furniture can be a significant expense, but when you think about it…
An employee who spends six to ten hours in an office chair that was purchased on sale at the nearest outlet for under $200 is going to have:
- Back Pain
- Neck Pain
- Butt Pain
And you will have pain in your bank account from the days they cannot come in to work. (or maybe not want to come to work to sit through your cruel and unusual punishment)
You will ultimately lose money as employees take sick days and are less productive when they are at work because they are uncomfortable.
Do I need to spell it out? Buy good chairs.
In fact, buy ergonomic chairs, desks that organize the electronic cables and are optimized for productivity, and storage units that are made so that each person’s area is easy to use.
Out in the world of office furniture, there are colors. Yes, that’s right, all office furniture is NOT gray or black.
Bring in color.
This can be coordinated with the colors of your company logo so that the branding is subtly fluid throughout the space.
And while they aren’t furniture, plants do rest on top of furniture, so add a few throughout the office.
Research from Exeter University concluded that employees with plants in their workplace were 15% more productive.
Just remember to water them. The study did NOT say dead plants.
Put It All Together
First you have the perfect place that has natural light and feels right.
Next, you sit down and sketch out some layouts, keeping traffic flow, individual spaces, and collaborative space in mind. Balance open space with individual space.
Consult with an expert in office layout or a designer if you can’t come up with a layout that is the perfect fit for your business.
Buy furniture that is ergonomic, good quality, and pulls the branding throughout your space. This can also be done with wall paint if you feel strongly about those black chairs.
The finishing touches are nice, green plants that are hardy enough to go without watering for a few days, just in case (ask at the garden center).
That’s it. You’ve done it. You’ve created a space conducive to a healthy, productive business.
Now if you’re feeling that cramp on your bum by the time you got here give us a call to hook you up with a nice chair 🙂