What to consider when revamping your office space

25 Aug, 2017

The workspace evolution and creative playpen of Google’s headquarters have long been considered cool. And many offices have mimicked Google’s futurised workspaces in the hopes of experiencing an injection of productivity, creativity and growth. Studies have proven, however, that these kinds of office fads might be having a negative impact on productivity.

Jeremy Myerson, academic, author and activist in design and innovation, believes many businesses don’t necessarily fit into Google’s open-minded philosophy about workplace flexibility. So when they attempt to mimic or imitate a similar informal and ‘anything goes’ approach, it’s not aligned with the ethos of (for example) a corporate, that relies on more formal and disciplined interactions.

The problem is, when it comes to workspaces, trends swing from one extreme to the next. From overtly creative and impractical, to dull and ergonomically unfriendly. Where’s the middle ground?

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With all this considered, how can we improve organisational workspaces? Here are a few elements to consider – whether creating a DIY home office or aiming to influence corporate culture for the better.

Offices are shrinking
With consistent cutbacks and smaller teams, office spaces are shrinking – and businesses environments are having to work a lot harder. Consider this when adopting technology and infrastructure – if it’s not functional, is it necessary?

Invest in multifunctional tech. Keep décor simple, with one or two statement pieces. Light fittings, for example, which occupy far less room than large-scale Zen Den or oversized sculptural coat racks. It also means keeping unsightly wires to a minimum and going wireless where possible. Ditch the file cabinets and implement digital document management instead to super-save on space.

Understand the task at hand 
The design of your workspace should be intrinsically linked to the task at hand. And whatever facilitates that task most fluidly – despite what the trends are. Often, interior designers are tasked with recreating the ideal space for corporates, without having worked within the business, being aware of the organisational culture or the needs of the average employee.

Ensure your redesign keeps your business’s specific work at the core. If that necessitates cubicles, don’t banish them as a relic – the classic booth is being redesigned and its benefits are notable for privacy, data protection and focus. If calls are a big part of what your business does, it doesn’t mean your employees have to live in isolation – create call booths instead.

Another key consideration in overhauling your office space is to request and leverage feedback from employees within the company. In redesigning, they’re your client, after all. Schedule meetings to find out what’s working, what’s not working and how it can be improved. Implement feedback to prove it’s valued.

Keep it flexible
Just because the biz-guru of the month decides standing desks are the solution to office productivity and health woes doesn’t mean you should bin your entire stock and re-invest. Remain flexible and implement what you can to keep your office space modern, but also understand that some trends may pass. Adjustable desk accessories that allow for both sitting and standing are a reasonable option. Or posture correctors and laptop stands.

Create inspirational spaces 
Keep the brand at the core – in your design approach too. If colours, accessories and spatial arrangement doesn’t comply with what your brand represents, it’s not worthy of real estate in your office. This is as much for employees as it is for clients and business owners – keeping the brand experience seamless and establishing it as gospel.

If a space is reserved for brainstorming and ideation, keep seating lower and equal, so no one feels they can’t speak or be heard. Up the fun factor with dynamic wall paper in this designated area, rather than bedecking your entire office in polka dots or galaxy print. Whiteboards and flip charts are classics when it comes to brainstorming – but you can take collaboration and creativity to the next level with a digital whiteboard in your creative corner.

Design factors to consider 
Lighting is everything. It impacts the brain, creativity and productivity. Steer clear of harsh, artificial fluorescents. Maintain a comfortable interior temperature and if it’s causing contention in the office, call for a vote. Designated and welcoming break and lunch areas are crucial – with healthy snacks provided, if you’re willing to go the extra mile for employees.

A solution for a functional workspace 
If you really don’t know where to start, Nashua’s Free Office Assessment provides a comprehensive examination of a business environment, offering useful insights on size, layout, equipment, software and processes to develop effective and efficient business solutions.

Business owners and office managers: pay attention to how your employees and colleagues respond to their workspaces – if they don’t facilitate great work, it’s not working. Get it right and it means a happy team and thriving business.