Top tips: Office design for productivity
What's considered good practice for conductive office space design changes so frequently it's difficult to know what's true, and if the truth is uniform across the workforce. There are, however, foundations that rarely change.
With the state of the workforce itself undergoing a rapid shift in the direction of agility, it's important to allow staff to retain a space for focused, collaborative work, without sacrificing mobility. Achieving this balance, whilst paying attention to high-quality ergonomic design principles, is no mean feat, and warrants close attention to detail.
A well-designed office space should boost productivity and attitudes towards work, and provide comfort and flexibility. The following fixes vary in difficulty, but will all provide strong foundations for building a better off space.
Take a look at urban planning and how modern cityscapes are divided up - distinct areas with purposes and niches that are favoured by people with different interests. Whether districts are planned with a distinctive overarching purpose or it evolves naturally, what's important is that the finished product serves a functional purpose.
Zoning in office space works in exactly the same way. An area that staff naturally congregate in that lends itself to productive collaboration time should be set aside for that very purpose, just as a quiet area that's more conductive for self-driven tasks is vitally important.
It may also be important to zone an office space in a way that respects the expertise of members of a team. In a mixed-profession office, it may be sensible to group those with similar interests and outputs together.
Creating a buzz in the office space is an oft-neglected necessity for workforce spirit. Placing collaborative spaces in areas that staff naturally gravitate towards, and improving the atmosphere with stimulating decor, technology, and furniture can push for open, positive, debate in the workplace.
This is one of the harder tasks on the list, and is achieved through a combination of design principles and attitudes towards team building. Creating an atmosphere where everyone can talk, and express themselves clearly should be a top priority.
Allowing staff to bring personal effects to their office space is a sure-fire morale booster, lets staff know they are viewed and valued as individuals, and will encourage the free expression of ideas.
Filling an office space with plant life connotes vitality, growth, and sustainability - three concepts no successful business can run without!
An increasing number of studies are showing the benefits of getting up and moving around in the office space, as well as banishing the sit-down approach altogether. Allowing staff to stand at their desks and move around the office space promotes an active and agile approach to working, and may even reduce the number sick days staff take.
Air temperature in a workspace has a noted effect on productivity. The majority of research lists 21 - 23 degrees Celsius (70 - 73 Fahrenheit) as the optimum temperature for maximum productivity, though this varies by personal preference.
For this reason, offering staff additional space heating/cooling technologies may be viable, as well as giving control over where staff choose to work. There are a number of other, less expensive ways to keep warm in the winter months, however - encouraging staff who have trouble keeping comfortable to ensure they're observing every available option is vital.
Art in office spaces is habitually a final consideration, and is unfortunately often selected from the same range of uninspiring stock pieces.
Choosing the best artwork to represent your brand can be a daunting prospect, but is a worthwhile endeavor. The British Council of Offices (BCO) revealed 93.8% of participants in a survey believed art makes the workplace feel more welcoming, and 60.8% believed it stimulated creativity.