Did you know that Americans work an average of 34.4 hours per week? That's over 1,700 hours a year. Pre-pandemic, those hours were primarily spent in an office. As we return to the office, wouldn't it be great if the office design and layout were optimized for productivity and comfort?
As a business owner, you should do a thorough check to ensure your company culture meets your employees' needs, which contributes immensely to emotional well-being, productivity, and overall financial success. In addition, you should consider what you can give to your employees, in terms of space and features, that will enhance and support their day-to-day office work.
In fact, a recent report found that an optimized office design can make employees up to 33% happier and less stressed at work. Furthermore, when employees are happy, they experience 31% higher productivity. Continue reading to find out why optimizing your office design and layout can do wonders for productivity and how to optimize your office space.
What Is Office Design?
Firstly, office design is about creating a space that encourages productivity and purposeful work while facilitating creativity and collaboration.
MBA Brief defines office design as:
“All the components and elements of a workspace that are both decorative and functional. In an office workplace, employers increasingly focus on designing environments that optimize employee wellness like air quality, lighting elements, layout, color choices, ergonomics and stress reduction, as well as connectivity between employees.”
Overall, office design should take care of the employee's needs, their well-being and provide a functional space where they can thrive.
Why Is Office Layout Important for Productivity?
Reshuffling your office layout is more than just utilizing the workplace efficiently – it's about creating a space that facilitates collaboration, generates feelings of comfort and calm, provides employees with their own space, and encourages productivity. An international survey of 10,000 workers by Ipsos revealed that 85% of employees are unhappy with their office environment and struggle to concentrate.
Jeff Pochepan, Inc.com, explains that a poorly designed office can lead to “higher stress levels, emotional rifts between departments, corporate resentment, employee bickering, mental health issues, anxiety, and even physical problems such as backaches, and reduced eye vision.”
So, How Do You Optimize Your Office Design
Now that we have a better understanding of what office design should accomplish, here are ways you can optimize your office design.
1. Always Plan
Before designing any space, you must think about what you want your space to achieve. What are the current challenges your team faces that a redesign can overcome? You should also take into account how people use the space as it is now and how they will need to adapt to any new changes.
While you are planning your redesign, observe behavior and notice any key features that are potentially missing. The best way to find this out is to talk directly with your employees. Send out a survey to gather information about what they need to enhance their working environment. It also encourages you and your employees to work as a team, which will improve company morale and a sense of accomplishment once the redesign is complete.
2. Get Rid of Uncomfortable Furniture
Don't just start rearranging the furniture without considering if it is worth keeping. Old and worn furniture can cause many health problems, such as back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, and eye strain. However, instead of throwing the furniture away, why not talk to us at Cubiture to see if it can be upcycled and restored.
You can't go wrong with ergonomic office furniture. Before you invest, read our blog to find out how to achieve an ergonomic workplace. There is an abundance of ergonomic options that will bring joy and comfort to all, such as treadmill standing desks, adjustable chairs, ergonomic keyboards, and laptop stands – the list is endless. You should consider these factors when going ergonomic:
- Eyes should be 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye level.
- Feet should be on a footrest or resting on the floor with knees at a 90-degree angle.
- A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.
At Cubiture, we understand the importance of comfort and prioritize it over aspects such as style and color options. While these are important for office design, there simply is no substitute for genuine comfort. As important as every element is in a well-designed office furniture system, ultimately, no piece of furniture will work for very long unless the individual finds it to be comfortable.
3. Select Calming Room Color and Materials
The colors around us affect our moods and brain function, as they evoke both a physical and emotional response. Therefore, choose the color of your workspace carefully and base it on the effects you want to create. For example, blue has been said to spark productivity, and orange elicits positivity. However, don't overdo it – too much of anything can be overwhelming, even too much positivity.
There are different colors that are attributed to different emotions and tasks; therefore, it is necessary to incorporate these elements while redesigning your office. White is one of the worst colors that you can have on your walls. Natural, minimal colors in the office can make you feel more relaxed and energized, key drivers in productivity.
Natural materials and textures can help to bring the outdoors indoors. Chris Alldred, from K2 Space, states that it can even help companies lower the amount of sick leave staff take as these natural features can help keep the team engaged and provide them with a workplace where they enjoy being and don't want to leave.
4. Implement Biophilic Office Design
We can hear you asking…what is biophilic office design? Don't worry, we had to look it up too. It is a term used by psychologists to describe humanity's desire to connect with the natural world. For example, it's well-known that office plants lift our mood and improve our air quality, which aids concentration among us. But apparently, it's more complex than just adding some snake plants on our desk. So, how can we achieve the biophilic office design?
- Access to natural light and views of the outside is important
- Use any outdoor space available for all employees to access
- Embrace color – as we mentioned above, each color evokes its own emotion
- Have a variety of spaces available where employees can interact but also have their privacy
- And, of course, office plants
5. Consider Air Quality
Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. In fact, OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor quality in offices costs employers $15 billion due to worker inefficiency and sick leave. Certainly, something to consider when you are optimizing your office design.
Proper ventilation is achieved when you open windows and allow as much natural air in as possible. If this isn't an option, installing air filters will improve air quality drastically. Plants are also great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.
6. Use Natural Lighting
Light plays an important role in the best office layouts for productivity. Poor lighting can cause eye strain, headaches, fatigue, and stress. As we mentioned earlier, access to natural light does wonders for everyone. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that employees who sit near a window sleep better than those who don't, and a good night's sleep is essential for a good day's work. However, in many offices, natural light does not reach every corner. In this scenario, you can install indirect lighting, which is bright but doesn't cause eye strain.
7. Have a Variety of Office Spaces
An office that provides enough space for workers to collaborate, take breaks from their desks, and be able to work in silence, will have the biggest impact on employee wellbeing and productivity. When optimizing your office layout, consider where your employees will sit. Studies show that when workers are sitting with colleagues who share the same goal or client, they are more creative and productive, as they can get answers and find solutions faster.
Collaborative spaces are a great alternative to meeting rooms and can be as simple as a few armchairs around a coffee table or outside on the rooftop.
An Exeter University study revealed that working privately was important to 95% of employees. However, only 41% said this was possible in their current workplace. Cubiture designers develop cubicle layouts that maximize employee privacy in shared areas. This minimizes distractions from traffic and generates a much more focused work environment.
8. Plan for Growth
An essential consideration while optimizing your office layout is growth. This is especially important in current times, with social distancing as a critical aspect to take into account. For example, how many more employees do you envision in the next 6-12 months? How will you accommodate a growing staff and ensure a 1.5m distance is achieved? When you organize your office, you should always keep the future in mind, as constantly reshuffling and redesigning can be time-consuming and expensive.
How Can We Help?
What sets Cubiture apart is the amount of time and the level of attention we devote to customizing your office layout and design. From a designer's perspective, we look at how your office can complement workflow requirements and personal employee needs at every stage of your business process.
That's why Cubiture makes it a policy to balance aesthetics, functionality, and basic ergonomics in every office we design. Contact us and discover how your business can benefit from optimizing your office design and layout.