Workspaces can have a big influence on corporate culture. An uncomfortable office can disgruntle employees and distract them from their duties, which can, in turn, result in a low quality of work, high staff turnover and poorer overall success for the business.
In a previous survey, desks, chairs and temperature control were identified as the most important physical features of an office. The majority of respondents—85%—considered the design of the workplace to be important.
In a desk-based job, it’s easy to let clutter take over and to develop bad posture—and these factors can affect concentration. To stimulate creativity and complete the ‘productivity jigsaw’, businesses should invest time and funds into forming the perfect office set-up.
Stacks of used notebooks, tangled wires and dirty mugs can easily overcrowd a desk. This can lead to poor organisation and affect motivation. But a clear space can often result in a clear mind. In a previous study, 13% of office workers said clearing clutter would improve productivity.
Office space can be made more efficient by storing documents in an offsite storage facility and keeping cables hidden with cable baskets that attach to the underside of a desk or cable spines which run from the desk down to floor-level sockets.
Martine Robins, director at HR Dept, says: “It is important to understand how people like to work or are expected to work. Consider whether there is a need for a ‘clear desk policy’? Certainly, with GDPR, not having secure facilities for personal information could result in a data breach.”
Although not every business has the benefit of a spacious office, there are ways to maximise the existing space as the company grows, such as:
Although the opportunity to work from home is desirable for many, it isn’t always suitable for every style of working. It can close down opportunities for group discussion and cause problems that could be easily resolved with a quick face-to-face conversation.
Martine Robins adds: “Individuals need to know that they have the right outlook to successfully work remotely. For some people, the lack of colleagues and regular interaction can be isolating yet for others it’s a relief to not have the distraction.”
Forming ideas can also be a much more productive and creative process when undertaken in meetings rather than over email.
However, a comfortable office environment can provide the benefits of remote working without disrupting the office culture. This can be achieved by creating:
Previous research showed that one in five office workers find having space to relax at work is the key to productivity.
Office jobs commonly involve sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen for the majority of the day. Without proper care this could lead to bad posture, back pain and poor circulation.
“Comfort is a factor of the overall productivity ‘jigsaw’,” Martine Robins continues. “Poor posture is a big contributory factor to joint issues and with the advent of more technology, this will increase. It is already being seen with ‘tech neck’ from staring at screens for too long and with little movement.”
Companies can introduce adjustable monitor arms and laptop stands that can adapt to each employee’s height to prevent neck and back strain. Sit-stand desks also encourage staff to work from standing for a portion of the day. Previous research found that using a sit-stand desk can boost job performance.
Martine Robins adds: “Desks should be set at the correct height for individuals to aid productivity rather than hinder it. This is often overlooked, with little appreciation to ensure it is ergonomically designed to prevent injuries and meet health and safety requirements.
Sit-down meetings are reportedly 34% longer than stand-up meetings.
The general atmosphere of a workplace can interfere with employee relationships and quality of work. Although open-plan offices are a popular design format, they can often create issues with disruptive noise and temperature disputes.
Martine Robins says: “Trying to keep everyone happy where office temperatures are concerned is probably the biggest problem in open-plan offices now. But many of the air conditioning systems are becoming more sophisticated and easier to control at an individual level provided it has been invested in from the outset.
“Individuals have different thresholds in considering what is acceptable or unacceptable levels of noise. However, it is an obvious distraction and has to be monitored.”
Lighting can also impact a person’s productivity. In a previous study, just over a third of respondents said insufficient lighting would negatively affect their work performance.
However, exposure to natural light can improve alertness, performance and overall comfort. Artificial lighting can even be adjusted throughout the day to replicate daylight. However, bright task lighting is often preferred for focus areas.
A smartly decorated office can inspire and energise employees. A colourful space can spark imaginative ideas, while a fresh and minimalist design can help staff concentrate.
Martine Robins adds: “A great home office that has all of your comforts with peace and quiet is appealing to some people but anathema to others.
“Try to plan the office by taking into account some of the [employee] suggestions where possible and constantly communicate what can or cannot be achieved and why. This avoids assumptions being made and resentment from forming.”
The comfort of an office isn’t usually noticeable unless it’s poor, which is hard to ignore. A workspace has the potential to support or distract staff. To fulfil their true business potential, companies should invest in an office design that promotes productivity and creativity.