It can be easy to forget that offices don’t organise and run themselves but in fact, rely on focused individuals coordinating as an effective group. From the responsibilities laid at the feet of human resources staff to the friendly “hello” of the main receptionist, every aspect of office life depends on the well-being and productivity of the people who work there. That’s why many companies around the world are increasing their efforts to make “human-centric” office design a key priority — in other words, understanding and addressing the needs of the staff to increase the efficiency and happiness of each worker.
The suggestion that the needs of the people working in any given office should be primary may seem somewhat obvious. After all, every company – big or small – knows the crucial importance of good decision-making at every level. However, facilitating a working environment wherein workers can make good decisions both effectively and consistently is another story entirely. ‘Office life’ itself is a term often said with negative connotations, describing the stultifying tedium and internal politics of a work setting wherein staff are boxed in with their assorted colleagues for roughly eight hours a day.
So, what can be done to resolve this, and perhaps even undo the negative connotations tied with ‘office life’?
Let’s explore further…
Creating the workplace around your people
First and foremost, the company needs to consider the necessities and concerns of its staff. All workplaces need a structural hierarchy that aims to benefit every relevant member, but the tendency for a lack of communication between management and workers is all too common. For instance: if a worker is bursting at the seams with interesting ideas for a particular project but has no official means to channel them to a responsible colleague – or they are heard and outright ignored without substantive feedback in return – the long-term cost to the company can be great. Lack of enthusiasm can set in quickly, regardless of the worker’s ability set or usual investment in the company’s wider success.
So, how can you shape your office design to meet these challenges?
To bring the best out of your teams you need to create an environment that stimulates, inspires and focuses on the wellbeing of your staff in equal measure. Here are some quick ideas…
- Investing in plants and greenery for the office is known to boost mental health and productivity, so introducing these elements can make all the difference. You can go even further by introducing biophilic design practices into your office, demonstrating how your design is connected with nature by creating living walls. People have a natural affinity with nature and respond positively to these changes.
- Create a work environment that encourages people to move around. There is more to this than simply creating standing desks. Open-plan offices, meeting pods, breakout areas, private cubicles and attractive cafeterias are good examples of where people can collaborate, but also have spaces where people can go and work alone and concentrate when they need to.
- Focus on the wellness of your teams. This includes choosing ergonomic office furniture and adding meditation rooms, yoga spaces, rejuvenation zones, games rooms, kitchens and communal spaces and relaxation areas.
- Making the best use of natural light in your office environment and introducing colour onto selected walls all have a positive impact. The use of colour has a strong effect on mood and also allows you to express your brand’s personality and company philosophy within your office interior.
There are many smaller changes you can make too, such as using photography and artwork along corridors and in meeting rooms, positioning of printers and storage areas in more accessible areas and greater integration of technology and multi-purpose furniture.
How human-centric design benefits everybody
It’s fundamentally useful to know your employees on an individual level. Not everyone in an office works in the same way, or even to the same quality; nor do they communicate or respond to feedback on equal terms. Having a ‘catch-all’ approach to worker management – in other words, addressing every single employee in the same way – is almost always bound to fail. Understanding the differences between employees on a human level will give any company a leg-up in creating a more positive and productive workplace.
Simply put, a company that holds a better perspective on the range of personalities housed in their office will always have an advantage over one that doesn’t. And importantly, this human-centric approach actually benefits both the company and worker alike. That’s why it should be the stated goal of any company to build an office and work environment that the majority of its staff want to be a part of, to whatever extent that’s really possible.
For more information about human-centric office design and to discuss what this might look like in your workspace, contact Flow Office today.