For many, the office is the second home; employees spend hours behind their desk, and the office environment dramatically influences their working patterns. An intelligently designed office therefore plays a crucial role in the functioning of the company: it has a direct influence on productivity, workflow and employees’ wellbeing. It is not an easy task, however, to enhance productivity while nurturing a sense of happiness. This is why planning and optimising space is best left to experts. A professional workplace consultancy quickly reveals an optimum design, and ensures a stimulating working environment that respects individual requirements. So what exactly constitutes great office design?
Before even embarking on the planning process, factors such as architectural limitations, workplace safety and security, and a company’s core values need to be considered. An office space is first and foremost representative of a company’s culture and identity. Its look and feel signals the values the company stands for, from open, friendly and welcoming, to collaborative, functional, or hierarchical. Most companies are intuitively drawn to what best represents them, but it is no less important to keep another critical strategic goal in mind: how to utilise space for maximum efficiency and for optimal flow of communication.
Millennial-domineered tech start-ups or trendy media companies, like London design agency Brand Opus, favour wide-open spaces that facilitate communication, exchange, and easy movement throughout the office. The typical loft look of exposed brickwork or concrete, raw metals, and dark colours accentuated by stark contrasts, symbolises youthful individualism and creativity. This is an environment that energises and inspires. On the other end of the spectrum, professional service providers such as medical offices, City lawyers, or insurance companies place a premium on privacy and discretion and opt for the polished corporate look of noble dark woods, elegant leather, and plush upholstery to inspire confidence and trust. The investment firm Legg Mason opted for open public spaces, which are flooded with natural light to inspire a sense of comfort; there are also numerous private areas within the office, to evoke a sense of professionalism.
A workspace, of whichever nature, has a direct influence on the behaviour and wellbeing of the people occupying it. But aesthetic beauty is not always functional. While a wall-free, casual office may encourage a sense of equality and enhance communication, it does not consider the roles and needs of employees whose jobs by definition require an environment that allows them to work without external interruption. Accountants and writers, for example, depend on their ability to concentrate. These roles and their needs are often overlooked when conceptualising office space. Consulting all team members prior to (re)designing a space, and developing solutions for their specific requirements, such as quiet zones, is therefore a critical element to overall success.
Even established companies benefit from such a review of their existing workspace layout to uncover and address problems. An expert space analysis & brief is an invaluable tool in examining both physical space and staff needs. The expert eye also catches potential shortcomings, which can usually be quickly and easily remedied.
The work environment – the second home away from home for so many – has come a long way since the days when office workers were penned up side by side for twelve hours, huddling over stuffy desks under uncomfortable lighting. Smart employers have realised that a motivated work force is a productive work force, and that an inspirational environment plays a great role in it. While office redesign may require an initial investment, it is one that pays back on more levels than one.