Having a nice environment to work in is obviously better than a horrible office that you can’t wait to get out of. What about the tangible, real world benefits of improving your office space, how will it actually help your business, and it’s employees, to prosper?
If you’re office based then chances are that you’ll spend the majority of your time at your desk, with the same view and with the same people. Making sure that this environment is as pleasant, healthy and productive as possible can reduce costs, increase profits and create a happy and engaged workforce.
The right tools
In virtually any profession having the right tools for the job, readily available, is crucial. Whether this be a gardener needing a spade, rake and fork or a fire fighter needing a hose and protective clothing. It’s the same for office workers too, they need the tools that enable them to give the business 100% and to give it without the distraction of looking for a workaround due to missing equipment.
It’s not just about the tools to enable employees to do their job either, it’s also about the little things that keep them happy. A small kitchen (or area) where people can prepare lunch or a cup of tea, somewhere to sit down to eat lunch and have a chat or a water fountain for people to refresh themselves are all examples of the small things that make a difference.
Making sure that remote staff have somewhere to sit when they come into the office is also important. Having to ask for a work area, or simply somewhere to sit, whenever they come into the office isn’t the most productive way to start the working day.
Can you see your colleagues without leaning around a divider? Are you sat on individual desks with your back to everyone? These are just a couple of the ways office design can stifle and limit the amount of collaboration.
If you can’t see your colleague easily then you can’t tell if they’re free or busy when you need to speak with them. You end up sending emails and waiting for a response, rather than simply talking with someone. Little or no verbal communication isn’t conducive to creating a cohesive and collaborative environment and culture, you want your employees to speak with one another, this is how company culture forms and grows. Without it you just have individuals doing their own thing and probably not enjoying it.
No one wants to work in an office that looks and feels like a corporate, sterile box, with nothing but silence and the occasional tapping of a keyboard. Arrange desks in clusters, this not only encourages communication and interaction, but also breaks up an office and makes it look a little less ‘regimented’.
Take a look around, how much inspiration is there within view? Inspiration doesn’t have to be an amazing cityscape or landscape view from every window, it could simply be some colour on the walls, some inspiring quotes or just a few plants.
Working in an uninspiring environment not only effects morale and creativity, but it also means, that as a business, you’re not getting the most from your employees.
Google are world renowned for their offices, which include slides, basketball courts and grassed areas. They’re also a company known for their creativity and inspiring new online tools.
In order to get the most creativity and inspiration from employees you have to provide them with an environment that encourages these traits.
Absence costs businesses a lot of money and as such there are various schemes and strategies, such as return to work interviews and flu jabs, designed to reduce absence and the costs associated with it.
A reduction in absence can also be achieved by simply adjusting your environment. Natural lighting, good ventilation and ergonomic office furniture can all help to keep your employee healthy and at work.
Take a moment to look around the office, do you notice any of the following?
- Are your office chairs ergonomic?
- Are monitors at eye height?
- Do you have the blinds open, allowing natural light in?
- Are the windows always closed, and the air con on?
- Do you have live plants in your office?
- Do you have wrist rests on all desks?
- Is the office overly noisy or ‘echoey’?
These are all little changes that can effect your employees wellness, engagement, creativity and productivity, which, in turn, your brand will profit from. Simply being in a nice environment, with access to views of the outside world can be enough to keep people healthy and less likely to need time off work.
Do you feel confident enough in the office environment that you’ve created to publicise it as one of the great reasons to work for your brand? More and more companies include their offices in their recruitment campaigns and onboarding processes, showcasing what a great place they’ve created for their employees. This can sometimes be the differentiator between your business and that of a competitor when attracting top talent.
Illustrating what a engaging place your offices are to work, with employees interacting and enjoying their time, is a powerful employer branding tool. Potential customers will look at your website to see what type of employer you are (as well as a supplier) when deciding on whether to enter into business with you. Showing that you have an engaged and happy workforce speaks volumes.
Providing a nice place to work, where employees enjoy spending their time, will increase employee retention and reduce turnover costs in the long term.