Planning the perfect office environment
In this guide, we share our expertise in office space planning to share 10 easy tips you can do right now to boost productivity of your employees.
Creating the perfect office environment is essential to inspiring your workforce and encouraging productive days. With careful consideration of office furniture, art and design you can generate the ideal office; somewhere you and your staff can be proud of.
By completing our 10 easy office space planning tips, you will increase the productivity of your office without a big office redesign project. Whether it is desk tidy or a picture for the bathroom, every aspect can represent your company’s ethos and keep your staff motivated.
1. Reflect your business through your office’s atmosphere
The first step is to consider what style of office reflects your firm, for example a creative agency may want to offer a different appearance to a law firm. Some firms may want a bright and vibrant environment whereas others may want a calming and traditionally professional surrounding.
- Change up the magazines regularly in the reception areas to reflect your business. Add up-to-date marketing publications in the reception area if you’re a marketing agency, or legal and current affairs publications if you’re a law firm.
- Add inexpensive art and prints to the walls to brighten up dark corners of the office. From bright colourful posters and prints, to colourful flow charts and diagrams of processes – artwork can brighten up uninspiring areas instantly.
- Experiment with different Spotify playlists to reflect your ethos. There are lots of productivity playlists on Spotify already created of all different moods and genres to choose from. Or even better still, get your teams to build their own playlist, encouraging them to add their favourite work-appropriate music that everyone else can enjoy too.
First impressions are everything. By creating the right atmosphere you can show clients and staff alike your attitude to work and what your firm is capable of.
2. Reduce long-term injury and stress with ergonomic furniture and accessories
Creating a stylish space is one thing, but you must remember that your office is first and foremost a place of work – somewhere where you staff can concentrate and be given space to think.
As an employer in the UK, you’re legally obligated to make sure your staff have the right equipment to work with that doesn’t cause injury and illness. This means making sure furniture is DSE compliant.
- First of all, carry out a DSE Assessment for each of your employees. You can find more information here – https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/assessment.htm. Not only are DSE Assessments are easy to set up and quick to do, but they will also reduce the risk of work-related stress, injury and illness.
- Add ergonomic desk items your staff use throughout the day like keyboards, wrist supports, mouse pads and more. Repetitive strain injury can cause lifelong pain and injury. Check in with staff to make sure their current keyboards and mouse set ups aren’t causing them pain.
- Check the quality and age of office chairs. These can get worn out easily over time and the ergonomic viability to them degrades as a result. Sometimes something as simple as a new comfy ergonomic chair to sit on can make a huge difference to an employee’s performance and reduce back and neck injuries.
- Make sure staff who use their desk phones a lot are given headsets. Neck strain caused by holding phones to ears can damage the nerves in the neck for life. Look at your employees when they’re on the phone next to check if they need one.
A comfortable work station can also reduce stress levels amongst your staff, making for a calmer team. By allowing your staff these concessions you can allow them to work in comfort, keep them healthy and reduce stress levels.
3. Create spaces to think and focus
One important factor to consider when choosing office furniture is, ‘What design or combination gives your team enough space to comfortably work in?’. With desks, chairs, storage and computers, space can become limited.
Nobody likes to feel squashed in when they are working, so by giving your staff space to move also gives them the space to think. Also, taking regular breaks throughout the day plays an important part in maintaining concentration and productivity.
- Instantly add colour and partition off breakout zones by swapping in some more colourful screens and partitions. This can help break up open office spaces so your team can have space to focus away from their desks if they need to.
- In addition to this, place some stylish stools and tables in reception areas or breakout zones to provide somewhere else other than fully-booked meeting rooms for 121s or quick catch-ups
By allowing space for an area away from desks you can offer your staff a coffee break or dining area, somewhere where they can take a break from their computer screens and recharge during coffee and lunch breaks.
4. Open plan office vs partitioning
There are more than just cubicles when it comes to work stations; an open plan office with bench desks can give the impression of space and freedom of thought and discussion, but can be noisy and distracting for some employees. A partitioned or closed office encourages focus and concentration, but doesn’t naturally encourage collaboration.
When considering desks, think of the type of work your firm produces and ask these questions to your team:
- Is it collaborative work that needs to be discussed amongst your staff most of the time?
If work needs to be discussed and compared amongst a team, then an open plan office allows this to be done easily. But still ensure that there are areas for quiet focus and thinking space by using partitions and zones. It’ll also free-up much needed meeting room space too.
- Or does the work require focus and deliberation, and not collaboration most of the time?
Work that requires concentration and consideration, such as private or legal matters, singular workstations can work very well, with breakout areas for collaborative discussions where needed.
With careful thought and consideration your office can be a very harmonious place, somewhere where your staff enjoy going every day.
5. Re-think your office seating plan
Chances are your office may have a variety of departments; some of which will require open discussion and others quiet concentration. When laying out your office, consider who will need to chat and who will be quieter.
Grouping teams together will limit the need to shout to people far away or talk over people who are working quietly. This will in turn allow groups to work more efficiently together, reducing the chance of excessive noise and, consequently, miscommunication or eventually staff arguments.
By separating the two groups you will be rewarded with a more melodious work place and a happier, more productive team.
6. Re-organise storage and declutter communal cupboards
Something that is often forgotten when organising a new office is offering staff enough opportunities for storage. Under-desk stacks of drawers are an excellent way of offering individual storage for staff and in turn, help make the office tidier and cleaner as a result.
Filing and storing documents and papers not only allows your office to look tidier, and adheres to Health and Safety regulations, it also makes admin an easier task.
Storing papers, files, books or records in an inappropriate way can also put your team in danger of tripping over mislaid items, so storing them in designated cabinets or shelves can leave walkways clear from hazards.
When papers and records are in a mess it makes general productivity a lot slower. Offering enough storage for the work you have, plus the work you anticipate in the future, can therefore keep your office running smoothly.
7. Consider replacing old broken furniture with furniture built to last
When deciding on office furniture and layout consider what will still be suitable in years to come. Picking durable furniture in both style and build can ensure that you get the most for your money. Redecorating your entire office every year can be expensive and time consuming, disrupting work and workers.
When replacing items your office, consider what will still be stylish in a few years too and that will be durable. Classic designs with injections of personality allow you to offer staff and clients a mix of classic and contemporary decor. Choosing a classic design with your firms’ own twist can allow your firm to look independent and stylish for many years to come.
8. Future-proof your office layout
Every business has the opportunity to grow and develop, this means expanding your workforce and the increasing the range of services you offer. When choosing your office furniture make sure it has the ability to alter as your business does.
Opt for freestanding desks and furniture
Furniture that is fixed to the floor or requires specific removal men to move it limits the opportunity to expand and embrace new staff members or departments. Furniture that can be assembled in different ways, such as desks that can be completely separated or added together to create a row will offer you much more choice in the future.
Consider future technology
By allowing room for new technology with larger desks you can ensure that you are ready to accept any new developments in the technological world. Desks should fit screens, telephones, keyboards and mice whilst still allowing plenty of space to work and store personal and work items. When your staff have room to move they have room to work.
Nobody can predict the future, but being prepared for every eventuality can make life a lot simpler.
9. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the most difference
The small things make a big different to the look and feel of your office. Practical aspects such as desk tidies, cable tidies, monitor stand and multi plugs can all keep your office in order and tidy.
- Ensure that desks remain tidy, papers are stored away appropriately, and cables are kept safely and securely out of people’s way with desk caddies, drawers, coat hooks to store coats and bags out of the way during the day.
- Add a few colourful cushions to reception sofas and breakout spaces to inspire focus and thought.
- Plants in offices have been proven to improve wellbeing and can help manage stress levels. Opt for easy-to-maintain plants like Monsteras, Aloe Vera and Chamaedoreas are all easy to look after and make big visual impacts.
- Add pictures and display cabinets. These can all add aesthetic touches that make your office feel more relaxed. Display cabinets can give you the chance to show off awards or achievements, showing each client that visits just what your business can do.
10. Listen to your staff
Your staff will be spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the office, why not ask them what they would like?
- What pictures would they like to hang?
- What type of keyboard is best for them?
- Are current desk chairs and height levels causing them pain? Could height adjustable desks be the answer?
- Are they finding it difficult to collaborate with other teams?
- What areas of the office do they think could do with sprucing up?
- How do they feel when they come into the office on Mondays?
By giving your staff a say in their surrounding decor it can make your workforce feel more like a team. It also allows them to create a workspace they feel proud of and in turn, making them proud of the place they work.