The big buzz in modern office design is centered on the notion of an open floor plan which encourages collaboration and creativity and compliments the new way that employees work-virtually and flexibly through the internet. The whole driving thrust of this office design movement is that workplaces should reflect corporate strategy and encourage better work from employees. But! According to The Californian Management Review’s report a few years ago, less than 5% of U.S. corporations utilize design to promote corporate strategy or improve performance. What gives?
Unfortunately the prevailing view among business owners is still to fit the most employees in the smallest space by installing rows upon rows of gray cubicles, which actually stifles human contact and employee collaboration. Without these interactions, employees tend not to innovate or really care about their jobs. Although this uninspired design may have short-term savings, it can have a terrible effect on long-term productivity and employee happiness.
Of course not all businesses can afford to design a state-of-the-art workspace complete with a koi pond in the lobby, but a few simple design choices can open up your space and encourage more collaboration and greater productivity.
Create shared spaces. Instead of walled off cubicles, create two or three-walled spaces where multiple employees can work at once. You can even designate a few project areas where teams can collaborate. This strategy is especially effective if you choose to have unassigned work spaces. Employees can work individually at a computer one day and easily transfer their work to a group project area when given a new assignment. The more employees are able to share ideas with one another, the more creative and productive they become, making shared spaces an easy way to create greater profits for your business.
Make yourself accessible. Managers and CEOs don’t need to wall themselves into private offices anymore. Although that corner office is nice, you can really boost employee morale by making yourself both visible and accessible to employees in a partitioned office rather than a walled-off one. Plus, you can better manage your business when you find yourself interacting with all level of employees on a weekly basis. Spend the money that would have gone to your fancy office on better computers, faster internet, or more coffee for the break room and gain even happier, more productive employees!
Throw in some aesthetics. It may seem like textured walls or colorful furniture are an unnecessary splurge, but if your business brings clients onto the premises, these added design features could close the deal. In fact you will most likely find that if you bring a prospective client to your beautifully designed offices, they are twice or three times more likely to purchase your business’s service or product. Again, this is another instance where an initial expense can lead to long-term profitability.
Consult an expert. Before you start knocking down walls and reorganizing the work habits of your staff, consult a space planner, architect, or interior designer. These experts can help integrate your corporate strategy into the design, allowing for an easy transition for your employees. Find an expert who will understand what works for you and your business. It’s not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about making a space that reflects the best in your business!