For many companies, real estate is their second biggest cost after staff. A lot of companies spend so much on office rent and operating costs that they are reluctant to invest more than they have to on office fit out. As a result, many offices are bland, uninspiring places that don’t get the best out of employees.
At Zentura, we’ve been helping companies across the UK optimise their offices for over 14 years. This has given us a detailed understanding of the most common ways offices limit the productivity of staff. We've also learned the best ways to resolve these common issues,
In this article, we’ll explain the 4 ways that your office might be underperforming. We’ll also explain how you can fix these common issues to make the most of your office and your people.
Poor Space Utilisation
Many companies have offices that are still based on personal desks and executive offices. These designs era may have a small collaboration area, but the layout is designed almost exclusively for individual work. These designs completely ignore the fundamental shift in the way your staff use the office.
With hybrid working having skyrocketed in popularity, many staff can achieve more at home when working on individual tasks. The crucial benefit of the office is collaboration – it is far easier to communicate and work together when you’re in the same space. In 2019, collaboration spaces took up an average of 10% of the office. In 2022, it is between 35% and 45%. If your workspace doesn’t reflect this, your office will be a very frustrating place for your staff to work, and they will resist returning to the office. And even if you force them back, their productivity will be limited. If all you have is rows of desks and a few boardrooms, how can your staff collaborate?
A space utilisation survey, carried out by a workplace consultant, will uncover how your people are using the space at the moment and what about your office is holding them back. Space utilisation systems use cameras, sensors and trackers placed throughout your space. They build up a detailed picture of exactly how your people use the office. Staff surveys uncover what staff find most frustrating about the office, and what would improve their performance. This gives you the crucial insight you need to create an effective workspace design.
Another all-too-common office design issue limiting staff productivity is a bland, off-brand office experience. Office branding is much more than a company logo in the reception and a few walls painted in brand colour. Your office branding includes the entire experience your staff have throughout the day, from the chairs they sit in, to the coffee they drink.
Many companies provide a bland, generic office design, which creates a bland, generic office experience. This limits the performance of your people. You are depriving them of the motivation and inspiration they need to perform at their best. It can also limit your recruitment efforts. The room where an interview is conducted influences the opinion of half of interviewees on whether to accept a job offer. If your office doesn’t stand out from the competition, your will struggle to recruit the talent you need.
The solution to avoiding an off-brand office is to engage with an office design expert. They will understand your brand, define your workspace needs, and combine them to create an office design that reflects your company personality. This is not only about carpets, wall signage, and design features. It extends to the types of spaces in your office, how your staff communicate, and the atmosphere that the space creates.
Not Enough Biophilia
Biophilia plays an understated role in the wellbeing and productivity of your people. Often thought of as a few plants in the corner, biophilia includes all natural elements in your workspace. This includes natural light, fresh air, wooden finishes, and office plants.
A lack of natural light is a real problem, especially in larger offices. While boardrooms with a view may seem like a good idea, they can block a lot of light. The finishes throughout your office matter, too. If your office has predominantly greyscale colours, your staff are forced to work in an unnatural environment. Over time, this reduces their wellbeing and productivity.
Biophilic design doesn’t always require a full office relocation or refurbishment. Simply adding plants throughout the space will make your office much more welcoming. It will also improve the performance of your people. According to research by the University of Exeter, employee productivity jumps 15% when ‘lean’ work environments are improved with office plants.
One of the most common complaints about open-plan office design is high noise levels. However, this is not an inherent drawback of open-plan office design – it is a result of poor space planning that does not cater for staff privacy. Even in the era of hybrid working, your people will still need space alone for individual work when in the office.
On average, employees lose 86 minutes each day due to distractions around them in the office. That's nearly 20% of their working day. Over time that can have a devastating impact on the productivity of your people. Distractions are not only auditory – if your staff don’t have enough space to work alone or with the relevant colleagues, they will be constantly interrupted by other colleagues trying to use the same space. Distractions can also be visual – if there is too much going on around your staff, they will struggle to concentrate.
You can avoid a distracting and frustrating environment for your staff by working with an experienced workplace designer to ensure that you get the right balance of privacy and collaboration. Crucial to this is creating a workspace with a variety of different zones that are designed for different activities. This includes the right amount of collaboration spaces, as well as focussed and semi-collaborative environments. By giving your employees the choice over how and where they work, you are giving them the ability to work in an environment that matches their needs. This dramatically improves their ability to perform.
Improving Your Office
Nearly all the offices we visit suffer from at least 3 of these issues to some degree. The impact of this lost productivity can be seriously damaging for companies. Your office is a crucial component of your company’s performance. Making sure your space isn’t holding your people back is essential, so that you can improve the performance of your company.
Making sure your space utilisation is as good as it can be will help your staff by creating an office that matches the way they work. Creating an on-brand office experience will immerse your staff in the personality of the company. Biophilic design will improve the wellbeing and engagement of your people. Ensuring your staff are not constantly distracted will allow them to focus.
Every company is different. This is an overview of the most common problems we see when planning and designing office refurbishments and fit-outs. For a full analysis of where your workspace is underperforming and could be improved, speak to one of our workplace consultancy experts. Our process helps you understand your office and your people. We collect measurable insights into your office space and your people that enable you to make data-informed decisions. This helps you to streamline costs whilst increasing employee engagement and wellbeing. Our service is scalable to meet your requirements, timescales and budget. We can help you ensure a smarter, optimised workspace with more productive people, so contact us today.