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5 Problems Office Design Can Solve

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Office Design Problems

Are you curious to know the most common office design problems your business is facing? These issues could be occurring in your office every day without you even knowing. By educating yourself about office design and how it can help your company, you can ensure your workspace maximises the performance of your people. The environment your people work in is a crucial component of their performance. It’s essential that your office design isn’t holding your company back.

Since 2008, we’ve been helping companies design & build workspaces that improve company performance. While there have been many different projects, all of them have been about solving a specific problem that the company is facing.

In this article, we’ll explain 5 of the toughest HR and leadership challenges companies in the UK are currently facing, and how workspace design can help resolve them. These issues range from staff productivity to more unexpected topics like staff attraction. The more you know about office design, the easier it will be to help solve these challenges.

Low Productivity

Amid the current economic challenges, with inflation causing rising costs and increasing price pressure from customers, improving productivity has never been so important. Alas, the productivity of workers across the UK has actually fallen 3-6% over the last 3 years. This is despite all the (self-reported) improvements in output. The single most important element that determines an employee’s ability to focus is their environment. No matter an employee’s role or seniority, their workspace is crucial.

With the explosion in the popularity of hybrid working, the role of the office has changed. No longer is it a place where staff sit most of the day at their desks working alone. The primary purpose of the office is now collaboration. By redesigning your office to reflect that, you will massively improve the productivity of your people.

The crucial benefit of fixing your workspace design problems is the improvement in engagement that results. According to research by the Harvard Business Review, an engaged employee is 45% more productive than a satisfied worker. The better an organization is engaging and inspiring its employees, the better its performance. Office design is a crucial component of this.

Office design can help improve staff productivity by creating a space that matches the way your people work. Two of the most common complaints about offices in recent months have been the lack of spaces to work in small teams and the lack of spaces to focus. By creating spaces within your office that meet these needs, you are giving your people the environment they need to improve their personal performance.

Poor Collaboration

Improving staff productivity is crucial, but it won't necessarily improve your overall business performance. To do that, you need to combine improved personal performance (productivity) with improved team performance (collaboration).

To do this, having people together is far more effective. According to recent research, remote meetings generate on average 10.43 ideas, while in-person meetings generate an average of 13.36. In-person collaboration is not only more effective but leads to better business outcomes.

If your office is still nearly all desks and boardrooms, communication and collaboration will be stifled. This will make your teams less creative and efficient, which will drag down company performance.

Redesigning your office can make your teams more collaborative. By analysing the way your teams work together, you can then create spaces to enable that. Informal collaboration spaces for teams of 2 or 3 people have become a far more important part of the workplace in recent months. These types of spaces match the way people work in hybrid workspaces, coming into the office to collaborate in small teams.

Disjointed Culture

Disjointed culture, more than any other factor, is the reason so many companies are keen to keep staff in the office, at least some of the time. In the short term or part-time, remote working is fine, because it enables greater personal productivity. However, this relies on the culture and relationships that have been built in person. Maintaining those relationships and building new ones remotely is very difficult. This has led to companies developing disjointed cultures over time.

A great workplace is not about free snacks or casual Fridays. It’s about creating an atmosphere that personifies who you are as a company and a team. As your company’s “home”, the office is a crucial part of building or maintaining a great culture.

So how can office design help mend or improve your culture? Again, making sure your workspace matches the way your people work is essential. By providing spaces that help staff become productive, the atmosphere of your office becomes more energetic. Making sure that the colours and features within your space match your brand will improve culture by giving your staff constant reminders of what your company is about.

Poor Staff Wellbeing

Staff wellbeing has become a serious problem for many companies in recent years. Remote working, the uncertainty of the pandemic, and the cost-of-living crises have all given staff a much keener focus on their own health. However, improving wellbeing is not all about them. It can have significant benefits for your business as well.

The most obvious sign of poor wellbeing is staff absenteeism. Workers in the UK lose an average of 30.4 working days a year due to sickness, or illness-related underperformance, costing the economy £78bn.

Redesigning your office can improve staff wellbeing in several ways. The first is biophilic design – maximising the use of natural resources and materials in your offices, from natural light to wooden surfaces. Modern offices maximising biophilic design have reported a 30% decrease in sickness-related absences. They also reported an increase in cognition and sleep quality.

Another important part of improving your office with wellbeing is the use of ergonomic furniture. The use of sit-stand desks and ergonomic task chairs, as well as ergonomic collaboration furniture, is essential. High-quality ergonomic design has significant health benefits for your people. This in turn leads to an average 25% improvement in productivity. When your people are comfortable, they can focus on their tasks, improving their profitability.

Poor Talent Attraction and Retention

There have been unprecedented levels of resignations over the last 2 and a half years. 20% of workers are also expected to change jobs in the next year. With “the great resignation” in full swing, making sure you are keeping your best people and hiring the best available people, is crucial to the long-term success of your business.

Your office plays a crucial role in attracting the best staff to your company. A survey of 1,000 UK office workers found that almost half of respondents agree that the room where they were interviewed would influence their opinion of whether or not to accept a job offer.

Retaining your top staff is just as important as attracting the best people. If your office is a frustrating and unproductive place to work, your best staff will have no shortage of options to change jobs. They can easily work for a company that provides them with the workspace they need.

So how can office design help with talent attraction and retention? By providing a unique and enjoyable workplace experience, your top staff will feel appreciated. A design that delivers great wellbeing and culture is central to this. For staff recruitment, providing a great brand impression is essential, so that they have the resources and the environment to deliver. Great staff attraction will create a team of “workplace ambassadors”. These staff are so happy with their workplace, they promote it to their friends and network.

Improving Your Office Design

At a time when many companies are struggling to improve their staff performance, office design has a crucial role to play. By creating the environment your people need to thrive, you are setting your company up for success. Creating a great office design can not only help to fix some of the challenges you are currently facing. It can also create a significant return on investment.

If you want to know more about how your office could be holding you back, check out our article on the 6 most common problems of office design. In it, we explain the 6 most common issues with office design that are likely making your office so unpopular with staff, and how to resolve them.



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