Office Design Complaints
It's no secret that the design of your office has a huge impact on the morale, productivity, and wellbeing of your staff. However, very few offices are designed with staff performance as a priority. In many offices, compromises are made between traditional design, cost, and staff requirements. As a result, the office can often be a frustrating place for people to work in. This inevitably reduced the satisfaction and performance of your people.
If you’re an office or facilities manager working in such an office, you’re probably well aware of its shortcomings, as you will frequently be reminded about them by your staff. However, just because your office design has several flaws, it doesn’t mean you need to carry out a full office relocation. Even on a limited budget, you can make your office a more productive, enjoyable location for you and your staff.
At Zentura, we regularly speak to managers who are well aware that their offices are reducing staff performance. However, many are unsure what to do about it. In this article, we’ll be addressing the 6 most common staff complaints we hear about when planning office design projects. We'll also cover how you can identify and address them at your company.
“The furniture is uncomfortable.”
Uncomfortable furniture is probably the most common complaint of office workers around the world. While it may be frustrating if your people are often complaining about it, it could potentially become a serious issue. Your people use the furniture in your office constantly, so making sure it is comfortable is absolutely essential. If it isn't, they will struggle to focus and their productivity will fall. If your furniture is not ergonomic, it can even cause health issues.
The first thing to do is to make sure your people know how to adjust the furniture. A lot of commercial office furniture designed for heavy use (e.g., task chairs) is designed to be adjustable so that it can suit different people. You should also have sure that your people have the right type of furniture. Collaboration furniture designed for short periods of use will become uncomfortable if used for several hours. While upgrading your furniture may seem like an unnecessary cost, it may be a good investment. Moreover, you can take it with you whenever you next move office, unlike many office design improvements.
“There’s not enough light/ natural light.”
Another common source of staff dissatisfaction with their office design is the lighting. Many offices are designed with little-used meeting rooms and private offices on the outside walls. As a consequence, some of the most-used areas of your office may have little natural light. If it has been more than 15 years since the lighting in your office was replaced, then it will probably be an obsolete system that increases eye-strain for your people.
There are several things you can do to improve the lighting in your office. The first is to make the most of the natural light you have by reconfiguring your office to place the most popular areas near windows. It is also important to make sure the colour of your artificial lighting mimics natural light, rather than being too cool or too warm.
“It’s so noisy.”
High noise levels are often regarded as an unavoidable drawback of an open-pan office design, but this is not the case. Distracting noise levels are a result of poor layout and finishes choices rather than staff density. Regardless of the cause, distractions can have a huge impact on the productivity of your people. It takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully recover focus after a distraction. With staff being distracted at least 3-4 times a day, distractions are likely severely reducing the performance of your staff and company.
To reduce the noise levels in your office, you should first decide if the problem is due to a poor layout or inappropriate finishes. If it’s the latter, you could look at installing acoustic panels or upgrading the soundproofing of your walls. If it's due to layout, you will need to reconfigure your office to ensure collaboration and focussed working areas are not near each other. You could also install a sound-masking system to neutralise background noise.
“It’s always too hot/ cold.”
One of the most complained about issues in the office is the temperature. Everyone has a different opinion on the ideal temperature, and it's impossible to please everyone. However, it’s important that your office is at an optimal temperature for most people. If it is too cold or too hot, your people will struggle to concentrate, reducing their performance.
A properly commissioned air conditioning system is essential to achieving optimal temperature. While it may be impossible to please everyone, various studies have shown that the optimal temperature is 21-22oC. To maintain it at this temperature, your system should be centrally controlled, rather than having a controller that anyone can use. You should also ensure your system has adequate capacity to cope with the number of staff in your office.
“There’s nowhere to work in small teams.”
A less talked about issue that also has a big impact on the teamwork of your staff is the lack of spaces designed for small-team collaboration. Many offices have a lot of desks, meeting rooms, and large collaboration spaces. However, most collaboration is actually done in small teams, so having spaces designed to facilitate this is very important.
To improve the collaboration in your office, survey your staff to find out how much they collaborate, what kind of work they collaborate on, and what size teams they collaborate in. You could then look at converting some of your less popular office areas into small-team collaboration areas. Many offices have 30-40% wasted space, so this should be easily achievable.
“It’s so cramped.”
While many offices have a lot of wasted space, poor layout and/or space allocation mean that many staff feel cramped. This will reduce their satisfaction, which has a knock-on effect on their productivity. It will also mean they are more likely to be distracted.
It will depend on your industry, culture, and working model as to how much space you need per person, as well as to allocate to different purposes. To learn more about how much office space you need and how that should be allocated, read this article.
Solving Your Office Design Challenges
While they may seem frustrating or trivial, addressing the office design frustrations and complaints of your people is essential to maximising the performance of your workforce and company. By creating a working environment where your people feel supported, their wellbeing, satisfaction, and productivity will increase. As a result, your overall company performance will improve.
To learn more about the importance of office design to your company, read 8 Ways Office Design Can Improve Company Performance. There, you’ll learn about the 8 most common benefits of redesigning your office, and how you can maximise their impact on your next project.
Needing help resolving staff frustrations with your office design? we’d love to talk. At Zentura, we specialise in designing and building agile working environments around the people that use them every day. As a result, your people can become more efficient and more productive. Talk to one of our workspace experts today.