The last 15 months have given us a new perspective on the way we work and made us think about our workspaces like never before. At first, remote working seemed to be going great. We had fewer distractions, no commute, and a healthier lifestyle. It became fashionable to loudly herald the end of the office and a new era of remote working. The office was a thing of the past, now obsolete and irrelevant.
But over time, a realisation has emerged of the long-term damage that working from home is doing to both people and business. As social capital is gradually diminished between teams, and not built up with new team members, working together becomes a lot harder. That instinctive understanding is lost, making meetings slower and more laborious. And we have realised that when it comes to innovating, it’s a lot easier if we are all in the same space.
This situation has driven the rise in popularity of hybrid working- splitting work time between home, the office, and often a third space, such as a coffee shop or coworking space. According to Gensler, over two-thirds of the UK workforce would prefer a hybrid working while just 12% want to work from home full time.
Against this backdrop, as many companies consider their real estate and workspace plans for the months and years ahead, many are asking what their workspace should look like. The office can become an important strategic asset, bringing your people together to create amazing results for your business. Here, we have broken down the 5 key reasons why workspace design matters for your business.
One of the greatest weaknesses of dispersed teams is the gradual winding down of innovation and creativity in teams. When working alone, staff tend to be less inclined to risk making a mistake by putting a risky idea forward, no matter how extroverted they may be. The lack of informal communication narrows networks and stifles the chance conversations crucial to innovation.
Poor design in your office can also stifle innovation. If your workspace is full of bland workstations, the ability of your people to get together to innovate is smothered, almost negating the benefits of being in the office entirely. The one person, one desk concept has become outdated over the last 12 months, with the key purpose of the office now being to bring people together for collaboration and innovation.
In order to create as many opportunities as possible for innovation, your workspace design needs to have a variety of zones designed for specific types of activity, in order to encourage your people to move around throughout the day, meeting new colleagues and remaining mentally refreshed. The use of biophilia and on-brand graphics can also keep your people refreshed and inspired throughout the day, creating an environment that fosters innovation.
Along with innovation, collaboration has also ground ever closer to a halt in the remote workspace. While teams that worked together pre-pandemic have that social capital to draw on, staff new to the team or new teams are unable to build that social capital so essential for collaboration. Meetings have to be scheduled and tend to be driven by the agenda rather than the people, which further limits collaboration.
But physical proximity of teams does not guarantee effective collaboration. Again, their workspace has a crucial part to play. If your collaboration spaces are designed with unsuitable furniture and inadequate acoustics, it will become a noisy and uncomfortable space your people will avoid.
Collaborative office design looks to maximise collisions between the people in your space- areas such as teapoints, social spaces, and printing areas where your staff can collide serendipitously and interact. This provides as many opportunities for collaboration as possible. It is also important to recognise that your people will collaborate in different ways, so providing a variety of collaboration spaces, from more formal meetings rooms to informal social spaces will help get the best out of your people.
Poor workplace wellbeing can have a devastating impact on employee productivity, causing serious frictions and health issues. Poor ergonomics can lead to health issues such as CTS (Carpal tunnel syndrome), lower back pain and much more, which results in high levels of absenteeism and a de-motivated workforce.
While you may think of wellbeing as merely physical and mental health it extends to every area of working life. Many companies underestimate the importance of office design and select off-brand and unimaginative designs. When surrounded by this environment, your people lose interest and focus, damaging motivation and productivity.
A workspace that prioritises wellbeing can have a dramatic positive effect on the happiness and performance of your people. Through human-centric office fit-out, you can have a huge positive impact on the wellbeing of your people. Offering your people varied and dynamic environments to support them in their roles and considering their comfort can significantly increase their wellbeing and consequently their capability to perform.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of working from home was the unexpected rise in productivity. Freed of many of the distractions of the workplace staff could concentrate on their roles. However, as lockdown fatigue set in, productivity has fallen due to lower levels of motivation.
The ultimate goal of every office design is to help your people to be as productive as possible. However, many companies are distancing themselves from this with tired, outdated workspaces. In the post-pandemic era, the purpose of the office has evolved from a desk farm to a communication hub, and only through embracing this can your working model be effective and sustainable.
Your people will be the most effective when provided with the right equipment and environment in which to perform. A visually and ergonomically appealing workspace will enable your people to thrive by providing them with the right facilities to do their work at every point of their working day.
At the heart of company culture is your people coming together to synergize and creates results that they couldn’t alone. Culture is often defined as “the way we do things around here” but when “here” is hundreds of different kitchens, spare rooms and sheds spread across entire countries and even continents, how can you expect to maintain positive company culture?
The culture of a brand is reflected in its office design. As the space where many of your people spend much of their time, it has an inevitable impact on the way they behave and perform. In an outdated and tired space, your people will become demotivated and this will be reflected in their results and those of your company.
On the other hand, an inspiring collaborative workspace that inspires and unites your people can be the catalyst to creating and maintain great company culture. When your office is an embodiment of your company’s values, purpose, and vision, your people respond to that. It brings the bland corporate statements off the wall into real life, empowering your people and creating an atmosphere that drives personal and company performance.
Optimising your Workspace
There is no one perfect office design. Your company and your people are unique, so your office should be, too. By understanding how your people produce their best work, and what they need from your space, you can ensure your office is best positioned to provide for those needs.
At a time of such upheaval, you have an unparalleled opportunity to change the way your people work. Through creating a great workspace, you can ensure that you are maximising the performance and profitability of your people, and ensuring a thriving future for your company.
Want to know more? Our office design process is centred around the people that use the space. We spend time understanding your business in detail and the needs and requirements of your people. By getting a thorough understanding of the culture of the organisation and its objectives, we are able to creatively design a workspace that enhances productivity, attracts and retains key talent and ultimately improves business performance. Get in touch today.