Many of us spend almost as much time at the office at home, so it makes sense to try to turn the office into a comfortable and welcoming environment. The impact of bad building design has been carefully documented, and sick building syndrome is a well-known phenomenon, but have you ever stopped to wonder whether good office design can improve productivity and wellbeing to the same extent that bad design can hinder it? There are many architects and office managers that believe this is the case.
The Value of Light and Space
The single most important rule when it comes to office design is that you can never have too much space, or too much natural light. Yes, glare is a bad thing, but you can prevent this with careful use of blinds and screen protectors, and by arranging your offices so that monitors are not directly in line with the windows. The benefits of natural light far outweigh the downsides of having to plan your office around glare.
Natural light contains a much broader range of the colour spectrum than any kind of artificial light, and this makes it easier to see the true colours of things you are working with. It also makes it easier to concentrate, and helps you to remain alert. Having plenty of space is important too. Open plan office designs, or designs that “feel” open, but use glass walls, are much more relaxing and vibrant to work in than stuffy, enclosed offices. It is still a good idea to have some quiet areas for employees to retreat to when they need privacy or want to be able to work without interruptions, but for day to day tasks, open plan designs are the best.
It can be difficult to find the balance between having an office that is relaxed and welcoming, and having one that is distraction free. Bright colours and cheerful open spaces can help to boost the mood of your employees, but an overly cluttered office can be distracting. Many successful offices, including those of Facebook and Twitter, find the balance by having designated “chill out” areas, and keeping the rest of the office fairly clean and simple. Use sustainable wood flooring in corridors, but opt for soft, noise reducing carpets in areas where people need to be able to work without distractions.
If you want to boost morale, consider allowing employees to keep one or two personal items (e.g. photographs, or executive toys) on their desk, but no more than that. This allows each employee to personalize their workspace, without causing the office to get cluttered up with distracting junk.
Comfortable Workers are Productive Workers
After light and space, the next most important consideration is comfort. If your desk or chair is the wrong height, the office is too cold, or your working environment is too noisy, then your work will suffer.
It can be difficult to make an environment that is comfortable for every employee, but some simple concessions can help. Allow each employee to choose their own chair, and offer a selection of keyboards and mice too, giving consideration for left-handed employees. In addition, try to offer some spot lighting options to accompany whatever the general ambient lighting in the office is. Some migraine sufferers prefer halogen bulbs over fluorescent bulbs, so allowing each person to pick the lights in their office will be appreciated.
Crispin is a seasoned blogger about all things business related. He often spends far too much time working out how to save time – which could be a problem in itself! Check out Name Badges recent infographic – as featured on www.entrepreneur.com