As more and more businesses begin to open and welcome their employees back into the office, there are mixed feelings about whether or not this is a good or a bad thing. On the one hand, a lot of employees are eager to feel as though they are getting back to normal, and they are excited about the idea of having co-workers who aren’t of the four-legged and furry variety.
On the other, a lot of people are worried about being out in the world again after over a year working from home. People have also come to enjoy the freedom that working from home allows, and so might be viewing coming back into the office not entirely positively.
If you are re-opening your office for your employees, designing your layout in a way that makes inspires productivity and comfort is a great way to allay some of their fears and to show that you care about their wellbeing. Here are some things that you should consider if you are creating a new office layout.
Before you go bursting in and creating an open plan office complete with a fireman’s pole and pool tables, like a trendy tech startup, it’s important that you speak with your employees. After all, they are the ones who will actually be using the office space that you design. The office space should be practical and facilitate their comfort and wellbeing.
When you are asking your employees for their opinions, think about asking them specific questions rather than broadly asking for their opinion. If you keep your line of questioning too vague, then you won’t get good information. Some of the questions that you could ask are:
- What do you like about your current work environment? Encourage them to share everything they like, even seemingly trivial things like their proximity to the coffee machine! A lot of people are uncomfortable with change, and asking this question shows that you are sensitive to this. Where possible, you can try to preserve the parts of their working environment that are working well.
- Are there are any privacy or security concerns for your role? This is especially important if you are considering an open-plan office design. People who spend time on the phone with customers will probably need to be seated further away from teams who create a lot of noise while they are working. Likewise, people who work with sensitive client data need to be sure that their screen isn’toverlooked by anyone.
- Is there anything that doesn’t work well in your current work environment? Allow your employee to make you aware of any of the current design features that actually impede their day-to-day work. This is a good learning opportunity for you, to help you to understand what kinds of things don’t work.
- Is there anything you would like to add to your work environment? This question gives employees the opportunity to give you their ‘wish list,’ things that they think would make their working life more enjoyable. It’sthese sorts of features that have a huge impact on employee wellbeing, so it’s worth paying attention.
When considering ergonomics in your office design, everyone isaware of the importance of a chair that supports the back and of having the monitor at the correct height. These things are all an important part of physical ergonomics, the things that help to look after our bodies. It’s important to consider how to protect your employees from repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), poor posture, and manual handling injuries.
It’s also worth considering ‘psychological ergonomics,’ which are the things that support your employees’ wellbeing and promote productivity. These include measures to minimize stress in the workplace, for example, making it as easy as possible for employees to access the things that they need to. You can also boost wellbeing through simple measures like introducing plants to oxygenate the environment and including a well-stocked kitchen in your design plans.
Even after it’s no longer a requirement, many employees may want to continue to observe social distancing guidelines to keep themselves safe. It’s important that you design your office layout with social distancing in mind.
If you need some help with social distancing for your office design interior, then Source One is a good place to go for help. They have experience with designing office spaces for social distancing requirements and in a way that promotes collaborative working and productivity. They have professional CAD systems which allow them to visualize your office design before you ever touch the physical space.
If you’re hoping to encourage more collaboration in your workspace, a great way to do this is by creating a design that includes spaces for collaboration. Some ideas for this are:
- Creating an area, away from the workspaces, where employees can eat and socialize together. This is important for wellbeing and it also helps to forge greater connections between your employees, which means that they will work more effectively together.
- Designate areas within your design that are for collaborative working but which are flexible in the ways that they can be used. This means thinking about furniture that can easily be moved around, stocking the space with pens and paper and other creative mediums, as well as, of course, the traditional screen with input for laptops.
According to Forbes, 87% of employees would like their employers to offer healthier workspaces. This means including things like ergonomic furniture, standing desks, a healthy canteen, and areas that can be used for workouts and meditation.
Employees will continue to work for longer with an employer whom they feel is taking their wellbeing seriously. In fact, 93% of workers in the tech industry said that this was the case. By looking after your employee’s wellbeing, you are also encouraging them to be more creative and more motivated in their work, so it is worth incorporating this into your design.