It’s a well-known fact that office design can influence moods and affect our productivity levels. Many factors come into play: lighting, furniture arrangements, temperature and so on. It can be exciting – and slightly daunting – when you get to decide how your office should be designed. But not to worry! We’ve listed down some important factors below to help you plan that perfect workplace.
Open spaces or closed walls?
When it comes to work space, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It depends on your company’s culture, floor plan and employee job functions. Open spaces can help promote creativity, encourage participation, and make it easier for experienced team members to guide interns or less experienced staff. Companies like Google and Facebook have paved the way for the open-office model, as it is instrumental in portraying a transparent work culture.
But of course, there is also the issue of noise and lack of privacy when cubicles and walls are absent. You might get irritated and distracted when there’s a project deadline at 4pm, and colleagues nearby start celebrating someone’s birthday at 3.50pm. Ideally, an office needs to have a mix of open spaces and private rooms where people can work on individual tasks or have meetings.
There have been many studies on the effects of daylight on employee moods and productivity levels. One study revealed that workers who received more daylight exposure got more quality sleep than those who didn’t. Large, glass windows with adjustable blinds are a good way to control the amount of sunlight in the office.
If your work space doesn’t receive a lot of natural light to begin with, fluorescent lighting can be used, but keep in mind that overly bright artificial lighting can cause eye strain and headaches. Light fixtures can also help convey your office’s work environment: Want to create a sense of sophistication? Try installing recessed wall lights along office walkways.
Creative vs. traditional
It’s nice to have a creative office design – with slides, gaming consoles or colourful walls – and it seems that more companies are competing for the title of “the coolest place to work in”. But once again, this boils down to your company’s culture. If you were starting a law firm, leather chairs and fine wood desks would be more appropriate than bean bags and colourful tables. It is also important to choose the right type of furniture that doesn’t exceed the budget and meets ergonomic standards.
While white walls are fine, they can be boring. Colours are proven to have psychological effects on people, and you can use this to influence employees’ and clients’ moods. For example, the colour red can stimulate appetites and heighten emotions, so it might be a good idea to apply it to pantries or socializing areas. Blue is soothing, so it would be suitable for rest areas or reception areas. Green is useful to promote positive feelings and balance, which makes it appropriate in a fast-paced office.
Colours also decide the kind of impression you want to give visitors. Certain combinations are particularly popular: brown and black are used to show sophistication, or white and orange to indicate liveliness.
Storage and comfort zones
Nobody enjoys having a discussion in a room cramped with boxes. Optimise spaces in your office by cutting down on paper usage and using recycling bins. A wide shelf – when positioned properly – can serve as storage, decoration, and a space divider. A neat office shows employee efficiency and reduces accidents (this is particularly important if you have a lot of product samples stored in your workplace).
For comfort zones, it depends on your budget and office space. Some companies provide snooze pods, a recreation area with foosball tables, or even nursing rooms. When it comes to the pantry, it can be either isolated or integrated with a work space, depending on employees’ needs. Consult your designer or planner if needed.
Incorporate certain designs or fixtures according to your company’s brand, and the kind of employee behaviour you wish to encourage. This means that if your company specialises in environmental services, opt for potted plants and artificial grass, or purchase wooden furniture from sustainable timber suppliers. Involved in the sports industry? Have a mini indoor putting green installed, or basketball jerseys framed and placed in meeting room walls. Want to encourage people from different departments to mingle and share ideas? Have your designer create a centralised coffee bar, rest space or printing station.
Through thoughtful office design, it’s possible to blend business with fun without sacrificing productivity. And if your company has a mix of millennials and older employers working together under one roof, workplace design can play a part in attracting and retaining talent from different generations.