The Secret to Successful Office Design: Choice is Key
Image by Marcin Wichary
Employee performance is influenced by a variety of factors – but it should come as no surprise that the office environment plays an important role.
A quick Google search for ‘open plan offices’ is all that’s needed to know that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to layout doesn’t work, with the article ‘Open plan offices suck. Why people are finally waking up to it’ being a fairly typical example of the results returned.
It’s simple: everyone works in a different way. So, if you’re not offering your employees a choice of environments, it might be having a bigger impact than you think.
By thinking differently, and offering some alternatives to the standard rows of identical work stations, you can help your employees to think differently too.
Why One-Size-Fits-All Doesn’t Work
A growing body of research, including a survey by design and architectural firm Gensler, points to the fact that ‘choice’ and a sense of autonomy increases employee happiness, motivation, performance and productivity.
And, when you think about it, this makes perfect sense. We all like to feel that we have some degree of choice over how we carry out our day, and whilst one person may find it easy to cope with background noise, another may find it impossible to carry out certain tasks without silence.
It also makes sense that different tasks require different environments. For example, a task that requires intense concentration, such as writing, is likely to benefit from relative quiet, whilst a more creative task is likely to benefit from a collaborative environment.
Despite all of this, however, countless businesses only offer their employees one unmoving seat.
The World’s Biggest Companies Know Choice is Key
If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the office layout of some of the world’s biggest companies. Google (who are arguably responsible for popularising flexible office design), Facebook and the BBC all offer their employees a choice of working environments – and you can bet they don’t do anything without a very good reason.
For example, Google’s Kings Cross office is designed along the lines of a theatre, with the furniture as ‘props’ that can be moved to suit employees’ needs. The search giant is also known for offering staff a huge range of communal and private spaces, as well as often talked about perks, such as onsite gyms and sleep pods, which arguably give employees even more control over their day.
Facebook’s approach to office design is similar, with employees able to tailor the height, layout and configuration of their desks, whilst the BBC's new Broadcasting House headquarters in central London has just 3,500 workstations for the 5,600 staff to encourage mobility.
Finding an Office with the Flexibility You Need
Unfortunately, the vast majority of companies don’t have pockets as deep as Google’s. However, if you do want to offer your employees more choice, there are a number of non-budget-busting options.
Arguably, the process needs to begin when you first choose an office. Aside from providing enough flexibility for your business to grow and develop, the space should give you plenty of options for creating a range of distinct areas – offering a mixture of communal and acoustically private spaces.
Many companies are also providing staff with laptops, as this gives them the freedom to move freely around the office, without being tied to a desk, having to email themselves work or boot up another computer.
The right solution will be different for every business. However, one of the simplest things you can do is to create a ‘quiet’ computer area, which allows employees to get away from the hustle and bustle of the office, if they need to.
At Free Office Finder, we can help you to find a flexible office space, which will provide your employees with the choice they need, as well as being able to adapt and grow with your business. Contact us today for free, personalised advice on every aspect of the process.