Most of us spend the vast majority of our waking hours at work. Did you just wince as you read that first sentence? If so, it may be time for an office makeover.
Many businesses put a lot of time, effort, and resources into keeping things fresh on a client-facing level: you’re always hearing about the reworked social media strategy, the revamped website, or the re-branded marketing materials — but a redesigned office is rare. That’s a mistake. We’re all deeply affected by our environment. An uninspiring, depressing, or dingy office takes a savage bite out of employee engagement and morale.
Today, the way we’re working and using our offices is changing, and good office design should reflect those innovations. If you’re wondering whether it’s time for an update, or if you want to find out how to decorate an office that everyone will love, here are a few questions you should ask:
Where can I have the most impact?
You might have the budget for a full office redesign or you may need to narrow your focus to one or two key areas. In either case, you should think carefully about how everyone actually uses the space and the kind of changes that will have the largest impact on quality of life. This is where keeping an ear to the ground and an eye on office traffic patterns will pay off. Are there regular traffic jams around the copier in the hallway? Does a cluttered supply closet create frustration as people search in vain for paperclips? Are employees eating their lunches alone at their desks because the kitchenette is cramped or lacks comfortable seating? Speaking of seating, when was the last time you upgraded your office chairs?
Can I provide a balance of public and private space?
Recent studies make a very strong point about the need for privacy and autonomy in the workplace at all levels of an organization. These privileges were once largely limited to management and executive levels, but a modern office redesign will put them within reach of most employees.
While it’s not possible to give everyone a corner office, intelligently planned workspaces can be achieved with the smart use of furniture. A designated “quiet area” in the back of the office, partitioned with room dividers (and festooned with good natured signs calling for silence) can offer the invaluable opportunity to work without interruption. When it’s time for collaboration, look beyond the sterile boardroom. A whiteboard on wheels gives you the flexibility to create more dynamic meeting spaces anywhere in the office.
How can I make the office a visually inspiring place to be?
Gray cubicles, motivational posters, and faded Monet prints just won’t cut it anymore. Novelty and surprise is a lot to ask from any environment where you spend eight hours every weekday, but there’s still room for touches of originality and even joy. An unexpected chair design or the lively bubbling of a beautiful fountain can add a spark to an otherwise everyday office. The use of bright colors is still the fastest way to liven up a room. Whether you paint the whole thing, add some gorgeous new wall decor , or even change up the window dressings (face it, those blinds are hideous.) a move away from the grim industrial office look is an absolute must.
Smart office redesign has a lot in common with product design or business development: you need to identify pain points and figure out how to offer an attractive solution for your audience which provides the best value for money. So conduct your own “market research” with your team and find out what office features, furniture and decoration would make a real difference to the way they live and work in the office.