Updated: Feb 8
Just like people, every office is different but they do all have one shared desire - for the people who occupy them to be able to work as productively as possible. The problem is, what works for one member of staff may not work for another. Some people prefer a quiet working environment whereas others may prefer a more open office layout where they can chat and interact with other colleagues. When looking at workplace design it is important to ensure there are working areas to suit the needs of a variety of people to allow them to work as productively as possible.
However, you don't always need to completely redesign your office there are a few common problems that have alternative solutions. We have put together five of the most common office design issues our clients have faced and the solutions we helped them put into place to allow their employees to be happier, more engaged and more productive within their office space.
Problem 1 - Poor Use of Office Space
Working in a busy, overcrowded, noisy office space has a massive impact on the productivity of those working in this type of environment. The main reason this tends to happen is that the company has outgrown the office space and isn't adapting it to suit the new staff members. The other reason we tend to find for this is that they are not tailoring the space to their employees' needs. A good office needs to have both open plan spaces as well as quiet spaces to ensure they are maximising their employees' productivity.
Solution 1 - Workplace Space Analysis
Workplace space analysis is all about understanding space, utilising it and reducing waste. It is common in our experience to find large meeting rooms repeatedly used by two to three people leaving nowhere to host additional coinciding meetings. In these cases, we have split large meeting rooms into two or three smaller spaces using glass partitioning or instead removed the meeting room and added individual booths instead. In our experience, we feel site visits are invaluable, to be onsite and asking questions in order to give our best workplace space analysis advice to ensure the client gets the most out of their existing office space and allow their people to work as productively as possible, in a space that suits their needs and brings out the best in them.
Problem 2 - Noisy Open Plan Office Spaces
Many modern offices today are open plan. This works for team building, collaboration and good communication within the workplace but only if there are additional spaces outwith where employees can find quiet, private spaces too. Whether this be due to a differing job function, taking a video call or simply because they work more productively in this type of environment as lots of noise can lead to distracted and unproductive employees.
Solution 2 - Office Layout and Adjacency Planning
Open plan layouts have been proven to work really well in modern day offices but can also come with an overwhelming amount of noise. Acoustic treatments are often very useful in reducing noise transfer in our clients workspace. Things such as acoustic panels and noise friendly flooring solutions should be considered. Using these items, designated places for video calling will bring new ways of working instead of an entire meeting room being taken up by one or two people. Simply adding small pockets of space in quieter spaces will ensure new ways of working and utilise space.
Effective adjacency planning also works extremely well with our clients. By looking at how your team works as opposed to which department they are in helps to group individuals in different teams to ensure they are best placed within the workplace to increase their productivity. Positioning a team that works in a collaborative manner next to a quieter team is likely to be counterproductive and cause people to become unproductive. By planning the office layout more thoughtfully will help reduce disruption and increase productivity.
Problem 3 - No Quiet Spaces or Reflection Areas
Mental health and wellbeing within the workplace are becoming less of a taboo and more of an open subject. 70 million working days are lost each year, costing employers 2.4 billion pounds. Ensuring these are effectively supported is key to not only increasing productivity but also retaining employees. Private spaces where staff can step away from their desks and busy office life to take personal calls or gain some headspace are often overlooked and forgotten about within the workplace setting.
Solution 3 - Dedicated Sanctuary Spaces
Our clients have found that personal lives and working lives have become more entwined in the past few years. Between traditional working, hybrid working and remote working the workplace has become more fluid and diverse than ever before. Resulting in the need to cater for more complex needs within the workplace.
By ensuring there are dedicated places for employees to spend time in, whether it be for mothering, prayer or simply for mindfulness is key to ensuring there is support for mental health and wellbeing within the workplace. Allowing employees a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy office environment supports neurodiverse workplace requirements as well as instilling a diverse workplace culture. Some clients have gone for dedicated spaces with soft seating, ambient sounds and controllable as well as natural lighting.
Problem 4 - Lack of Community and Workplace Culture
Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion. With passion comes an engaged, happy, productive employee. However, according to a famous quote, "people dont leave jobs, they leave toxic work cultures." A workplace that doesnt actively develop a sense of community and seek a positive working culture can not only lead to a negative business reputation in the industry but will also fail to retain or attract talent. Perks and benefits are frequently misconstrued as being part of a companies culture but these dont create an enriching environment that make people feel. valued and want to belong to the company.
Solution 4 - Integrate your Identity with your Office
It is important to communicate with employees and understand and identify things that would make the workplace somewhere they would like to spend time in. Somethings our clients have found to be important to their workplace culture are things such as events and socialising. Therefore they added large breakout spaces and/or reconfigurable spaces to host more in office events. However in other more introverted workplaces, quite spaces and well being rooms were more important to their employees culture. When it comes to designing the workplace around the culture of the company, a clear vision should be set of the environment you hope you create. Core values are more than just words and mantras on walls, they should be embraced throughout the company to bring together an alligned community. Shared values is a key foundation for building an engaged and productive workforce.
Problem 5 - Not Enough Workspaces
The rise of flexible, remote and hybrid working has led to companies moving away from allowing each member of staff to have their own dedicated desk and working area in order to reduce rental costs and save on space in the workplace. However, whilst more space might be good, it can create issues with productivity as privacy and personal space has been taken away. If the desk management system isnt managed correctly, staff coming into the office might be left without a desk and wondering why they bothered to commute to the office.
Solution 5 - Enable Agility
The most effective way of moving from a fixed desk policy is to adopt an agile way of working instead. By space planning an office redesign to allow for maximum occupancy you will discover the different types of settings required for each team to carry our their job function most productively. New working behaviours can be encouraged and not all job functions will require a desk. Some of our clients have found that a desk booking software is a good way of making workspace more agile without having to relocate their office.
Each office will have its own challenges and limitations so understanding your business goals will help drive you towards the right decisions for your space. Engaging with a workplace design expert will help you navigate your approach to solving any limitations in your office.
Call us on 0843 122 9545 or drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can transform your current working environment into an inspirational place that you’ll love to spend time in. Be proud of your office space with the help of Spaces Taylored.
Web - www.spacestaylored.com
Email - email@example.com
Call - 0843 122 9545.