Never underestimate the importance of an inspiring workplace. With the average worker spending 15.5% of his life at work, you are looking at over 100,000 hours behind a desk This is depressing enough, let alone if you are sat in dull surroundings. As an employer, the onus is on you to get the best out of your workers. Giving them an environment that is both inspiring and motivating is a no-brainer and win-win for everyone. So where to start?
Recognising that there is room for improvement is the first step. The next is deciding whether you want to opt for a whole new premise, or simply retrofit your existing space. Either way, it’s important that you assign responsibility to an internal group, which is headed up by a member of the leadership team to get the buy in of the management team.
Once this team is established, the best way to kick-off is to run an internal workshop, whereby the team will engage all members of staff. By communicating that you want to do better you are demonstrating that you value the comfort of your staff and in these austere times, a valued worker is a loyal worker.
The internal workshop also offers existing workers the opportunity to provide crucial feedback toward what currently works and what doesn’t in your existing office environment. For example, you may find staff have dust sensitivities or suffer from Asthma, which can be addressed with carpet and materials selection that offer anti allergy benefits. Or that by switching some desks or departments around, manoeuvring around the office becomes quicker and builds team moral. Catering for these personal needs means that you will have an office that has something for everyone.
With this “individual first” mentality the team can then put a project plan together, outlining the objectives and delivery process for a new inspiring office environment. Remember, it is important to consider the type of work your workers undertake: do they work individually or collaboratively, or do they require a specific office setup to handle a call centre or oversized desks for IT equipment?
If you are moving into a new premise you will have the scope to think a little bigger and consider more options, but don’t forget you’ll need someone there to oversee installations and sign for deliveries during this time which can require placing a full-time member of staff in the new office! In a new office you can also consider structural changes, such as full height doors and extra width corridors, as well as layout changes to optimise the space, and design or colour changes to bring some energy into your team. You could provide a focal break out area: a place where employees can come together and engage with each other, which will positively impact morale. This does not need to be costly, why not make space for just a sofa with some music, or even make a deal with a local coffee shop?
Colours are also proven to have an effect on mood. Think strategically; what are your brand colours? Can this be incorporated wider than just decoration and into furnishings, like lights and office stationery? Think about how else you can use furnishings to bring the office to life, such as incorporating plants and encouraging staff to personalise their desks. To get the best out of colours, they must be used to complement the space rather than take over, so that the overall effect is warm rather than whacky and will stay looking crisp and clean over time.
It is also important to recognise that an inspiring workspace is more than interior design. Your workspace is a reflection of the company culture and should also encompass facilities, which must be scalable for future needs. The integration of technology is the last piece of the puzzle to create an inspiring workplace. Your technology should help, rather than hinder, your people. How often do you see employees hit by huge frustration because their computers are running slowly, or because the systems are out of date? Small changes can have a huge impact on efficiency as well as morale.
It is naïve to consider technology as being a telephone, a broadband connection and a fax. You should be aware of the specifications now available for these products and align your technology to your real working and staff demands. Modern officing is about realising your office requirements are a merger between an optimum working environment and staff motivation: ensure your broadband speeds can cater for both your business needs, as well as your staff’s lunchtime activities on social media.
With planning, design, and facilities addressed, a business can be assured that it is delivering a far more inspiring workspace for its staff. But you mustn’t rest on your laurels. The most common reasons that offices become uninspiring is that they have been outgrown or no longer serve the specific purpose for which they were originally conceived. So it’s important to step back regularly and consider how the offices can meet the changing needs of people who use them. Review the use of space available and the level of technology required to keep the office working productively.