Whether you’re the owner of a small business or the manager of a corporately owned office, it can be easy to quickly sweep past the step of designing an efficient workplace. How hard could it be, right? Put a desk over here and a chair over there, throw in a break room and you’re done.
In actuality, there’s a fine art to workplace design and there are many reasons to devote time and effort towards re-arranging or even renovating your office. Countless studies have proven that office design does in fact have a measurable impact on productivity, and you shouldn’t need anyone to tell you that your surroundings can make you more or less creative.
If you really want to maximise workflow and creativity, you need a workplace that will facilitate open-minded thinking and innovation. Here are 12 powerful workplace design tips that you can use to inspire and motivate yourself and other employees on a daily basis:
1. Use Activity-Based Workplace Design
The typical office setup will have designated areas for each employee, with static desk and chair combos that are always in the same place. Activity-based workplace design lets the employee decide where they want to sit and work within a large and open work area, using their own devices to connect to the company network.
The workplace design specialists at Amos Beech recommend activity-based working for any job position that only requires the use of a laptop or tablet. To learn about how to implement activity-based workplace design, you can read more on AmosBeech.com.
2. Use Decorative Plants & Trees in the Office
Did you know that putting real plants and trees in the workplace can reduce stress and enhance focus? Of course, you probably know that plants give off oxygen and purify the air to a degree. So, they not only serve as great decorations, they also improve indoor air quality.
There’s also a psychological connection between seeing trees and feeling relaxed, most likely due to an evolutionary trait related to survival – our brains associate trees with agriculture and good weather. Our instinctive attraction to trees also explains why many popular tourism destinations have plenty of trees or other greenery.
3. Take an Artistic Approach to Interior Decoration
Let’s face it, reporting to the same ol’ cubicle every day can be downright de-motivating. The world is full of people who dreadfully drag themselves to work because their workplace is mundane and predictable.
While artwork and other aesthetics won’t turn a horrible job into a dream career, they can certainly lighten the mood and stimulate the mind’s creative side. If your office is regularly getting new artwork and changing it up sporadically, it won’t feel so much like you’re showing up to the same boring place.
4. Expose Work Areas to More Sunlight
According to Psychology Today, exposure to natural sunlight is proven to enhance workplace productivity and promote healthier sleeping habits. Plus, if you’re letting more sunlight in, then you won’t be as dependent on artificial lighting, so your average electricity bill cost will be reduced.
However, the only downside to letting too much sun into your office is the possibility of screen glare when it shines directly on the display of a device. Thus, it’s best to ensure that the actual work area is only exposed to diffused sunlight, with plenty of shaded spots for sitting and working.
5. Optimise Artificial Lighting
Once you’ve got a good amount of diffused light coming in from outside during the day, it’s time to get your evening and night lighting setup in order. Lighting can significantly affect productivity and mood, and the effect is not always pleasant if you’re using the wrong bulbs and light placement.
For example, some people have complained that bright fluorescents give them work fatigue, headaches, and other side effects. Similarly, dim lighting can also be detrimental to creativity and mood. Try to find a happy medium between bright and dim. Study workplace lighting and experiment with different lighting setups until you’re satisfied.
6. Use Ergonomic Office Equipment
It’s hard to be creative when you’re not even comfortable. Make sure your workplace is stocked with ergonomic chairs, desks, and mouse/keyboard combos. You may even want to incorporate some standing desks to give employees a break from sitting down all day.
Ergonomics not only enhance comfort, they also substantially lower the risk of incurring repetitive stress injuries that can be caused or exacerbated by poor posture. Plus, ergonomic equipment doesn’t cost much more than regular office furniture and it’s worth it when you consider all the benefits.
7. Study Space Management & Office Organisation
Entire books have been written on the subjects of space management and office organisation, so a detailed treatise on the topic would go beyond the scope of this guide. However, the benefits that you’ll gain by refining your skills in this area make it a worthwhile study recommendation.
Try to get rid of unnecessary clutter and create large spaces that don’t feel cramped or crowded. Once you start making the most of your square footage, you’ll be surprised with the improvements in productivity and overall workplace capacity.
8. Stop Using the Printer
Printers are great, aren’t they? Most offices need a printer, but they don’t need to use it as much as they do. Nowadays, the majority of processes can be done in a paperless manner, so there are only a handful of use cases in which a printer is even necessary.
Aside from being a complete waste of paper, which is bad for the environment and your wallet, printers are also noisy. Obviously, the annoying whine and scrape of a printer can easily distract people who are trying to focus and be creative.
9. Include a Treadmill and/or Nearby Walking Area
Did you know that walking around is an excellent way to get your creative juices flowing? Unfortunately, many offices give their employees no place to walk around, and pacing back and forth down an aisle or in circles in the break room isn’t a very sane or feasible option.
If you’re starting to implement activity-based working in your workplace, adding a treadmill with a standing desk attachment is great way to give your employees a place to walk and work at the same time.
10. Build a Centralised Brainstorming Area for Meetings
Meetings and brainstorming sessions are vital for sparking innovation and drawing up goals and plans. Create a space where everyone can get together and share ideas in a free-flowing manner. You may want to include a large white board, chalk board, and/or projector for presentations and mapping.
It’s best to choose a spot that’s in relatively close proximity to the work area – that way migrating to the brainstorming area won’t cause a delay. With this kind of setup, you can quickly call a surprise brainstorming session and it won’t throw too big of a wrench into your schedule.
11. Get Rid of the Clutter
It may seem like having a fully stocked and loaded office could help you get more done, but many times people overload their work spaces with things they don’t need. Likewise, an abundance of fancy furniture and office accessories may look nice to the eye, but it can hinder moving about and serves little purpose in the context of workflow improvement.
Take a look at your workplace and remove any items and furniture pieces that are not absolutely essential. As an additional benefit to clearing out the clutter, you could liquidate some of the items to temporarily boost cash flow and reinvest some of those funds into usable equipment, inventory, or other worthwhile investments for the business.
12. Limit Distractions
As we mentioned earlier when discussing the disadvantages of doing too much printing, loud noises or any other distractions can hinder creativity and productivity. Likewise, having too many TVs or other displays can be a source of distraction, even if they look great to visitors and give your employees a bit of occasional entertainment. This is a common mistake made in workplaces where activity-based design is implemented, as it makes sense to have at least one TV in the open area.
However, instead of letting random TV shows and movies play in the background while employees are trying to work, it may be best to post a static image of a to-do list or brainstorming map on the screen. That way, you’re actually getting some workflow value out of the displays when it’s solely time to buckle down and chip away at the workload for the day. Then, when break time comes you can change the channel and put some entertainment on, but generally it’s best not to mix the two for the sake of limiting distractions.
Make Work Feel Like Play
Workplace design is all about making an office or other place of business feel like a playground where innovation can flourish. When you enjoy showing up to work every day, you’re more likely to put forth your best effort. In conclusion, this area of business improvement is certainly worthy of consideration for any company that wants creative and productive employees.