The design of your office reflects and affects your company's most valuable assets: your property and your people. As companies begin to welcome employees back to the office post-pandemic, there is a pressing question: how can you create a space that employees will want to return to? After more than a year of working from home and creating personalized workspaces, employees are seeking a safe, comfortable, and collaborative workplace. Here are a few factors to consider when designing your office.
Create an environment that is conducive to collaboration for hybrid work.
Throughout 2021 and beyond, companies will need to adapt to a hybrid workforce, where teams work both from home and in the office. Creating an environment that fosters employee success in a hybrid setting can be challenging. A poorly designed office space can harm company morale and impede collaboration without proper planning.
Hybrid teams may encounter obstacles to collaboration, particularly in creative brainstorming sessions. These sessions frequently involve sketches or whiteboards that remote employees may find challenging to participate in. Take a look at your current conference rooms and how they are set up. You probably have a large table with a monitor at one end, or perhaps you only use conference phones without a monitor setup. Instead, give each employee a screen to use while engaging with remote workers. This will be especially beneficial in open work areas.
Establish a 'third place' in your office.
According to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, a "third place" is a location outside of the home and workplace where individuals with similar interests can gather. It is a space that promotes building relationships and community, and can be an asset to any work environment.
The beauty of a third place is that there are no set rules for creating one. You do not need to purchase additional real estate or expand the lunchroom to establish an effective space. Observe where your employees frequently interact and incorporate features that encourage social engagement, such as comfortable seating and tables.
When creating a third place, whether indoor or outdoor, focus on areas that your employees find appealing and comfortable, rather than the location itself. A thoughtfully designed third place will attract employees to the office, foster trust among team members, and encourage a dynamic and stimulating environment.
When designing your office space, prioritize health and safety protocols.
Given the ongoing impact of the pandemic, employers and employees are understandably focused on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. Every surface in your office space should be easily cleanable and sanitized, from tables to appliances to furniture.
In addition to cleanliness, employers should ensure that their workplace is ergonomically sound. Sitting in the same position for eight hours a day can be uncomfortable, and implementing ergonomic practices can help prevent physical injuries and enhance mental well-being and productivity. Ergonomics includes features such as fully adjustable chairs, standing desks, monitor arms, and keyboard trays, among others.
Think about adding elements of biophilic design to your office space
Biophilic design involves bringing elements of the outdoors into the workplace, such as increasing natural light and air flow, and incorporating natural materials like wood, water, and vegetation. It's not just about adding a few plants or a wood coffee table to the breakroom; it's about creating a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor environments.
Some examples of biophilic design elements include living walls, waterfalls, natural materials like wood and stone, improved air circulation and filtration, natural textures and colors, and increased natural and artificial lighting. Incorporating biophilic design into the workplace has been shown to improve both physical and mental health and increase productivity.
Use this opportunity to redesign your office space to promote collaboration.
After nearly two years of remote work, employers need to prioritize creating a workplace that fosters community and collaboration like never before. Today's office spaces need to be designed with a greater focus on collaboration, innovation, and health in mind. This involves creating a space where employees feel safe, productive, and inspired – a space they want to return to.
If you have an idea for your office space but are not sure how to bring it to life, our team can help. Get in touch with us today.