In recent years, workplace design has been a hot topic. Researchers have found that best practice for workspace design is not simply black and white; meaning there is no one design will yield results across the board. Instead, organizations are encouraged to design a workspace with consideration to the organization’s mission, values, goals, and corporate culture.
Rather than solely focusing on costs or current trends, organizations need to focus on a value building design. A workspace tailored to the needs of the organization can be leveraged as a tool to nurture the organization’s culture and increase employee satisfaction. In addition, a properly designed workspace functions as an incubator for innovation and corporate growth. Workspace design rightfully deserves the research, focus and attention it has garnered.
Essential Design Elements
Although the prescriptive workspace design will vary from organization to organization; there are some common elements that universally increase employee productivity and morale. For example, studies have shown that employees thrive in workspaces that bring a touch of nature indoors. Having an office brimming with natural light and plant life is one of the easiest ways for organizations to implement this design element. In addition, earth tones in the office space have been proven to simultaneously promote productivity and relaxation.
Furthermore, design needs to cater to the organization’s communication needs. Open office spaces are often implemented to break down siloes and encourage camaraderie and collaboration. However, the chief complaint is that open office spaces sacrifice privacy and can be disruptive when employees engage on the phone or conduct spontaneous meetings.
It is essential for employees in every organization be able to meet and collaborate in quiet, soundproof spaces. This ensures that employees can share knowledge with the appropriate audience without leaking confidential information or disturbing colleagues. In fact, in a 2011 study, researchers found that in “environments with white noise, or sound masking, employees report improvements of up to 38 percent for the performance of simple tasks and 27 percent for complex tasks.”
Organizations that have committed to open area workspaces can implement this design element by dedicating soundproof spaces throughout the office. Outside of conventional conference rooms, productivity pods, like those developed by a group like Thinktanks.io, are an innovative trend. These portable designs can be implemented in any office and give employees a private place to talk on the phone or meet with colleagues.
Organizations that offer telework options would benefit from implementing a design that creates seamless connectivity between those in the office and those working remotely. This should include conference rooms equipped with microphones and projection screens, as well as dynamic web conferencing software. In addition, smaller productivity pods allow employees to video conference with their remote colleagues with minimal disruption.
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