For a lot of us worker bees, our Mondays to Fridays look like this:
7am brings a dawn chorus of alarm clocks followed by the communal battering of the snooze button. Generally, we like to avoid the puffy-eyed glares of our fellow disenchanted colleagues on our well-trodden route to work. It can often feel like we’re all putting on a variation of the same suit and sloping of to trudge through another day, another inbox full of gubbins we’re only pretending to understand. Poorly-planned office spaces only emphasise the mundane existence of 9 to 5; nothing kills inspiration like a generic space. Then thank heavens it’s Friday; see you later, I’m off to the pub. Paycheque, please.
This is the challenge facing office-job employers. How unenviable. But, of course, there are ways to pull your workforce out of the mill, motivate them to achieve and, as a result, boost your profit.
Know Thine Enemy: Open Plan Problems.
Aside from often being a decidedly uninspiring place to work, open plan offices can create their own little unhappy ecosystems, breeding apathy and discontentment in a workplace Petri dish. If colleagues are getting along, the noise of chatter and babble can distract those trying to focus. If chalk and cheese happen to be seated near each other, sparks can fly where nobody wants them.
If an office is deathly quiet, it can be very difficult to pass confidential information. Add in bad personal habits, powerful lunchtime odours, and personal preferences (air-con, music, light levels…) and it’s little wonder that productivity is the first casualty of a malfunctioning office space. So what to do about it?
Love thy neighbour: Open Plan Solutions
Open plan offices can tick all the boxes for an employer if laid out correctly. They’re significantly cheaper than individual offices, communication is easier across the board and team working is all but unavoidable (unless you build yourself a desk fort out of stationary and, let’s face it, that’s not the adult response to workplace challenges!).
Divide and Conquer
Draw up an office floor-plan, dividing up the space based on which teams complement each other. Your analytics team may need good access to peace and quiet, so best not to place them near the sales team. You’ve noticed two teams who need to talk to each other simply aren’t: make sure they need to pass each other to get anywhere! Mapping out space and communicating it to everyone ensures everyone knows what’s going on in the whole office, not just at their desk.
Often, people gravitate towards people they work really well with. If you spot people who work fantastically in a team, seat them near each other. It’s extremely motivating to be surrounded by positive, proactive teams – although there’s a definite, and distracting, difference between excellent teamwork and best mates getting along like a house on fire!
Creating shared spaces appropriate to all needs is a winning trick and doesn’t have to cost the earth or isolate your workers. Glass partitions and be used to build a transparent meeting place for sharing confidential information or providing a quiet space for analytical tasks. Combination working, whereby workers are empowered to change their environment depending on their need, allows people to concentrate for longer by varying their surroundings. A big concern about cubicle working has always been the limitation of light, but with clear partitions, privacy, peace and natural light are entirely possible.
A central printer in a large office can create discord: nobody takes responsibility when the toner needs replacing and there’s always a print queue and of stuff that always seem far less important than your own. Invest in equipment to be shared by fewer people, thereby creating an opportunity to catch up as well as diffusing bust-ups before they have a chance to happen.
If a desk is wall-facing then add some inspiration by mounting a colourful picture with some depth perspective. You don’t need to spend thousands to brighten up the wall space and inspire more thought than a bland, blank wall.
Even a visually-appealing desk layout can serve to improve productivity. Curves, levels and organised space are aesthetically much nicer to look at than cluttered, overcrowded rectangles laid out like a chicken farm. Given that it’s easy to rent desk furniture by the month, it doesn’t have to break the bank to inspire a team with a visually pleasing, clever layout. Clever you.
Do you have any tips for boosting productivity through creating a better workspace? Share your suggestions with us!
About the Author: Claire Hovey is a marketing freelancer who has seen her fair share of nightmare office environments as well as one or two impressive and inspired layout designs. She recommends Applied Workplace for affordable office solutions.