4 ways to slay the office design game for retention, productivity & wellbeing

Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? Wrong, we’re all guilty of it. Brain studies have shown that when you see an attractive product (for us, it’s triple glazed chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles), it triggers the part of the brain that governs hand movement. What does this tell us? We reach out to touch things that we find beautiful.

I doughnut regret anything. 

What has this got to do with the commercial property sector?

In 2018, organisations should be investing in creating workspaces that are aesthetically pleasing for their employees. Because, employee well-being comes down to productivity, performance and job satisfaction. A slip in well-being can have detrimental effects on a business. One of the largest contributors of wellbeing is the physical space in which we work. So what makes an office space a solid ten? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; what might be attractive to someone may not be to another (mustard yellow walls were never my thing, but each to their own). However, there are four key design principles you can follow to lift your office performance:

Incorporate open spaces in your floor plan

Eighties-style cubicle farms aren’t trending – they’re about as cool as frosted tips or crocs with socks. According to The Predictive Index, sitting for eight hours a day, staring into a monitor with fabric walls as your only company, encourages poor engagement. Over time, it may lead to anxiety and isolation… much like our friend here.

Nobody puts Bobby in the corner.

It’s all about the open flow, maaaaan. Not only are open space offices more attractive and light-filled, but they encourage workplace unity. When office floor plans are open, employees feel part of what’s going on around them, and they can better build relationships with their co-workers through collaboration. According to the team at Volaris, “in order for businesses to grow, we need to improve collaboration; success lies in the flow of ideas between co-workers and departments”.

Consider creative break-out areas

Employees approach their work differently, so consider offering diverse workspaces. Some of the world’s biggest companies have thought about this when designing fit-outs. Take enterprise application software company SAP for example, which offers a variety of spaces including open plan desk arrangements, private spaces, an innovation hub, a co-working cafe, conference rooms and meetings rooms. (They’re just missing the Bikram yoga studio, but perhaps I’m asking for too much).

And, millennials are some of the most discerning when it comes to their workplace. Commercial Real Estate explains, when it comes to office design, the words ‘corporate’, ‘dull’ and ‘boring’ are not in their design vocabulary. There’s an expectation that “future workplaces should be about flexibility, slides, craft beer, ping pong tables, and even go-karts in offices”.

So we’re not expecting you to go and rip out your printing room and replace it with a karaoke bar with a smoke machine, but think about how your current office space might be impacting your employees.

Breathe in the good stuff, exhale the bulldust.

Add visual stimulus

No one brings boring Barry to the party – don’t be afraid to show your company’s personality through your office space. Visual stimulus can impact employee behaviours, moods and attitudes and that colour can even affect things like as perceived room temperature and ambience. Similar scientific studies have shown that colour can positively impact productivity in the workplace.

When to comes to colour picking… just not beige. No one is friends with beige, okay?

Even artwork can have a profound effect on the mood of employees. A survey completed by the Business Committee for the Arts and the International Association for Professional Art Advisors drew responses from employees working in multiple industries, ranging from food distributors to law firms. The results found that art in the workplace help address key challenges in business, such as reducing stress (78% of participants agreed), increasing creativity (64% of participants agreed) and encouraging expression of opinions (77% of participants agreed).

Go green

In recent years, there’s been considerable research into the benefits of plants in the workplace. A 2017 Harvard University paper, found that the cognitive performance of employees that worked in a green office space was double that of those working in conventional environments. *Puts glasses on* This phenomenon is called ‘biophilia’ and illustrates the idea that plants have a profound impact on humans and can generate positive physiological responses including lowering your heart rate and increasing brain activity.

Do you need some encourage-mint?

Whilst you’ve probably got a couple of plants around the office (do they need watering?), there are some interesting ways that you can increase their effectiveness. If you already have an open plan office, troughs can be used as walls to separate meeting and breakout areas. Or, incorporate a green-wall or vertical garden to make a bold design statement. If you’re limited with space, try quirky alternatives to standard vases and pots.

Ready to design your office for better ROI?

There’s no question that a well designed office space is a smart return on investment. But, don’t be afraid to think outside the box to lift the visual appeal of your office space. Consider your business and its values and bring this to life visually. But, most importantly, think of your employees – what’s going to bring the best out of them?

If you’re thinking of a change, reach out and have a chat with us. Redesigning and designing attractive fit outs is what we do best. Get in touch.