All too often employers overlook the importance of providing not just a functional workspace but one that is inspiring too. There has been an obvious shift in recent years however, where savvy employers are now realising that their employees are in fact business tools and ones which need continuous care and nourishment. By investing more on building a strong and desirable company culture, employers will not only retain these highly valued ‘business tools’ but they will also attract the top dogs in the industry going forward.
In order to improve company culture it is vital to first and foremost improve the overall environment for employees. According to a study carried out by Gensler, a well designed office can also increase productivity by a whopping 20%, so you can see how company culture and productivity really do go hand-in-hand.
provide a variety of areas
Gensler’s 2016 UK Workplace Survey found that if employees have access to a variety of different spaces which will support different working styles they will be at their most productive and innovative. These include private, semi-private and open-plan layouts and it’s also crucial to have areas where workers can unwind and relax, areas where they can socialise and brainstorm together as well as areas where they can completely shut out any distractions.
Providing collaborative spaces is fundamental, they’re perfect for team bonding and for boosting the overall company culture. Allocate specific areas where your team can hold private meetings or get stuck into a brainstorming session. Another option would be to work remotely for the day as a team and hire an office space or meeting room to get a change of scenery and really get the brains working.
And why stop there? Make your workspace somewhere employees won’t want to leave by adding a little playtime to the office. This could be table tennis area, pool table or even provide a beer tap (like we have here at Iconic Offices) for those Friday after work scoops.
And whilst it is ideal to have employees working at full speed and flying through their work. Recent studies found that it is essential for workers to take breaks in order to remain productive. “Constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness.” They also found that those who took breaks or allowed for the odd distraction were actually more productive than those who just power through without any pause for breaks.
For this reason it is obvious that allocating space to allow and encourage employees to unwind is only of benefit to the employer. This could be as simple as providing a bean bag area, a small hideaway to read the newspaper or even a library such as the one we provide at our South Point offices.
We all have those days where we just need to get away from it all and find a bunker to actually get some work done. The office could be buzzing and all you want to do is join in but you have this heavy pile of work stacking up right in front of you that simply cannot be ignored. This is where little hideaways or sound proof booths are ideal to allow employees to be free from all distractions.
Another study found that workers are typically interrupted every 11 minutes each day and it can take up to a staggering 23 minutes for them to regain full concentration! These statistics are shocking and prove just how advantageous it is to provide such private focus areas.
add a touch a nature
The technical term for this concept of bringing the outdoors indoors is biophilia which relates to humans biological need to be close to nature. It’s incredible what indoor plants and greenery can do for an employees sense of well-being and it doesn’t have to be a costly addition to the office either. Feeling as though we are outside or in touch with nature can reduce stress levels and improve our state of mind. This includes not only indoor plants but also wall hangings, green walls, stone and wooden fixtures or if you really wanted to switch it up, office pets!
A study carried out in 2012 found that “employees who brought their dogs to work experienced significantly lower stress levels during the workday and that a sizeable portion of pet-free co-workers also viewed the dogs’ presence as having a positive effect on their productivity.”
colour & furnishings
Colours can have a huge impact on our mood as well as brain function. Ideally it’s best to have a variety of colours throughout your workspace so as you can go between the different areas depending on your mood and task at hand. For instance, blue is said to illicit productivity as it affects the mind, yellow affects your emotions, red your body and green affects your balance. If you were to combine any of these two colours you would then have the affects of both. You can also mute these colours, for instance, grey toned walls that have a blue hue will still have positive impact on your productivity and mind. And in a busy office that has a lot going on it can be a good idea to have a green area that can help keep employees feeling balanced. Neutral tones can also be ideal for creating the feeling of brightness and space which is great for the mind.
Humans are very visual creatures by nature and if we have an aesthetically beautiful environment to welcome us each day at work, we will naturally want to be there and as a result – want to do a better job. Choose a style or overall theme for your office space and implement that throughout, whether it’s vintage classic, industrial chic or bold and modern, build it around the character of the company and also its clientele.
lighting, lighting, lighting
We can’t say enough on this one, time and time again employers will opt for either reasonably priced lighting or go for something that looks pretty cool without giving any regard to its actual function. Without basic functional design such as proper lighting fixtures, employees can become very irritable over time, particularly if the office in question has minimal windows. If you need to strain your eyes at work you will only become fatigued and productivity levels will drop. Dimly lit offices have even been linked with causing feelings of depression and stress which is another vital reason this simple feature cannot be overlooked.
Here at Iconic Offices a common lighting fixture you’ll see are these long beams hanging from the ceiling as shown in the photo above, these produce high illumination for increased performance levels. However it is also important to have a good balance between artificial and natural light. As pointed out by Ergonomic Institute (1997) after carrying out a study on lighting in the workplace – “to achieve a balance between natural and artificial light and to avoid shadows and glare, it is recommendable to place lights parallel to the window and the working place.” It is also not recommended to implement these kind of high level illumination lights throughout the entire office as this too would cause irritation, so it is best to have softer more dimly lit fixtures in the relaxation and social areas.
All of the photos used in this article are from our own incredible Iconic Office spaces. We put a lot of time into designing and planning our offices to enable businesses to reach their goals. Are you interested in boosting your teams productivity or getting off site for a day? You can check out our offices or book a meeting space today.