Most entrepreneurs don’t give thought to office design. How your office looks can affect everything from productivity to company culture.
Ever give any thought to the design of your offices?
It wouldn’t be a bad idea. A little investment in sprucing up your office space can help improve productivity, employee retention and even your brand recognition. Lifehack reports that a well-designed office can increase productivity by about 20 percent, but most employers don’t consider workplace design a good investment.
"Mad Men would have you believe there was a time when business people had offices with couches they could sleep on (or even have a tryst on), lavishly furnished and stocked with quality liquor. Well, perhaps for businesses involved with creative work, it was good to be in an environment that looked creative. (What having a scotch before lunch has to do with creativity we’ll leave for another discussion.)
The fact is, for the vast majority of office workers, the workplace back then was as about as visually stimulating as the gray suits everyone wore. Workers aspired to the corner office to get a window with some natural light as much as they wanted it for the prestige.
And at least they actually had an office, a little space they could call their own. Today, as David Soyka points out in A Room of One’s Own, “The Internet, laptops and cell phones and the ability to work just about anywhere under any conditions prompted companies to rip down walls and turn work space into open air bullpens of screens stacked and packed next to one another with very little personal space (saving companies considerable amounts in reduced real estate costs, not to mention the money saved in treating employees in the same disposable way as the equipment they use).” Cynical, perhaps, but not entirely off the mark in describing the attitude of corporate bean counters.
Related Article: Is Coffee Roasting Your Productivity?
Good Office Design Increases Productivity
It’s a little different for entrepreneurs, particularly those who literally started out running their business from a coffee shop. The last thing on their minds is office design. It’s not about doing something cheaply, it’s about getting it done.
But as Cipher points out, a few changes in office design will help you get things done more effectively. Plus, better design improves the quality of employee physical and mental health. Here are some simple office hacks that might encourage your employees to order their Starbucks to go so they can take advantage of a more comfortable environment in the office.
Like food, natural is better for you. ANH USA notes that people in natural daylight experience less anxiety, are less moody and see better. Unfortunately, not every office space offers a clear window view, and installing skylights just aren’t an option most of the time.
What you can do is keep what windows you have as clean as possible to let the most sunshine in. And try to situate desks and other work spaces within view of a window wherever possible.
Don’t have windows? The next best thing is indirect lighting. It’s less harsh than having light shine directly on you, and doesn’t reflect off of computer screens.
Put Back Those Walls
At least some of them. The predominant office arrangement today is open space. It’s cheaper and more flexible. But many view open space as a “hostile working environment,” according to a study reported by Dezeen. While it’s not realistic to build an office for each of your employees, a few shared “common offices” provide employees a place to go when they’d like a little privacy.
Stand Up Desks
Sitting at your desk all day is not healthy. You can get standing desks for as little as $400 and if you’re really on a budget, can put one together for as little as $20. You may discover that you might not need new desks at all—just get an attachment that lets you raise the computer and keyboard to standing height.
Add Some Color
There’s nothing worse than beige to really make you feel, well, like beige yourself. Blah workers are not productive workers. Studies show that even standard white is associated with a clinical setting that gives off discomforting vibes. It doesn’t cost that much to paint a wall a vibrant color or to put some colorful graphics on the walls.
Get Some Funky Furniture
You’re not looking to encourage people to lie around all day. But a conference room that looks a little more like Pee Wee’s Playhouse and less like, well, a conference room will inspire creativity. Besides, employees might find it a great place to hang out after work and maybe not even realize they are still working.
A good office environment isn’t just about the physical space. It’s also about the culture, the quality of what people are doing and the satisfaction they achieve doing it. But a few plants here and there and some good design to make people comfortable can make a significant contribution to helping you foster that culture.