Productivity could be defined by the constant need to innovate, and quickly. This means not only transforming products and services, but business processes and even entire business models. As we change to adopt agile working techniques, should we allow workers to determine their own work-space and hours according to the tasks being performed? How can you harness this way of practice, without your office becoming a hotbed of creative anarchy?
Small changes in the use of space within your office walls can have a hugely transformative impact on both the productivity and happiness levels of your employees. Ensuring your employees maintain high levels of job satisfaction and engagement can directly impact your company’s bottom line.
Whether you are looking to regenerate and revive your office interior design, or are considering a whole office relocation, here are some of the ways you can cater to the individual needs of the personality types within your workforce, in order to create the ideal working environment to boost their potential.
Tapping Personality Testing for Design
It has become increasingly popular for companies to use personality testing, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), to select ideal candidates during the interview stages.
89 of the U.S. Fortune 100 companies apply the test to their applicants and/or employees. However, the tests can also be invaluable in understanding the personality traits and characteristics of your existing employees, in order to assess where they best fit within your organization.
The tests were originally derived from Carl Jung’s theories of personality types and have remained widely popular amongst forward-thinking employers looking to analyze how their staff make decisions. What energizes them? Who are the extroverts who thrive on the buzz of interaction and collaboration? Who are the introverts most likely to prosper working solo, in a quiet environment without distraction?
To have a healthy balance within your team, it is likely you will have a mixed workforce of personality types and age demographics, who all have different needs. So how do you cater to them all?
Workforce Differences: Extroverts Vs. Introverts
Approximately 50% of your team would fall under the extrovert category within the testing. Extroverts thrive when the middle of the action; brainstorms, collaborations, dynamic interactions with large groups and bouncing ideas in flexible and informal meetings. Extroverts are shaping the office design of the future. They are most likely to be productive in casual open spaces where they don’t feel boxed-in or tied-down.
For them, a flexible working environment is ideal. Hot-desking in areas according to current projects or groupings of collaborators will encourage them. They will thrive with the freedom to interact in brainstorming spaces, big tables and large format sofas. Personalizing their own desk-space isn’t a priority for them - freedom, flexibility and social interaction is.
On the other end of the personality-type scale, many introverts find constant social interaction distracting and draining. Their productivity levels will fall dramatically without access to quiet areas in which to concentrate. It is not that introverts can't function working within large groups, but that they need periods of time working alone in which to re-charge and re-energise in order to be most productive.
Introverts will achieve the same results as extroverts, their capabilities and value to the company are exactly the same - but it is most likely that they need to feel totally ready to present ideas or deliver a project; after careful research, editing and preparation. In order for your introverts to fulfill their potential, you need to provide them with that space.
Somewhere in the middle is the ambivert personality type. It is quite common for both extroverts and introverts to adapt and eventually display ambivert characteristics, especially as they get older. Ambiverts are inter-changeably powered by social interaction and periods of quiet focus. If you have already created a working environment that satisfies the needs of both extroverts and introverts, then you’ve got the ambivert covered.
To design your office interior to accommodate all personality types, we recommend looking at the 4 Zone model of agile working:
Focus, Collaboration, Meeting and Socializing Zones
"The Focus Zone" is primarily open-plan with access to little rooms, acoustic pods and quiet areas where all types feel comfortable and able to concentrate, singularly or in small groups. Fifty percent of your office should be allocated to focus space.
Collaboration zones should be accessible areas for non-planned and informal meetings. A place where the exchange of ideas can take place quickly and with flexibility for other collaborators to join in. These areas reduce the traffic in meeting rooms, allowing them to be booked for necessarily confidential meetings. Allocate approximately 30% of space for collaboration.
Meetings zones. Although many companies require board-room space, it’s important to assess which meetings imperatively have to take place within an enclosed and formal room. Booking a meeting room in 30 or 60 minute slots encourage them to take 30 or 60 minutes. Are hour long meetings absolutely necessary or can the same results be achieved in an informal collaboration area in half the time? Assessing this going forward could increase your company’s productivity dramatically.
Social areas are paramount for the wellbeing of your staff. Studies like The 2010 International Workplace Productivity Survey have shown that in order to avoid information over-load, employees need regular breaks in order to operate at peak performance. Providing designated neutral areas for staff to recharge, reboot cognitive energy and interact with others on a social level could benefit individual productivity - and therefore, benefit your company’s bottom line.
What Does It Mean For Your Bottom Line?
According to CABE'sThe Impact of Office Design on Business Performance report, just a 2 to 5% increase in staff performance can cover the overall costs of office re-design. Social areas will enhance the company culture, encouraging communication on all levels. In order to support the company culture effectively, we recommend allocating approximately 10% of office space to social zones.
These zones can be harnessed for multiple functions within the company. Break areas can be informal meeting spaces and meeting rooms can be collaboration zones. All are important factors to consider in your company’s interior design, in order to satisfy all the needs of the personality types within you team.
Hiring a workplace consultant to perform a Workplace Analysis Process (WAP), providing a detailed proposal of the most efficient office interior design plan based around these principles, could be incredibly beneficial in boosting your company’s productivity.