When we think of enhancing office productivity, we usually think of things like upgrading software, creating new office policies, or reorganizing middle management. We think of this as something that happens after the fact, once the environment already exists. But there is, in fact, a way to control the environment from the ground up. That is because one of the greatest advantages when it comes to new office buildings (or even extensive renovations on larger spaces) is that you don’t need to settle for “working with what you’ve got.” Instead, you can make sure that the environment in which your offices are located is not a place that gets in the way of doing a good job, but rather a place that promotes it. The ideal office design is going to vary widely, but here are some good starting points for anyone who is currently either considering relocating, redesigning, or building their office. Anyone who works in an office or in design can benefit from these principles.
A Unique Space for Every Purpose
One thing to consider is that, in recent years, there has been a strong movement to open up spaces in residential buildings. In commercial spaces, on the other hand, there has been an opposite but equally strong trend towards variety and adaptability. What does that mean? Instead of having one large open space that lacks any barriers, it means that a great office should serve the unique purposes and needs of everyone who is involved—needs that will change throughout the year. At certain points, that might mean having separate offices for anyone working on certain types of projects, or having an individual office for everyone. At certain points, it might mean having open office rooms that are separated by division or department, allowing anyone who is working in one of the common areas to be separated by at least a partition of some sort (this does not need to be a cubicle—a small barrier otherwise flush with the wall works perfectly).
Smaller, More Focused Conference Rooms
When it comes to unique spaces, other important considerations include things like separate kitchens for cleanliness, separate employee lounge areas, and separate conference rooms. The conference rooms can be pre-designed to host a large group or a simple conference table. The room can also be outfitted with internet and phone connections and areas for presentations. Most importantly, there needs to be multiple small conference areas around the office instead of just one huge conference space. This allows for easier collaboration and the ability to break your workforce into smaller units to focus on specific problems and solutions. By having control over the design from the ground up, you can also make conference rooms or other areas that are welcoming and inviting to potential clients providing a way for you to control the experience that they have at your offices.
A Dedicated Relaxation Area
The employee lounge acts as effective way to separate working areas and relaxation areas. It has been shown that our brain associates areas with both, and having an area where you only get work done is far more effective than using the same space for both work and relaxation. On top of this, it has been shown that after someone is interrupted in an office, it takes 15 minutes to go back to full productivity. This means that a great office design will limit interruptions to only those that are necessary while still allowing for socialization by having a dedicated employee lounge (or at least kitchen area).
Designing an office from the ground up also means that you get to design your building around proper lighting and around savings on utilities. One way in which you can do this is to make sure that the site is designed so that the building is suitably cooled off through any prevailing winds. By ensuring that the largest windows are facing north/south, you can ensure that you will not have to spend a large amount of money cooling down the building, leading to a significant amount of savings.
When planning the building’s windows, you should choose ones that have energy-efficient insulating properties, such as two layers of window glass with insulating gas in between. This type of window will allow you to lose less of your cold air or heat on a day to day basis. Window tinting also helps, but this can be easily added later on at any point.
Natural lighting from your energy-efficient windows can also allow you to make sure that you don’t have any problems with light in your office. Sunlight boosts mood and happiness, which is important for any workforce. Certain types of artificial light, on the other hand, are harder on the eyes and can lead to cumulative damage that will harm your employees’ eyes over time. With some extra consideration in the design process, you can make sure everything is properly lit while choosing the type of lighting that you prefer. Just make sure that the artificial lights that are present properly light the entire area, both during the day when they’re combined with the natural light of the windows and at night when natural light is absent.
A Focus on Energy Efficiency
You can also build your office around saving money on utilities. Raised ceilings look great, and there is a lot of research about the positive effects they can have. But sometimes it is best to only have them in areas your clients will actually see such as the lobby, the central office area, and meeting rooms. On the other hand, a raised ceiling in spaces like the kitchen will only raise the utility bill. Recycled material can also be useful, and they are actually nearly the same price or sometimes even cheaper than alternative newly made materials these days. You can also use smart technology to control water flow and energy usage. By using sensors and office control tech, you can make sure that no one is using or wasting electricity when not present. Motion detectors can automatically turn lights back on when the space is in use.
Flexible Work Spaces
As a final consideration, you can also create office spaces that serve multiple functions or are even rearrangeable. Flexibility like this can be very useful if you anticipate having large numbers of your workforce working from home moving forward. This might mean having one area that moves or rearranges to form a meeting area, or even a space that can be moved to the side to allow for a place to give presentations. When it comes to the little things, sometimes thinking about how many ways you could make use of a single space can really come in handy when designing from the ground up.
These are just a few productivity considerations to keep in mind when designing an office from the ground up. The main takeaway is that you understand what you are looking to get out of your office and how important professional insight can be.