Success in the office is affected by an intricate system of influences, ranging from management to office design. It is no secret that the office environment has a huge effect on our work. We have explored recently how proper space planning can promote collaboration while color in the workplace can influence our mood and creativity.
The biggest design trends this year aren’t just aesthetically pleasing; they are functional. If your organization is looking to boost productivity this year, consider redesigning your office to incorporate these elements:
1. Utilization of both open and private spaces
In 2002, way before the open plan really picked up steam, the American Psychology Association released a study regarding the open plan’s effectiveness of boosting collaboration. Participants in the study found that the high-paneled cubicles appear to undermine worker productivity the most, even compared to the open plan. Meanwhile, closed offices have a particularly isolating effect, according to the study by Franklin Becker, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University International Workplace Studies Program.
Years later, we have learned a thing or two about the open plan. We’ve been told over and over about how an open office plan actually decreases productivity. Without any walls, distractions are too plentiful for employees.
That’s why this trend of having both open and private spaces has gained huge momentum over the past few years. It is better to provide a variety of spaces: open collaboration spaces, semi-private work spaces, private conference rooms and closed offices. While offices and cubicles can help eliminate distractions, open work spaces are ideal for the promotion of conversation, creativity and collaboration — which, of course, gives a huge boost to productivity.
2. Flexible layouts for scale
Flexible layouts make it easier for an organization to scale and grow. Instead of being locked into a floor plan that will not allow a company to add more room for a growing team, flexible layouts achieved by well thought-out space planning leave more room for expansion. Offices that don’t have a lot of space available can achieve open and closed spaces with multi-use spaces (such as kitchens that double as meeting space or a lounge that can be converted into a collaboration space), temporary/moveable walls, mobile workstations and furniture that is easy to rearrange.
Plus, flexibility in the office saves time. Think back to a time when your company was going through a growth spurt and needed some extra space. Instead of moving into a new building or office, which would have been very expensive, leadership decided to rearrange people and desks to find space. Do you remember what a waste of time it was having to move everything around?
With a flexible layout, the office is designed with growth in mind. That process of finding more space for more people is made easier, saving everyone time, leadership and staff alike.
3. Glass walls to promote openness
Glass walls are a hot trend in workplace design. While glass promotes a sense of transparency, there is actually a more scientific explanation for why glass walls are helping to boost office productivity: the lighting.
Under artificial (fluorescent) or poor lighting conditions, our cortisol levels drop. Cortisol is the “stress hormone.” When levels are low, it prevents us from being able to stabilize our energy and makes us feel sleepy. This is why dark or dim rooms make you feel tired. On the other hand, if you have too much overhead lighting, it’s also bad for productivity. This creates ‘disability glare,’ a decrease in visual performance due to the reduction of contrast (like when you’re staring at a bright screen in direct sunlight).
Glass walls make the best use of light in the office and creates a sense of openness. Instead of needing to increase the power of the lighting in a conference room or not getting enough light in a room, glass walls can help brighten the area with naturally occurring light or with the light from around the office.
If you need a boost of energy and productivity in the office this year, give these trends a try. Have you found these to help your office? Tell us in the comments below.