How Office Design Benefits Your Workplace

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Your office design can influence your workplace culture and your employees' productivity. If your office setup is tired, dated or uninspiring, it may be time for an office redesign.

Evolving Design Needs

Rows of cubicles encircled by closed-door offices was once the standard workplace. But today, work is conducted differently — with more collaboration and teamwork, as well as flatter organizational structures. The principles of workplace design have also evolved to accommodate changing workplace realities and to boost productivity.

The office environment can also be a recruiting feature. The physical work space is a high priority for millennials when they're choosing an employer. Workplace culture, another critically important factor for millennials, can be directly affected by the workplace design, according to commercial real estate firm CoreNet Global.

Rethinking Your Workplace Design

To help recruit and retain the workers your organization needs, your workspace should incorporate principles such as flexibility, wellness and community. To ensure that your workplace offers the components that will help attract and keep good employees and foster productivity, consider these five items.

1. Flexibility

Because technology rapidly reinvents the way we work, today's workspaces need to be more flexible, offering the capacity to easily change layout and function. For instance, the modern workforce includes many contractors, consultants and remote workers who may not be in the office regularly. Modern design addresses their needs by incorporating new technologies, collaboration spaces and touchdown areas, with less dedicated space for individual offices.

2. Lighting

Employees need ample daylight and windows, as well as opportunities for contact with nature, which provides sensory change and variability, all of which can have a positive impact on well-being. If your workplace seems drab or doesn't incorporate much natural light, look for ways to maximize windows, use glass in place of interior walls when possible and use the spaces with nice views for shared areas rather than private offices, notes global architecture and design firm HOK.

3. Wellness

Today's best workplaces incorporate opportunities for wellness and activity. That may mean installing a walking path around your office campus, or it could include incorporating a yoga room, bike rack, wellness room or light recreational amenities such as table tennis and pool tables.

4. Acoustics

The level of noise in the workplace can play an important role in productivity. Complex work often requires peace and quiet, and the ability to have interactions without disturbing others is necessary for teamwork and developing relationships, according to HOK. Assess whether your workplace allows for private conversations, serendipitous interactions and quiet spaces. Acoustical ceilings, fabrics and carpet can absorb sound, and furniture systems, panels, walls and screens can block sound. Try to separate energetic, central gathering spaces from quiet areas. Additionally, establish policies so employees can reserve both quiet and collaborative spaces.

5. Teambuilding

Most modern office design incorporates branding elements to help instill organizational pride and build a stronger community. Consider reinforcing your brand with your office layout, finishes and furnishings. That could include choosing furniture fabrics in the colors that match your organization's logo, or using wall hangings that replicate your work products. Look for ways to create a memorable, inspiring and immersive experience that will reinforce pride in the organization and loyalty to the team.

Even if a complete redesign isn't an option, organizations can still respond to the needs of the modern workforce by incorporating some modern office design trends into their existing space. You could even start with a plan for a redesign that only makes incremental changes. By flexing your space now, you can avoid the need to make monumental shifts in the future.

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