Never underestimate the importance of an inspiring workplace. With the average worker spending 15.5% of his life at work, you are looking at over 100,000 hours behind a desk This is depressing enough, let alone if you are sat in dull surroundings. As an employer, the onus is on you to get the best out of your workers. Giving them an environment that is both inspiring and motivating is a no-brainer and win-win for everyone. So where to start?
Recognising that there is room for improvement is the first step. The next is deciding whether you want to opt for new premises, or simply retrofit your existing space. Either way, someone within the company has to take responsibility for getting the work done. And it goes without saying that this person or team needs the buy-in of the whole management team.
Once your team is in place, the best way to kick off is to have a brainstorming session where the team speaks to all members of staff. This is a good idea for two reasons. Firstly, by communicating that you want to make the workplace better, you are demonstrating that you value the comfort of your staff. Plus, the excercise could also generate lots of good ideas for ways the office environment should change for the good of all.
And this doesn't just mean shouts of 'Get us an X Box and a ping pong table!' It goes far deeper than that. For example, you may find staff have dust sensitivities or suffer from asthma, which can be addressed with carpet and materials selection that offer anti allergy benefits. Or that by switching some desks or departments around, manoeuvring around the office becomes quicker and builds team moral. Catering for these personal needs means that you will have an office that has something for everyone.
Next, the team needs to put a project plan together, outlining the objectives and delivery process for a new inspiring office environment. Remember, it is important to consider the type of work your workers undertake: do they work individually or collaboratively, or do they require a specific office setup to handle a call centre or oversized desks for IT equipment?
If you are moving into new premises you will have the scope to think a little bigger and consider more options, but don’t forget you’ll need someone there to oversee installations and sign for deliveries during this time which can require placing a full-time member of staff in the new office!
In a new office you can also consider structural changes, such as full height doors and extra width corridors, as well as layout changes to optimise the space, and design or colour changes to bring some energy into your team. You could provide a focal break out area: a place where employees can brainstorm or just chill out, which will positively impact morale. This does not need to be costly. Why not make space for just a sofa with some music, or even make a deal with a local coffee shop?
Colours are also proven to have an effect on mood. Think strategically. What are your brand colours? Can this be incorporated wider than just decoration and into furnishings, like lights and office stationery? Think about how else you can use furnishings to bring the office to life, such as incorporating plants and encouraging staff to personalise their desks. To get the best out of colours, they must be used to complement the space rather than take over, so that the overall effect is warm rather than wacky and will stay looking crisp and clean over time.
It is also important to recognise that an inspiring workspace is more than interior design. Your workspace is a reflection of the company culture and should also encompass facilities, which must be scalable for future needs. The integration of technology is the last piece of the puzzle to create an inspiring workplace. Your technology should help, rather than hinder, your people. How often do you see employees hit by huge frustration because their computers are running slowly, or because the systems are out of date? Small changes can have a huge impact on efficiency as well as morale.
With planning, design, and facilities addressed, a business can be assured that it is delivering a far more inspiring workspace for its staff. But you mustn’t rest on your laurels. The most common reasons that offices become uninspiring is that they have been outgrown or no longer serve the specific purpose for which they were originally conceived. So it’s important to step back regularly and consider how the offices can meet the changing needs of people who use them.
Paul Finch is joint founder and CEO of Orega, a UK provider of inspiring workspaces