Why is interior design important?
A well-designed workplace can have a huge positive impact on employees. Learn how to create spaces that retain staff and attract new talent at your company.
The changing nature of the modern workforce naturally means the workplace need to adapt to keep up with these differences. Today’s employees are working more flexibly than ever, whether it’s millennial freelancers who prefer hot-desking, or new mothers working out of innovative spaces complete with crèches.
Designing your office to suit employee needs can help attract new talent, retain staff, and ultimately improve employee efficiency and productivity. From simple touches like indoor plants to something as ambitious as a bespoke fitted canteen, here are some design considerations that can affect the way your employees work.
Bringing the outdoors indoors
For many city-dwellers working in large corporate organizations, the office can often feel like working in a concrete jungle. This limited access to green spaces can unwittingly have a detrimental effect on employee productivity.
Studies show time and time again that a ‘green’ office designed to be more environmentally friendly can boost employee productivity by 15%.
What can you do?
Whilst it may seem minor, office foliage can play a significant role in your office redesign, particularly if you have space and budget for more ambitious greenery. Aside from the obvious cosmetic benefits, indoor plants are often thought to increase employee engagement, reduce sickness and improve air quality, and making small inexpensive changes could be as simple as adding some potted plants to each desk.
Choose a succulent: if you are feeling more adventurous, you may even consider tropical foliage that is likely to thrive in workplaces, including aloe, cacti, and rubber plants.
Choose the most suitable office layout
Thanks to advancements in the modern workplace, most offices have moved on from the dated ‘cubicle farms’, prolific in the 80s and 90s. Nowadays, whether you operate within a traditional corporate space or a more contemporary startup, there are many design considerations to take into account when deciding on a layout that will increase employee efficiency.
An updated take on cubicles
Although cubicles typically conjure up workplaces from a bygone era, there are still many sectors that prefer to use them, albeit in a more modern interpretation. Call centres, for example, benefit from cubicle layouts because employees require privacy in order to contact customers. This setup also encourages employees to focus, removes distractions, and gives them their own personalised workspace.
Be careful, however: cubicles have still been known to cause a sense of isolation if you aren’t also giving your staff time to socialise.
A privacy-focused set-up
Private rooms are popular in the corporate sector, particularly with companies who deal with sensitive information, like law and accountancy firms. Staff have the utmost privacy to create their personal spaces as they see fit, which often leads to a sense of feeling more at home in the workplace. Employees also experience higher levels of concentration and focus, as they don’t have to deal with noisy office banter.
Some downsides associated with private rooms include isolation and loneliness because staff lack the flexibility and access to easily interact with other team members.
Free reign over the office space
Hoteling layouts are typically more common within co-working spaces, where freelancers or startups prefer the flexibility of hot-desking. They are also suitable for larger companies with staff who work remotely or travel often, making unassigned seating a more practical and cost-effective option. Since flexible working styles are a popular job benefit, this office layout is great for staff who desire a change of scenery if they find the office environment becomes unstimulating.
It is worth bearing in mind, of course, that there are no permanent desks in hot-desking, which means no photos or clutter. This can make the space less personal and contribute to a feeling of disconnection to your workspace.
Encourage collaboration and free movement
Why we prefer open plan: perhaps the most popular office layout remains the open-plan layout. These have become more common in both corporate and creative settings because they breed greater inter-departmental communication and creative collaboration. These spaces are also perceived to be more democratic and inclusive, as management often choose to sit alongside employees, removing the hierarchical atmosphere that makes some workplaces rigid and stifling.
Whilst there are some disadvantages to this layout—like lack of privacy, greater distractions and increased stress levels—a well designed open-plan layout can go some way to improving employee efficiency and wellbeing. Ultimately, open-plan offices encourage free and easy movement, something that may be more restricted in traditional office layouts.
Get away from behind the desk
Sitting at your desk all day isn’t healthy, so employees should be given the opportunity to move around the office to stretch their legs and give themselves a break from excessive screen time. A study from design firm Gensler shows there are four key areas that should be made available to employees:
- Focus: to help staff focus they need individual workspaces, like sound-proof booths and quiet zones
- Collaborate: To instil a more collaborative approach to working, staff benefit from interactive meeting rooms that also have built-in technology to connect with remote colleagues
- Learn: Employees should be given the opportunity to constantly learn and up-skill in a bid to increase overall work performance, with custom built conference / presentation rooms for training allowing for ongoing staff development
- Socialise: Having space like communal and breakout areas will help build interactions that create trust, collective identity, and productive working relationships
Inspire a creative work culture
No matter what sector your business operates in, it is imperative to develop a workplace that has a positive culture in order to boost employee productivity. Spending eight hours in a cramped, dimly-lit office does nothing to improve working conditions.
Whilst artificial lighting can go some way to making a difference, natural lighting through large windows is proven to reduce stress and increase alertness. Plenty of natural lighting at work can boost vitality and improve the overall quality of life, so even moving desks around the office to face windows can be helpful.
It’s all about space
Spatial considerations include creating more useful space and decluttering to give the appearance of a greater flow of staff in the workplace.
Space can then be used more effectively to house quirky furniture like bean bags and sofas, which can provide a welcoming environment when attracting new talent. Colour should be injected into the workplace to stimulate creativity and can be done with bright furnishings like cushions, or strategically placed artwork.
All of these are seemingly small design considerations, yet they contribute to a more creative work culture that can help boost staff morale and performance at your company.