Imagine walking into an office on your first day of work. The lights are dim. The cubicles look clustered together. Few windows surround the room. You see barely any forms of nature. Are you regretting accepting your offer letter?
Workspace design proves vital for a company’s organizational culture and productivity levels, now more than ever. Employees are expected to work longer hours staring at screens, from computers to smartphones, while sitting in an office for hours on end. The need for a functional, comfortable and stimulating environment is important to keep employees from dreading their time spent at work, which leads to poor organizational culture for a company.
Amanda D. Carreon, owner of local Jerome H. Interiors, explained the importance of incorporating nature into the office to prevent employees from feeling isolated and unmotivated.
“Trying to bring the outside in is probably one of the most favored ways because we are all expected to work a whole lot more than we used to be with the addition of text message and email,” Carreon said. “Having the creation of outside and comfortable workspaces creates an atmosphere that is rejuvenating to the employee while they’re there, as well as an inviting place to those who are coming in as clients.”
Bringing the outside in can come in many forms such as the incorporation of windows, outdoor courtyards, outside work areas and plants in the office. Asha Perez, KAI Design and Build Interior Designer, suggested that adding plants and greenery would aid in cleaning the air.
“Air quality and thermal comfort, lighting (including access natural daylight and views), ergonomics and noise control are all important factors when designing to support human performance,” Perez said.
Additionally, a new trend Perez has noticed to increase productivity in the workplace involves hospitality.
“The aesthetic is residential, combining comfort and hospitality amenities which inspire ideas in a familiar type of environment,” Perez said. “The furnishings are warm…Materials are soft to the touch and the furnishings are very flexible and movable, creating private and collaborative work areas with very little effort from the user.”
However, depending on the industry of a company, the workspace design of a business will differ to fit each company’s values. For example, a law firm will likely utilize more traditional workspace design qualities compared to an advertising company.
“I think the difference between what the industry is super big as far as not only aesthetics but the function,” Carreon said. “You wouldn’t set up a tech office the same way you would a doctor’s office.”
Perez explained that finding the core values of a company will help to identify what culture a company should create through their workspace design.
“According to Haworth White Papers, research shows The Competing Values Framework is a proven model with framework that consists of four core values (Collaborate, Create, Control and Compete) that represent opposite or competing approaches for driving innovation and effectiveness – each quadrant illustrating a culture type,” Perez said.
Each type of culture and industry will fare better with differing workspace design aspects. Perez gave the example of a collaborative culture and the necessity for group spaces and a more versatile design to enhance cooperation and engagement.
Nevertheless, the basics of a productive workspace design should remain the same for all companies such as incorporating nature into the office, adjustable furniture and separating quiet areas from noisier areas.
Understanding a company’s clientele as well as its own employees is also important to keep in mind before moving forward with any workspace design plans. Even if the design incorporates the company’s core values, the employees and clients need to benefit from the culture created for it to actually succeed.
“My suggestion would be to listen to their employees. Conduct surveys that get direct, confidential responses from their employees to get an understanding of how they can improve,” Perez said. “The employers can then use this information to understand the culture they have, or strive to have, in relation to their core values.”
Additionally, Carreon explained how the interior design should not only maximize on the aesthetics, but also the productivity and function of the workplace.
As Perez suggested, a more open and inviting office that creates spaces or zones for differing tasks such as areas for group work, training and technology supportive areas can help foster a sense of productivity and organization for employees. By doing so, the mental and physical enjoyment at work is increased, creating an optimal organizational culture for a company.
No company wants their employees constantly checking the clock for when the workday will end due to an unstimulating physical environment. Incorporating workspace design that reflects a company’s core values as well as employee and client needs can help make the ticking clock less tempting to watch. By creating a more functional and creative environment, a more productive organizational culture will follow.