Whether you’re just reconfiguring desk layouts, having a full scale office refit or looking for an entirely new office building, then practicality, working relationships and personal wellbeing should be on top of your list of priorities. Think workflows, work styles and welfare.
It’s a relatively straightforward process to establish which teams and individuals interact with one another and how – is it face-to-face or side-by-side or in passing. Situating teams, departments and heads of departments logically according to workflows and working relationships means better communication and collaboration. It also directly impacts factors like productivity, service quality, response speeds, office politics, and more.
Beyond the workflow between team members, you need to think about the interaction between people and shared printers, photocopiers, the post room, and teleconference suite. Who are the main users? Do they need to be using those facilities as much as they already do?
It’s a broad topic, covering everything from field based staff visiting the office, client visits, meeting room usage, teleconferencing, to the use of technology. Also how static or mobile each person’s role requires them to be in the office. Making efficient use of space is the key to a good office design layout. Be prepared to challenge preconceptions and look for improvements. Are you dedicating too much space to meeting rooms? Could hot desking be introduced? What is a key client’s route through your office?
Most companies recognise that without their people, they’re out of business. There’s also a serious cost implication in staff churn – recruitment, training, time and money spent on advertising and interviewing. And we all know that happy staff are productive staff. They work harder, grumble less, stay longer, recommend your business and most importantly make much better brand ambassadors.
Moreover, your office design, and particularly the layout and access to facilities, has a large bearing on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Think of the old corporate cliché about the director with the big, lavish office and the floor to ceiling windows offering a staggering view across the city.
Picture the admin or customer support team tied to their desk for 7.5 hours a day, headset permanently plugged in, stuck in the innermost part of the office under a fluorescent light tube, with a view of the sky through a far-off window at best. It’s unlikely those employees feel appreciated and happy. Furthermore, in most workspaces it’s perfectly possible to provide a pleasant office environment for everyone. On the other hand, it’s not just about layout. It also includes sensitive space planning, design, break out areas, comfortable chairs and ergonomic desks which are all basics that too many companies overlook.
So when you’re considering your move or refurbishment alongside the dozens of other considerations to take into account such as efficiency, technology, environmental sustainability and DDA compliance, if you think workflows, work styles and welfare early on, you’ll be on your way to designing the perfect office layout.