How HR Professionals Can Optimize Office Design

    Imagine landing your dream job. After what seemed a promising interview and start, you are shown the offices and get shocked. As soon as the doors open, you get welcomed by a stale, almost pungent smell. The very air is bored of this place while the rest doesn’t look any better. You see the pale walls, dead plants, closed curtains, and monotone cubicles. Your future coworkers are nowhere to be seen, as they are bend over horrible desks with uncomfortable chairs. All of which are in dire need of replacing. The cherry on top is the broken coffee machine that seen better days about five years ago. Right then was also the time to change to filter on the poor thing.

    As there are red flags in a relationship, the same applies here. Your internal alarm should be up and running and so should you.

    The HR department isn’t only responsible for the people, but it also has to take care of the entire business environment. Numerous studies have shown since it can have a meaningful, lasting, and profound impact on productivity. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here and for large and expensive investments that will break the budget. A bit of goodwill is required, in breaking the stale and monotone practices that are sticking to your business, like pesky coffee stains. A lot of positive changes can start with a simple, fresh coat of paint.

    1. Writings on the wall

    Besides the obvious physical walls, there are also those hidden from the naked eye and we will cover them both here. First off, if your employees are going to be in the company for at least eight hours a day. So, the workplace has to be as close to their homes in terms of comfort and familiarity as possible. Walls need to have pleasant colors, fresh and vibrant. You can ask your employees to suggest paintings and wall decorations so that they get more involved (or if they like the idea in the first place). Walls can also become whiteboards where employees can scribble down ideas on the fly, post information, or simply doodle if they prefer. Not everyone’s creative juices get flowing by the same triggers so it’s HRs job to boost and discover these triggers.

    And now let’s focus on the more abstract and less seen walls. The feeling of separation from your colleagues can lead to negative energy in the workplace. In turn, this leads to low productivity, frustration, and high turnover rates. Opening up your workspace makes the flow of people, ideas, and the general workflow much easier. Removing unnecessary clutter, cubicles and opting for an open space environment can cause wonders for everyone involved. It leads to a better flow of info, ideas, mingling, and transparency.

    2. Personal touches

    You don’t want people to only work for you but with you. Creating a firm bond between employees and their workplace is paramount for a long-lasting collective. And what better way for that than to collaborate on what makes them feel at home. After all, they are spending a lot of time here. Some employees would prefer to have their break-out room, where they can go to unwind and feel comfortable. Others prefer a mini cafe where there is always a buzz, people mingling, and discussing ideas. A bookcase with two sections, professional and leisure, can be fertile ground for self-improvement or an outlet for employees to add their personal touch. You can also find out what interests and drives them by just looking at the themes of books that are stacked.

    3. Workspace = Safe space

    Doing any job activity while sitting on back-breaking chairs, hunched over flimsy, below adequate desks, and staring at painful CRT black and white monitors don’t sound so appealing? Well, then why should your employees deserve anything less than the best. The right tool is required for any job so now ergonomics come into play. Modern chairs with adjustable tables and high-end monitors are an easy start but you can go beyond simply that. Sometimes, privacy is what you need and you want to shut off from the world and focus. Blinds, and especially honeycomb blinds are modern, practical, and easy to get for exactly this. Bringing in some natural elements to the table is also an option. Plants that people like and will care about can lighten the mood and set the tone for any space. Maybe even an aquarium? Employees can choose and name the types of fishes and it’s easy to maintain. Also, they are quiet and non-intrusive so you are still working in an office and not in a zoo.

    4. Biophilic design

    We’ve briefly brushed with this fancy term, with plants and animals, which are just the tip of the iceberg. Natural elements can infuse your workspace with much-needed energy. And these are all the things that we aspire to like clean air for example. Entering the office and getting lungs full of cool, filtered air can renew and boost work efforts. Maybe even add air fresheners to some areas that emit a smell of pine or similar wood scents. Natural sunlight doesn’t cost us a dime and you should aim to let as much of it inside your office as possible. Also, with enough natural sunlight, why turn on the artificial one? Natural sunlight is easier for the eyes and brightens up the room. And for the cherry on top, let’s talk about food. Food makes people happy. Happy people tend to do excellent work. It’s that simple and the correlation is obvious.

    Improving any food options and catering to individual needs can go a long way in helping your employees recover. After a grueling time on a demanding task, sitting down to a hot, fresh, and favorite meal can make all the difference. Brainwork requires a lot of calories, after all. Add to that a fresh cup of coffee, brewed from an array of tastes and flavors and you got yourself a recipe for recovery. Don’t forget that tea is also perfect for relaxation, as well as other beverages. Talk to your employees and you can find out their taste. And from that, who knows where the conversation will lead.

    5. Let the music flow

    Right at the start, we are not saying that you should make a rock stage out of your office area. Music taste and opinions about it are highly adaptable and variable. Some employees like, and need silence while working, some prefer to do their work while jamming to their favorite song. You can add relaxing music to lobbies and lounge areas for example. Your employees can be involved in picking out the song or the playlists. Using sound to better the work environment is just one more layer that can fulfill that perfect vision you have. Breaking the silence and stale air with fresh and inspiring songs that get people going is very important. Just imagine a coffee shop without music. You can apply the same logic to your company with appropriate background music. Subtle but still stimulative music can make all the difference.

    6. Happiness costs nothing and makes all the difference

    Some of the happiest people on the planet are Danish, and that is not without reason. One of the many elements that contribute to this is their office culture. Aiming to create a strong sense of collective with a positive atmosphere and warm ambient are the cornerstones. While at work, employees should feel a homely atmosphere, accompanied by people they enjoy working with. If you can accomplish that goal, then everything falls into place. It’s easier to tackle the challenges of day-to-day working life with friends, and if your work environment provides the means, then all the better. Hygge is what is at play here and it means to create a stress-free (or as minimal as possible), safe, and inviting environment for people so that they can focus on what matters and that is getting the job done.

    With all of the above, it is important to point out that your companies’ values, missions, and long-term goals, can be incorporated into the office design. Even better, office design can reflect them and help you to stand out. Employee retention can be an extremely costly and negative thing to happen to any company. Losing an expert in the field or a valuable employee can be a great loss but, it can be prevented and minimized.

    Creating a bond where people feel at home and with friends can elevate their sense of purpose in the workflow and motivate them further. All things should be designed and made to ease, help, and push forward each one of your employees. Then, you can see the results go up as they use all the resources available to overcome anything. Laughter, chat, and mingling create positive energy and make ideas flow.

    People that are active, happy, and motivated only help the overall tone. From there, things can cascade further. After a while, a sense of belonging creates, as a plain office becomes something more to everyone. As your company tackles the challenges of the modern market, your employees can solve anything as they become an unstoppable team.


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