5 Tips To Creating A Great Workplace That Improves Productivity

Workplace

Insight

20th June 2022

Designing a great workplace environment is about so much more than squeezing in additional headcount. According to a study by the University Of Exeter good workplace design not only improves health and happiness but can also boost productivity by up to 32%. In a post-pandemic world, we have been forced to rethink our relationship with the office. Here are a few tips to help improve productivity through the implementation of good workplace design.

1. ADOPT AN INCLUSIVE DESIGN MINDSET AND ASK YOUR EMPLOYEES WHAT THEY WANT

Many design firms say they put the end-user first, but in fact take a designer-centric approach, positioning themselves as the adjudicator of what is right. Henry Ford (allegedly) said: ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ In reality, this mindset, the idea of the single-minded design visionary ignoring end-user input and creating something based solely on their own vision, requires moderation and external critique.

Ask yourself who you are actually designing for. The sales team? Clients? New Hires? You may envisage a space that welcomes visitors and enhances your external reputation, but this should always be balanced alongside the requirements of the team who will be actually using the space. The working area should always be central to a workplace design scheme, and never an afterthought.

2. CREATE CLEAR BOUNDARIES BETWEEN AREAS

Boundaryless, open planned workplaces can be a great solution for some firms, but individual zones should have a focussed purpose, be distinct in their adjacency, proximity and their threshold planning. Through zonal clarity, we can then start cross pollinating spaces; the pantry can be somewhere a key meeting could take place, or the lobby could be the place we sit down as a company and discuss the future, the town hall perhaps. Spaces can start to take on new meaning, but only if they have distinct purpose to begin with.

3. INVEST IN THE HIGHEST QUALITY FURNITURE YOU CAN AFFORD

This doesn't necessarily mean spending a fortune and blowing the construction budget on limited edition Eames Soft Pad Highbacks, but it does mean avoiding the temptation to specify the kind of generic, poorly designed furniture that is so widespread in the market these days. High quality, thoughtfully designed, well built furniture will pay for itself in increased productivity, durability and ease of use. Low quality furniture (in particular, seating) will frustrate employees, lead to more walkabouts, and require replacing sooner. Buy cheap, buy twice, as we say.

4. ALLOW YOUR EMPLOYEES TO TAKE PERSONAL CALLS AT WORK

So many companies think the key to increased productivity is to stifle stuff like lunch breaks, chit chat and personal calls. Yet for some firms, those who have instilled a high degree of trust amongst their workforce, creating spaces for staff to answer that impromptu call from the bank in private can simply help avoid them having to leave the building. Huddle booths, phone pods, and sound dampened seating areas can all help to prevent an impromptu 2 minute call with your daughter's nursery from turning into a 10 minute break to leave the building.

5. PUT ‘COMMUNITY’ AT THE HEART OF THE DESIGN

Employees at all job levels want to connect with each other and feel part of a team. Through good design, we can help to connect staff across the departmental and hierarchical strata, by encouraging conversation, leading to better collaboration and, ultimately, ideas. Socialising also contributes to a company’s culture and should be always be explored and, in the right firm, encouraged by creating space for serendipitous interactions and capitalised upon by creating multiple flexible work, meeting and break out settings.