Many companies are choosing more flexible office solutions, whether they have their own offices, served office or any other solution. An open plan office that enable collaboration is also more common today especially when it comes to companies forced to cut costs. But many still advocate the importance of sitting in a private office. A company that made the move towards open plan office is Google, which even installed a caravan in their office. This particular solution does perhaps not fit all, but it works for Google. The right solution for your company depends on the type of work a company does, its demographic, and the company’s culture. The right solution will vary from company to company. In an article from the Framework Design Magazin (7 January 2015) they state six things are listed to keep in mind if you want to create a more harmonious work environment:
1, You don’t have to offer yoga. Your employees are already flexible.
The most flexible thing in any office is the people. Now, employees rarely sit in one place all day. We work differently today than we did even five years ago, and what we do day-to-day or even hour-to-hour can vary significantly. We need to give people options.
2. Speaking of sitting, have you heard? It’s killing you.
Sitting stagnantly at a desk in a chair staring at a computer all day is killing people faster than whatever the wall across from them is off-gassing. Getting people up and moving is not only essential for their own personal health and well-being, but studies show that active workers are happier, more engaged, and more productive.
3. What’s good for the Google is not necessarily good for the gander.
Workplace policies and needs vary widely by organization, which means the right types of workspace will vary, too.
Historically, if a company had 100 employees, they had 110 desks—some for visitors, interns, growth, and so on. But today, companies that are highly sales or consultative based want employees out in the field, meeting with clients. Many companies are realizing that the office is underutilized 40 to 60 percent of the time, so desk sharing is an option. For them, 100 employees might only require 60 desks, because employees are externally mobile. This is all a long way of saying that workplace policies and needs vary widely by organization, which means the right types of workspace will vary, too.
4. Noise is a problem – but in many cases it’s the lack of it that’s the issue.
Noise has always been one of the top complaints in the work environment, both open and closed. Many times acoustical distraction is an employee’s biggest gripe about open spaces, in which case: look into better acoustics. But sometimes the problem is that the office is too quiet. With quieter keyboards, more texting, and fewer people communicating via phone, there is no background noise or “hum” that muffles general office sounds. Designing environments that allow for that hum to be created while balancing it with quiet zones affords people the opportunity to function at a higher level.
5. Repeat after us: Change. Management.
The way we work is changing, but too often our habits are not. If we want people to work differently then we need to help them make the transition. Change management is needed to help establish the new protocols, ways of working, and behaviors that we want to encourage or discourage. It takes time with employee engagement, management training, and collaboration with HR and IT to make any workplace change successful. Without it, people will revert back to their old habits and you won’t be able to move forward smoothly.
6. At the end of the day, we’re human.
Technology has enabled and influenced changes in the workplace but, until robots take over, we humans are still the ones that have to do the work. The most important factor to consider is that we’re designing spaces for people. Staffing is a business’ greatest expense, but it’s also its greatest asset. As companies drive to create more innovative and productive environments, they must be concerned with employee well-being and engagement. After all, a happy, healthy, empowered, and engaged employee will work harder for you and be more productive than an unhappy, disconnected, sickly, disgruntled one any day of the week.
Despite the tendency for sides to become polarized around workplace extremes, the real solution often lies in the middle, and here, the middle looks a lot like trusting the people we hire, giving them choices, and being flexible. Companies will flourish if, before making changes, they determine what’s right for their company culture and organizational DNA. We need to focus on people and on improving their experience to maximize their potential. That’s tapping into the real source of improving productivity and profits. After all, we’re not just designing the environment anymore: we’re designing the entire experience.