How to Adjust Your Office for 2018’s Changing Workforce
Office design means more than a pleasant workspace. It is a way to incorporate psychological, organizational, brand and aesthetic best practices, elevating a space into its form and functional best.
In today’s evolving corporate world, this is no small feat.
Gone are the days when parallel rows of cubicles and freshly painted walls meant a working office. Designing and implementing a modern office space increasingly centers on two key things: How can you improve the efficiency and collaboration of your employees — and retain them over the years?
Designing your office space for tomorrow’s workforce doesn’t have to break the bank — or break down your organization. With a few forward-looking spatial adjustments, you can be on your way to creating an open office that is as attractive in design as it is employee talent, year after year.
1. Allot Diverse Workspaces
Topping the list for changing workforce trends is the need for versatile, yet purposeful, office workstations.
Many offices struggle to balance the collaborative energy and horizontal integration of trendy open floor plans with the need for privacy and functionality. Doing so, however, is hardly an empty gesture catering to the millennial generation. Diverse workspaces do, in fact, boost productivity and creativity, ultimately leading to company revenue.
21st-century employees continually cite the desire to decide where they work, when they work there and how. While this doesn’t mean you design an office for a zoo of employees coming and going at their leisure, it does mean creating an agile environment that prioritizes personal choice. There are a few ways you can incorporate flexible, diverse workspace types into your current office.
Start with a blank canvas. Creating an open office — or one as close as possible to it — has been at the forefront of workplace trends for nearly a decade. More than 70 percent of offices now have some iteration of an open floor plan, the very least of which means you cannot distinguish upper management from employees based on seating. Though they have more distractions, open floor plans are the spatial key to increased collaboration, communication, ingenuity, and horizontal office cultures.
Build private workstations in eclectic places. From classic corner meeting rooms to private work pods or “phone booths,” walled-off tables, boardroom-style, large workstations, and modular, moveable lounges, get creative with workstations. Think large and small, private and public, enclosed and exposed, mobile and stationary. Use various partitions, fences and wall dividers to divvy up space. Find furniture with unique privacy design twists, such as soundproof desk pods or box chairs with silent, encompassing felt interiors.
Install writeable surfaces. From walls and partitions to tables, desks and even standing whiteboards, install writeable surfaces across your current office. Most of these whiteboard-like panels can double as projection screens, as well. These surfaces are pivotal for brainstorming sessions and individual ideation alike, furthering your workspace’s buy-in to employee flexibility.
Get rid of desks. Or at least immobile, stationary ones. Some companies have gone so far as to be “address-less,” meaning no employee gets an assigned desk. This migratory and ultra-flexible tactic takes workspace diversity to its most committed. Your office could implement this in small, strategic places or volunteer departments throughout your office.
Relax. Ensure your office has at least one designated social or break space. Employees aren’t “on” all the time. Arranging a communally minded space with comfortable, lounge-like furniture recognizes this reality while still maintaining a professional atmosphere.
2. Invest in Augmented and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented technology’s presence in professional spaces will only skyrocket over the next decade. As these technologies become more mainstream, companies will need to adapt them — practically and creatively — to suit unilateral office needs.
In fact, these technologies have already begun to take root, stepping outside the world of sci-fi and into the corporate realm. Already, we’re seeing mega-companies like Google, Samsung and even The New York Times incorporate VR technology into office tasks like training, hiring and content development.
You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to embrace these technologies, though — not even close. You can incorporate VR and its close cousin, augmented reality, into many of the departments and activities your office already has.
Virtual tours. One of the simplest ways to use VR technology is during recruitment, hiring or HR onboarding processes. You can upload virtual tours online to attract prospective talent, or to give customers and the public a peek into your office.
Training. Augmented and VR technology can bring employee training to life — literally. Instead of a PowerPoint presentation, employees can interact with real-life situations and incidents, learning new skills or procedures in a hands-on, first-person and hyper-engaging manner.
Hardware and software. Does your company have the capacity for augmented and VR computer programs? These can be new design applications that bring 3D models or products to life, content-management platforms with dynamic virtual prototypes or customer service troubleshooting tutorials you offer to clients or customers.
Intranet servers. Internal social media sites and messaging platforms have become mainstays in larger corporations. You could deepen and expand yours using augmented and VR technology.
Meetings. Transform remote or in-person meetings using augmented tech programs and suites. Meetings could include hologram presentations, 3D product displays, virtual-reality videos and more. What’s more, as nearly 40 percent of the workforce is projected to be remote or freelance by 2025, augmented and virtual technology offers another way to communicate with offsite and blended personnel.
Marketing and advertising. As VR devices become more popular in consumer spaces, they represent a new sphere for digital marketing.
3. Incorporate Workspace Wellness
Many still think the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees is an off-the-clock concern. Yet employers lose, on average, $341 a day on each employee out sick.
Factor in the rising costs of insurance premiums, comprehensive employee health care offerings, life insurance policies, sick pay, temporary replacements and overall net loss of work productivity — and all of a sudden it isn’t so off the clock.
Workplace wellness initiatives are genuinely in your office’s best interest. Alongside the obvious physical and mental boosts for workers, there are cultural and investment incentives as well. Studies from the Harvard Business Review to the Rand Corporation have found that for every dollar invested in human capital wellness, a company will see a $1.50 to $6 return on investment.
There are several ways to incorporate workspace wellness into the design of your modern office space:
Include the outdoors. Natural lighting from sunroofs and greenery in office plants are easy ways to incorporate nature into any workspace. These outdoor design elements not only increase employee energy and enthusiasm, but additionally create more satisfied and productive workers — plus ones less likely to call in sick.
Build a wellness room. Consider adding an onsite gym or workout facility for employees. These can be large and traditional, with numerous workout machines, weights and equipment for workers to use at their discretion. Alternatively, they can be smaller auxiliary rooms with mats and workout gear for classes. Wellness rooms can even be private areas where employees can go to stretch or meditate if they desire. All contribute to a healthier environment that fosters happier employees and coworkers.
Biometric screenings. Annual or biannual health screenings are increasingly popular in the work world. They include readings on an employee’s blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index, and cholesterol levels, and are fuss-free ways to encourage health checkups within the workforce.
Health incentives. Does your company actively encourage active and positive health choices? Are they disease management or lifestyle and preventive management-based? Do you have inter-office competitions or awards for hitting particular health metrics? Consider all the ways you can implement wellness incentives throughout your organization, and see how they transform both the physical and mental atmosphere.
Workplace wellness programs. From an in-office gym to subsidized gym memberships, cooking and nutrition classes, health newsletters, exercise classes and so much more, there are numerous ways to build spaces and encourage healthier lifestyles across your company’s culture.
Green furniture. Green doesn’t necessarily refer to the color, but to eco-friendly materials and furniture designs that highlight natural elements. Green furniture is both cost-effective and trendy, sure to adapt alongside your evergreen workforce.
4. Use Ergonomics and Behavioral Science
Ergonomics is the study of people’s productivity in a specific work environment. Similarly, behavioral science accounts for human behavior in general, across environments and groups. When the two combine, there are some serious office and furniture design opportunities.
Fancy terminology aside, ergonomic behavioral science has a lot to tell us about employee and working preferences:
People don’t like to stay at desks. A two-year General Services Administration study found only 30 to 40 percent of workers repeatedly use desk spaces assigned to them.
People like nature. Plants, natural lighting and even outdoor meeting spaces boost employee mood and satisfaction ratings, which in turn boost worker outputs.
People want to sit, stand and lie down — all in the same day. Offer workstations and meeting rooms with furniture that allows all three. Include standard and high-set tables where employees can sit or stand to collaborate. Look into professionally viable, yet adaptive, reclined seating. Use a variety of seating options like backless and adjustable chairs, benches, couches, and more. Survey your employees to hear what they prefer.
People enjoy healthy snacks. Vending machines are convenient, but workers routinely cite healthy snack offerings like fruits, veggies, nuts and whole grain-based granola bars as contributors to better employee happiness. This same logic goes to what we drink. Sparkling and low-sugar waters, coffees and teas are productivity-boosting alternatives to soda and sports drinks.
Vibrant colors and textures are attractive. Furniture fabric and materials are especially important in designing your office space. Consider brand colors and shades to keep a space cohesive, but don’t be afraid to break the mold. Customize furniture color schemes and mix and match tones. Likewise, select pieces in a variety of textures and fabrics to break the visual monotony and further contribute to ergonomic furniture hacks.
People need breaks. Designated lounge areas or break rooms are not only trendy — they’re also necessary. One 15-minute break during a busy workday can jumpstart employee creativity, ideation, and curiosity — valuable traits in your office. Create and maintain areas in your office with art and furniture arranged in a way that encourages socializing and appropriate workday pauses.
People crave a homey feeling. “Resimercial” office designs are on the rise, meaning more offices are using furniture and design techniques that make them feel less — well — like an office. These include less symmetrical furniture arrangements, living room and lounge furnishings and plenty of plants, artwork and detailing for a warm, inviting feel.
5. Rent Furniture
An adaptive office and dynamic workforce are possible with equally adaptive, dynamic furniture. To keep your office best-equipped with the times, consider the growing trend of renting furniture.
There are a few benefits to renting company furniture, the least of which assures that as your workforce evolves, so can your office.
Convenience. Renting office furniture eliminates most of the planning and exacting work of obtaining traditional furniture. There’s hardly a waiting period between choosing and receiving your updated office furniture, and most providers will deliver your furniture without extra hassle or moving arrangements on your end. You can instead focus time and energy on what’s more imperative — your work.
Wide selection of furniture. From lighting and lounge spaces to working desks, comfortable seating, electronic and tech outfitting and office storage, there are dozens of furnishing types an office must include. Having the foresight to plan for all of these, plus leave room to address future growing pains, is difficult to do when you’ve made a permanent purchase. With renting, you can change, swap and adjust from a service that carries extensive and stylish office furnishing.
Agile upgrades. As the needs and demands of your office change — or its branding and aesthetic image develop — your furniture isn’t behind the times. No more outdated or off-brand color schemes, decorations or installations, or impractical furniture and office layouts that make the workday more difficult.
Economical. Most rental furniture is tax-deductible. You also save time and money on maintenance costs or maintaining or repairing damaged furniture. What’s more, purchasing furniture will require a substantial up-front down payment, plus extensive cash or credit lines tied up exclusively into paying off that furniture. With renting, you avoid this trouble and free up your capital for other uses.
Office Furniture Rentals Throughout Pennsylvania and Beyond
Office furniture design that keeps pace with your organization shouldn’t take an interior design degree — or stall the operations of your entire office, short and long-term.
Let the experts at IFR meet all the needs of your growing business. IFR provides turnkey furniture and design solutions with a range of competitive advantages. Your office can streamline design decisions and simplify its bottom line with customizable furniture that is easy, cost-effective, and polished.