Offices – where many of us spend the majority of our waking day, and a very large chunk of our lives. We generally spend more time per day with work colleagues than we do with our loved ones back at home. Therefore it is important that we see our offices as somewhere that we can not only work, but somewhere where we can be comfortable and relaxed enough to carry out our daily activities. After all the employees are the most important part of a business, so improving the workplace surroundings will lead to increased productivity and morale.
This is an area that Polycom have been looking into as part of their workplace of the future campaign.
So what makes the perfect office? Let’s have a look at 5 of the main reasons.
- Location – Whether it is a short commute, located near to a town or city centre, in the countryside or at home, the location of an office can have an important part to play on work life balance. Hours of commuting or feeling stranded and unable to ‘pop out’ at lunch time can affect an employee’s desire to work. The balance of rental cost vs location can be difficult to weigh up.
- Space – Open plan offices are very much ‘right now’ in terms of design. Allowing for free flowing collaboration in comparison to individual offices of 50 years ago where people were closed off from each other, or the cubicles of more recent times where everyone looked at a board. Open plan is not everyone’s idea of perfection as it can effect privacy, creativity and even productivity.
As Susan Cain writes in a NYT op-ed piece entitled The Rise of the New Groupthink:
“In a fascinating study known as the Coding War Games, consultants Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister compared the work of more than 600 computer programmers at 92 companies. They found that people from the same companies performed at roughly the same level — but that there was an enormous performance gap between organizations. What distinguished programmers at the top-performing companies wasn’t greater experience or better pay. It was how much privacy, personal workspace and freedom from interruption they enjoyed.”
- Colours – Many surveys have been carried out about what colours the internal walls of an office should be painted to get the best results from staff. This can include paintings, fixtures and furniture. Marketers have been using colour to influence buying decision for a long time, but now it is being applied to offices to stimulate the best emotions for employees. Colour can affect focus, anger, positivity, energy, interest and boredom along with many other emotions. It is wise to use colour carefully though.
- Greenery – Whether you are a budding Alan Titchmarsh or not, a survey carried out by the University of Queensland in Australia has concluded that an office with plant life can increase employee productivity by 15%.
Alex Haslam – Professor of Psychology noted:
“The findings suggest that investing in landscaping an office will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.”
- Technology – The evolution of technology is supposed to be making our lives easier. From the internet to the mobile revolution and now the cloud; as workers we are better connected, or in fact almost always connected to work no matter where we are. Employees these days expect a certain amount of technology as standard as part of their job: A laptop, a smartphone and a good internet connection. Extra technology on top of that is seen as a bonus, as long as it makes life easier.
The people in the office carry out the work and generate the revenue, so it is important that they work to their full capacity by keeping morale and happiness high. It is often necessary to have different types of personality within a company to fulfil the different roles. Making sure that all of these individuals needs are met can be a difficult balancing act, but by thinking about the above 5 points will in general make work life more enjoyable for staff and in return increase productivity.
We have written a longer white paper on whether the perfect office environment actually exists which you can read here: