Whether your office is a brand new space with various workers or an older location that has yet to expand, optimizing requires some basic rules. The effectiveness of an office’s arrangement can have a massive impact on productivity and employee experience. It requires so much more than knowing where to place a desk; in truth, the optimization of your office space is best when all components work in harmony.
So, how do I optimize office space? Comfort, collaboration, employee needs, and technology are four facets of an office that need to be optimized. Ensuring we exceed each category’s requirements will result in optimized office space.
A truly optimized office space should be visually appealing but not distracting. It is comfortable but allows for movement. It meets the needs of both the employees and the employer. While it seems as though optimizing an office space is near-impossible, it is do-able.
Comfort Office Optimization
Not many employers think to make employee comfort a priority, but in reality, it is hugely important to productivity and the overall optimization of office space. Poorly crafted office chairs, desks that are not customizable, or aiming for appearance over comfort is a mistake because of the longterm impact on employee health and productivity.
For instance, the lack of lumbar support in your desk chairs can cause more than an employee’s lack of comfort. It can also cause health issues and strain on the back. It can result in employees missing work due to health issues, getting tired towards the end of the day due to restricting blood flow or spending more time and effort stretching out his or her back than they do working.
Investing in ergonomic furniture, over time, employees and companies will reap the rewards of that investment. Comfort is more than a beautiful chair, but also the overall feeling of the space. Temperature, visuals, and breakout space should be a priority to employees looking to optimize office space. Of course, each of these has an element of personality and opinion that needs to fit your company culture.
Consider the challenges you face when selecting the ambient temperature in an office. Group A might appreciate a cooler environment because they get hot easily. Group B gets cold easily and likes the thermostat a bit higher. Given the differences in workers’ personal preferences, it seems as though finding the perfect temperature is impossible.
While this is true, some things might be easier to control when it comes to office temperature. For example, the small conference room in the corner might get too much air conditioning in the summer because of the vent and the closed door. The east side of the building gets a lot of sun in the morning and heats up quickly, whereas the west side is cooler in the mornings. Knowing these little nuances about your office space can help you to determine feasible solutions to keep workers happy.
This might mean knowing which worker(s) to place in which area of the room based on personal preference, but it can also tell you where you may want to make changes in the actual office. Additional vents may be necessary, or if on a budget, an energy-efficient fan or space heater can be an immense help.
The visual component of comfort is relative. While a few people might not mind bare, white walls, many employees would feel cold and unwelcome in a space like this. However, too much art on the walls and various decor can act as a distraction or overwhelm employees and visitors alike. A smart arrangement of plants, art, and other aesthetically pleasing items can make the space warmer and more comfortable.
Another component of the visual aspect of comfort is natural light. Workers are more likely to be comfortable in a space that offers natural light. If this is not possible, excellent interior lighting should be considered essential. Skimping out on good lighting dramatically impacts the optimization of an office.
Employers should also consider providing space for employees to relax. Too many companies rely on a basic break room containing a small table and hard chairs as the workers’ getaway. Providing an excellent place to recover before getting back in the game will encourage much-needed breaks and a team-building atmosphere.
Not only allowing but providing these comforts to employees will boost employee satisfaction, employee engagement, productivity, and the overall wellbeing of an office. Comfort and optimization go hand in hand. Without optimizing comfort, offices can easily miss out on better work standards.
Encouraging Collaboration is Key
An office can only be truly optimized if it allows for collaboration between coworkers. This includes the availability of conference rooms or private areas where employees can work together without disturbing others. It might even mean providing employees comfortable armchairs around a coffee table by their workstation.
It is also essential to think about how collaboration will take place in the future. Perhaps at the current moment, the opportunity to work in groups is slim. However, as the workforce changes, the possibility of collaboration increases. Thinking ahead would mean having these spaces available or the ability to add those spaces in the future.
However, every office must have a space that will remain open. Adding furniture in every square inch will make the office feel cluttered, crowded, and unproductive. It’s more challenging to get things done when there is too much going on visually and spatially. While adding desks to free space might allow for more workers, it can result in lower employee productivity.
Providing employees with the ability to move freely from desk to desk and area to area within the office, in addition to space in which employees can take breaks, collaboration is more likely. If collaboration cannot be easily achieved within an office’s confinements, employees won’t make much of an effort.
Employee Needs as Individuals
Optimizing office space requires knowing every worker’s tasks and functions. The needs of one person may not match up with the requirements of his or her coworker. Instead, by knowing what each employee needs to get done and the environment required to do their best work, employers can meet the needs of every employee.
One example that comes to mind is wheelchair access. While it is suitable for all employees to have the space to move around, being a wheelchair user means that tight spaces are hard to navigate. Meeting ADA standards is great, but going the extra mile not only includes the individual who uses a wheelchair and makes them feel as though they are part of the team, but it optimizes the space for a better work environment.
Another way to treat employees as individuals and simultaneously optimize office space is to allow workers or teams to set up their own space. They might get to choose their furniture, such as whether they would like a standing desk or a fancy ergonomic armchair and what kind of art is placed on the walls — allowing an individual or team to choose what works best for them.
There is no one-size-fits-all office space. By allowing employees to arrange their own offices or workspace, employers can ensure that each person is getting what is needed to do their best work. While it may seem like an expensive option, it also increases employee satisfaction.
Employees feel more valued and are more willing to work harder for the company that invests in them. They also are more likely to stay long term. Treating employees as individuals and not just a number is a great way to optimize an office from the inside out.
Optimize with and for Technology
Getting excited about optimizing an office is an excellent way to start, but planning out your office layout might be a challenge if you fail to consider technology in your plans.
Starting with a plan, you will be more prepared to handle technological needs. As you plan for ultimate optimization, you should make a note of all outlets, screens, data, power, wifi routers, etc. but also how employees will interact with each technology and consider future tech upgrades. Knowing the placement of these things will allow for a more sensible optimization plan. Having a strategy is so much more than just an idea of what you want to do, but lays out specific elevations, data, and power requirements in a way that can be easily followed.
Consider the commonly used technological items in your company. If tablets are regularly used, how often do they need to be charged? Are charging stations possible, or do workers require the ability to charge them at their desks? Should every employee have a desktop computer? Is a laptop sufficient? Is the wifi and cell phone signal of good quality in all areas of the space?
Answering questions such as those above are an excellent way to know what you’re looking to accomplish in optimizing your office with technology. Printers, projectors, televisions, monitors, even landline phones, and cell phones should be reviewed when maximizing office space. You must also consider the mobilized workforce. Although some employees might not need a desk every day, it is vital to have a location for them to set up a workstation for when they are in the office.
Many mobile workers are okay with working from the conference room table one or two days a week. However, what happens when that conference room is needed? Providing remote or traveling employees space is the best option to avoid causing scheduling issues with breakout rooms.
This doesn’t mean that every flexible worker should have an assigned desk. Instead, have an appropriate ratio of hot-desks or hotel desks for flexible workers. Not all remote employees will be in the office at the same time. Having the ability to house those that do come in for a day or two each week is a great way to ensure that they know they still belong there, in addition to keeping the other areas usable.
Tying it all Together
There might be a lot to remember when it comes to complete office optimization. It is possible to optimize an office as long as a good plan is in place. Set a company workplace strategy that identifies the factors that maximize workplace productivity for your organization and optimize the workplace design for those factors. If some aspects fail or don’t work as well as planned, rework the plan!
With a plan that focuses on comfort, collaboration, individuality, and technology, you will hit the significant optimization components of an office.
Providing comfort, encouraging collaboration, allowing individuality, and incorporating technology is the best route to optimization. When each of these things is optimized, you will see an improvement in employee productivity and employee engagement. These two things combined often result in better profit and a return on investment for the employee and company. Seek office optimization and see a positive change in your office!
Can I optimize my office with feng shui? The principles of feng shui can be easily aligned with that of office optimization. While there are various added elements to feng shui, the basics align with optimization: comfort, movement, and visuals are some worth noting.
Is being a completely clutter-free part of office optimization? Not all employees are going to keep their workspace pristine. Clutter, paperwork, and other items will likely pile up on a desk or two within the office space. However, when the overall feel of the office is optimized, a few messy workers are not likely to cause a lot of harm.
Can employees be optimized in overall efficiency? There is a concept known as workforce optimization that is the strategy designed to make improvements in employee efficiency and productivity. This involves reaching for common goals and using the best practices available to do the best for the company’s productivity.