Redesigning Your Office Space
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
Optimal “office space” is about much more than knowing the location of your favorite stapler. The days of forcing employees to work from the basement are largely in the past, but many offices still have not truly analyzed their space or layout. And optimal office space is important – if your employees are working the average amount of hours for an American, they spend the majority of their waking hours in the office. Yet not enough offices have been truly planned out for ideal employee comfort and productivity. If you’ve never considered this, or if your office layout has been stagnant for too long and is in need of a makeover, we have some simple ways to get you started on creating the best office space for your company.
Health and Comfort
The first goal is to create a healthy and comfortable environment. Of course it is beneficial on-face for employees to be healthy and happy, but studies also confirm that comfort and productivity go hand-in-hand. One study even found that 46% of employees reported their workspace heavily impacted their productivity. So improving the comfort of your office can improve your business’ bottom line.
Where do you start? Some things may be obvious after a little consideration – an anti-glare screen needed at a particular desk stationed by a window, or the IT person needing extra storage. But some things may not be easily identified, and contribute significantly to an employee’s health and comfort at work. Working from an ergonomic chair that supports the body and is adjusted to the right height, along with proper monitor height if needed, will reduce repetitive-stress injuries and those aches and pains that turn into long-term problems.
OSHA backs this up with some startling numbers. They found that about 31% of all occupational health injuries are lower back or upper extremity-related, and companies that have ergonomic office plans had 72% fewer lost work days and 34% less employee turnover.
Adjustable desks allow for standing part of the day, which can burn more calories and help with back, neck, and shoulder pain by keeping your spine in a healthy neutral position. Being able to switch from sitting to standing can also give your mind a break when you’ve hit a wall, and allow creativity to kick in once the body is comfortably re-positioned.
You can also take it a step further and add active furniture like under desk treadmills or bikes for those employees who really want to move during their workday. They’ll keep their blood flow up, improving focus and thinking, while strengthening their physiques.
If you aren’t sure how to make the best decisions on the healthiest furniture for your employees, you can always use an ergonomic expert to consult with each worker individually. A quick evaluation will determine what each employee needs to do to avoid repetitive-stress injuries.
Layout of the Office
In addition to individual workstations, the overall office design is impactful too. For many offices, the layout has happened by accident. A new position is added, so a desk is squeezed in where it can be accommodated. Or the new fax machine is bigger than the last one, so it needs to now be on the other side of the room. But the layout is very important to address some of the most common complaints heard from office workers, which are:
· lack of space;
· noise distractions;
· unpleasant colors and textures;
· lack visual privacy.
Take a look at the layout of your office. Does it have good flow? Are teams seated next to each other, or grouped in shared areas? If not, start by moving your shared equipment, such as printers or fax machines, to areas that are open and easy to access by multiple people. Then try to arrange teams’ work stations so it is still very easy to move around the office, and there is a feel of open space.
Another common complaint is noise distraction. If you haven’t stepped back and planned out the layout of your office, you could easily have created unnecessary noise that interferes with employees’ ability to focus. To solve this, put fax machines, printers, or other noisy equipment in a separate area with walls. Group employees who may need to talk more, such as salespeople, away from workers who won’t be on the phone. Carpeting and ceiling tiles are two other ways to absorb noise and reduce its ability to affect all employees.
Lighting, plants, art, and décor are all additional ways to improve the visual feel of the office. Not only for aesthetic appeal for the people who spend most of their lives there, but all of these add to an overall content feeling when they are enjoyed by the employees.
Doing an ergonomic redesign of your office will have many positive impacts. Individual ergonomic chairs, adjustable desks, and active office furniture actually improve the health of your employees. They can eliminate the aches and eventual injuries that so many workers suffer from working from the wrong workspace. Not only will your employees be healthier, but working in comfort all day makes them happier, more focused, and more productive. An expert can help assess and properly install any new ergonomic furniture to make sure you get the most out of your investment.
Some easy redesign of the office layout can solve some of the most common worker environment complaints, such as noise and lack of privacy. And just taking the step of redesigning your office shows employees how much you value them, which will also increase morale.
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