Today we’re going over four facets of office workplace design which can have a powerful impact on your workflow. Whether you’re looking to find out what improvements you need to make – or what mistakes you need to stop making – you’ll find the answers below.
Whether you have a modular, agile office plan, in which staff are free to move between task-based desks, or you implement assigned seating, the design considerations translate across all configurations. In order to simplify your workflow, and enhance productivity, you’ll need your personal desks to reach some key benchmarks. These include adaptable, efficient filing solutions for both digital and hard copy files, on-demand storage solutions for equipment and stationary, and streamlined processes for safely disposing or recycling obsolete documentation.
Finding a system that keeps waste material from building up is important – most offices believe they have this under control, but focus on obvious waste material, rather than also accounting for the build-up of hard-copy records accrued as part of the job. Good spatial planning can implement ways to remind staff members to regularly clear out their desks, keeping relevant documents easy to find.
Many offices credit ergonomics to furniture. While it’s true that the practice of ergonomics is intrinsic to the comfort of chairs, and the health considerations surrounding using them for extended periods of time, ergonomics is a much wider field.
The general thesis behind office ergonomics is to optimise the environment within which everyday tasks are done, in order to mitigate fatigue and overexertion. Chairs and their role in eliminating back pain is a common application, but there are subtler ergonomic opportunities in your office too. For instance, monitor positioning is very important to avoiding head and neck strain. Arm-rests for wrists can also be used for work that requires extended typing. There are even ergonomic applications surrounding chairs to extend and enhance their intended health benefits – footrests are an example of something that may need to be implemented for certain employees, in order for them to utilise office furniture in the best possible way.
Ignoring ergonomics can be costly in the long run – rather than directly increasing productivity itself, this design tenet is adept at preventing lost productivity. Strain or injury can result in lost time due to leave, for example.
Taking ergonomics one step further brings you to what we’ll call compassionate design. Rather than revolving around general health benefits, this level of design is concerned with individual health and welfare, both mental and physical. Mental health is important to maintain to keep productivity at a maximum, and there are a few simple things you can integrate into your office design to keep this area covered.
Some of these things are very simple; good heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems can provide comfort. Lighting is another area that can powerfully impact wellbeing – poorly lit offices can result in staff with strained eyes, which leads to health issues and stress. An important design standard is optimal use of natural light.
From there, our team here at Studio DB has identified some more complex threads within the subject – high noise levels can be an overlooked detriment to morale. There are a number of ways around this problem – acoustic wall treatments, moss wall panels, etc.
Finally, office-based workplaces are usually designed to encourage minimal movement. If you want to avoid sedentary behaviour – which has been linked to major health issues – you could consider standing desks, or even larger initiatives, such as showers and bike parking, to encourage employees to cycle in to work.
A well-designed office in the modern era has new standards to meet. One of the leading innovations in the market today is the agile office layout, which emphasises the importance of flexibility. This doesn’t necessarily mean completely uprooting the ingrained traditions of conventional office planning – innovative ideas can be integrated alongside classic ones. Agile design is about providing options.
Providing your staff with an array of spaces – break rooms, quiet zones, informal meeting rooms, and boardrooms – is the best way to give them the range they need to self-assess where the best space for a given task is.