Redesigning your office space is something that will often take a lot of forward planning, budgeting and time, so today, we're offering the BEST questions to nail it first time; EVERY time:
1) Who are you trying to serve?
Your first thought, will probably be your customer, but given that employees are your greatest asset; let's assume it's them. While you want to make sure that any clients that come to your office are impressed, warmly welcomed and comfortable, it will make more sense in the long run to ensure your staff who have a lot more weekly usage, will be comfortable, supported, motivated and healthy so they can perform at their best.
2) How much space do I really need? According to Entrepreneur Magazine, office designers used to plan for about 250 square feet per employee, which included a walled workspace with a desk for a computer and personal items, such as photographs. Now that number has dropped to 150 square feet. The photos are on each person's laptop, which can move from home to the office and then to different locations within the office. Feltoon calls it a "'work from anyplace" mindset, and with an increasing number of companies letting employees work from home certain days, the office may only be partially occupied dependent on employee roles.
3) What purpose are you trying to fulfil?
When you think about your office space, is it likely to be filled more often than not with clients or employees?
If you have a customer based business, then the emphasis should be placed on their comfort and enjoyment in order for them to want to return. While opinions will surely differ on a comfortable space, offering additions like soft furnishings, plant-life, water coolers, tea and coffee facilities, magazines, good air conditioning and heating will certainly play a part in how welcomed they feel; and if they will want to return. Care equals value, and value means your clients will be more likely to return.
4) Do we want to encourage transparency and camaraderie?
A popular question posed by Entrepreneur magazine, is one of the general landscape of your office space, how 'transparent' you want to be seen, and what makes your colleagues and clients feel most at ease. While there has been an obvious shift to more open plan offices since Entrepreneur wrote their last article in 2017, finding the balance of seclusion, hot desking, collaboration spaces, and traditional workstations is now a careful mix that has to work for your personal business model.
5) How do I provide privacy?
Modern trends around the world are utilising 'privacy pods' more than ever as a quiet space to host one-on-one meetings, focus attention in busy or loud environments, or just to escape a 'stale' space that can limit creativity. Some of our examples in this range are phone booths, the mod pod shell, or the mod pod booth, but we are always seeking out technological advancements from around the world and have some great new offers around the corner. While secluded offices seem to be something of the past, we are finding new ways to aid customers with more mobile privacy in the years to come.
6) What sort of finishings do I want to use?
Glass walls can be used instead of solid walls for areas hosting impromptu get-togethers where clients and employees are able to feel a lack of pressure to perform, and encourage a sense of openness.
"When you open things up, all of a sudden, you have a vitality and transparency that encourages conversation, participation and learning" - Janet Pogue, principal at Gensler architectural
Metal can be sleek and stylish, but also envelope a sense of coldness or sterility which isn't suitable for environments that want to make staff or clients feel more welcome.
Biophilic elements are proving to be very fashion-forward in the modern office, employees are spending more hours indoors at work than ever before, and lose a sense of connection with the outdoors. Research is increasingly proving that spending time in nature, or even just introducing elements such as wooden features, plants, green walls and stone work may increase productivity and health in the office environment, and can also prove very cost effective. In fact, over 50 studies worldwide, including Interface's Human Spaces Report with psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, have proven the positive effects nature or environments that mimic nature have on overall health and well-being.
"By consciously including nature in interior or architectural design, we are unconsciously reconnecting; bringing the great outdoors in to our constructed world." - Interface, global commercial flooring business
Above: Examples of some of our artificial and real plant life options
7) What kind of hours will my staff be working?
Some offices have flexible working hours to allow for 'life' to happen, while other roles will need to work hours outside of the traditional 9-5. Aside from key entry, one the big factors to consider over a 24 hour period will be lighting, heating/cooling, and acoustics to lessen the annoyance of potentially uncontrollable sounds (i.e. garbage trucks, people socialising, loud music etc.).
8) What kind of spaces do I want to include for my employees to rest and recover?
The problem with the technological era that we currently live in, is the lack of ability to 'switch off' when we are bombarded with emails, social media and information overloads at any given hour of the day.
Therefore, one of the first spaces you should consider is a 'technology free zone', where your employees are forced to hand over all electronics, and can allow their minds to be at ease. This allows people to declutter their minds, and take time to reconnect ideally in more natural surrounds.
Want to get new-agey? Meditation and/or yoga rooms are also getting a lot of positive feedback, and if you only have a small space for quiet, consider our energy-pod to give employees an almighty boost in just 15 minutes!
Socialising forms a huge part of modern day culture as Australians continue to face a rising loneliness epidemic, therefore, offering employees areas where they can connect with others such as lunch rooms or breakout spaces will boost company morale, offer social connectedness and lessen the burden of feeling alone. In short; feeling connected to others is proven to boost productivity and create a more "team worthy" goal based environment.
9) What kind of health issues might my employees face now and in the future?
Statistics concluded in 2014-15 that 1 in 6 people reported having back pain, with the range of conditions relating to the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles and nerves. It is also well known, that back problems are a significant cause of disability and lost productivity, and with that knowledge in mind, it's something that Balance Commercial takes very seriously when taking on new jobs.
In order to STOP this becoming a problem, we need to become more responsible at fitting our employees with the correct ergonomic tools such as task chairs and the upright trainer to alleviate the load on the lumbar spine and reduce curvature in the upper back, sit-to-stand desks to boost movement and correct posture and monitor arms to lift screens to the correct level and reduce back and neck strain. While these tools are readily available, the hardest part is actually instilling knowledge on how to use them correctly and adjust them to each person.
Other work-related illness can be anxiety, stress, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, diabetes, muscular strains and work related injuries. These are all problems that can affect even the most unsuspecting person in the office, and should be taken very seriously and with great respect. If you, or anyone you know may be facing mental health issues, please contact lifeline for professional assistance.
After all is said and done, one of the most important things is knowing your budget, what needs to be implemented straight away and what can be introduced with time. If you're unsure of where to start with this, feel free to reach out to us on (03) 9761 4555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask how we can help bring your vision to life, with a budget to suit your needs.
Wishes in wellness,
The Balance Team
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