By Bond Collective Staff
What is your business’s most valuable asset? It’s not your proprietary technology, your brand, or your network. It’s your team. That’s why a happy, productive team is the gold standard of business in the 21st century. And nothing affects the happiness and productivity of your team like their office environment.
That’s where the workspace experts at Bond Collective come in. In this article, we’ll show you how to set up and run the best possible workspace for you and your team.
The Evolution Of The Office Environment
Performance and productivity are directly linked to office environment and design. In fact, the 21st-century office, when arranged correctly, has the power to inspire employees to new levels of insight and innovation.
Businesses are now including elements in their office environment that actually improve the way their teams operate and the work they do there. This wasn’t always the case.
Typical offices started out as row upon row of floor-to-ceiling walls arranged to create individual offices—each with their own door, and all separated from one another. Soon, though, designers saw the benefits of lowering those floor-to-ceiling walls and the cubicle was born.
Team members were now separated on three sides by shoulder-height walls that provided an openness to the overall office while still providing individual privacy.
Then, in the 1990s, the walls came down completely and the open office concept appeared. Desks were arranged in one large room and distributed in such a way so as to promote teamwork and collaboration.
Employees enjoyed this newfound openness, while managers and owners saw benefits in the open office’s cost-savings and flexibility.
Almost 30 years later, many businesses are still riding this open-office wave and discovering its benefits. But that doesn’t mean you should just pack as many desks into a room as possible. Take into account how your employees work and how the space as a whole makes them feel.
Because, ultimately, those two concepts are going to influence the quality of work that your team produces.
Tips For The Ideal Office Environment
Here are 16 of our favorite ways to promote a stimulating office environment that will have your team working better than ever.
1) Provide Easy Access To All Parts Of The Office
No one likes to feel like a rat in a maze, and nothing contributes to that feeling like a long, unbroken row of furniture. Even low desks can add to the sense of being “penned-in” if arranged improperly.
If you’re working in a large, open office space, try arranging the desks or tables in small groups with space on either side. That makes moving around the office much easier and eliminates the feeling of being a sardine in a can.
2) Break Up Open Spaces
Noise and movement — especially in large, cavernous spaces — can seriously affect the focus and productivity of your employees. With the open office layout, even the smallest sound or activity can disturb your employees’ concentration. Cubicles keep distractions to a minimum, but they make employees feel like a rat in a cage.
Minimize the intrusive effects of noise and movement by breaking up the wide-open spaces with bookcases, plants, shelves — anything that provides a change from row after row of desks. You can also incorporate a sense of privacy by separating work areas with large pieces of furniture, like filing cabinets or storage lockers.
3) Keep Your Office Environment Clutter-Free
In the minds of many, a cluttered office is a disorganized and dirty office. That can seriously affect the happiness and productivity of your team...not to mention sending the wrong message to your customers and clients.
Here are a few suggestions for decluttering your office environment:
Corral the power cords
Go wireless if possible
Invest in storage solutions
Minimize items on your desk
Hire a commercial cleaner
Provide each team member with a personal storage space
Give this issue some serious thought and we’re sure you’ll come up with plenty of unique ways to keep your office environment clutter-free.
4) Consider Getting An Office Mascot
When we say “mascot,” we’re not talking about an employee dressed up as an armadillo or a ferret. We’re talking about an animal of the canine or feline persuasion that lives at your office (or at least comes to work every day).
A recent study by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) reported that pets in the workplace improve work/life balance, reduce stress, and nurture productivity. All great things when you’re looking to make your team happier.
You will have to plan for food, exercise, and periodic walks (unless you get a cat, in which case, all you’ll need is food), but the reward is a higher level of happiness and productivity than ever before.
5) Establish Areas For Socialization
Socialization is a key component of creativity. In an office environment, socialization usually takes place in a designated lounge area. There, team members can take a break, unwind, converse with others, and get inspired.
When setting aside an area for socialization, arrange the space so that groups of different sizes can congregate. Include couches, comfy chairs, and four-, six-, and eight-person tables of various sizes.
Setting up your socialization area to be flexible in design can transform a chance meeting of four colleagues into an unexpected collaboration that brings about new ideas and new solutions.
6) Take Time Out For Your Passions
Everyone has a passion. It may be a hobby, like painting or Zen meditation. Or it may be a pastime, such as reading or journaling.
Whatever that passion may be, try giving your team members a half-hour every day to work on anything they want. It’s a great way to relax, get your creative juices flowing, and explore common interests.
7) Give Your Team A Variety Of Workspace & Seating Options
With the ubiquity of mobile technology, employees are no longer tied exclusively to their desks. In fact, some of their best work may occur elsewhere in the office.
Employees recognize that a change of scenery — or just a change from seated to standing — is an effective way to keep their creative juices flowing and their energy levels high. You can incorporate this new mobility into your office layout by providing employees with a variety of workspace and seating options.
Give your employees the flexibility they crave by incorporating adjustable-height desks, multi-person tables, stools, and a variety of other seating options into your office environment.
8) Wind Down And Get Inspired At The Same Time
On Friday afternoon, gather your team together, uncork a bottle of wine or pop the top on a can of beer, and talk about the work week gone by. Share problems you’ve encountered, solutions you came up with, or new processes or technology that made things easier.
This is a productive way to wind down, solve problems, and get inspired all at the same time.
9) Set Aside Quiet Areas For Focus
Another essential component of a productive office environment is the presence of quiet areas for focus and concentration. This may be where your employees’ desks are set up, or it may be another corner of the room entirely.
We recommend pushing the quiet work area to one corner or one end of your office space. Then arrange other areas according to increasing noise levels. Try to keep the quiet areas as far away from the collaboration and socialization areas as possible to prevent the activity in the latter from becoming a distraction.
10) Create Collaboration Spaces
Collaboration is vital to business success, so it’s important to designate a space within your office environment specifically for this activity. If you only use the collaboration section periodically or for team meetings, it can make an excellent buffer between the quiet areas and the rest of your office.
Otherwise, position the collaboration section in another area of the office space so that activity there doesn’t interrupt work in the quiet area. Either way, design an open space with a large table and plenty of seating that you can use to bring everyone together.
11) Incorporate A Training Space Into Your Layout
Training is an essential component of work in the 21st century. Well-trained employees are happier and more productive because they are confident in their ability to get the job done right the first time.
That being said, whether you’re introducing your employees to new workflows or getting them familiar with new software, you’re going to need a space dedicated to training.
The collaboration area or conference room can double as a training space, but what happens when the conference room is in use and you need to introduce one of your teams to a new software tool? You can see why it’s a good idea to have an area exclusively for training.
12) Prioritize Color
Color is an important addition to any office environment. It communicates a sense of atmosphere that can affect your employees in a variety of ways.
If your office layout is permeated by neutral grays and tans, employees can feel uninspired and sluggish for no apparent reason. If dark colors dominate your office space, employees can feel tired even first thing in the morning.
That’s not to say that you can never use neutral or dark colors. But drab colors do nothing to encourage creativity and focus. That’s why modern office environments often incorporate vivid colors into the workspaces.
To keep your employees energized and engaged, punctuate your office with areas of bright color.
Whether you’re organizing different areas according to a certain color scheme or just scattering pops of color around the office, studies show that varied bright hues give your team a boost and improve productivity, creativity, and overall happiness.
There are myriad ways to incorporate color—from desk accents to exposed steel to the furniture itself. The only limit is your imagination.
13) Make Light Work For You
No one wants to work all day under rows and rows of fluorescent lighting. Most people will tell you that they respond better to natural light.
One solution to this is to provide plenty of windows within your office environment. Windows let in natural light and help reduce the need for electric lighting (thereby saving your business money).
Unfortunately, not every office has enough windows so that everyone can work without a lamp. At night or during overcast days, you may need to turn on the fluorescent lights in order to get any work done.
You can, however, install those lights in such a way as to control how many you use at any one time. Maybe you only need one or two throughout the whole office, or one in the quiet work area and one in the collaboration area.
Another solution is to incorporate new technologies that allow your office lighting to mimic the natural light outside. And that natural light changes as the day progresses.
Adaptive lighting automatically changes according to the time of day. In the morning, it emits cooler tones, while in the afternoon, it emits warmer tones. This can help your team maintain their energy levels and focus even during dreary weather.
For more insights on creating the best light scheme for your business, check out this article from Bond Collective: Office Lighting: Everything You Need To Know For Your Office Space.
14) Include Natural Elements
Want to make your team feel happier, more comfortable, and more productive while at work? Include natural elements in your office environment.
Natural accents such as exposed concrete, brick, wood floors, wood beams, and painted steel are simple natural design elements that bring the outside in, boost morale, and inspire your team to greatness.
Another easy way to enhance your workspace with natural elements is to include plenty of plants — both large and small — around the office.
You can arrange a row of large plants to separate one work area from another and line window sills with smaller plants to break up all the hard, flat surfaces. You can even place a plant on all the desks to give everyone their own natural inspiration.
For more on decorating your office environment with plants, take a few minutes to read these helpful articles from the design experts at Bond Collective:
15) Design With Modular Components
In most businesses, team members want to be able to work where the inspiration strikes them.
If they’re brainstorming in the lounge with their coworkers during a break, they don’t want to have to hurry back to their desks to capture the magic. They want to be able to pull a few surfaces together for an impromptu work session and take advantage of the vision.
Modular and mobile components and furniture make that possible. This idea even extends to individual work areas.
Equip desks with items such as rolling cabinets, adjustable monitor arms, and other pieces of furniture that team members can move easily.
When you design your work environment with modular components, you remove a speed bump in workflow and make it easier for your teams to concentrate on finding solutions, getting things done, and pushing your business forward.
16) Keep Your Office Environment Clean
Desks, tables, chairs, and common equipment such as copiers and fax machines often hold more bacteria than any other surface in the office — including the restroom.
Even if you’re working from home, but especially if you’re working with others in an office environment, it’s vital to keep your office equipment clean and germ-free.
Doing so helps prevent the spread of illnesses that can halt productivity and make it more difficult for your business to operate smoothly and efficiently.
We recommend adding regular cleaning to your schedule at least once a week (Bond Collective locations clean common areas every night).
Better yet, do a quick wipe-down of the most-used surfaces — like keyboards, adding machines, main work surfaces, drawer handles, and any frequently-used buttons or switches — before you leave the office each day.
Then, once a week, clean everything with a disinfectant and a clean rag to ensure that you don’t contribute to the spread of illness.
For more tips on keeping your office environment clean, check out our article 21 Best Office Hacks To Improve Your Working Environment.
A Happy And Productive Office Environment Is Possible
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique office environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.rkspaces with your team’s happiness and productivity in mind. Each of our shared office environments incorporates inspiring design elements like natural light, open floor plans, vivid colors, and multipurpose workspaces — plus a whole host of other design factors that will motivate your team to greatness.
So, if you’re looking for a workspace that will increase your team’s happiness and productivity, consider becoming a member of Bond Collective. You can take advantage of our coworking spaces, dedicated desks, and private offices to suit all your business needs.
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique office environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.