Office Refurbishment Ideas in the Modern Business Environment
The role of employees is slowly undergoing a fundamental change from earlier days. Workers were primarily perceived as ‘doers’. They were expected to do tasks assigned to them and were seen as implementers rather than thinkers. However, businesses today view their employees as sources of original ideas and thoughts.
The level of participation of employees and communication between people working for a business is now dramatically higher than it ever used to be. So how do you change your old (and probably boring) office social and physical structure without having to uproot yourself and relocate (an expensive and often impractical option)?
With the increasing dependence on electronic tools, WiFi and computers; workplace culture and employee interaction is undergoing a dramatic evolution. The technological revolution is now the driving force behind employee relationships, communication and productivity levels.
The best and most effective way to improve your office is to makeover your office design to a more modern, open office layout style. The result is clearly visible in the form of a happier and high performance workplace leading eventually to healthier balance sheets.
Keen on an office makeover?
“Open office layouts give more opportunities to learn from workers with more experience and different skills”, William Sims, Cornell University. About 10% of leading companies currently follow open office layouts with the concept becoming increasingly popular.
The choice of office layout has a deep (and often underestimated) impact on staff morale and welfare and can in turn boost productivity and profit levels.
|Open plan office: 4 Person Groove System|
Office layouts are clear and constant indicators of what your business stands for and faithfully reflect your company’s core values. Seen in the light of the deep and symbiotic relationship between office layout design and performance, deciding where and how your employees work becomes a key tool to improving profitability.
The type of furniture you invest in, where and how you choose to place them decides exactly how well your employees will be able to perform. There are several indicators that your office layout needs to be changed.
Consider these rather common situations in offices: Your employees have to walk to the far end of the room to get their printouts. Every time a worker gets up for a drink of water, they end up having to navigate their way through a maze of wires, obstructive table edges and trip along bumpy carpets. Sounds familiar?
There are more examples. The employees on the left side of your room have to squint to read whatever they type on their screens as they are seated in the ‘shadow’ part of the room. One individual may be obliged to always have to yell over his harassed neighbor to get his message through to some other guy seated at a distance.
These may appear like minor problems on the shop floor on the surface but they can have a major impact on time management, health and fitness levels as well as employee absenteeism.
Office layout styles are changed not only to reduce workplace accidents and nuisance factors but the primary goal is to improve the overall working environment.
How do open office layout designs help redefine the workplace environment?
Better and easier communication
An open office design plan enables and encourages employees to freely talk to each other and exchange ideas. A closed cubicle door on the other hand, might prove more intimidating as you’d have to think twice before knocking and entering.
|Groove Boardroom Table|
A blend of time management and office protocol By simply glancing at your coworker’s table, you would be able to tell if they’re busy or not. This way you can connect easily and also avoid disturbing the individual when they appear to be busy. The ‘one-level’ arrangement allows employees to develop informal relationships and be more cordial with one another and it also helps foster a sense of belonging; a feeling of being included in the loop.
Desks facing each other
Yet another very important factor is the quality of communication among workers. Research indicates strongly that looking at a person that you’re conversing with helps cement ties and enhances communication. This is better than talking over an impersonal phone extension. Non-verbal communication like facial gestures, smiles or body language can subconsciously add to the quality of connection with coworkers.
|4 person Back to Back Workstation|
Placing work related employees close together
A huge plus point of the open office layout is that you are able to place say the copier, printer and fax next to the administration department staff. By positioning the admin department workers together, they can easily talk across to each other and complete tasks that much faster. Otherwise you’d have employees trudging across the room every time they want to crosscheck an invoice number with a colleague.
If you employ workers who spend a lot of time outside the workplace (at the factory site or clients’ offices), try positioning them near exits to facilitate easy movement. Similarly, if you have employees who need some peace and quiet to get their tasks done, seat them away from other employees so that they are left undisturbed.
Optimization of available space
With sky-rocketing rents of commercial spaces, it’s best to utilize available space rather than paying for extra space. An open office layout helps to arrange the accounts, administration and marketing employees all on one floor – without overcrowding or cramping. The alternative would be to accommodate all these departments in different sections most probably on different floors.
Recommended space per employee in an open office format is roughly 6 feet by 8 feet. Supervisors and managers can be assigned cubicles along the wall for closed door meetings.
Lighting for open office layouts
Lighting technology plays an all-important in designing open office design plans and must satisfy both aesthetics and utility. The lighting must be adequate over workstations and illuminate corridors and common areas. It is best to opt for lighting that proves energy efficient as well as durable.
Good choices for open office interior lighting include HID bulbs (High Intensity Discharge) that are fluorescent. Compact florescent tubes work very well for specific task lighting and you might want to pace these over workers who require intensive lighting (for example, architects or design artists). As far as possible, it’s best to stick with standard lighting fixtures for work areas as these are easier to replace when necessary.
|Modern reception area design|
Indirect light bulbs or deep-cell lighting mounted at about 25˝ height and about 20˝ apart from each other is recommended for common work areas. Ergonomic lighting includes reduction of glare by paying attention to the direction from where light falls on the computer screen or table. You might want to position lighting fixtures in places that make it easy for maintenance and repair.
Specific areas such as conference rooms or presentation areas can be equipped with dimmer switches that enable control over intensity of lighting. It’s a fact that human beings love natural light and are known to get stressed in artificial light. It’s advisable to reserve one or two huge windows to let in the sunshine.
Choosing ergonomic chairs for your employees
Workers spend most of their day seated in their chairs. It’s best to invest in office chairs that can be manipulated by pneumonic adjustment. The recommended height of the seat of the chair from the floor is 16 to 21 inches high. Recommended seat width is pegged at 17 to 20 inches while a distance of 4 to 5 inches is optimal between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair.
A solid, firm backrest supports the lumbar and reduces the possibility of developing back problems.
Features of ergonomic desks include a firm, broad work surface with no instability in the form of wobbling or rocking. The surface must be able to accommodate your computer, mouse and keyboard. In the event that the keyboard doesn’t fit in, there must be a pull-out tray to hold the keyboard. Your workers must be able to comfortably slide their legs under the table while sitting.
|Ergonomic height adjustable desks|
Ergonomic desks must also be equipped with easy pull-out drawers for storing credenza, pencils, pens etc. It’s best to opt for desks, chairs and workstations equipped with wheels. This gives much greater flexibility and you can rearrange your office furniture according to your evolving requirement.
Recreational (break-out) areas
A separate ‘quiet’ area away from the noise of the office is great as a relaxation point. A coffee machine, a flat screen TV and a refrigerator are all recommended accessories for the relaxation zone. You can consider equipping this zone with a comfortable sofa or bar style stools to give it an informal feel.
Businesses are dynamic and in a state of continuous evolution in accordance with market forces, technology and the human element. An expanding business would, for example, be different in size, structure and operations say five years down the line compared to the present time. Similarly, offices are often restructured to streamline operations and improve management. Open office layout designs possess the ability to offer improved flexibility as well as adapt to new technology incorporation.
Today’s team oriented taskforces in offices require face-to-face communication and interaction. The open office layout is able to develop a sense of unity and creativity among coworkers in the workplace. The transparency and deviation from traditional office hierarchy is also effective in minimizing negative emotions like jealousy and mistrust among employees.
Supervisors are able to keep an unobtrusive eye on employees and discourage time wastage. Open office design plans are more affordable and offer more value for your hard-earned dollars than a cubicle layout for the same area. Office teams that function from within a common visual and auditory radius are perceived to be more productive than those who are ‘closed’ off in their own spaces.