The design of your work space and the equipment in it affects the productivity, health, and effectiveness of your employees. Workplace design mistakes can result in accidents, injuries, illnesses and higher insurance premiums. It may also undermine the performance of your work team, whether or not clients are visiting.
Here are four common office design mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
1. The Totally Open Office, Even If Half Are on the Phone
Open offices are attractive to businesses for several reasons and used to be very popular until recently. The cost was one of the major reasons this style of office became so popular; it costs less to put an array of desks out in a room than build walls or install movable cubicle walls. Second, there was a mistaken assumption it would improve creativity through interaction. The reality was that the constant flow of people leads to disruptions that sap productivity for everyone, especially introverts.
Another mistake with open co-working spaces was failing to consider how the background noise in the open office affected customer interaction. There is no privacy when you sit in a chair in front of one person but are surrounded by several others; this may limit clients’ willingness to talk to you frankly.
If your staff are on the phone constantly, the open office’s high ambient noise level makes it necessary for employees to speak even louder, which undermines their credibility with clients and interferes with communication. However, acoustic treatments are a stopgap measure that does nothing to restore productivity and privacy to the workplace. So, before you decide to go for an open workplace, make sure that it doesn’t impede the workflow.
2. Who Cares Where the Wires Go?
Another mistake office planners make is overlooking wiring. They may think that throwing a few rugs over cables reduces the trip hazard (it doesn’t) or improves the appearance (still doesn’t).
To prevent your employees from tripping over wires, hurting themselves, and disconnecting critical infrastructure, you should invest in desk cable management services which you can get details about here. You also need to plan the connecting cables for each office so that employees aren’t constantly rolling over the cable connecting their computer to the internet or struggling to position their chair somewhere comfortable because of the power cables crisscrossing the room.
Before you pay for a massive upgrade to wireless networking, consult with an expert in data cabling support instead.
3. Anyone Can Use Anything
A common mistake in the modern office is the idea that everyone can use anything in the office. Yet employees who work in customer service and tech support would be better served with a dedicated office laid out to maximize their productivity, not “hot-desking”. Managers and Human Resources personnel may be legally required to have private offices or cubicles with privacy screens in order to protect sensitive information.
All of this is aside from the differences between individuals, resulting in some people being unable to use a standard office chair, desk, and equipment. Whether temporary issues like pregnancy or long-term problems like disability or obesity, you may set yourself up for legal problems if you use the same furniture for everyone’s workspace and tell your staff to deal with it.
A variation of this problem is assuming that flexible workspaces and inadequate furniture are OK, such as mobile workers occasionally resorting to typing on a computer sitting on a coffee table instead of a desk. Small standard desks assigned to everyone, including those who need to review paperwork and models, just hurt productivity or result in disorganised work areas. If you don’t have enough of the right office furniture, don’t be surprised if productivity goes down, sick time goes up, and someone files a worker’s compensation claim against you.
4. Poor Lighting
Are your employees fighting over the few work tables next to the windows regardless of the view? This may be an indication that your lighting is lousy. If people are bringing in desk lamps to supplement the overhead lights, you need to improve the lighting in the work areas. This may be intentional, such as when many light bulbs are removed from work spaces in the hope of reducing energy usage. It may be accidental, such as when companies apply window treatments to prevent passive over-heating of work spaces at the expense of the natural light the facility designers expected to have available. You may need to add lights back to existing plugs, install sconces to improve light levels, alter window treatments, or distribute reading lamps where appropriate.
Workplace design mistakes such as failing to design paths for wiring or not providing sufficient ambient light can not only affect productivity but could also expose you to litigation in the case of accidents. So, don’t let office design become an afterthought and implement practices that will improve your employee’ morale, productivity, and security.
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