In recent years, most workplace design trends have been largely influenced by the tech industry. Industry giants like Facebook and Google have become almost legendary for innovations ranging from offering free snacks and full meals from state-of-the-art kitchens to offering scooters and other transportation devices and providing basic services like dry cleaning and haircuts on site. Far more than the services they offer, however, tech companies have become almost obsessive about creating workplace layout design that facilitates their employees being able to offer their very best work to the company.
Today’s trends in workplace design are leading away from the “one-size-fits-all” model, giving employees more and more freedom to create and design everything from their own work schedules to their own office spaces. Workplace design trends are moving away from merely focusing on issues like sustainability and refocusing on the idea that offices need to be designed for people – namely, the people that work there. Here are 5 trends in workplace design that are helping to increase productivity at work.
1. Go Green
While the focus in the last several years has been on the environmental impact of offices, drawing the focus away from the humans that work in them, the reality is that humans benefit from many of the same elements the earth does. Natural sunlight has a major effect on mood, which affects productivity and plants are one of the best features you can add to an office to increase productivity. Here are some of the benefits of liberally spreading plants throughout your office.
- Reduce sick days: Plants cleanse the air of toxic gasses trapped in energy-efficient buildings and combat the modern phenomena known as Sick Building Syndrome.
- Reduce noise levels: One common complain among office workers is the noise level that keeps them from concentrating. Reduce the sound in open office plans by lining the tops of partitions and dividers with a wall of plants.
- Reduce stress: Like many elements of nature, greenery has a direct effect on our mood and stress levels. To further reduce stress in the workplace, sprinkle small desktop fountains or water features throughout the office. Studies have shown that natural sounds (like running water) have a direct effect on stress recovery.
2. Provide healthy food
When we get hungry, our blood sugar levels can taper off, leaving us feeling weak and lightheaded. When the only snack options available are high in sugar and carbs, however, they simply send blood sugar levels shooting through the roof, rather than providing a slow, steady boost which keeps blood sugar levels steady and stable. Providing healthy snacks like fresh fruit, nuts and whole grain breads or bagels will go a long way towards keeping your employees productive and alert through the morning and afternoon hours.
3. Keep it clean
Clutter and mess have been shown to create a significant source of stress both in the home and the workplace. According to Corner Office Image Founder, Michelle Augenstein, a messy desk is a barrier to communication and productivity. It makes your coworkers think that you are less professional.
A clean office makes a happy environment. While most businesses use basic office cleaning services of some kind, they may not be keeping up with the mess or they may not be hired to clean the kind of messes made in your office. Offices can become landfills of old or outdated electronics, non-working office furniture or things left behind by former employees. There are a number of important office cleaning services you may need to employ besides just those that vacuum, sweep, mop and empty the trash.
4. Ditch the coffee pot
While it may cause an uproar with some of your employees, drinking a glass of water can create an immediate 14% increase in brain function. Office drones are regularly conditioned to head for the coffee pot when they need a pick-me-up, but heading to the water cooler may have a far more beneficial effect. You can help minimize the blow by offering sparkling water or investing in a machine that carbonates water and providing a range of water flavors for employees to use rather than coffee. Be careful to avoid sugary or artificially sweetened offerings, however, as that can negate the positive affects drinking water.
5. Offer something for everyone
Going back to the idea that no one environment is going to work well for everyone, companies benefit from environments which facilitates collaboration, but employees often benefit most from quiet places where they can focus on a specific, complex or challenging task. Collaboration may help them discover a new direction to head when trying to figure out a solution to a certain problem, but actually implementing that solution may require a focus that is difficult to achieve in a noisy, busy collaborative area. With the right workplace layout design, even the smallest of office spaces can be configured to offer both communal/ collaborative areas and quiet nooks for workers to be able to focus on a specific task or problem.
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About the author:
Sarah is a small business owner and also a freelance writer. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.