How to Design an Office for Maximizing Employee Happiness
Workplace happiness is not a new concept. You can already measure it through productivity rates, surveys and collaboration between colleagues and departments. Happy employees are more creative and don’t settle with getting the job done. Design trends focus on enhancing employee happiness through proposals regarding company buildings, and the actual office.
Many designers develop ideas regarding the space for social bonding. They study what it should focus on, how close they should be to the employees’ offices and furniture and items they should contain. However, employees spend most of their time working at their desks. So, below we will outline what the ideal office should contain, in all its conservative or savvy details.
Before we get started on the design, you are advised to take a closer look to your company’s departments. Office design is a specific niche, handled by specialized architects, which needs to have an experienced manager in charge. When looking at a manager’s resume, make sure you also have a cover letter. You can see more of the career goals and personality of a potential design leader by thoroughly checking the cover letter for a management position. Portfolio also matters, you might discover an architect’s work that even made it to the press.
According to company reviews, Santa Clara from California is the happiest city to work in from the USA. It is closely followed by San Jose from CA, Portland from OR, and Cincinnati from OH. These cities are home to LinkedIn and Google companies, which invest in employee happiness. According to Heidi Golledge, CEO of the company which made the study, happiness is a lot about company culture. Consequently, this leads to design and the office they stay in for five days a week.
Overall Look at the Office
In 2017, design trends were about flexible, open and collaborative spaces. Designers claimed that these multi-use offices led to better communication. To continue this trend and diminish the formal work hierarchy, 2018 proposals might contain just as many open spaces as the previous. However, the office should include designing space that can adapt and transform easily.
How to put this trend into practice? Think of multifunctional furniture. Lose the boundaries between manager and employee furniture. Add a sparkle near desks, to transform it into a relaxing haven, in need.
Moreover, workplace design now focuses on including retreat areas for employees, rather than playgrounds. The exclusive space away from desks follow the live – work concept, which needs a relaxation space.
What can you change at the social-bonding designated place for your business? Think about lounges or living rooms. You can even install hammocks or couches.
Inside the Office
There are plenty of studies that link the aspect of the office to employees’ creativity. The sick building syndrome concept discusses buildings that lack natural ventilation, natural lighting or uncomfortable temperature. Therefore, the ideal office that maximizes employee happiness needs to have opposite attributes to the above.
1) Biophilic Design Brings Nature Indoors
The biophilic design has been in architects’ minds for a few years now. However, it’s still a new concept for office buildings. Biomimicry imitates nature and provides both sustainable solutions for workers, while boosting their mood.
You should add a green vertical décor to an office wall, to provide refreshing oxygen. Also, place it in a visible place for many or all the employees. This way, the wall will also have a constant visual effect. You don’t need to bring a forest into the office building, to eliminate stale air. However, you may dare with a green wall that also produces organic food and natural ventilation.
2) Hot Desking Makes Flexible Employees
Hot desking office rooms don’t have permanently assigned desks. Employees can work at table, in booths or conference rooms, or even lounges. This way, they choose their most creative spaces for meetings and brainstorming. Their brain associates that place with active implication and focus.
Think of hot desking as a method to encourage connection between employees and constant team building. The more your office looks like a living room, the happier your employees will be. However, you need to closely study your staff before making such a move. Some departments or fields require silence and private space for work. Such employees might be less productive in an interactive environment.
“An atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and [we] allow ourselves to let our guard down”. (Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute).
If the hygge elements sound tempting, here’s how you can include them in the workplace:
Create small areas for each employee to personalize in any way. You can also give them a boost by handing blankets.
Sometimes, include a music background built around a relaxing music playlist.
Organize informal team buildings by encouraging them to walk together or organizing scavenger hunts.
Replace the coffee machine with a fridge that contains their favorite refreshing juice.
There are many ways in which you can design the ideal office for workers, based on the above indications. However, take your company culture into consideration. Also, make sure that the design ideas promote your company’s mission and value. If you feel the need to, you can further add bright colors in the design or even rent a space that has a rooftop for breaks.
Design constantly evolves and brings up new features and perspectives. Gone are the days when work atmosphere was sober and rigid. Now, studies link employee happiness with working designs and generate fresh ideas for workplaces. Check out your favorite and boost your employees’ mood!
Images from: 1, 2, 3, 4 under C.C. 2.0 and C.C. 0.0
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