When it comes to developing your office design plan, obviously you need to focus on aspects such as budgets, scheduling, logistics (e.g. maintaining operations during the renovation/construction or temporary re-allocating work to another site), permits and approvals (typically required for any project involving architectural changes), and the list goes on.
However, there is another aspect that is just as important, yet sometimes is overlooked or not dealt with as meaningfully and effectively as possible: engaging employees and getting their input.
Indeed, Gallup research has found that the average full-time employee spends 47 hours a week at work; and for many employees including most managers and executives, that number is much higher, typically surpassing 50 or even 60 hours per week. That is an excessively long time to be in an environment that may not support productivity, efficiency, health and/or well-being!
What’s more, and quite unfortunately, sometimes businesses invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in what they believe is going to be a new and improved office design, only to find that instead of celebrating the change, employees start to criticize and complain — not because they are ungrateful, but because the new office design works against them; not for them.
Fortunately, engaging employees in the office design process is not difficult or costly. On the contrary, it is enjoyable and inspiring, and is an excellent opportunity to boost morale and get everyone excited about the improvements ahead.
With this in mind, here are 3 office design questions to ask your employees before you make changes, not after:
1. Where do you get most of your work done?
It is not uncommon to walk into any large enterprise, and see that the overwhelming number of workstations or cubicles are vacant. This is not because the flu is rampant or due to a staff retreat. Rather, it is because many of today’s employees do most of their work away from their assigned offices or seats, such as in meeting rooms and even lunch rooms. Find out where your employees are the most productive, and use this insight to craft an optimized office design that supports, rather than blocks, productivity and performance.
2. What are your lighting, environmental and technology infrastructure needs?
Sometimes, employees shift around the work landscape not because they want to, but because they feel they must in order to remain productive. For example, they may not be able to get reliable or fast Wi-Fi access in their office or at their desk, and as such must set off roaming around to find the elusive “4-bar sweetspot”. Or, they may find that nearby outlets are jammed full charging or powering their colleagues’ laptops, smartphones and other devices. And the lighting or HVAC may also be hurling them away from where they want to work, because conditions are not suitable for being efficient and productive (e.g. glare from uncovered windows, frigid/boiling temperatures, etc).
Asking about the type of lighting, environment and technology infrastructure that your people need helps you build an office design plan that will target many (if not ideally, all) of these concerns.
3. Is collaboration and cross-functional interaction happening organically?
It is common – and sometimes, perfectly fine and desirable – for teams to separate themselves. For example, it usually makes sense for customer service professionals to work together, for sales reps to work together, for technical specialists to work together and so on. However, this separation can often lead to silos. People can literally work for months without engaging with a colleague on another team, and new hires may go for years without knowing some people’s names, or even what they do. This is not just bad for employee engagement and team building, but it means that knowledge sharing and collaboration likely is not happening when it should.
The solution here is not to put everyone in the same place and “force” them to interact. That is the myth of open office spaces, and why some employees are worried about working in one. However, when it is designed properly, open office spaces (or any other layout that promotes organic, spontaneous collaboration and cross-functional interaction) is a major win for all employees. They still work with their familiar team because it makes sense to do so. But they also engage, learn from, and share with colleagues beyond their work group or business unit.
Talking to your employees about these benefits, and taking their input and suggestions into consideration, can go a long way to truly designing a much more productive and interactive work environment.
At Key Interiors, we specialize in helping businesses craft a customized office design plan that fits their budget and scheduling framework, while it motivates, engages and excites employees. To learn more, contact us today. Your consultation with us is free.
There are many different options for office design. To learn about the open and collaborative approach and if it is the right for your business, download our FREE eBook: