I was recently involved made a big decision on investing in upgrading an office and reception space with great results on productivity and morale…..
The first question we had to answer whilst in the decision making process was why? Why should the company in question invest?
For starters, and supported by this BSI report from 2014, employee well-being is a strongly correlated to employee productivity and performance and the physical environment has a large factor on well-being.
Recruitment and retention of top talent is another byproduct of a great workspace environment
As there was not a huge amount of floorspace to utilise we had to plan carefully to allow for different areas within the office environment thus giving our team multiple modes of working: Focus, Collaborate, Learn and Socialise.This had to be catered for with a proviso that our boardroom had to be expanded and updated to allow for larger meetings. So whilst, we feel we achieved this, it is in a compact form!
Focus is achieved at desks, with or without the use of headphones to zone out, and because of our policy of switching our teams to laptops where employees can move around to different desks and find the appropriate space for the task they are trying to achieve. However, we felt it important that we still had “our” own desks to store our paperwork and give a sense of belonging.
Collaboration is achieved through our two break-out areas where in a less formal setting, colleagues can meet up, brainstorm, be creative or simply just talk.
Learning from colleagues and visitors takes place everywhere but the Boardroom is the formal space for education from online sources, however, we tried to create a bright and airy space that was not foreboding but welcoming.
And finally socialising……This was difficult due to space restrictions however we extended our kitchenette to accommodate off the cuff conversations over the fruit bowl — not the watercooler!
The reaction from the staff to these changes was positive –
“The new seating arrangements mean the group dynamics are better as is the flow of communication”
“feels brighter and less cluttered, which helps create a calm working atmosphere. It will also be a pleasure to show clients around”
“I feel that we have more space to play around with and feel that this can be used in our favour and that the décor has brightened the workplace”
So we achieved a positive reaction from the team — positively driving better collaboration and productivity through well being.
However one final thought…..
One of the most underused senses, but one that has the most impact according to experts, is smell. Studies have been undertaken which show:
“Smell is the most powerful of the senses, and is best able to influence brain activity although aromatherapy probably isn’t the first tool you’d think of to stimulate your business, but perhaps it should be.”
In other countries, such thinking has been taken a step further. In Japan the Takasago Corporation carried out research into how smells affect the accuracy of typists. It found 54% made fewer errors when they could smell lemon, 33% fewer with jasmine and 20% fewer with lavender.
So perhaps when planning a new workspace what businesses need most of all is an improved air freshener?