5 tips: Adapting your offices for modern employees
Today’s workplaces need to be adapted for employees who are mobile, digital and independent. In this article, Anna Nordin, Head of Coor Advisory Services, shares her top five tips for the modern office.
1. Create the right space for the right activities
The modern workplace needs a range of spaces for different kinds of tasks. If you work in open plan offices, you’ll need to create rooms and spaces where employees can go to focus and work quietly. If your offices have the classic box rooms, you need to design attractive meeting spaces to entice your employees out of their rooms. The trend towards flexible or activity-based offices is on the increase, where employees choose their workplace according to the activity they’re carrying out, and where they don’t have a fixed base. When you come to refurbish your offices, carrying out a thorough needs analysis is key, as well as collating your employees’ view in surveys and workshops. Also study the spaces that your employees actually use at the moment, and watch how they use them. And have the courage to ask your staff what kind of environment they would like to work in if there were no constraints.
2. Create spaces for spontaneous meetings
Surveys show that many good ideas and collaborations are born out of spontaneous meetings. This means you need to ensure that there are attractive spaces where your employees can actually meet. If everyone is working behind closed doors, or sitting down in an open plan office, exciting synergies will be hard to come by. Attractive spaces would include a buzzing coffee lounge, where your employees can come to replenish their energy supply. In order to create a space that employees spontaneously migrate to, carefully planning and creativity are important. Top tips include using attractive and functional design, excellent coffee and accessible wifi so that employees can carry on working in the coffee lounge if they want to. Some large companies even employ baristas to make great coffee for their staff.
Have the courage to ask your staff what kind of environment they would like to work in if there were no constraints.
3. Help your employees to disconnect
Always being connected to the internet makes it harder to make the distinction between work and leisure time. There’s currently a stress and burnout epidemic, which is in part related to the new ways in which we work. As a manager, it’s important that you help your people to disconnect from the digital world. You can do this by providing clear guidelines about how quickly and at what times of the day employees are expected to reply to emails. You can also do it by creating relaxing spaces in your offices, areas with no wifi or where employees are required to leave their mobile devices at the door before entering, which helps the brain to regenerate even during office hours.
4. Create a positive meeting culture
Too many meetings eat up a lot of working hours. Make sure that you establish a positive meeting culture with short meetings, clear agendas and the option of participating online. Also ensure that only directly affected employees are invited to meetings, and circulate a summary to any other relevant parties. Attractive meeting spaces also facilitate a positive meeting culture. Make sure that your offices include rooms that are not bookable, so that its always possible to hold a meeting, even at short notice. Also create a range of different meeting rooms; meeting dynamics differ significantly between a comfy sofa and the board room. Give some thought to the design of the rooms. The human brain responds well to surprises, such as choice of colors and design.
5. Let your offices reflect your brand
Think about how the design of your office space can reflect your brand. This can be done with simple means, by use of color and design that mirrors your graphic profile for example. If you work at a distinguished company, it’s good to make the most of its history by using paintings, old prototypes and other historical objects in your offices. You may also want to associate the design of your company’s premises with your product or services. Allowing your brand to be reflected in your office space stimulates pride amongst your employees and curiosity in your visitors. If you choose to reflect your brand in your premises, make sure you do it thoroughly and really go for it.