It is a recognized fact that happy workers produce more effectively. The days of glass partitions gave way to the cubicle, because it was thought that privacy would beget efficiency and productivity. Popular opinion now is that open spaces, community and comfort induce workers to be more creative and engaged. Indeed, creativity is today’s business, just as yesterday’s business was production. To what do these facts translate in great office space? What makes them exceptional, and what is their effect on workers?
It’s About People
Harvard Business Review reported on a study using 18 organizations and over 7,000 workers. A business strategy firm performed the study to discover how businesses could save time, increase concentration and productivity, the three things they considered important to a business’ success. They found that great office space includes:
- natural light,
- open floor plans and
It was noted that natural light fostered awareness, whereas the drab gray cubicles of the past stifled thought. Open floor plans meant that when workers felt comfortable going somewhere to be alone, they often spent two to three hours brainstorming or creating. Also noted was that personalizing working space brought increased productivity and deeper concentration.
Any worker facing a deadline will state unequivocally that distraction is the main enemy. When a worker must find an area not in use for a meeting, or when workers are waiting for clients to show up on time for an appointment, these and other time-wasters cost the company money. For every minute a worker is not producing or creating, the company loses money. Great office spaces therefore make effective use of a reception area or waiting room. Such office spaces also provide many small off-beat areas for quick meetings instead of the vast meeting rooms of the past.
Offices with a floor plan supporting multi-use areas give workers a freedom they never had before. They are not psychologically stopped by closed doors or enclosed in walls. They are free to carry on their business, especially when the areas are equipped with furnishings and business-related tools that make clients feel more at home. Everyone feels comfortable, so stress, another enemy, has less chance to strike.
Business and entrepreneur magazine Inc. thinks that great office spaces should foster a more home-like atmosphere in order to abet concentration. For instance, no one would voluntarily go into a noisy kitchen to concentrate. They would enter the empty family room. Offices with separate areas such as chairs and sofas grouped in inviting positions foster concentration. If a worker wants collaboration, s/he would head for the kitchen, break room or whatever constitutes the company’s “water cooler”. The point is made that open floor plans give workers a better chance to create than closely placed desks or cubicles.
What makes this floor plan special is that there is no constraint. Workers are not forced to remain behind walls with insufficient lighting while trying to concentrate. There is freedom of movement. Workers can choose to be alone or to be with other workers.
Both Harvard Business Review and Inc. found that personalizing work space increased productivity. Employees brought in family pictures, stuffed animals, coffee mugs and sometimes even their dog in an effort to feel more at home. Thus comfortable, workers could then produce more. Some office layouts were accessorized by café curtains on the windows, bookcases, wooden tables instead of traditional desks, lots of plants and pictures on the walls. The layouts themselves encompassed one large area streamlined by tables and homely furnishings.
Some of the greatest layouts can be found at Google, Nokia, Urban Outfitters and Lego. Note how great office spaces define both the brand and inspire its workers (we could be inspired by Zynga’s layout). Finding the right space is a simple matter of contacting OfficeFinder, but turning it into a winner will be up to the people working in it. Contact us for great office spaces you can turn into a wonderland like Airbnb’s.
By: James Osgood