It may be time to rethink that open office floor plan.
If you’ve seen HBO’s comedy “Silicon Valley,” you may have picked up on their not-so-subtle pokes at the extravagant office spaces of so many of today’s big companies. And while primarily for the sake of laughs, their jabs are not without some truth. Employers are increasingly failing to design their flashy office spaces with employees’ happiness or productivity in mind. So while you may have a decent basic layout, it’s time to reevaluate some of the features.
Grocery store-style lighting.
This should be the first to go. Overhead fluorescent (or generally excessive) lighting may seem like a practical feature of your office environment, but trust us, your employees hate it. This is especially true for the employees suffering from headaches and eyestrain as a result. Instead, try to use as much natural light as possible. Not only will you curb your electricity bill, but also your employees will be so grateful. You can also personalize things by offering each employee their choice of desk lamp.
Open floor plans.
Communal spaces can be a great feature of an office space. But if that’s the only spatial feature of your office space, you have a problem. Employees who are unable to retreat into a quiet and/or private space for certain tasks may become less productive as a result of constant interruptions or inability to focus on a task. This is true for cubicles too, which offer only visual privacy at best. Reconsider your layout and offer some solitude if you want to get the most out of your team. Plus, it’s always nice to have an area to find solace in when work gets overwhelming. For you and your team.
No one really wants to spend one third of their day in a room with the same dun palette as the DMV. So while you don’t need to go all out á la “Silicon Valley,” aim for some degree of pleasantry. This may be as simple as painting the walls a different color (blues and greens are a good choice) or installing some art. Steer clear of anything too bold or distracting. When in doubt, try incorporating your company brand into the décor.
Employees may often find that having some degree of control over the décor increases their overall job satisfaction. Consider allowing your employees to keep personal items, like family photos, on their desks. You may also want to offer them some say in the way of desk lighting, office chair, or art.
The place is a mess.
For companies that don’t expect any foot traffic through the office space, it can be easy to let clutter accumulate. And even if that clutter doesn’t find its way to an employee’s desk, it can still be a distracting element. Do your employees a favor by encouraging everyone to chip in with cleaning, or hire a professional cleaning service to address the mess.
That they’re expected to be there between 9am and 5pm.
Not everyone reaches their peak performance during these hours. If your employees want to arrive early or stay late, let them. It also gives them a chance to get some of the more focused work out of the way without as many distractions. Another option is to allow employees to work remotely some of the time, if feasible for their job description. You’ll save on office space and your employees will be grateful for a change of scenery.
Before you make any big changes to your office space, ask your employees what they want. Send a survey around that they can complete anonymously if they choose to, and ask both pointed and vague questions about what they’d like their office space to be like. Then take their suggestions seriously and implement some changes. They will appreciate that they’ve been heard. And who knows, you may even find yourself to be more productive and happy with a little extra feng shui!