How a Flexible Office Space Can Change the Way You Work
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These days more and more companies are exploring the impact of innovative office layouts on productivity and employee morale. Traditional cubicles are falling out of favor as more specialized work spaces prove useful for different types of work. Collaborative, multi-function spaces are becoming particularly popular in startups and small businesses where brainstorming and cooperation are essential.
Beyond productivity, the aesthetics and layout of an office can have an impact on hiring, as the office layout will be the first impression potential employees have when they visit the office for their first interview. The way your office looks and feels will have a major impact on not only current but future employees as well!
How can you change up your layout to meet 21st-century demands? Here are 10 simple ideas that could radically transform your office culture.
1. Break down the walls!
Offices with neatly compartmentalized cubicles are becoming a thing of the past. Removing walls from an office makes it feel bigger and more open, increases accountability and makes it easier for employees to collaborate with each other throughout the day.
It may be too big of an undertaking to redo the entire space. If that’s the case, consider removing cubicles from at least part of the office so that employees can use it as a common area. Having the choice between working in an open area and working privately is a great way to accommodate different needs and work styles.
2. Make room for standing
Startups are increasingly adopting adjustable-height standing desks to combat the lethargic effects of long-term sitting. Standing can give employees an energy boost as they switch up the long periods of sitting with thinking on their feet. Many workers report feeling more energized and alert when they work while standing.
While standing is no substitute for walking and moving around as part of daily exercise, it’s certainly better and actually does burn more calories than sitting down all day. Giving people the choice between sitting and standing can be achieved in many different ways.
You could invest in standing desks for employees. Fortunately, there are many affordable options from companies like Autonomous, who make reliable and high-quality desks at lower prices than some other bigger players who charge anywhere from $700-1000 or more for a single desk. This gives each employee the chance to sit and stand in their area whenever they choose for maximum flexibility.
The other choice for budget-conscious employers would be to have a standing desk area, to which employees could move when they want to work standing up. This can be a great way to get employees to move around the office and interact with other team members they might not often see if they simply stay in one place all day.
Regardless of your choice, having the option to stand is catching on more and more and is increasingly considered a baseline requirement for modern office environments.
3. Put furniture on wheels
A simple addition to your office furniture can supercharge your flexibility and adaptability. Having the option to rearrange and regroup office furniture for any need is a simple and effective solution to the common problems with stiff and limiting office spaces.
Many modern offices are incorporating movable walls, desks, and chairs to maximize the functionality of their spaces. Called “kinetic elements,” they adhere to the philosophy that offices and spaces where we work should adapt and change and move around as much or as often as we do.
For the DIY types, Wood Magazine has a great tutorial on how to easily install wheels on most office furniture.
4. Experiment with different desk layouts in an open office environment
Not only can taking down the walls inside your office make a difference, but the arrangement of desks can encourage different kinds of collaboration. Specially-shaped standing desks can be rearranged in different formations depending on the needs of your team.
For more artistic work spaces, it may be best to arrange desks in long unified rows, so that coworkers can spread their materials across a broader surface and work with each other. For individual teams, it may be good to create circular formations or “pods” that allow team members to face each other and easily communicate throughout the day.
Every team has different needs, so try experimenting with a few different desk formations and see what kind of feedback you get. Combining this strategy with movable walls, chairs, and desks means you can try new arrangements all the time, depending on your needs.
5. Consolidate space and encourage employees to work from home
Recent studies show that employees can actually be more productive working from home. It may be possible to save on rent by using smaller office spaces and having people work on-site only when they’re needed.
Having some people work remotely means you can free up office space to make the layout even more flexible and increase the possibilities. Employees working from home could actually breathe new life into the aesthetic and feel of your office by freeing up more space for everyone.
Adaptability and flexibility are increasingly defining the way modern offices are designed and arranged. Whether you’re moving into a new building with the freedom to create any kind of space you like, or you’re simply looking to change and modernize your current setup, there are many ways you can use the materials and tools you already have at your disposal to improve working conditions for yourself and for your employees.
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