Office design is a rather crucial part for any new company or startup. As a matter of fact, when things get concrete the first step is to figure out a proper space and a proper design in order to host the company’s facilities. Designers, contractors, furniture, planning etc. etc. can get pretty intense, but let’s say that you finally get your office space, your meeting rooms, waiting areas and front desk: are you happy about it?
Whether you are about to start a new company or you already work in an office that somebody designed, it’s important to recognize how crucial the office design is for the company’s internal health. The office space is supposed to accommodate, facilitate and support whatever is the business you are in, plus it’s the very first thing a new client sees. For these and more reasons, I have listed a few advices for you to improve the workplace without the need for a huge budget.
1 The front desk
Ask yourself and check what is the very first thing people see when they step into the office. Take a picture if necessary, print it and make sure you take a good look at it. Then ask yourself what you want new clients to see: confidence, professionalism, a clean, uncluttered space, bright colors, maybe the logo/name of the company…Are the people walking in and seeing all these things at once? Is the person at the front desk well prepared? Is she/he smiling? Address all these questions and you will massively improve the picture.
2 Waiting area
Take a seat, how do you feel when you are there? If your office has a waiting area, make sure to test it yourself or ask everyone in the office their opinions about it. You need some feedback, you need to make sure that a) people feel relaxed b) they cannot see too much of what’s going on “behind the scenes” c) they have something to do or to look at (a screen, magazines) d) think about disabled or old people, can they easily sit? What about children? Do you provide something for them too?
A great responsibility lays on toilet space, problems get fixed during casual conversations, people from different backgrounds meet at random and have a chance to exchange ideas, make sure toilets are not just a service space but a place where people can actually enjoy going. I’m not suggesting to put deck-chairs but at least invest a bit more money in order to give everyone privacy, hygiene but also comfort and inspiration.
4 Desk or cubicles
This is a big one since desks, chairs, laptops and cubicles can make a large part of your office budget and have a dramatic impact on the overall quality. This is a very delicate and complex part of the office design so you should really take it seriously and address this issue as soon as possible. First of all, make sure the employees have enough space to move and settle. Humans are territorial animals, give people enough space to walk, talk, sit, stand, stretch and of course work. Also, give them a chance to customize their own space, they deserve it – a whiteboard, a partition where you can attach and hang things – give them a chance to say “this is my space and it reflects who I am”.
5 Storage areas
Storage and clutter usually go together. Who cares about storage, right? Well, it’s wrong. Like I said earlier you need to sell a very precise image of your own office space. Clean up the storage, make it as pleasant as possible, people will have to deal with it at some point, and you will too. Make sure everything is in order and well organized, would you eat a sandwich in there? Is there enough space to move? Can people actually sit down and check documents and files without having to go back and forth from their desks?
6 Common areas
Workers must feel “at home” when they come to the office, or at least they should feel like the office is designed around them, not just about making money. As a matter of fact, workers should feel happy, relaxed, willing to spend a few extra hours in the workplace. Nobody would like to sit for endless hours in a black cubicle with poor lighting and simultaneously produce great work for the company. Do you have common areas for your employees? Can they cook? Can they sit down and have an informal chat? Some high tables and chairs perhaps? A nice couch with a nice view? What do you provide for them? Is there any area where they can actually “play”? Are you addressing the fact they are human being and not just robots filling spreadsheets?
I cannot stress enough how important is the lighting in a workplace. Poor lighting is the cause of a lot of psychological and physical issues so, address this problem in your office, check whether the employees are experiencing glare or not, if the kind of lighting in your space is the correct one. A quick research online will provide you with basic, inexpensive advices of how to improve the quality of lighting in your office environment. Every area of the office should follow a few basic rules in order to make everyone feel comfortable.