Is it time for an office makeover?

by Darnell Dobson and Arlene Allen, Contributing Writers

Workspaces aren’t what they used to be. Once upon a time, organizations only had to choose which desk and chairs they needed and where they were to be positioned. Sure, we’ve still got neat rows of cubicles and coveted corner offices, but there’s a growing demand for workspaces that will better support business needs and employees’ overall well-being and productivity to boost profitability.

With an eye on the bottom-line, companies have stepped up efforts to create functional spaces that will get the best out of their workers. A growing body of research shows that the physical office space can greatly impact how well their business performs—from having the right furniture and equipment to meeting employees’ physical and emotional needs. This article will focus on four important features in your workspace.

A great workspace reflects your office culture

First off, the type of culture you want to establish within the office ought to be a crucial determining factor in the type of space you create. As Jacob Morgan writes in Forbes, it’s not just about “throwing around bean bags, ping pong tables, and cool looking art just for the sake of doing so, these are strategic investments.”

Such investments require due diligence on the part of employ- ers before being implemented. Observe employee working patterns over an extended period, ask for suggestions from your employees on what they would like to see, and consult with professional office space designers who have the experience and creativity to come up with a blueprint that aligns with the vision of your company.

A great workspace makes for happy, healthy workers

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that almost 60 percent of workers spend one-third of their adult life at work. With so much time spent at the office, big paycheques and over-the-top benefits are nice, but the only way to get the best out of your employees on a day-to-day basis is to ensure that their workspace supports productivity, collaboration and cre- ativity, as well as emotional and physical well-being.

The office can be an exhausting place, especially for employees who are tasked with being creative. Creating physical spaces that encourage workers to take breaks throughout the day allow time to decompress and recharge. Areas that offer different forms of relaxation—mobile workstations/desks/ equipment, break rooms with healthy snacks, outdoor/green spaces or natural light, yoga/meditation rooms, collaboration spaces, gyms, etc.—paired with other benefits like flexible work conditions, onsite daycare centres, massage therapists and counsellors, and generous vacation and volunteer time off plans go a long way in creating better workspaces that address the professional, physical and emotional needs of the worker, which ultimately translates into bottom-line gains.

Okay, so you don’t have the big budget of Google to build a mountain-view marvel or Facebook’s “garden-roofed fantasyland”, but what you can do is check with your staff to see what would make the most difference for them on a day-to- day basis and invest your resources where it counts the most. Maybe all your employees want is more flexibility to work when and where they want—no problem, just skip the break- room reno and invest in technology that will support remote working conditions. Doing a bit of research will go a long way in creating the best workspace for your employees.

A great workspace has great tech

One of the best ways to boost productivity and improve your physical workspace is to get the right technology for your business. Technology exists to help you do what you do faster, better or more efficiently. Inc. put it this way, “It’s important to separate which tech will help in the growth of your business from those that will ultimately wind up being just another toy in the tool box.”

Having the right tech can also be a great recruitment tool. Millennial and Generation Z speaker Ryan Jenkins writes that, “When deciding if they wanted to work at a company, 91 per- cent of Generation Z said technological sophistication would impact their interest in working at a company.”

Here are some things to consider when tech shopping:

  • What are your business needs? Take stock of the tech you currently have and how well it’s serving your business. Identify where the holes are. This is a good time to talk with your employees to see where they’re spending their time each day and identify activities and tasks that could be made more efficient. Only invest in technology that your business actually needs.
  • Choose technology that will grow with your business. Technology can be a costly investment so it’s important to enter it with a mind toward the future. Knowing your growth model (how your business makes money, e.g. do you need to ap- peal to a large audience or a select few) will help you identify where your future tech needs may be.
  • Remember to get training, support and a backup plan. Technology fails, so, be sure you have a backup plan in place when it does. Having professional support that understands your system and can troubleshoot issues and provide help with upgrades and maintenance is crucial. Most importantly, there’s no point in investing in the perfect solution if no one knows how to use it—ensure employees are properly trained to maximize the technology at their disposal and, also, that they’re prepared to handle a potential system failure.

A great workspace is customizable

A space that feels like your own is bound to have a positive impact on your happiness, well-being, and, inevitably, your productivity. As Diane Hoskins, co-CEO of design and architectural firm Gensler writes in the Harvard Business Review, employees perform better when they can control their own space. Having items at their desk or individual space brings more of an emotional connection—plants, family photos, or even cherished trinkets go a long way in helping to personalize their space and keep them motivated throughout the day. As an employer, encourage your workers

to personalize their space and provide furnishings that will allow them to do so.

Remember, it’s not just space

Workspaces have a big impact not just on employees’ productivity, creativity and motivation, but also on their physical and emotional well-being. As such, the workplace needs to be a holistic space where individuals can really be at their best.

It’s not just mega-corporations that need to invest in their workspace, small and mid-sized businesses are also responsible for ensuring that their employees are having their most important needs met at work because, in the end, it will reflect directly in the bottom-line.

It might be simpler than you think to improve your workspace. Some mobile furniture, laptops or snacks in the breakroom might be all you need. But, when it comes to bigger investments, like new technology or major office moves or renovations, be sure to consult with a professional who can help you make the right choices for you and your employees.