By Ruth Minnick, Rightsize Facility Performance
As a CEO or the owner of a small business, it’s up to you to decide what kind of office environment you create. And the choices that you make matter. It makes no difference how seasoned or small or large your business is. Office design impacts happiness in the workplace and overall productivity.
So, as if businesses didn’t have enough to consider when buying new office furniture and configuring office space, now you have to consider how those choices will impact the bottom line.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.
Factors that impact the overall feel of the space include natural light, furniture layout, floor plan and ergonomics. When it’s time to find the right office furniture for your business, think first about how your office environment enhances the corporate culture of your organization.
The resulting space will affect how your business is perceived to outside personnel, which can impact the type of workers you want to attract and the way employees feel while they are at work. It starts with natural light.
Natural light boosts productivity in offices
The link between workplace productivity and natural light is profound – and can impact far more than how many e-mails an employee sends in one day. It influences a worker’s sleep, energy levels and quality of life, not to mention mood, behavior and even hormones. Factor lighting into all design configurations to plan for long-term employee satisfaction.
Once you’ve started thinking about window lines, consider what kind of floor plan is going to make the most sense for your business. If your business is heavy on the private offices, consider moving them to the interior to maximize natural light. Once decisions have been made regarding office-to-workstation ratio, it’s important to strategize the layout of the space in terms of how different departments will work together. The floor plan should strategically align coordinating departments to enhance productivity.
Flexible work spaces
Many businesses are embracing open layouts, which can be great for collaboration. If this is the direction your business prefers, make sure to take steps necessary to protect worker efficiency. Sound-masking technology can limit office noise that can be distracting. Build out small meeting rooms where teams can host brainstorming sessions or conduct meetings. These smaller spaces also give employees space to take personal phone calls — a large factor of embracing the work-life balance.
Comfort and ergonomics
Creating an office environment that is comfortable for everyone is one of the biggest favors an employer can provide. In most cases, it begins with the chairs. Businesses should take into account personal preferences for each worker – whether it’s an ergonomically sound office chair, an exercise ball – or no chair at all. Standing desks are making their way into office furniture design and shouldn’t be ruled out. Chairs are one area where businesses shouldn’t cut corners. Even buying used office chairs that are engineered for comfort will make a difference.
The formula for configuring an office space is simple, really. Just think about every detail well in advance and make sure you don’t make any mistakes. Just kidding. It can be a complex process, but there is a way to manage the design of your office space in a way that enhances productivity, without crushing your budget.
To start, be sure to consult with a professional designer who can help you keep track of all the details. It’s worth the expense and can save you from making costly mistakes. And remember to think big picture — a little bit of creativity goes a long way. For example, the price of furniture can vary drastically from new to used and based on the manufacturer. Refurbished furniture is a great avenue to save loads of money — with a result that looks just like new. Business owners can also have tremendous luck building out an office space based on a combination of new, used and refurbished furniture.
Just remember to think big picture, ask the right questions, engage professionals, and give yourself enough time to make the project happen the right way.
Ruth Minnick is a LEED Green Associate and Chicago Loop team lead and senior account manager with Rightsize Facility Performance.