We’ve written before about knowing when it’s time to move your business into a dedicated office space, but that’s really only the start of the story. Deciding you need a serviced office and finding the right space is one thing, setting that office up in a way which will maximise the positive impact for your business is another.
Your employees, if they work full time, are going to be spending an average of more than 37 hours per week in the office you set up and there are a number of reasons why you should make every effort to ensure the environment is as efficient, pleasant and versatile as possible.
The first of these is simply the duty of care which you have to your employees, which places a moral imperative on providing a working environment which promotes mental and physical health and well-being. The second is slightly less altruistic but none the less true – employees who enjoy their working environment are bound to be more productive. Research carried out by experts from the University of Oxford, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that employees who are happy in the workplace are 13% more productive than those who aren’t. Interestingly, the more productive workers weren’t spending more time in the office, they were just getting more done while they were there.
While there are many factors, such as workplace culture and the nature of the work being done, which might feed into levels of worker happiness, the environment in which the work is carried out is bound to be one of them, and that’s why setting your office up correctly is a top priority:
The layout you opt for will be decided, to an extent, by the size of the space itself and the number of employees you have. Within these parameters, however, you still have a degree of flexibility, and the ability to base the layout around factors such as any departmental hierarchy or structure and even more prosaic issues like the pieces of office equipment (printer, filing cabinets etc.) which particular members of the team use the most often.
While a serviced office space will come with desks and chairs provided, you may still have the opportunity to experiment with the layout of these desks and chairs to create the kind of ambience and working environment you’re looking for. The safest course of action is to sit down with a pen and paper and draw up a basic plan of the layout or layouts you’re considering, as this will enable you to visualise how it will work and make adjustments before actually shifting the items around. The three basic overall options for an office layout are as follows:
Open plan – this involves a small number of large desk areas with chairs around the sides. It maximises the use of floor space while sacrificing the privacy of individual workers, making it the ideal solution for work which is mostly collaborative in nature.
Close plan – this creates the type of cubicle layout which probably springs to mind when picturing the modern office. Each worker has their own desk with partitioning around it, creating an individual space. Clearly, in a serviced office space the option of putting actual partitions up might not be practical, but the layout of single desks can be used to create individual working spaces which maximise the ability to concentrate on independent work. This does come, however, at the cost of a lack of collaboration and any ‘social’ aspect, as well as using the space in a way which means fewer chairs and desks will fit into the office.
Modular plan – this plan takes elements of both the close and open plan designs and is a popular option thanks to the flexibility it offers. By grouping desks in mixed groups – some single and some multiple - it’s possible to create a combination of closed and open areas, creating an environment which enables both concentrated individual work and collaboration, as and when each is needed.
Serviced Office Décor
When utilising serviced office space there’s a chance that you won’t be able to impose your own decorating ideas. More flexible landlords, however, particularly when dealing with longer term and more lucrative contracts, might be willing to let you stamp your own business ‘personality’ on the office you’re working in. When this is the case, the décor of the office should reflect the business itself at the same time as creating a calm working environment.
While utilising the wider brand colours of your business will help to create an air of professionalism – particularly when potential clients visit your offices – using them throughout may be problematic if they are too bright and garish. Your branding may be lurid pink, for example, but having an entire office decorated in this kind of colour scheme would probably be too much for employees to cope with. In cases such as this the brand colours could be used for accent and emphasis against a backdrop which is more neutral, establishing your brand at the same time as creating a calm and relaxed atmosphere. Whatever you opt for, avoid mixing too many different colours and ask yourself what the psychological impact of the colours you choose is likely to be on a day to day basis.
The impact of plenty of natural light on employees is hard to overstate. A study by the Northwestern University in Chicago found that employees working in offices with windows not only received 173% more white light, which is the equivalent of natural light, they also managed to sleep for 46 minutes per night more than those workers in offices without windows.
Another study by HR advisory firm Future Workplace found that workers were impacted negatively by not having outdoor views and natural light – 47% said that the absence of windows made them feel tired or very tired. Finally, when thinking of the health and well-being of your employees, a study by Professor Alan Hedge, Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University found that those employees working within 10 feet of a window enjoyed an 84% reduction in headaches, blurred vision and eyestrain. Taking all of this on board it’s clear that maximising your employees’ access to windows and natural light will play a huge role in making your office a healthy and happy workplace.
Introducing some plant life to your office is a simple and affordable step that can make a big difference. It’s clear that a previously bare office will be improved by the placement of a couple of thriving green plants, but numerous surveys have shown that the effect goes beyond the simply visual. According to the science on the matter having plants in the workplace was found to help reduce anxiety by 37%, depression by 58%, anger by 44% and fatigue by 38% in the respondents sampled. Filling previously bare environments with plant life was found to boost productivity by 15%, and workers with natural elements within the office space reported a 15% higher wellbeing score than those without.