Changes in office spaces can impact employee attitude significantly, helping improve communication and collaboration and even increasing employee satisfaction

The most significant factor that has changed the face of the traditional office space over the years has been cost control.

In past years, the trend had been to seat as many employees in the office as possible, and also move away from more expensive business areas to lower cost locations. Balancing costs versus optimal work space per employee and still having space for all employees, while having appropriate considerations for workspace layout and morale management, is a challenge.

According to CBRE, reduced work space can negatively affect teamwork, decision-making, and ability to focus, placing productivity, performance and retention at risk. While office layout is not the only factor in increasing productivity, it does help employees collaborate better, and in an environment without siloes, increases engagement and overall employee happiness.

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A University of Warwick study showed that employee happiness leads to a 12 per cent spike in productivity, while unhappiness leads to a 10 per cent decrease in productivity.

There are a number of compelling reasons for businesses to move towards non-traditional office environments. Changes in office spaces can impact employee attitude significantly, helping improve communication and collaboration and even increasing employee satisfaction.

According to a 2016 Knight Frank report, the cost to a company of replacing employees overshadows property costs. Being able to keep employees satisfied and inspired in their work helps strengthen employee retention.

While de-cluttering the office is a good first step that can create a less stressful environment for happier employees, there are a number of different options to consider in transforming your work space. Rather than doing away with less used items entirely and facing the potential cost of replacing these items at a later time, businesses can look at leveraging self-storage to make more space for their work needs.

A great deal of space can be freed up by keeping currently unneeded furniture or stores of office supplies out of the office. Instead of storing everything in the office, storing such items in an external location can make room for more meeting spaces, work stations or hot stations.

Ideally, an office manager would be able to help track maintenance that keeps a tidy office from getting “cluttered” again – but maintaining a neat, open environment can become a regular team effort, with monthly or quarterly team clean-up sessions.

Building the right collaborative environment for your business

Regardless of the office location, opting for co-working environments or hot-desking models give businesses flexibility to adopt a more collaborative approach to a working environment. With today’s work environment requiring that businesses enhance cross-team communication and collaboration, reviewing the office environment’s impact of employees is the ideal first step.

For example, co-working spaces offer a shared work environment for employees from multiple businesses. While some companies may see these spaces as ideal if they have a very mobile workforce or contract staff, this may not be the best solution for companies that want to ensure they are collaborating within their own teams.

For businesses that want to keep their employees in a central ‘base’ of operations, hot-desking has become increasingly popular. Hot-desking is an office design trend where employees are not assigned permanent desks or cubicles and have the freedom to move around during the day and take up seating that works best for them. The trend was popularised in Europe and Silicon Valley and has since spread to larger companies like Deloitte, where more space has been opened up for conference rooms and other cooperative efforts.

Some businesses opt for a middle ground – leveraging an open concept office space to promote inclusiveness and collaboration, and enhance communication across teams. At the end of the day, it is imperative to ensure that the objective of transforming the office space for enhanced productivity is always at the core of design decisions.

Google yourself

Keeping an open, tidy office space can have great benefits, keeping employees productive and happy – and attracting new talent. Facebook and Google are two pioneers of fun and collaborative work spaces that provide good learning opportunities.

As such, businesses that ensure a people-centric approach to planning office spaces can help inspire employees, and consolidate a work culture unique to that company. Ranked in the top 10 best places to work by Glassdoor, companies like Facebook and Google are renowned for having a vibrant, fun work culture and are companies many aspire to work for.

Building a strong work culture can certainly be supported by a conducive work environment. The benefits of having employees that are engaged, inspired, and invested in their work are innumerable – while the Google or Facebook models may not work for everyone, developing a work culture that is strong and unique to your company can help retain talent and attract potential hires that also want to be a part of a collaborative, dynamic office.

Creating a happy work space

Businesses looking to leverage these trends to enhance their office are tasked with the challenge of transforming the space without disrupting productivity. While the age of the Internet does allow organisations to offer employees the ability to work from home during the transition, enabling the team to work together to ‘de-clutter’ the office prior to the transformation can be a great exercise in team-building.

To introduce a flexible workspace that allows for co-working spaces or hot-desking, work spaces need to be tidy: rather than avoiding messy workspaces that are overloaded with past work and personal effects, everywhere in the office becomes a potential meeting point or space for working together. Including employees in the transformation process can support engagement and mitigate the feeling of loss over the traditional expectation that each employee is entitled to his or her own desk.

Extracted from: E27

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