Office Design Tips: Supporting Different Work Modes

July 16, 2014, by Danielle Downs in Collaboration, Tips & Tricks

In today’s fast-paced world with many different types of employees, an evolving work environment, and consistently increased demands, it is important to design an office that can maximize productivity and effectiveness. Creatively designed office spaces are able to provide the right environment that today’s employee’s need. For that to be accomplished office design should be centered around 3 important modes of work; collaboration, focus, and comfort. With these in mind, designers should create a space that caters to those needs and also allows employees to easily alternate between these work modes throughout the day.

We have included some specific aspects of office design that will help create a space that fosters collaboration, allows “head down” focus time, and cultivates a positive work environment.

Collaboration
There are a few design aspects and technology tools that can assist with fostering collaboration in a workplace. To start, many offices will design their space with an open floor plan. This normally means fewer walls and barriers to help facilitate impromptu conversations and interactions. Along with an open floor plan, it is also important to include plenty of common areas around the office. The goal with these being to give people a chance to leave their desks and work from other locales and to encourage interaction between employees.

Along with the ability to have spontaneous conversations, it is also important to include spaces where employees can have more structured meetings. Conference rooms and smaller huddle room spaces help to accomplish this type of collaboration. In addition, creating conference rooms that are video conferencing enabled, allows for employees to collaborate comfortably and conveniently with other employees or outside individuals, regardless of their location. The use of smart boards or other interactive whiteboards can also help foster collaboration by allowing people to brainstorm ideas and projects and then save or share the information instantly with anyone.

Focus:
Although collaboration is a very important aspect of any office environment, sometimes people need a space with fewer interruptions. Therefore, having “closed” spaces that employees can use to reduce distractions is very important. Offering these huddle rooms and other private spaces that allow people to get away and focus are very important in order to create a good balance in an open floor plan environment.

Companies can also use certain types of flooring and wall coverings to reduce ambient noise.  Similarly, some companies will offer noise-cancelling headphones that employees can use when they need to focus without the interruption of background noise.

Comfort:
Since most people spend the majority of their time at work, designing an open, friendly and comfortable office space not only helps improve collaboration but can also enhance creativity, improve employee morale and assist with recruiting great talent. In order to create this type of space, a company should consider aesthetics such as decoration and color palette, as well as availability of technology tools and layout of the space.

The aesthetics of the office space should reflect a company’s brand, culture, and personality. This could range from the overall color palette to the addition of games, trendy furniture and unique wall décor. When it comes to technology, equipping employees with the correct tools can drastically increase productivity. Likewise, providing up-to-date tools can help to attract the top talent. These tools can include software programs, a strong network, video conferencing equipment and the latest computers, tablets and mobile phones. An office layout needs to reflect the company’s work style and their employee’s unique needs. This should include aspects that cater to the multiple work modes that employees participate in every day.

When beginning an office design, it is very important for any organizations to analyze the different work modes and articulate what is important to the company in order to build the best space for their requirements. Implementing the right office environment can lead to effective collaboration, more creative ideas, and a more successful business.

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