How Office Spaces Reflect Organizations
Most people spend at least half of their lives indoors, according to a 2009 study on office design. For those with traditional office jobs, much of that time is spent at work. Some people view the interior design of their office as an expense. In reality, it’s an investment made not only in physical office space but one of every aspect of your business.
Design: It Affects More than Just Appearances
Up until recently, it was rare for companies that were not enterprise-level to show any sort of branding within their office. Most office spaces were very plain and filled with boring gray cubicles.
(Thankfully) That isn’t the case anymore. There are far more colors, furniture, and even décor that serves no functional purpose.
In our Kenosha space, we have the option to have all our employees work in one suite. If we did that, our NOC (Network Operations Center) would be in cubicles and there would be no open space. Instead, we have our NOC in an entirely different suite so our service desk technicians can have their desks all together to make it possible for collaboration on support tickets. With the NOC in a different suite, that allows for a giant open space in our main suite. This is more inviting to guests and makes it easier for sales, marketing, and finance to collaborate as necessary. We then use this open space to host events and invite members of our community to interact with our team that normally would not have the opportunity to do so.
There are many reasons to move away from boring gray cubicles. From employee retention to increasing productivity, an investment in office design can prove to be a rewarding one.
Office design and layout can have a lot of effects, but one of the most important effects is employee retention. In addition to encouraging potential employees to join the company, office design has the ability to keep them there. The design and environment of an office has the power to make it somewhere people want to be, instead of somewhere people have to be.
Brand Image & Client Perception
The environment created in an office reflects the business’s principles and culture. Thus, a cluttered office or one with outdated furniture makes the company appear to be disorganized or old school. For example, a law firm with piles of case paperwork everywhere probably wouldn’t be somewhere clients would want to go for professional legal work. Instead, a clean, modern office will reflect a brand’s image properly to potential clients and partners.
In addition to reflecting company standards, an office’s design should reflect the organization’s industry. A tax office should be modern, but professional. A graphic design firm can be more casual and fun to reflect their creative environment.
Productivity can be defined as the state or quality of producing something. Increased productivity is a good thing for a company. There is a direct relationship between office design and productivity according to the same 2009 study on office design. Increased productivity and morale leads to more business for a company, meaning an investment on quality office design will have positive results and likely a return on investment.
Concepts of Focus
Natural light and plenty of it is very important! Employees have a very difficult time accomplishing daily tasks with dim light. People tend to be more focused in natural lighting than artificial and it can definitely help fight off cabin fever during the winter, at least in the Midwest, when employees are commuting in the dark and don’t get to see the sun. Another benefit to natural light is saving on energy having to light an office. Learn about more ways to save energy.
Open Space = Happy Place
Open and breakout spaces provide an area to drive collaboration and aid creativity. These two concepts are crucial to almost all companies, yet can be difficult to encourage. More “traditional” industries shouldn’t scoff at this concept either.
Legal Productivity published a report in 2012 that summarized the benefits of open-plan office spaces for law firms. The advantages included things like creating and nurturing relationships, mentoring, camaraderie, and other cost focused benefits. That being said, the study went on to say that the drawbacks were also very severe, citing noise and compromised confidentiality as the major deterrents. Just like any business investment, a proper analysis of risk vs. reward should be made. We’re just encouraging you to weight the pros and cons!
Branded & Inviting
An environment that makes customers, partners, and employees want to be there is always worth the investment. An inviting and engaging environment will help almost any company sell more, work with partners better, and retain employees.
A branded and inviting space opens up a number of opportunities for businesses. In an engaging environment, meetings drive collaboration on projects as a group. A rarely used lobby can be utilized for an after-hours mixer or other events. Make your office a part of your business instead of where your business lives.
We asked industry leaders in interior design about office design and what it can affect. The Vertical Interior Design, a division of Rieke Office Interiors, had some great input on the subject:
Leeward Business Advisors: What do your offices look like? What does that reflect or mean to you? Do office designs generally reflect the culture of the business?
Rieke Office Interiors: Absolutely! In many cases, the environment helps support the business culture to help encourage behavior reflective of the culture.
LBA: Where do clients generally focus the most as far as office design?
ROI: For many years employers removed the individual from the office design with the idea that ‘one size fits all’. We understand that this is not the case and employers are shifting their focus towards their biggest investment — its people. By doing this, we are taking a holistic view of the workplace to provide opportunities to remove the tether from the desk and allow employees to perform tasks where they are most efficient.
LBA: What do you think is the most important part of office design/layout to get right?
ROI: The most important element in an office design is to understand how a corporation functions today and how it can be improved. Through team adjacencies and locating resources appropriately, we can streamline daily functions to make their jobs easier to perform.
LBA: What is the best way for companies to get a proper office design while being cost-effective?
ROI: Design does not need to be expensive. By creating key areas for high impact will allow other areas to have a more subtle voice. Keep in mind that honesty regarding the project objectives, including budget, in the early stages of a design will set the stage for a successful design.
LBA: What new opportunities does a properly designed office generally open up to businesses?
ROI: A properly design office will be more efficient, lower operational costs, attract new talent and retain talent. All of which is great for the bottom line!
LBA: What do your offices look like? What does that reflect or mean to you?
ROI: Rieke Office Interiors provides a high energy environment who is all about its people. ROI is a fun place to work and visit and that is very clear from the first time you walk through our doors.
Learn more about Rieke Office Interiors by visiting their website!
Office design is the manifestation of business culture; it gives businesses the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and show in a physical way what their service or product means to customers, partners, and most importantly, employees. Instead of just claiming a business is up-to-date and flexible, it can be shown through large open spaces with multipurpose and plenty of natural light. Office design should be yet another tool that business leaders have in their war chest to solve business problems, and capitalize on the opportunities it creates.
Whose offices are you jealous of? Are they your partners or your competitors? Why do you think that is?