Many of us don’t think about design as a morale booster. Until recently, office design was utilitarian and rather bland except in creative spaces like advertising firms. However, data shows that employee morale and productivity are actually linked to office design. As competition for skilled employees intensifies in a booming economy, smart companies thoughtfully incorporate creative and innovative spaces for their staff.
What is Office Design?
The office is where employees gather to work, collaborate, design, create, and build. Office design is what we can see, touch, and taste, and smell in the workplace. It’s the layout of desks and chairs, partitions and windows, offices and conference rooms. Every company office is unique and so are their office designs.
Forward-thinking companies of today understand that workspaces are a business tool. Office environments open a window to their corporate culture through the placing of different teams, functions, and design elements throughout the facility. Office design and aesthetics can reflect the core values of the company. Do they value their employees? Are they concerned about their morale?
There’s been a major trend towards the construction of open office layouts. The prevailing thought is that expansive spaces with multiple communal workspaces contribute to more collaboration, and in turn greater productivity. However, there has been some push back to these designs as being too distracting and noisy for workers, which may actually lead to lower morale than before.
Look for combinations of collaboration and quiet in office design in the future. Smart companies that constantly measure the pulse of their employee’s morale can identify the most productive work patterns and productivity that correspond to office design decisions.
The Millennial Effect
We can thank millennials for many workplace innovations that are also linked to employee morale. Having grown up on a steady diet of connectivity, millennials thrive on mobility, technology, and individualism. This makes their expectation of workspace flexibility paramount to their productivity. Many are unaccustomed to a work life that requires them to be chained to a desk for eight hours and aren’t willing to settle for the status quo.
Millennials also desire to work for an employer who values health and wellness and recognizes their need for a better work-life balance than their parent’s generation. Office design that incorporates physical health, including a fitness center or wellness program is not only an increasingly common office trend, but it’s also the perfect way to show potential and current employees they are valuable to the company’s success. Office space and culture can come together to positively engage the innovative millennial workforce that many companies are looking for.
Millennials are the first workplace generation to grow up with the internet from birth. While some of the older members of this demographic originally saw slow speeds and cumbersome wires, millennials have been interconnected by the world wide web for most of their lives and are able to multitask using multiple forms of technology. Office designs based on their love of gadgets and innovative communication networks have forced companies to develop intricate networks of productivity tools to satisfy their hunger for the latest technology.
Millennials are always on the move. Untethered from their desks and conference rooms by the aforementioned technology boom, millenials dislike the staid cubicle-oriented design of their forefathers. Instead, they prefer multi-functional layouts including desks with adjustable height and other moveable furniture to provide the freedom they require to work within flexible collaborative spaces.
Office Design Trends: Modern and Bright Offices
Today’s office design can often feature unconventional and unique designs which give employees a sense of individuality and quirkiness. Brighter, livelier colors and a more informal, collaborative environment are built to promote synergy. Avant-garde paint effects and abstract artwork add to the modern office aesthetic. Some offices go farther to encourage a lively spirit with bean-bags, yoga mats, table tennis, board games, and juice bars.
The Force of Nature in the Workplace
Biophilic design is a trend in office design that our millennial friends have requested to “let the sunshine in” with large windows in common areas and even conference rooms. Indoor plants are also popular, as are vertical gardens both outdoors and indoors of the office. Even installing a fireplace can help keep office occupants warm, while also offering a sentimental feeling of coziness to the building.
Comfortable Work Areas
Collaboration areas and breakout rooms were a big part of office design in the early part of the 2000s. As we discussed earlier, millenials have asked for some privacy as well. Trendy office design now includes privacy pods and even the old fashioned private office to maintain the balance of collaboration and more intimate work environments.
In the comfortable confines of the modern office, ergonomics is being considered in workplace design. Ergonomically designed furniture, which includes convertible seating and singular workstations, create functional and customized work areas for individuals as well as working teams.
Can office’s design boost employee morale? The answer is yes. Should you incorporate office design to boost employee morale? Again, the answer is yes. Companies that want success for the long-term need a skilled and productive workforce. Using the company’s time and resources to create a welcoming and well-organized office not only helps employee morale, but contributes to the overall health, productivity and career longevity of its workers.