The Surprising Ways Office Space Design Impacts Businesses
Offices have changed a lot over the years. Look back one or two decades, and you’ll find a completely different standard for commercial real estate — stuffy, dark offices with rows of cubicles versus today’s bright and open spaces.
We’re now in the midst of a second reimagining of the ideal workplace since the tech revolution changed the office a few years ago. With the rising popularity of flexible and hybrid work arrangements, businesses are experimenting with all the ways that office design impacts business.
Well-designed executive office suites can foster creativity, productivity, and connection, but too often, it’s only company leadership that gets to experience them. The challenge for business leaders is recreating that executive office experience in the wider office, and it starts with design.
What defines smart office space design?
Office space design is more than wall paint or a well-placed sofa. It’s about a holistic understanding of how an environment impacts the persons who work in it, and using their preferences, tastes, and tendencies as a key influence in the layout.
In recent years, an entire industry has sprung up to build and curate more creative and worker-friendly office spaces. For inspiration, look no further than WELL Health-Safety certification, the established international guidelines for creating a comfortable and productive space.
According to the WELL building standard™, space design considers the following factors:
For example, studies consistently find that natural light and thoughtful design can make day-to-day work less stressful and more productive for employees. Look up any list of modern office design ideas for small spaces, and you’ll see that natural light is particularly important for smaller offices — it can really open up the space.
Why does design matter in office spaces?
When you spend one-third of your life at work, your environment should be as comfortable and well-designed as possible.
Now that more employees have the option to work from home, the office space needs to feel even more welcoming and comfortable in order to draw people in. You should also offer something they can’t get at home — wide-ranging health and wellness options, such as fitness rooms, healthy lunch options, and flexible social space can make a tangible difference in morale and company culture.
When employees feel that their workspace is designed with them in mind, they’re happier and more productive during the time they spend at the desk, and less likely to look for a job elsewhere.
The long-term impacts of poor design
Office spaces that don’t prioritize the employee experience can hurt productivity and profitability in the long term. According to HubSpot, lower productivity costs employers around $1.8 billion annually, and some of that can be tied back to the working environment.
Bad office spaces can impact company culture and lead to unnecessary turnover.
Ugly, dark spaces with no natural light quickly feel stale and uninviting. Over time, the unwelcoming environment can have mental health impacts, including seasonal affective disorder from a lack of natural sunlight (even during the summer months).
Privacy and collaboration
Not so long ago, nearly every tech startup was touting the open floor plan model as the workplace solution for breaking down barriers and improving collaboration. A reaction to the cubicle farm culture of the 90s, the open floor placed employees on long open tables with no barriers for separation. Quickly, those same innovators discovered that many employees absolutely hated the cacophonous noise and lack of privacy this setup creates.
In reality, associates need a combination of collaborative spaces and private spaces to do their best work. Team members thrive when they’re able to adjust their environment to meet their needs: quiet spaces for phone calls and focus time, plus collaborative spaces for ideation and meetings.
What should you look for in office space design?
When you’re looking to lease a space that’ll contribute to the wellbeing of a team, here are some specific things to consider:
Air quality — We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and air filtration systems have never been more important. Adding office plants can also help with air quality.
Water and nourishment — Don’t overlook access to filtered water, coffee, healthy snacks, and ample space to relax and eat. An on-site cafe is a big plus.
Light — Overhead fluorescent lighting simply isn’t great for a lot of people. Your employees will prefer access to natural light, plus task lamps for targeted light in focus areas.
Fitness — People need space to walk around in order to stretch, unwind, and thrive. Bonus points for easy access to a gym (or one on site) where employees can get their exercise on.
Comfort — The office of tomorrow provides the ability to change up how you’re sitting, in different areas to work throughout the day, with access to both quiet spaces and informal collaborative spaces. This balance is important.
Mind — Let the mind refresh with spaces to relax, greenery, outdoor spaces, and flexibility on where employees can work.
It’s important to have an environment where teams can do their best work, but finding that perfect space isn’t always easy.
That’s what makes The Square so unique. The design experts behind their flexible workspaces have included all the amenities and offerings that appeal to today’s businesses and their employees.
Better yet, with The Square’s flexible lease terms and scaling capacity, you can experiment with your office space without the long-term commitment.
See what The Square can do for your employees. Contact us for a tour today.