Steve Dobson discusses seven tips that you can incorporate into your office fit out in order to make your staff love coming to the office each and every day.
1. One size does not fit all
At school and university, we move from class to laboratory, library to sports field or music room depending on our subject. But once we get to the office, we find ourselves tied to our desk, whether we’re concentrating on a piece of focused work, writing a report, talking to someone on the phone, or collaborating with a nearby colleague. By providing a variety of different workspaces – from traditional desks and pods for focused work to booths, sofas and café spaces for collaboration ¬– you can empower your people to choose the best place to produce their best work. Some like it noisy, some like it quiet. Some prefer a warmer office, some like it cool. A variety of spaces means there’s always something for everyone. Introducing movement into the workplace also makes people happier and healthier. And who knows who they might meet as they move about the building?
2. Act like a start-up
The workplace is an inherently social place. Encourage those social ties by creating a central hub for eating and meeting instead of several individual kitchens. Bringing everyone together to share meals will not only help idea generation and allow people from different teams and levels of seniority to interact but ensure you retain your talent. There’s a reason why all the great start-ups began their journeys by sitting around a kitchen table and why co-working spaces continue to use social spaces as a key creativity tool. Creating a space for fun is equally important, which is why Intercontinental Hotels Group’s newly refurbished Burton-on-Trent office includes a diverse games room to allow employees to wind down over a game of foosball, pool or darts.
3. Domesticating the workplace
We spend a third of our waking week at work – more than any other environment – so it’s important it feels comfortable. Offices used to be a sterile environment with hard surfaces, bright lights and dull colours devoid of personality; but they don’t need to be that way. Bringing some of the comforts of home into the office can help to make people feel more relaxed, comfortable and productive. Think deep-pile rugs, comfy cushions, sofas, sleep pods and art you actually want to look at. Intercontinental Hotels Group’s staff retreat includes deep luxurious velvet sofas and soft lighting to allow employees to full relax and feel at home.
4. Bring the outside in
Whether it be plants, natural materials such as a wood or slate, natural light, a view of nature from a window or even a picture of a nature scene, natural elements all help people feel happier and healthier at work. As we finally emerge from the clutches of winter, look at ways to bring the outside in. The first and second floors of IHG’s new building are based around a glass-roofed atrium which floods the space with natural light.
5. Ask people what they’d like
Just as you wouldn’t redecorate your home without consulting your other half, you shouldn’t consider refurbishing your office without asking your people what they like – and don’t like. This engagement is incredibly powerful at getting buy-in from everyone for the new space. Different departments will have different needs and you might be surprised by some of the views.
6. Create trust
Physical changes to your working environment are only half the story. If you’ve radically changed your office environment, then employees will need time to adjust to the new space. Do they need etiquette training in how to use it? How can senior leaders demonstrate the new culture by their own behaviour, such as using break-out spaces so people know that it’s okay to work away from their desk? Employees need to feel empowered to use the new environment differently.
7. Small changes, big difference
Introducing a regularly-refilled fruit bowl, good quality coffee, and free snacks can all make people feel happier at work and reduce absenteeism. While refurbishing the whole office might not be possible for everyone straight away, incremental changes can help to keep the love all year round.