They say we’re all products of our environment. Can our surroundings affect the quality of our work and is your environment productive enough?
The Chartered Institute of Building Engineers (CABE) produced a report in 2005 into the impact buildings have on people. Buildings and Spaces: Why Design Matters found that “nearly half of British managers would give up a week’s annual leave for a better office”.
Clearly, the physical workplace plays a big part in the employee’s psyche. Here’s how to create a productive and engaging workplace.
Ask the audience
You need to know how your workplace is affecting your team. It’s important to provide a distraction-free environment in which staff can carry out their work.
Ask staff to write down three things about the office that help them work and three things that hinder them. It could be as basic as noise from the nearby canteen or having colleagues nearby to help projects run smoothly. The responses form the start of your “focused workplace” plan, which will help you identify ways to boost engagement and productivity.
Promote a collaborative environment
Rashid and Zimring (2002) investigated various office layouts. The report discussed how strategically designed layouts affect behaviour and actions. If you want group interaction, have offices leading off a single corridor. An open-plan layout takes this a step further.
A workplace redesign is a major project. However, is there a room you can re-purpose as an inter-departmental zone? Not as formal as a conference room, it can act as a place where people can meet and share ideas.
Create social spaces
Social spaces are essential for building relationships. Look at Google’s amazing spaces – the tech giant is famous for its quirky workspaces. Google designs with productivity in mind and focuses on breakout spaces for their teams.
You don’t need a Google-sized budget to create social areas. Borrow the idea of informal learning spaces from universities. This is adopting “dead spaces” such as landings and hallways and introducing appealing seating areas. Every workplace has a corner where you can put a couple of armchairs or beanbags.
Provide the right tools for employee engagement
Remember Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory: the physical basics have to be in place to prevent workplace dissatisfaction. If an employee is constantly delayed by unreliable printers, for example, they will quickly become frustrated. Everyday niggles add up.
Carry out regular equipment audits. Does everyone have what they need? Are reported faults dealt with quickly? Before recruiting a new colleague, make sure the practical needs are in place.