With Covid continuing to reshape our lives daily, technology and the working environment have advanced at an extraordinary pace. We have become more adaptive, environmentally conscious and change-ready than ever before.
But the amalgamation of recent events has left the physical workplace slightly at a loss. After office desertion at the start of the year, to various split working arrangements and schemes, the once prominent ‘place of work’ has paled into a simple existence rather than a vibrant, buzzing space. Many, driven by economic factors, have had to downsize to simply stay afloat. But could everyone benefit from some strategic resizing?
Re-thinking and resizing your workspace isn’t an overnight fix. Similar to a fitout, it requires thought, strategic planning and foresight. Here are a few factors that need to be thought through carefully before even initial planning begins.
1. Understand your team’s needs
Does your team rely on collaboration inter-departmentally? Do you require meeting areas for zoom calls or socially distant meetings? Requirements will vary from department to department and it’s important to understand to what extent working from home or the office environment will impact upon mental health. In many cases a strategic downsize can improve collaboration and increase productivity, simply due to the fact the space is more relevant to employee working habits, directly targeting their needs and therefore giving greater return on investment with less physical square footage. A contrast to filling the space with uninviting, unproductive rows of desks and gimmicky but impractical ‘breakout’ furniture in an attempt to liven up the environment!
2. What type of space do you need?
Dependent on the nature of your business, space usage and requirements will vary. Whether desk space, collaborative areas, tea points or presentation suites, each company is different! Typically, professional services such as accountancy or law firms will primarily require desking, with a smaller proportion of meeting rooms and a breakout/lunch space. Opposingly, a design agency might have no ‘desks’ but rather a range of sit/stand stations, high stools and sofas which encourage creativity, collaboration and relaxed atmosphere which typifies the industry and individuals using the space. Does your workspace align with people’s activities? Do your employees really need a dedicated desk each?
3 What type of furniture should you get?
Customise your furniture to adapt to your team – employees spend one third of their adult life at work (according to research from WHO) so the space needs to be as ergonomic and comfortable as possible to support and promote focus space, collaboration and welfare areas.
It’s important to remember when assessing furniture solutions and offerings that less is more; create statement spaces with unique pieces of furniture which focus strongly on aesthetics, blending functionality with design – not just the latter!
Flexibility is an important consideration. Modular furniture that is easily relocatable is a huge plus. Remember, your office now is not what it will be a few years down the line. Whether factoring in expansion and growth or consolidation and condensing, the space and furniture needs to adapt to the company vision for the future. An element of flexibility day to day also gives employees more ownership of their working day – allowing a choice about where to work to ensure the task at hand is done efficiently and productively, with wellness at the forefront.
4. Cost saving (yay!)
Of course, everything we speak about depends solely on one governing factor – cost. However, it’s a common misconception that fitouts are only for companies with spare cash at hand. This holds truth, but the return on investment with a new office is often unconsidered. Although qualitative and not physically traceable, the long term money-saving benefits are numerous. For example, the cost of recruitment and talent retention fall –an office space is often more of a deal breaker than salary! Another factor is wellness and productivity. A well-rehearsed topic but nevertheless an important consideration – the introduction of even small changes (eg. planting, flexible working areas and soft seating) can create immeasurable benefits for those that spend 40+ hours there per week. This in turn boosts productivity and output of staff, reducing absenteeism and presenteeism costs. Combined, these factors are estimated to cost the UK economy £23 billion per year (according to the Centre for Mental Health). That staggering figure alone should impress the importance of a wellness and productivity-boosting working environment.
If you’re unsure where to start, just need guidance and help, or already have a pre-planned idea of what you’re after – get in touch and we’ll start the ball rolling! After all, that’s what our workplace experts are here for.