5 Office Design Fails You Should Avoid

by Elizabeth Dukes on December 12, 2016
Your Guide To Success With Activity-Based Working

There’s no doubt employee satisfaction is linked to the office environment, but determining exactly how to design an office space that keeps your workforce engaged can be challenging. In an effort to meet expectations and fulfill company objectives, workplace leaders are looking more closely at how they can design spaces that improve productivity and employee retention. 

Below are five common office design “fails” workplace leaders should avoid when striving to create an ideal workspace.

1. Lack of Private Spaces

Recognizing that people have different working styles is key to better productivity. Not everyone sees the popular open-office layout as an inviting place to do work. In fact, for many employees, a lack of private, quiet space can create a more stressful environment and kill concentration.

Instead, give your employees a choice of collaborative and individual workspaces. If you have an open office, be sure you also provide plenty of small huddle rooms where employees can escape the chatter and noise — such as when they need to have a one-on-one conversation or concentrate in silence.

Room reservation software will allow employees to book those spaces ahead of time and help them avoid becoming disrupted.

2. Cheap and Uncomfortable Desks and Furniture

When you’re tasked with investing in furniture for several floors of office space, it can be tempting to opt for inexpensive products and save your budget for other areas, like innovative workplace technology.

However, studies show good office furniture reduces poor posture which alleviates tiredness, thereby boosting productivity and overall job satisfaction. So while inexpensive furniture can save you money, it may end up costing you more in the long run by threatening employee productivity.

In other words, you can’t afford not to invest in quality office furniture. Whether you opt to give employees convertible standing desks for increased movement, or err on the more traditional side, the most important thing is comfort and agility. From desk chairs to monitor stands, everything should be chosen with ergonomics as a top priority.

3. Bland, Colorless Environment

Psychology has shown color impacts our mood. So while you may be tempted to opt for sterile white walls in an effort to avoid distraction, choosing to forego color and personality actually has an adverse effect. A bland, dull and colorless environment can be disastrous for your employees’ happiness, and cause them to disengage from the workplace.

Avoid this common blunder by integrating splashes of color that reflect your brand’s style and mood. Keep in mind blue and green boost productivity and encourage tranquility while yellow or red help drive creativity and inspire passion. Channel these colors when painting an accent wall or when choosing furniture and art.

Bonus Tip: Plants also soften the aesthetics of the workplace, help clean the air and provide the comfort of a more natural environment.

4. Poor Organization and Flow

Clutter and poor office flow will not only affect productivity, it can also be a turnoff to prospects visiting for interviews.

To avoid clutter, take time to assess what objects and furniture are essential to the office and put the rest in storage. And provide aesthetically pleasing storage for employees’ belongings, so coats, bags and other items aren’t strewn about their workspace.

If you’re thinking of redesigning your employees’ workspace, take some time to watch the natural flow of movement in your office: Where do people easily gather, and what areas do they avoid? Observing the interaction between your employees and their environment can help you determine the best spot for a meeting spaces. Space management software will automate this process and help you track and plan your optimal office flow.

5. No Climate Zones

Are you seeing cardigans or jackets on the backs of some office chairs? It may be a sign that a portion of your workforce feels the office is too cold for comfort. Recent research has shown productivity is negatively affected by colder temperatures and actually improves as an office becomes warmer. However, not everyone may be comfortable with cranking up the heat.

To end the office thermostat wars once and for all, many buildings are creating “climate zones.” That is, dividing up areas of the workspace by temperature so everyone has the option to work where they’re most comfortable.

If you can’t create zones, another option is to place employees who prefer to work under warmer conditions near windows so they receive a great deal of sunlight, or away from air conditioning vents.

When you create a dynamic workplace, employees become more engaged, productive and happy. Investing in quality furniture and stimulating colors, regulating temperature and curating office flow tells workers you understand that having a comfortable environment is key to their success.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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