4 Basic Design Changes for a More Productive Office

Reconfigure your office and get more space, happier workers and higher output

Written by Kim Hart Macneill

A great workspace is one your employees want to come to everyday. It encourages collaboration, improves productivity, and makes efficient use of your work areas.

Good workspace design includes a mix of private and open workspaces and collaborative areas to give staff choices about how they work best. “Someone in their 60s is not going to want to work the same way as someone coming out of university in their 20s,” says Steve Cascone, vice president of consultation at Toronto-based Mayhew, a office design and furniture company. “Workspace design is about bridging that gap.”

In addition to helping your staff work together more efficiently, transforming your office can help reduce your office’s footprint to save on real estate costs. “Many entrepreneurs don’t realize that the way they’ve organized their offices literally eats up floor space,” says Terry Hickey, owner of Halifax-based e3 Office furniture and Interiors. If you don’t rearrange your office when new staff and furniture are added, which can make your space feel much smaller that its square footage.

A full redesign may not be in your budget, but there are plenty of improvements you can make without breaking the bank. PROFIT asked Cascone and Hickey for their tips on transforming your office into a great workspace.

1. Start with your own work area. “Traditional layouts tend to put the desk in the centre of the office, with all of the other furniture squeezed around it,” says Hickey. His desk wraps around one corner of the room, leaving plenty of space for storage cabinets, and a small table. The table lets him meet with staff without clearing space on his desk, and can be pulled to his desk to double his work surface. Once you find what works in your space, try something similar with staff workspaces.

2. Ergonomics and flexibility. Let staff work at different surface heights with adjustable desks, or by re-organizing your current furniture. Filing cabinets can be clustered together in rows to provide a space to collate papers or meet while standing to stretch the muscles in the afternoon, says Cascone.

3. Why so serious? Convert stiff conference rooms into collaboration rooms that can be reconfigured. Ditch the boardroom table in favour of soft seating, like armchairs. Smaller tables with wheels can be lined up or broken apart for different uses from meetings to training sessions. Eliminating the structure of a conference room puts everyone on an even plane and encourage ideas says Hickey.

4. Collaboration enablers. Mount a white board in a central location near the main workspaces, and encourage staff to use it to solicit input from colleagues whenever they feel stumped, says Cascone. Colleagues can write suggestions as they come to mind.

Breaking out of the cubicle mindset can be tough for some employees. As you transform your office, Cascone suggests telling staff, “This is all your space, whether you choose to pick up work at your desk, or sit in a cafe area, you have a share of the whole office.”

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com

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