Instead of larger paychecks and gimmicky slides or ping-pong tables, intelligent design of the workspace and office as a whole is increasingly being seen as important. We believe office design is important for morale and happiness in a business. The US company Haworth has produced more evidence to support this train of thought which we blogged about earlier in the year.
What We Said On The Topic
Earlier in the year, we blogged about the importance your office design can play in terms of maintaining or improving morale and productivity of your staff. For example, we looked into the What Workers Want 2016 Survey and noted some concerns raised in the UK Workplace Survey 2016.
For example, over the past half a century, Western office culture has come to see large, open plan offices as the norm. There has been a major move away from the secluded, clerk style offices of the first half of the 20th century, to the point where it’s a major decision to even give the most senior of staff their own personal office.
However, as millennials replace baby boomers as the dominant body of the workforce, on the whole, the need to be able to switch between socialisation and intense working at your own speed is becoming more pressing. As is the need to work collaboratively at some times and free of distraction, entirely, at others.
Open plan offices and most office design from the mid and late 20th century doesn’t facilitate this. And now Haworth and Dezeen are echoing this sentiment with their latest findings from the US.
Who Are Haworth?
Haworth are a US based think tank and design consultancy, who specialise in office spaces. They’ve worked with large companies from across the US and around the world. They recently unveiled their latest study at the Orgatec 2016 convention.
This latest white paper canvassed over 2,000 office workers on a range of issues and found further evidence that office design is an important and intrinsic influence on staff wellbeing and morale.
What They Are Saying On The Topic
The report has been released amidst a change and shift in office culture and the workspace generally. Haworth partly puts this down to the way that millennials operate compared to the preceding baby boom generation; less linear, less separation between personal and work life, for example, are just two ways that the wider workforce is changing.
Yet office design has been slow to change.
The report makes a note of what has become largely known as “the Google office” being ineffectual on employee morale. “The Google office” is shorthand for including fun inspiring features around the office in order to give morale and wellbeing a kickstart. Things, such as, table tennis tables, slides from one floor to another and even beer taps are all prevalent in lots of big company offices, not just in trendy startups.
But the effect of these features is extremely short lived. And, besides, long standing happiness at work is driven by more meaningful features than being able to spend a couple of minutes playing table tennis whilst waiting for a meeting to start. Just in the same way it has been largely proven that increases in salaries can not compensate for attending work at a place which actually makes you unhappy.
Haworth found during their study that the workplace can be designed to help employees feel happier in two ways; making them feel valued by their employer and by being able to focus on their work.
It’s here that the disconnect of a short lived thrill from a metaphorical (and literal) curved metal slide comes about. Couple it with the fact that people using the slide whilst you are trying to focus leaves you distracted, and then you will be unhappy on two counts; your yearning for value isn’t satisfied and the company itself is distracting you from your work.
Upon presenting the report, O’Neill, Haworth spokesperson, said that things such as ping-pong tables and slides actually create ambiguity between what is a work space and what is a fun space. To be truly at ease (and therefore happy and therefore productive), the user of the space needs to know for definite what each area of the workspace is intended to be used for.
Work areas should be work areas. Breakout areas should be breakout areas. And any mixed areas should be balanced enough to allow both aspects to happen side by side. It’s for this reason that simply installing the metaphorical slide into a drab office does nothing for morale.
What You Need To Think About
If you are concerned about staff morale in your office or even your school building; then you should pay attention to this growing line of thought in office culture and design. Especially seeing as devlopments of an office take time and careful planning.
It may be that your furniture, layout and general workspace design is counteracting the way your workforce likes to operate throughout the day. Different tasks require different settings. And the frame of mind employees are in at a particular time of the day, week or period on their life might change the way they work most effectively.
And you may want to consider implementing some ideas which build more teamwork amongst your workforce.
Not to consider all of this is to leave you running the business at below optimum level. It might be time for a refurbishment or reworking of your workspace.