Updated: Nov 25, 2019
As a startup founder, should you share an office space or lease one of your own? An increasing number of companies are joining co-worker communities. What was once primarily seen as a freelancer's domain has quickly become a viable option for businesses of all sizes.
Flexible workspace design can have a lasting positive impact on your employees, inspiring them to work more creatively and collaborate more effectively on projects. At PosterGirl Marketing, we so strongly believe in the power of flexible workspace design that while we’re in the process of remodeling our own offices in New York, New York, our teams are working out of a non conventional open office space.
Our dynamic building offers everything from loft studios and midsize to spacious conference rooms and quiet, but semi closed individual workstations. This experience has helped us to build on our key design strategies for the multifunctional work environments we create for our coworkers and future partners to visit. The spaces we design not only help our clients’ and employees thrive, but also help company leaders do the following:
1) Retain and Attract Talent with Fresh Amenities
To retain and attract the most talented employees to your company, you’ll need to offer a few office amenities that your competitors may not have—beyond free cappuccino. The amenities that have the greatest impact on happiness include fully stocked cafes, comfortable lounges, and open areas with soft flooring where staff can stretch or exercise.
The amenities you choose should also reflect your company’s ethos and core values. For example, to foster a culture of collaboration, you might design a lounge on every floor. Convenience and comfort will encourage more active teamwork. You’ll also need to make sure that office operations run smoothly to increase productivity. After all, happy employees are 12 percent more productive than their less happy peers.
2) Better Engage Employees Through Creative Work Zones
Flexible workspace design encourages employee engagement on a daily basis. Allowing staff to spend time outside of their cubicles and in zones better suited to specific tasks can improve mood and productivity. For example, if a sales manager needs to phone clients, he/she can move to a soundproof phone booth away from the chatter of coworkers.
Without noise distractions, he'll/she’ll complete the task much faster. To build specialized, creative work zones, discover what your staff needs to be more successful. Do employees need more private spaces? Do managers and training teams need conference rooms outfitted with high-definition digital monitors? Does your cafe accommodate informal team brainstorming sessions? Each zone should be designed with your employees’ task requirements and comfort in mind.
3) Increase Employee Satisfaction by Improving Workflow
The layout of office spaces should respond directly to the workflow of occupants. Your marketing and art department teams, for example, function much differently than your human resources and accounting teams, so their spaces should be conducive to their unique operations, needs, and movements. An art department relies heavily on collaboration, so you’ll want to design an open office space that’s free of hurdles that might get in the way of productivity. On the other hand, designing individual HR offices off a long, straight corridor will provide the necessary privacy for interviews and eliminate distractions during performance reviews.
You’ll also want to consider the ways in which materials and colors can improve workflow. While color is most often used to enhance space aesthetics, it can also be used to complement way-finding, identify teams, and even communicate unity and equity within an organization. Laminate floors with brightly colored walls work well in more creative spaces that include wheeled furniture. Carpeting dampens sound, so it’s ideal for quiet office zones. By designing with a focus on improving the workflow, you’ll maximize the space you have and increase employee performance and satisfaction in the process.
4) Support Greater Mobility
Mobile technology allows employees to do their work on smartphones, laptops, and tablets from anywhere in a building, not just from their desks. To support your most mobile workers, provide a reliable wireless connection throughout the building. This could be challenging if your offices include a lot of concrete, brick, stone, or tile features, as each material can interfere with WiFi signals. Wireless repeaters and other WiFi signal extenders can help you overcome signal challenges and provide internet access to every employee—even those located in basement-level offices. Chairs and tables that include an embedded power source will prevent employees from having to find an outlet or return to their desks to charge their devices.
Supporting mobility through flexible workspace design will foster immediate creativity. If an employee comes up with an innovative idea while walking around the office, he or she can jot the note down on a mobile device or email the idea to a peer. Supporting mobility also requires employees to have movable and lockable storage, so that they feel their belongings are safe as they move from space to space. It’s also important to give employees a place in which to appropriate. In an agile and mobile workplace, people still appreciate opportunities to share family or pet photos. While this may not be possible without assigned seating, there are other ways that allow peer connection and engagement.
5) Incorporate Healthy and Activity-Based Workstations
The most effective offices are designed to meet a range of employee desires and physical needs, Therefore, a variety of workstations should be provided. Some employees require a simple desk and an ergonomic chair with ample back support in order to concentrate on their work; others prefer to stand while they work to improve circulation and avoid being sedentary. Height-adjustable workstation tables allow staff to sit or stand depending on their preferences. Modular chairs and ottomans will allow employees to stretch out during breaks. By accommodating various employee needs through flexible workstation design, you’ll foster good employee health and meet diversity initiatives.
6) Accommodate Collaboration Using Flexible Furniture
Beyond supporting diversity, flexible workstations and furniture also foster collaboration. The best strategy for incorporating flexible furniture in your design is to subtly zone spaces. Start by locating areas in a room where furniture will be most effective. For example, alcoves in cafes or near large windows are perfect areas for modular couches and ottomans. Dining options and natural light will attract employees to the area, while comfortable seating will encourage them to stay and enjoy collaboration more. Conference rooms are also ideal spaces for flexible, multifunctional work surfaces. A large conference table can double as a ping-pong table during lunch breaks. By offering your employees collaboration and relaxation options, they’ll feel more powerful and more connected to your brand’s ethos.
7) Improve Acoustics and Lighting
Lighting and acoustics play vital roles in flexible workspace design, as they set the mood for spaces and can improve employee concentration and productivity. It’s difficult to read documents in a dimly lit room or concentrate on writing proposals while sitting next to a noisy printer. When designing workspaces, optimize for daylighting to create a healthier and energy-efficient space.
If it’s not possible to include large windows, incorporate cool white artificial lighting to mimic natural lighting. Also, mix different types of lighting to ensure that every corner of a room is well-lit. Direct downlighting, warm accent lighting, and indirect ambient lighting can all be used in tandem to highlight areas of the room that are most important. To improve the acoustics in a space, you’ll need to balance sound absorption and ambient noise. A room that’s too quiet can be just as distracting for workers as a noisy room; ambient noise offers a pleasant audio backdrop that promotes relaxation. To achieve the right balance use soundproofing materials on walls or ceilings combined with ambient sound machines.
8) Incorporate Biophilic Design
Humans are innately connected to nature, so it makes sense that employees perform better when working in spaces that feature views or even qualities of the outdoors. Incorporating biophilic design in office spaces can be fairly simple. For example, place open office spaces, cafes, and lounges at the outer edges of the building to take advantage of views. Incorporate glass walls where rooms with views meet inner spaces, and provide curtains that can easily be closed to create privacy. In basement spaces where no natural views are available, mimic the look of nature through color choices and design elements, such as murals of landscapes, paintings or photographs of nature, and artificial lighting that mimics daylighting.