Sunday 12 April 2015 10:10 pm

Why your office space really counts: How your workplace environment can impact your productivity

Creativity, collaboration and contentment are determined by the environment you build.

British employees work the longest hours in Europe, and 70-plus hour working weeks are the norm for many in our major cities. With the majority of our waking day spent in the office, it’s never been more important for employers to ensure that their working environments engage and inspire.   
From big corporates to small startups, companies are moving away from the traditional workplace concept, and seeking innovative office designs and unique corporate activities with the aim of boosting creative thinking, optimising productivity, and ultimately enhancing profitability. 


Attractive interiors are important for so many of us at home, but with so much time now spent in the office, employers are realising that a desirable workplace is just as significant. With the aim of revitalising their workforce, some leading corporates have stretched the thinking behind their design concepts by introducing everything from ping pong tables to high-swing hammocks.
Of course, such items have a hefty price tag. However, a small budget doesn’t mean design options are limited. A recent study showed that by simply introducing greenery into the office – an easy alternative to reconstruction –  employees can be 15 per cent more productive. Similarly, increasing levels of natural light can also be mood-enhancing, thus boosting productivity.                                


A new twist to the classic office environment is the “business lounge”: an area where accidental interactions are possible and employees are given the space to free up their thoughts. For many people, being restricted to a desk can hinder their ability to think creatively and make it hard to effectively collaborate with employees. Integrating a business lounge can help facilitate face-to-face encounters and provide a dedicated space for collaborative working. 
In our offices, we have seen the power of these business lounges in helping employees to enjoy the casual functionality of a meeting in a coffee shop, but without the noisy distractions, encouraging them to focus on the task at hand. 


Bustling kitchens, unsightly canteens and long queues in local cafes force many employees to spend their lunch break either desk-bound or out on the streets in a desperate search for an average sandwich. This undoubtedly contributes to only 20 per cent of workers now taking their full hour lunch break. And for those who don’t, staying at your desk is statistically proven to reduce productivity anyway.
A convenient, quality cafe on site can draw employees away from their desks for a lunchtime break. By avoiding the City rush, it can help transform this time into an opportunity to revitalise. Subsidising an on-site cafe can also help attract those who tend to favour a cost-saving packed lunch and who could otherwise miss out on this opportunity to collaborate with colleagues. 


Once the working day is done, most people are unlikely to have spoken to most colleagues on their floor – let alone anyone else in their building. Co-working parties allow employees to mix on a social level and, for many, a step away from their desks and a drink in hand can boost confidence, providing the perfect opportunity for creative thinking. With structural hierarchies also banished for that moment, people feel more comfortable with one another and swapping ideas becomes a whole lot easier. 
In a building full of different companies, co-working parties can also quickly become cross-company events – a great way to meet office neighbours and do some close-quarter networking.
Giles Fuchs is founder and chief executive of Office Space in Town. 

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