Planning Your Office Space the Right Way

on February 27, 2017

Are you aware that your physical environment can significantly affect your comfort and productivity?  Many new business owners fail to take this into account when considering office floor plans. It’s easy to neglect decor and other details when you’re trying to keep costs low, but setting up your office in a way that enhances productivity and keeps your workers happy can pay off in the long run. The end result is less wasted time and better employee retention rates. Here are some ways to create a well-designed office while keeping costs minimal.

Be Realistic About Your Needs

Step No. 1:  Take a good look at your business and consider what your employees actually need. Although the current business design trend is to move away from cubicles and into more open office space with pod seating, this can be a detriment in some business environments. Employees who are on the phone often or doing detailed work that requires significant focus may find an open office too distracting and noisy. On the other hand, more creative work can benefit from an office that encourages collaboration and interaction.

Make sure to consider how your business might grow. If you plan to start out with just two or three employees but have intentions to quickly grow and hire more, keep the future set up in mind. Modular furniture can be a good way to slowly add on to a developing business.

Think Beyond the Basic Office Floor Plans

Step No. 2:  Once you’ve decided the basic floor plan, consider the environment as a whole. Few people enjoy working all day in a drab, industrial-looking office space. Lighting is one of the biggest problems in many offices. Traditional fluorescent overhead lighting is harsh and tiring. Natural light tends to keep people energized and happy, so look for office space with large windows or skylights, if possible. Since it might be difficult to find on a limited startup budget, consider alternatives. Full-spectrum bulbs in [table lamps] or overhead fixtures can effectively simulate natural light. Better lighting options also support indoor plants, which can add to the décor and also improve employee morale.

Color is another consideration. While there is a trend toward minimalist design, white or gray walls can feel institutional and boring. Consider opting for a subtle color instead. Choose carefully, however. Blue is often a safe choice, as it is fairly universally liked and tends to make people feel relaxed and calm. Green can also inspire creativity. But it is recommended that you avoid red, which can make people feel anxious and is also linked to feelings of hunger.

Give Your Employees Options

Remember that your employees are individuals with different needs, despite the fact that some office design trends often assume the opposite. One good way to balance those needs is to provide plenty of options that allow your employees to move around and work where they find it most comfortable. You can start by setting a few [comfortable chairs] in a quiet corner near an outlet for people who need a change of pace. Consider designating some areas as quiet spaces and some as more collaborative or casual ones. This way your workers can choose where they need to be at any given time. Make sure to provide comfortable office furniture in these locales. Even in small offices, dividers or other creative space savers can help separate those who thrive in a busier environment from those who do best in a quieter zone.

Let your employees customize their individual work spaces as well. Aches and pains lead to fatigue and lack of concentration, so consider investing in ergonomic chairs and desks that allow each worker to adjust their seats as needed. [Convertible desks] will even allow your workers to choose whether they prefer to sit or stand.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to office design, despite previous trends to the contrary. Even small adjustments can make a big difference in your employees’ productivity and happiness, as long as you keep your business model in mind as you design overall.

This article originally appeared on Office Depot/OfficeMax