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Idea Lab: Office Design Choices

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5 Office Design Choices for Happier Employees in the New Year

As we enter the New Year, there’s no better time to resolve to increase employee happiness. While there’s no one-size-fits all approach for good office design and layout, several design principles can influence maximum employee happiness, while introducing pleasing aesthetics. Though a new year might not mean a completely new office design, you can incorporate several design adjustments to achieve the same results. The ideal office space balances design with function, and collaborativity with privacy. According to an international survey of office workers, only 16% of workers agreed that their workplace allowed for high concentration, creativity, focus, and flexibility when choosing where to work.

1. Prioritize Customizability

Because most offices are a diverse mixture of people and job descriptions, any effective office design should be created with this in mind. Accounting, marketing, customer service, and sales departments all have drastically different needs. From a need for privacy and quiet for intense creative work, to a desire for openness and shared workspaces in accounting, spaces should be designed around the people and functions they are to serve, not vice versa.

2. Mindful Arrangement

Although the windowed corner office is prized among employees, too many private offices along an open wall can block the light and cause the inner parts of the office to feel dark and claustrophobic. Decorating the entire office for the holidays can help to create a cohesive look with this layout. Try clustering cubicles and desks nearer to the windows, with well-lit private offices along the interior.

3. Add Transparency

A common dilemma in office planning is balancing privacy with an open, expansive feel. Incorporating glass walls, doors, and partitions can allow for quieter spaces while avoiding a closed-off, boxy layout. The holidays and New Year are full of light, so it’s the perfect time to introduce a brighter feel to the office. Glass can add a level of simplicity and sophistication to an otherwise shapeless workspace, and encourages creativity of thought.

4. Options, Options, Options

Everyone’s idea of the perfect collaborative space is different. With so much variety of preference, it’s important to have a lot of options for employees to congregate. Consider strategically placing more collaborative spaces near the lobby and breakroom, where few people expect to have privacy anyway.

5. Encourage Creativity

Most people are very visually-oriented. To take advantage of this, and to encourage the spread of good ideas, provide many options for visualization. Try using glass walls and windows as whiteboards by incorporating dry erase markers, or adding chalk paint or dry erase boards to encourage brainstorming. It’s also a great place to leave welcoming messages for guests or clients, or a “Happy New Year” greeting for the whole office.
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