Dated design and dark, stuffy workplaces aren’t just uncomfortable to work in – they may be driving people away. Today’s knowledge workers expect welcoming work environments that encourage creativity, not stifle it.
“The millennial generation is not used to sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week. They want the ability to move around between various environments in the workplace so they can conduct their work and also relax,” says John P. Yodzis, President and COO of DOW Electronics, which recently revamped its space to replace tall 1990s-style cubicles with low-profile workstations and contemporary collaboration rooms. “We’ve done a really good job of keeping it fun while still maintaining a business environment.”
Defining that balance in your own office requires due diligence with anyone who works there, adds Todd Haywood, Director of Facilities, Security and Business Continuity Management at Motorists Insurance Company, which recently renovated the third floor of its Columbus, OH, facility. “Find out how they’re going to work and what their needs are, then find the most economical means of putting that together. Make sure once that group moves into the space, they’re comfortable and have everything they need to do their job properly.”
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Conference rooms can’t fit all collaboration needs. A truly flexible office will offer a variety of places for colleagues to catch up and cooperate on projects. An existing office could become a small collaborative area with just a few tweaks, suggests Barbara Savage, Senior Associate for Stantec, an international design company.
“It’s really important to give people the flexibility to get up from their desks and work in a different environment so they’re not in the same spot all day,” Savage explains. “If you can give them options, especially options with natural light and different types of seating, it’s an easy way to bring some changes to offices without a big budget.”
If you’re revamping collaborative spaces, make sure they fit employees’ needs by considering these tips.
- Durable materials are important for spaces that will be used throughout the day, says David Chason, Partner of commercial design firm AEI U.S. Studio.
- Vary sizes and furnishings for meeting spaces. More options fit more needs.
- Location is crucial. Collaborative spaces should be close to individual work areas so colleagues can duck in quickly and easily, but not so close that collaborators disrupt people who are engaged in focus work.
The impact proper lighting has on workplace productivity and happiness is immense, and providing as much natural light as possible not only improves occupant morale but can also significantly reduce your energy spend.
“The amount and quality of light that people need is very important, which is why WELL and LEED certification require that everybody has access to natural light throughout the day. Make sure people have access to windows and views,” says Juliana Fernandez, Founding Partner of AEI.
Allowing natural light into the building and using lights that are even and appear natural were critical to improving the featured facilities. The following tips can help you follow suit.
- The building perimeter can be your ally if you configure the interior properly. Avoiding light-trapping walls will let natural light enter the rest of the facility.
- Bright walls reflect light into spaces, allowing you to maximize the usefulness of available daylight.
- Mitigate daylighting glare with films, shades or other options for improved productivity and reduced distraction.
- Glass fronts throughout the interior of the building allow you to divide the floor space into offices and conference rooms while still letting in natural light.
- Even lighting also helps productivity. “I see a lot of office space where the lighting quality is poor, and it leads to eyestrain, headaches and distraction. A good lighting system makes an office feel better and function better,” explains Dan Perruzzi, Principal and Senior Partner at Margulies Perruzzi Architects.
- Well-lit corners, especially near windows, are great places to add nooks and crannies for relaxation or impromptu meetings.