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How to Boost Productivity and Sustainability During Office Renovations

Implementing smart design practices into office renovations can result in a more productive and sustainable end result. Whether a simple retrofit or a complete overhaul, any office that is undergoing a renovation can benefit from design principles that are specifically applied to enhance the productivity of employees and conservation of resources. While budget is often a concern, those overseeing renovations should prioritize the aspects of a renovation that will provide the most value while still falling within the budget.

The common consensus among design professionals and business owners is that the design of an office has a deep and lasting impact on both employee job satisfaction and retention. Modern updates are also able to significantly boost the environmental and financial sustainability of an office undergoing a renovation. Renovations should be carefully planned in order to maximize the return on investment as well as the long-term success of the business.

Productivity

The first and foremost priority during an office renovation should be increasing the aspects of the space that allow employees to best perform their daily tasks. Without this essential functionality, employees would not be able to productively fulfill their responsibilities, and the company would ultimately suffer. An attractive, modern renovation to an office will not serve any real purpose if the updates do not allow employees to be productive. Smart design and space planning during an office renovation can greatly increase the efficiency of output by an individual and, in turn, provide a more economically viable solution for the business owner. 

When planning a renovation that will maximize productivity, it is important to consider the factors that affect productivity and provide solutions that will improve those factors for each employee. These factors include work space ergonomics, the layout of individual departments, the environment surrounding each work space and the availability of common space for employee interaction.

  • The ergonomics of a work space, from adjustable keyboards and monitor arms to height-adjustable work surfaces, are crucial in minimizing the negative effects of sitting and keeping employees healthy enough to continue working productively.
  • Each department should occupy a space that is designed to accommodate their specific task or work style in the best way possible. For example, the accounting department will likely prefer a different layout than the creative marketing department.
  • It is also recommended to ensure that each employee is exposed to natural daylight. Exterior views have been found to increase productivity and have positive effects on mood and sleep patterns.
  • Finally, the most productive offices are those that foster a sense of community among employees by providing common space for company events and impromptu employee meetings.

A renovation focusing on increasing productivity should address each of these design elements in order to achieve the best result.

Sustainability

There are design methods that can be implemented to drastically improve the performance of an office in terms of space consumption, energy consumption or the lifecycle of materials used in the project. Ideally designers renovating a workplace with sustainability in mind will aim to excel in all three of these areas, and in doing so will provide a functional workplace that will meet the needs of employees for years to come without any unnecessary reconfigurations.

The various mechanical and electrical systems in a workplace have a large impact on the overall sustainability of the environment. Sustainable options that are widely available and are becoming more cost effective include direct current electrified ceiling grids, which have the capability of being tied into solar and wind power solutions to finish materials that hold, store and release heat at specified times to reduce the mechanical loads on a building. Similar design methods tie directly into the functionality of an office space and affect employee productivity and comfort.

Another key element of sustainability is minimizing space consumption. Office renovations should include plans to make the most of every available square inch of space to create a smaller physical footprint. Smart space utilization will reduce large overhead costs, such as maintenance and utilities, associated with larger workplaces. Also, designating more than one function for a seldom-used space is a good way to reduce space consumption; circulation corridors can often be repurposed into multi-use spaces such as additional conference rooms or small cafeterias.

Finally, material lifecycle—an often-overlooked aspect of sustainability—has a lasting impact on the environment. Designers should plan office renovations to include furnishings and finishes that are durable and versatile enough to stand up to generations of future use. Each individual product should be selected based on its estimated lifecycle, which should be longer than average to avoid it being discarded to a landfill in the near future. This practice will infuse the workplace with a feeling of quality and timelessness while providing a sound financial investment for the building owner.

If the design concepts of productivity and sustainability are carefully considered and analyzed during an office renovation, the resulting solution will improve employee productivity and reduce resource consumption, leading to a smarter and more effective solution for the facility’s owners and occupants.

Denny Crain is a design professional at REMIGER DESIGN.

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