5 Unexpected Ways Office Design Can Improve Employee’s Morale

When designing or re-designing an office, there are a large number of things to take into account, including work-related logistics, office branding and pure aesthetic considerations. However, it is also important to give some thought to the effects your design will have upon employees, especially from an emotional standpoint.

Here are five unexpected ways in which the design of your office can improve the morale of your employees.

1. Customised Spaces Improve Concentration

Over the last decade, ‘open office’ designs have become increasingly common, as businesses are driven by the desire to increase collaboration between departments, promote equality and become more cost effective. However, a study carried out by Gensler found that workplaces that sacrifice privacy actually fail in their pursuit of greater collaboration, while also losing out in terms of individual focus, damaging morale in the process.

Moreover, research conducted by Knoll, Inc. found that acoustic privacy — the ability to avoid being overheard or overhearing others — was ranked as the single most important workplace feature by workers belonging to the Baby Boomer generation (born 1946–1964) and this generation still makes up a large percentage of the total workforce.

2. Natural Light Boosts Happiness

A review by Human Spaces found that only 58 percent of office workers in EMEA countries have natural light in their surrounding environment, while seven percent work in an office environment without windows. Repeated testing shows that a lack of natural light impacts upon staff happiness, attendance and productivity.

Conversely, the presence of natural light has been biologically linked to increases in overall morale and has been proven to promote clear thinking. As a result, windows are one of the most important aspects of office design and the design team should take extra care in order to avoid blocking off natural light sources.

3. Communal Areas Encourage Collaboration

Rather than engineering collaboration through shared working areas, greater success can be found in creating an office layout which features dedicated communal areas. This prevents the problems associated with a lack of acoustic privacy, yet still encourages different departments to work together. The key, however, is to provide a variety of different collaboration spaces and allow people to make their own way to them.
“We built multiple collaboration spaces where no one would expect privacy anyway,” explained Ted Dhanik, the CEO of consultancy firm Engage:BDR. “The kitchen and the sitting area in our lobby have comfy couches where people from different departments [can] socialise, brainstorm, and often come up with awesome ideas.”

4. Interactive Elements Develop Creativity

Employees’ morale is boosted when they are provided with opportunities to express themselves, interact with their environment and show off their creative side. One easy way to do this is to provide a number of different places — white boards, chalk boards, or even walls — where people can share ideas freely and erase them afterwards.
Research from Knoll, Inc. found that workers belonging to Generation X (born 1965–1979) and Generation Y (born 1980–1997) rank an engaging workplace as the single most important feature of their work environment; partly because they view work as being more of an ‘experience’ than past generations. These two generations make up the majority of the workforce, so make sure your design allows them to get creative.

5. Colours Impact Upon Mood

Last but not least, businesses should choose their colour schemes carefully, as this can also impact upon morale. Although there will be branding and other professional considerations here, utilising certain colours can improve the mood of employees, while others are best avoided or kept to a minimum, due to their negative connotations.
For instance, too much red can increase stress levels, as it provokes feelings of frustration and even anger. Yellow, on the other hand, stimulates the release of Serotonin within the human body, resulting in feelings of happiness. According to Human N Health, white is reported to have a calming effect, while people working in green offices enjoy noticeably higher levels of job satisfaction. Before committing to a colour scheme, research its psychological effects.

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