How Important Is the Physical Environment of an Office?
Providing your employees with an ideal physical space has been shown to help increase productivity, attract new talent, and reduce attrition rates. But with the rising popularity of remote work the physical environment of an office might seem like an outdated concept, one that is doomed to disappear in the long term as workers inevitably move to their home office, favorite coffee shop, or conveniently located coworking space.
Although there has been a steady flow of workers going from a traditional office setting into a hybrid or fully remote work life, there is no indication that this is going to turn into a massive exodus, and so the office as we know it will remain an important part of work and in this article we will be exploring just how important the physical environment of an office really is.
There are as many types of office environments as there are types of companies. There’s the classic cubicle sea of the 90’s, the low partition office layout, the open plan layout, the team-based layout, and all sorts of hybrid mash-ups of these concepts that have made the office experience a highly customizable one.
It is this flexibility that has enabled designers to adapt the physical environment of the office to be more in line with the company’s values and help create the ideal setting for workers to do their best work.
Take a business such as an advertising agency for example, to help stimulate and nurture creativity their workers would benefit most from a hybrid office setting where many options are open to everybody’s individual needs.
Such an office would have open plan layouts mixed with stimulating lounges, private booths for focused work and calls, and a few different meeting rooms for both client meetings and internal creative meetings.
Now such a setting wouldn’t be as effective for an accounting firm. This type of company needs more spaces that help workers concentrate on their task and so an open plan type of office layout and cool lounges would be far from ideal solutions in this particular case.
A perfect office design for such a company would include more private spaces such as private offices, booths, cubicles, as well as meeting rooms adapted to convey a feeling of privacy.
From these examples it is easy to understand the importance of the physical environment of an office, and when you combine this concept with the possibilities offered by our hyperconnected world, you can get better results, while offering your workers more flexibility and variety.
This means that an employee can choose to work from home for a few hours, then head to a private office to prepare for a meeting, afterwards they would book a fully equipped meeting room to host a webinar for a client, and finally use a coworking space to debrief and file a report.
Or they can look for inspiration while working from their favorite park bench for a few hours, head to a coffee shop to send a couple of emails and then head to the office for the rest of the afternoon for fully focused work.
As you can see the physical environment of an office can help your workers and your business thrive or, if not planned correctly, it can be an obstacle that leads to worker dissatisfaction, a reduction in productivity and the reason behind your struggle to attract and retain top talent.