Create A Modern Office For Work, Rest And Play

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Emily Wilson

Some of the most recent polls have shown that one in five full-time employees tends to spend at least 60 hours per week at work, while nearly half of all employees spend close to 50 hours. This figure alone can reveal the fact that there are so many people spending most of their time (as well as what was supposed to be their free time) at work. This is why a modern office can’t afford to be just focused on productivity. In a way, it needs to be as much of living space as it is a place of work. In other words, it needs to be a place of work, rest and play at the same time, which is not as easy to accomplish.

You see, the reason why you’re having an office in the first place, instead of just making a working model based on telecommuters is due to the fact that office is optimized for productivity. This is a feature that is so strongly expressed that some people who work as telecommuters, prefer to hire a workstation at a shared office space rather than working from home. The problem is that if you invest too much effort trying to make your office optimized for rest and play, you might diminish the ‘work’ aspect, which is the last thing you want to accomplish. As always in life, you need to find balance and here are several tips that can help you do so.

     1. Ergonomic professional environment

More and more offices are run by ergonomic principles which focus on boosting productivity by making employees as comfortable in their workplace, as possible. The first thing that this entails is to provide each employee in the office with enough personal space, flexibility to change things within their own workstation and a health-focused approach.

The use of personal space is not that easy to accomplish without the use of cubicles, which are an outdated and counter-productive method of office management. Also, the position of the manager’s desk is crucial here. On the one hand, it needs to be in a position from which they have a full field of vision of the office, while, at the same time, they shouldn’t seem too imposing, authoritative or meddling. Instead, you need to place it according to the Feng Shui principles in the furthest corner of the room, facing the main entrance of the office. This way, the supervisor has full control of the room, without putting too much focus on it.

When it comes to flexibility, your employees need to have the freedom of working from several different locations in the office. In other words, they shouldn’t be desk-bound. Make sure there are available lazy bags or balcony seating options for them to work from. With a laptop on their side, this shouldn’t be a problem.

As for the issue of health, the quality of chairs and the height of desks is pivotal for the posture and vision of your employees, which, in turn, improves the overall health of your employees. Poor vision and back pain are both inconvenient for the employee, as well as focus and productivity killers. Also, doing all that’s in your power to prevent them is the ethical thing to do.

      2. A semi-virtualized office space

In the introduction, we might have played a bit too hard by portraying a virtual office as something in full and direct contrast to the idea of a traditional office. The truth is that you need both of these things at the same time.

For instance, while telecommuters would rely on a collaboration tool in order to create a feeling of an actual office, using this method in a traditional workplace isn’t a bad idea either. If anything, it gives your staff a chance to communicate without yelling across the room, work on the same project without interrupting others or giving each team a separate office. It also gives them a chance to exchange files with coworkers without running around the office with USB drives.

The last thing worth mentioning is the importance of having the bulk of your operations cloud-based. You see, in the introduction, we’ve mentioned that a lot of workers prefer to stay extra hours, which is why we’re focusing on this topic, in the first place. Nonetheless, this should always be a matter of choice and, if they decide to do so, your employees could finish their work from home. In some companies, employees are even allowed to work one or two days each week as telecommuters, thus combining these two methods into something more effective.

        3.  An office kitchen

The first thing you need in order to make an office like a place where people live instead of just working is to create an office kitchen. For this, you need to invest in a couple of appliances, the first of which is definitely a reliable workplace coffee machine. A quality coffee machine is not just something that’s important to your team, it’s also something that actively boosts their productivity by helping them brew a tasty work enhancer at their own behest.

On the one hand, coffee is known to boost productivity and alertness but it is also known to help people with group interactions, thus making meetings more effective. Some studies conducted had shown that people who consume coffee during meetings tend to A) feel more comfortable during these meetings and B) take greater participation. By installing a quality coffee maker in the kitchen, you can even make it into a spot where these meetings will be held, from time to time.

Another pivotal office appliance is a company fridge and here, you should go with one with as many dividers as possible. Of course, you won’t be able to provide each employee with a divider of their own but by going that extra effort to at least provide a divider per team or department will make a difference.

Finally, no one likes doing dishes, especially at work, which is why you should go for a quality dishwasher, in order to make this arduous office task as seamless as possible. This is the very least you can do to take some of the maintenance burdens off your team.

       4.  Breakroom

Now we come to the play part and there are several principles that each breakroom needs to abide by. First of all, it has to be as far as possible from the work area, so that the chit-chat of people there doesn’t distract those who are still working. Second, it needs to have enough seating space for everyone. Third, it needs to have group activities, instead of appliances that allow for a single user at a time. For instance, installing a pool, table soccer or a ping pong table is preferable than getting a pinball machine. The latter will only form a line and even cause envy amongst those who can’t participate. Also, a group activity is a team activity, even if it’s a highly competitive one.

Another thing that is not necessarily a design trend as much as it’s an office management tip is the fact that you need to make sure that your employees are using their breaks properly. You see, a lot of people avoid taking breaks because they’re behind on work and believe that by staying these extra 10 or 15 minutes will help them catch up. This is never true, seeing as how hours and hours of uninterrupted work tend to diminish one’s productivity, thus making their work less effective. It also makes them feel less motivated, thus ruining their mood completely. A simple, short break can prevent all of this from happening.

       5. Flexible work hours

The simplest way to make people comfortable in your employ is to allow them to take full charge of what their work post is supposed to look like. By this, we mean that you need to give them flexible work hours. This means that they get to choose when they will come to work, as long as they work the given amount of hours each day. Different people experience their peak of productivity during different times of the day. The best way to handle this fact is to let them worry about this fact, instead of being the one who micro-manages everything.

When it comes to the logistics of the workplace, this creates an issue in two different ways. First, your security needs to be reliable enough 24/7, seeing as how you won’t be able to just put a lock on the office once the last employee for the day leaves the premises. Second, the issue of light during the late hours needs to be resolved in a power-efficient way. To do so, each desk needs to be equipped with a reliable task light option.

       6. An office daycare

This last idea may be a bit controversial, even too much over the top but what if you decided to start your own in-house daycare. Just think about it, some of your best, most ambitious employees are also dedicated, mothers. To them, staying overtime means spending less time with their child and, in minds of some, it may be even interpreted as neglecting them, no matter how much their career and income need those extra hours. With an office daycare, all of these troubles would be a thing of the past.

Think about it, what would be more invigorating than spending your break with your own child? Also, not many companies out there can meet such an offer, which means that if you were to do so, you would make your employee loyalty skyrocket. This would make some of these employees decide to stay with you even if it means turning down a much superior financial offer from your competitors.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, you need to create a modern office for work, play and rest but all of this can’t be achieved just through design tricks and trends. Instead, you also need to focus on creating a place where people are comfortable, which is not something that can be done by furnishing and accessorizing. Once you get a workplace atmosphere right, with the use of your leadership, effective workplace policies and tolerance, what you’ll achieve is a true peak in corporate performance.

Featured image: Unsplash

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Create A Modern Office Fo…

by Emily Wilson time to read: 7 min