Rear view series #4: Top 10 office refurbishment tips
Written in 2008:
Today’s competitive business environment, demands that organisations constantly evolve to maintain differentiation and to secure new business and the best talent. The workplace environment is a business tool to drive long term profitability through engaged and highly productive teams. The work space should encourage the desired workflow, brand values and cultural aspirations thus ensuring organisational alignment.
Over time a workplace becomes tired and by the end of a 5 year lease period, will be in desperate need of refreshment to reflect the new dynamic and brand position of the organisation. This may simply be for occupational health and safety and compliance or perhaps to encourage “greener” practices. A dysfunctional office environment is a business risk to productivity, health and safety, attraction and retention and ultimately to long term profitability.
The areas to address within an office that provide the best return on investment are:
1. Include the team
Any change imposed will not be integrated. Transparent consultation with the team to uncover the real needs and wants will provide a result that has ownership and buy in.
2. Improve lighting
Many studies have proven that access to natural light vastly improves staff productivity and reduces sick days. Remove barriers to natural light and supplement artificially at a task level.
Inefficient storage frustrates the workflow and the staff, creating lower productivity through confused or lost data. Outdated systems clutter the space and create an untidy and disorganised environment. You can’t clean up if there is no storage space to put it or file it. This also takes up unnecessary and expensive floor space.
4. Collaborative space
Old cellular and hierarchical offices create silos and isolation. Providing a variety of teaming areas allows cross functional collaboration and increased communication, leading to greater efficiencies and engagement.
5. Privacy- Acoustic and Visual
While teams need to collaborate, some tasks or roles require acoustic and or visual privacy. Even within an open plan both of these can be achieved with detailed planning and engineering. At the very least, a part time “refuge” must be available to all staff.
6. Occupational Health and Safety
While this is a regulatory requirement to comply, many spaces do not. To ignore these requirements exposes the business to huge risk, financially and ethically.
The colour of the workplace plays heavily upon the mood and psychology of the team. Each area should be coloured to evoke the specific emotion required. Generally however, as light is critical to well being, lighter colours should be used to increase reflectivity and light penetration. Caution should be taken to manage glare.
8. Brand Integration
An organisations market differentiation is manifested through their unique branding. The clear demonstration of brand values will allow the attraction and development of a team that is culturally aligned. This is particularly true for the customer facing areas such as reception and board room. First impressions count.
More and more environmental issues are moving from niche to mainstream. It is now no longer just a consideration but a necessity to be good corporate citizens, particularly when competing for the attraction of talent. It is essential that every organisation has a “green” stance and clearly demonstrate it.
10. Plan for future dynamics
As the workplace environment is both a reflector and catalyst of the desired business culture, it is by nature dynamic. A refurbishment is not a one off but an annual activity. Any solution arrived at must ensure flexibility for cost effective future churn. Good design drives great business but that does not automatically necessitate high cost. The highly qualified Project Management and Architectural team at Incorp can provide workplace diagnostics, that will quickly and simply identify the risks and opportunities available and then demonstrate how to cost effectively leverage the opportunities while remedying the risks.
What has changed in 2018?
It would appear very little. These 10 points remain relevant. Obviously, over 10 years technologies and attitudes have changed to provide highly flexible working (such as ABW). One of the biggest changes has been to paper usage. While not zero, it is getting very close due to digitisation. This along with fast, secure and reliable wifi, supports the ability to access info and collaborate remotely. Environmental awareness and initiatives are now main stream, not niche as they were. The rise of “wellness” (both physical and psychological) is now a major consideration. No quantum leaps but certainly moving in the right direction to be human centric rather than numbers centric.