What makes or breaks an office space? It’s a question we always keep in mind for each and every Kent and London office design and refurbishment project we undertake. We understand that an office refurbishment can have a big impact on an office space – given the investment in your business you should see many benefits from your office refurbishment – including increased productivity and business growth as well as providing a welcoming and inspirational workspace for your staff, clients and site visitors.
So let us ask again, what’s makes or breaks an office refurbishment?
Do You Love Your Office Space?
How does your workspace make you feel? If your office space leaves you feeling depressed and uninspired chances are your employees and other site visitors probably feel the same way. We know from numerous studies and research that the way a workspace makes people feel can have a direct impact on your business:
A survey of 600 UK based staff showed: “Around 66% of staff surveyed believe that their office environment is a very important factor in keeping them happy at work. 42% of staff say that their current office environment does not have a positive impact on their happiness and only 36% enjoy coming to work every day. 31% of people who replied to the survey would be willing to sacrifice 1% or more of their salary for an office refurbishment and enhanced facilities! 66% of staff replied that they would be happy to spend more hours in the office if extra facilities were provided, 17% who filled in the survey said they would spend more than two hours extra per day!”
A Furniture123 survey of 1,014 UK workers, revealed that 53% of office workers would refuse a job if they don’t like the office or working environment, 41% of surveyed workers said outdated décor would put them off a job offer and 38% would be put off by a lack of natural light. 32% of respondents said broken or outdated furniture would also influence their decision, with an equal number understandably being put off by a dirty or unhygienic workplace.’
In a report published by Steelcase in 2015, 85% of workers said they experienced discomfort on the job. More surprising was the figure of 37% of workers who felt that they were unable to perform at their best as a result of discomfort.
In 2017 a survey of 1,000 office workers by office supply company Fellowes found that 24% of staff were uncomfortable at their desks and 25% said that their working environment had a negative impact on their productivity. It was also reported that 37% of staff found themselves being distracted because of uncomfortable office temperatures. Up to 50% said that they lost up to an hour of work a day due to being distracted!
A study conducted by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, in collaboration with BT found a conclusive link between happiness and productivity. 13% of workers were more productive when happy.
What Office Design and Refurbishment Factors Should You Take Into Account?
The UK government explain: Human factors: Lighting, thermal comfort, working space, noise and vibration can not only impact people’s performance in the workplace, they can also have an effect on health and well-being.
Lighting, thermal comfort, working space, noise and vibration all play an important role in office design alongside a number of other elements that need to be addressed when it comes to your next office refurbishment e.g. the layout of your office, the colours used and the furniture chosen. Below we look at the various steps and elements that go into a make or break office design and refurbishment.
What’s Important When It Comes to An Office Design and Refurbishment Project?
It’s important to understand what matters to your employees as well as taking into account your business needs and processes when it comes to designing your office space. There’s no point in simply going with the latest trend or following something you saw in a magazine unless you know for sure it’s likely to work for your business model and your employees.
The first step is to look at the space you currently have or think about the space you’ll need based on what your business requirements e.g. do you require individual offices and workstations or open plan and collaboration areas for your teams within your office space? Do you need space for privacy and quiet areas as well as break out areas, kitchen or tea points? Will you need a reception area or meeting places/rooms to greet clients or other site visitors?
Once you’ve assessed your space requirements engage with your staff to find out what they think would best work for them, involve them in the design process and ask them to gather feedback from other staff. This is an important step in the design process as it will ensure that staff requirements can be met and incorporated into your office design.
Based on your needs and the number of staff you need to accommodate (both short and long term) you should be able to layout your office space, keeping in mind the flow of your office, the needs of individuals and teams and the work that needs to be carried out.
Think about making the most efficient use of space but avoid over-crowding as this can be one of the things that can quickly make an office look cluttered and uninviting. Think about desk placement to make the best use of natural light and enable staff to work efficiently without having to take long walks to access storage, printers and other members of staff that they work with etc. Where staff work together in teams desks should be together while still giving individuals space and privacy.
Consider collaborative space and break out areas which allow staff to “get away” from their normal work space while providing areas where staff can come together to brainstorm or to simply move away from their desk. Kitchen and tea-point areas are also important and encourage staff to take breaks and recharge.
Think About Colour
Colour plays a vital role in mood. Colours in the red range (red, orange and yellow) are perceived as “warm” colours. These colours call to mind emotions ranging from feelings of warmth to feelings of anger. Colours in the blue range (blue and green) are perceived as “cool” colours and are thought to evoke feelings of calm but can also induce feelings of sadness.
A range of colours can be used throughout your office space e.g. to promote your brand or to energise or de-stress your employees. Using red accents (a completely red room could be overwhelming) can energise staff; blue and green can promote a feeling of calm and optimism. A bright cheerful office space is far more likely to lift moods than one that’s dark and dreary.
It’s not just colour that can help motivate and inspire people. You should also look at the use of graffiti and writing/typography to get your message across. Art prints can also be used to add a splash of colour to any office space. Both custom and general art can make a big impact in breaking up wall space and giving your staff and site visitors something to look at in their quiet, contemplative moments.
Never underestimate the influence quality, comfortable, ergonomic furniture can have on your employees’ well-being and productivity. Don’t cut corners or save a few pennies when looking at your office furniture. It’s one of the main things that can make or break an office space.
Sitting (or standing) comfortably is vital to staff health. Choosing the right office chair with lumbar support and desks that are the right height or can be adjusted for sitting or standing can make all the difference. It’s therefore important to involve your staff in any furniture decisions, after all they are the ones that will have to use them day in, day out.
Incorporating natural lighting into your design, wherever possible, is crucial to the success of your office space. We know that light plays an important role in health and well-being and it’s vital to ensure that there is the right type of light and good lighting to allow staff to do the tasks they need to do.
Different activities require different lighting. As a rule more detailed work requires more light e.g. according to the UK government “a process control room should be lit at an illuminance of 300 lux, a corridor or walkway may only require 50 lux, whilst studying an engineering drawing may require 750 lux (see HSG38 Lighting at Work).”
Staff should also be able to control local lighting. Studies have shown that where staff have control over their lighting there is an increase in job satisfaction and a decrease in stress levels.
Employers have a legal obligation to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace. According to The Approved Code of Practice and guidance suggests the minimum temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16oC or at least 13oC if the work involves rigorous physical effort. It’s important to note that these temperatures are not an absolute legal requirement however employers have a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in their particular workplace circumstances.
If an office is too hot or cold an office is can impact performance. It’s important to be able to control the heat and humidity of an office environment. A lack of control can lead to job dissatisfaction and stress. So what is the “right” office temperature?
Research carried out by Cornell University suggests the optimal temperature for office productivity was 25oC. Alan Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis and director of Cornell’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory explained “At 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the workers were keyboarding 100 percent of the time with a 10 percent error rate, but at 68 degrees, their keying rate went down to 54 percent of the time with a 25 percent error rate. Temperature is certainly a key variable that can impact performance.”
Designing To Reduce Noise
We’ve all experienced a noisy work environment and know how easy it is to be distracted from the task at hand when noise levels rise. Studies and research has shown that noise is also one of the major factors that many staff find difficult to cope with e.g. research carried out by the American Society of Interior Designers revealed that 70% of office workers believed their productivity would improve if their office was less noisy; a study by Berry and Banbury showed that a noisy office can reduce the accuracy of work carried out by as much as 67%.
When it comes to your office design there are three main areas you should take into account to reduce noise levels in the office. They are: the ceiling, walls and floors. The right suspended or drop ceiling will absorb noise, reduce reverberation, and prevent sound from travelling to adjacent areas. Acoustic screens or partition walls will act as barriers to prevent noise from passing through in a similar way to full walls, whereas acoustic panels will absorb unwanted noise and carpeted floors will reduce ‘foot-fall’ noise, effectively ending it before it begins
Once you have a plan and know what is required a digital render can be created so that you can “see” what your new office space will look like before any work is actually carried out. A 3D render is a great way to preview your design and allow you to tweak any elements that you feel could be improved. Don’t forget to involve your staff at each step of the process.
Engaging the Right Office Design and Refurbishment Company
You should involve a professional office design and refurbishment company from the very start of your project. They will be able to bring their expertise to your project and help you to make the right decisions for your business. Look for a company that has carried out similar projects to your own or who have the right expertise to make your office refurbishment a success.
How Can JBH Refurbishments Help?
JBH Refurbishments have over 30 years experience in office design and refurbishments and can advise on all aspects of your Kent or London your new office design. To find out how we can help contact us via our contact form or by calling 0333 207 0339.