You might think that you can work anywhere, but your environment actually has a surprising influence on your mood, your focus and your output. Just think of the office cubicle, intended to provide space and privacy for workers but now can sometimes be portrayed as dated or confining. Creating the right work environment for the right jobs can be crucial to higher productivity.
The ambition of creating a comfortable space where people can get work accomplished is uncontroversial, but it’s harder said than done. You want comfortable seating (or standing stations), and desks that people can see each other over; you want a reasonable (and adjustable) room temperature; you want to have plenty of meeting rooms and spaces where people can work together in a group (to save disrupting others stationed at their desks); and you want silent spaces that people can get away to, for focused concentration.
After all, having people hunting for meeting rooms or holding impromptu conferences in the middle of an open-plan office will waste time and cause needless disruption. If you want to calculate the direct cost of such issues, just work out the hourly wage of everyone in the meeting and the amount of delay that it suffered – and then factor in how much longer the meeting went on due to its poor setting.
What’s more, while working in dark, dingy, airless spaces will quickly become depressing, it may actually make people ill. While it’s hard to calculate the cost of dispiriting working conditions, studies have identified that well-ventilated offices typically see around one-third fewer short-term sick days and that well-lit offices see 6.5% fewer sick days than poorly lit units. Access to windows and daylight really doesn’t need to be a perk restricted to the corner office.
One caveat in regards to open-plan is that while it’s all well and good for light and air to travel through a space, you don’t want noises echoing across the room – and while ping pong tables might be fun, they can also be extremely annoying. Deploying sound-absorbent surfaces and plant life (eating noise and pumping out oxygen) can work to mute this effect, thereby creating a genuinely workable environment.
The building itself
The external shape of a building also has an impact – if you’re working in a sparkling new prestige structure (like Sci-Tech Daresbury’s striking new Techspace One and Two buildings), you’ll feel a certain amount of pride. Meanwhile, grand lobbies and atriums radiate gravity and importance. In recent years, co-working spaces and shared offices have seen a huge amount of success in attracting small businesses who would love to work in an attractive building, but have trouble getting much bang for their buck in traditional office spaces.
A particularly effective feature, that few people might ask for, is the inclusion of spaces where staff across departments are encouraged to meet and mingle. Typically workers will only come across a small percentage of the people who work in their building, but meeting individuals from different sections of the business can build community and inspire staff to transfer lessons from other disciplines into their own practice.
Another aspect to consider is the building’s environment. Are there shops and conveniences nearby? If not, it may be useful to provide services for staff, meaning they don’t have to go far for a sandwich or a cup of coffee. Indeed, such facilities can stretch far beyond in Silicon Valley’s spectacular corporate campuses, including everything from gyms and crèches to hairdressers and car servicing.
One of the core pillars of motivation is that people feel that there is meaning to their work or that they’re doing good in the world – and for an increasing number of people this means thinking of the environment. Because of this, offering options for recycling and creating energy efficient buildings (and telling the staff about it) can make them feel happier and like they’re doing their bit for the planet.
While there are perks to remote working – you get to cut out the commute, take complete control of your working environment and spend time with your nearest and dearest – the office is far from a thing of the past. Talking face-to-face engenders far more free-flowing and productive collaboration than can be achieved by people who never meet, and people who share a physical space will develop far richer relationships and far more camaraderie than workers hundreds or thousands of miles apart. Some companies find that the ideal combination is to combine home working with an office hub – allowing for the best of both worlds.
At the end of the day, employers generally spend a relatively small amount on rent compared to staff salaries. If money invested in the working environment makes staff happier and boosts productivity then it will almost inevitably pay for itself many times over – making it almost impossible to argue with.
If you would like to enquire about office space at Sci-Tech Daresbury, please contact us.