About designing open plan offices…

At this time and date, one thing is for certain- how happy and productive your employees are often depends on how beautiful your office looks.

Gone are the days, when the company’s workplace was regarded as a place which merely housed employees as they went about their daily set of responsibilities, thus being of little significance- design wise.

Today, that has completely changed and now, the workplace is the king.

Companies are slowly starting to realise that the way to a employee’s heart is through a beautiful workplace and are as a result investing much more on ensuring that their workplaces walk the talk and reflect what they stand for.

From the big boys like Google and Facebook to startup newbies such as Hike and Freecharge , employers are going out of their way to ensure their offices look less like a workplace and more like a vacation.

Afterall, the right kind of environment makes as much as a difference as the right kind of people.

And, believe it or not, according to Steelcase, which has been the workplace consultant for top companies such as Google and IBM , the office environment is an essential element that not only influences an employee’s productivity, but is also vital to create an employee experience.

To ensure, companies and start-ups have all the information they need, we talked to Praveen Rawal, Managing Director of Steelcase India about the trends in workplace design and how important it is for employers to customise their workplaces.

Here’s what he said. CEOs of companies and founders of startups, we’d advise you take note.

The right environment is important to attract the right kind of people who in turn do the right kind of work for your organisation:

“It goes without saying that the right kinds of spaces can help people collaborate, share knowledge, learn together, and build the social networks of trustful interaction that are so critical for solving big challenges in any company. And, this is why organisations should rethink their strategy and create a unique experience for employees at office so that they feel comfortable to work in office rather than at home or at a coffee shop.”

Recent trends when it comes to workplace design:

“Earlier, the only thing that helped in retaining employees was compensation, however now what also matters is creating an employee experience, a community and build a sense of connection with them. The goal should be to develop an office work environment that is flexible and adaptable to support the businesses they serve.

New work trends, especially the introduction of tablets, smart phones and other touch-based technologies—present a new set of challenges for worker’s health and well being. Therefore, organizations are now designing the office furniture to suit these varied needs and provide easy solutions to everyday work activities.

Additionally, organizations are increasingly adapting to the open office culture. For many companies, it now appears that there is too much emphasis on open spaces and not enough on enclosed, private spaces. Hence, there are various office furniture designed to suite the growing needs of open office culture. However, we suggest that, a mix of open and enclosed areas, “I” spaces and “We” spaces should be implemented. Instead of providing only open-plan work settings, organizations should “create settings in which people are free to circulate in a shifting kaleidoscope of interactions.

Also, we see the start-up culture is evolving rapidly across globe. India’s successful start-ups have specifically designed their offices to break-free from the traditional and conventional corporate set up. So, a huge demand for smart, quirky and innovative office furniture is observed as it is not only helping them to boost productivity but also engage employees at the work.”

The reason companies should prioritise workplace design

Within many organizations, engagement is alarmingly low, and there’s growing awareness that workplace design is contributing to the problem instead of helping to solve it. In many of today’s workplaces, it’s very difficult for individuals to find moments of privacy. This reality negatively affects stress levels, job performance and engagement. According to a research by Steelcase, due to the lack of privacy at workplace, employees experience an overall impact on their ability to deeply engage in their respective work. It also decreases the thinking capacity of an individual hampering their growth and productivity.

Hence, as workers are putting in longer hours and performing creativity- and knowledge-based duties more than ever, the office has become a venue for personal expression, rather than a purely functional space. The office‘s overall design, and amenities play an important role in how employees perceive their work environment. Creating an employee experience at the workplace is necessary to inspire and motivate employees to work. The right kinds of spaces can help people collaborate, share information, and build the social connection with each other which in turn will help organizations to keep their employees happy and also contribute to their success.”

A successful case study:

“For instance, TV broadcaster Tata Sky, a joint venture between the Indian conglomerate Tata and Fox’s Sky Television, created a space for its headquarters housing 190 employees that features designated areas for game playing and socializing. Its unusual circular floor plan gave a feeling of openness, with the company’s branding prominently displayed. The effect was a vibrant space designed to encourage creativity and spontaneous interactions, while instilling a strong sense of company pride.”

Credits Business Insider

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