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Communication in the Workplace |

If you want to improve worker productivity within your business premises, one of the best ways in which to do so is to consider the design and layout of your workspace.

We touched on this on our previous blog post, Human Before Design, how taking into account organisational behavioural patterns of your workforce can determine the best layout for your offices. Empirical evidence has shown that effective lateral and work group communication leads to an improvement in overall company performance. So how do you incorporate this into your office and workplace designs?

Utilising Office Design For More Effective Workplace Communication

Communal Seating: Whilst it is imperative to ensure that workers have areas where they can work quietly and alone, it is also important to create seating spaces where people will come together to chat. For many of you the offices that you have will have limitations on interior layouts – nonetheless, there are ways to ensure that your workforce isn’t cut off completely from one another and there are opportunities to come together and chat in an informal environment. This doesn’t limit you to formal meetings in the boardroom – for example, there are office furniture solutions such as seating pods that can create a more private communal area within a larger open plan area.

On The Move: One striking fact that we mentioned in our Human Before Design blog was that people who were on different floors in the same building rarely communicated with each other. On the other hand, it has been demonstrated that people are more innovative and open to ideas when in motion. Rather than seeing spaces within your buildings as “just a corridor”, try to envisage hallways and staircases as extensions of the workspace. For example, create hallways that are wider and furnish with sofas, whiteboards and other items to encourage conversation.

The Green Workspace: Almost a year ago, we published our blog on Urban Office Garden Design which garnered a lot of interest. Rooftop gardens are becoming more prevalent and businesses are seeing the advantage of having an outside area for employees to come together. An exterior space comes across as more informal than the stuffy boardroom and can be an inclusive shared area for employees from every level within the company. Rather than have your workforce dissipate to the park down the road, an outside space for them would facilitate more natural communication and meetings onsite.

"If you would like help in creating a more collaborative environment in your office then please give us a call on either 020 3034 0476 or 01273 303001 or you can email us at info@20sixltd.com "

Office Gripes

What Are The UK's Office Gripes?

'Tis the season to be.....moaning, whinging and complaining....Or so you would be led to believe if you were looking out for news articles about office design of late.

Headlines such as these:

"Workplace gripes adding to UK productivity woes."

"Office worker survey: Moaners and noisy eaters among top gripes."

"Workers waste almost six hours a week thanks to office irritations."

You'd be forgiven for thinking we had skipped past jolly old December and had fallen slap-bang into the January Blues.

There is, however, a serious note in these articles. It has been reported that overall, workers in UK's small businesses lose almost six hours (5.5, to be exact) every week on various office gripes; and a proportion of this is attributed to general office design such as being too hot or cold, having an uncomfortable chair or desk, or an untidy, disorganised workplace.

We don't have access to the exact numbers of people working in an unsuitable office in the UK but we're guessing it's quite a few. And quite a few multiplied by 6 hours per week multiplied by an average of 48 weeks a year at work = a shed load of lost working days due to poorly designed offices and office furniture.

Making the health and wellbeing of your workers a top priority isn't some namby-pamby, nanny-state policy - it can actually increase your productivity. Spending out on the right office furniture, equipment and environment can produce a well-earned ROI.

 

Creating a Healthy Workplace

"To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear" ~Buddha

Statistics on working days lost due to sickness made for sobering reading, but when you hone those stats down to working days lost due to work-related incidents, be that work-related illness or workplace injuries, you begin to see that your office design, fit out and furniture are not all about design.

UK workers take an average of nine days' sick leave each year, more than four times as many as other Western European countries and this costs UK employers about £29 billion a year in lost productivity. Making the workplace a safe, secure and healthy environment could save you a great deal of lost working time and of money.

3 Healthy Workplace Ideas:

Office Furniture: Musculoskeletal problems, including upper and lower limb disorders, repetitive strain injuries, osteoarthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, can be alleviated and/or prevented by ensuring that you have suitable workstations for each employee. There's been a lot of debate about standing desks, the latest 'hot' new office chair has been created by Box Clever that aims to get you standing and moving, and there are some firms who have introduced treadmill meetings. Get the basics right and you will help keep your staff healthy.

Office Fit Out: The need for an office fit out can be the catalyst for considering workplace optimisation. The design and layout of your offices have to take into consideration functionality, fluidity and form - and they also have to be safe working places. Everyday equipment needs to be safe, cables need to be stored, furniture has to be functional. Recent research conducted by the British Council for Offices (BCO) found that the most important factors perceived to be driving employees’ sense of satisfaction with their workplace can be bracketed under ‘getting the basics right' - and you can go a long way to achieving this if you get your fit out spot on.

Office Design: There has been a 20% increase in office workers saying that they would prefer their own dedicated desk space since 2013 - now up to 60%. Does this signal a move away from the open plan office design? It remains important to incorporate open spaces, work places where employees can come together, but there is a trend for needing "my space". Office design has to reflect and reinforce the functionality required by your workforce, and designing with your staff's needs at the forefront will help to create a happy, and healthier, company environment.

Creating a reassuring, communicative, healthy workplace where employees are happy and confident in their employer’s support can have a positive effect on absenteeism.

 

 

Urban Office Garden Design

City Garden Office Design - The Green Workspace

Living in our temperate climate we are a nation obsessed with the weather. It's finally turned warmer out there and you can witness the difference a bit of sunshine makes on the smiles of those you pass on your way to or from work.

But we are also a nation of workaholics: Those of us who work in offices spend on average nearly five hours a day sitting down without moving and 9.3 hours per day in total at the office. When the weather is kind to us a lot of us who work these long hours miss out on the best parts of the day.

So it was of interest to us to read about the urban office garden design schemes that are becoming "the norm" in New York, including vertical and roof gardens for office workers, and even bee keeping facilities.

And then there is the development of the "Greenhouse in the sky: Europe's biggest urban farm" on the rooftop of the empty 1950s office block that once belonged to a Dutch telecommunications company.

Nearer home, we know that Google's London office has a "secret" rooftop garden where some of the employees grow veggies, and there are plenty of other city based office buildings who are embracing the "green office" within the space that they have.

With reports that the average UK worker spends around one third of their working life feeling stressed, the benefits of making the most of limited space to bring a flash of greenery to a cityscape begin to add up. In addition to improved employee engagement and productivity, urban office gardens help reduce carbon emissions, improve the property's value, and even reduce noise entering the building.

Needless to say, the option of adding an urban garden to your office is limited by the space that you occupy. Nonetheless, if you do have room, up on the roof or a disused backyard, why not consider turning it into a green office extension?

20six have helped a range of businesses develop and furnish their office garden spaces, so if this is something that you would like assistance with then please do get in touch with us.

UPDATE: In the last few days Facebook have released images of their Seattle Office which has a rather splendid urban office garden....