Fine Design: Get the Most Out of Your Office Space

Businesses are realizing that designing office space to best suit their employees’ needs and personalities is an integral part of supporting an effective work environment.  Employers are spending billions of dollars to transform their workplaces into open office settings that are conducive to collaboration and productivity.

Many employees — especially younger ones — react positively to these kinds of environments.  But there are a substantial number of people whose work habits are negatively affected by open office spaces and constant activity around them.  These people, many of whom are naturally introverted, may feel like fish out of water in today’s new-age work spaces.

Leaders need to determine how to accommodate the individual needs of their staff members when designing their physical work environment.  Most business are mixed with people who will thrive in open spaces, as well as those who need privacy to produce their best work.

To assess how to optimally design your company’s office environment, you first need to have a good understanding of each of the personalities on your team.  A work group consisting of primarily extroverted individuals that needs to regularly collaborate in order to get their jobs done would likely benefit from an open office concept.  On the other end of the spectrum, a less interdependent group, consisting of more introverted employees whose roles don’t require much collaboration, may be better-suited for and desire an environment with more closed and private spaces.

Of course, most business employ a good mixture of the above.  An increasing number of companies are addressing this conundrum by implementing designs from both ends of the spectrum with lots of open spaces designed to encourage collaboration and creativity, as well as a sufficient number of private offices.  An important part of this process is creating clear physical boundaries. These boundaries signify the appropriate behavior for a particular area, letting people know if they are free to talk loudly or if they should keep to themselves.

Not all people who prefer to work alone want to feel alone.  You can build cubicles/individual offices with transparent doors and windows, so these people can easily peek out to view what’s happening around them, and have easy access to the rest of their peers when they want to take a break.

Conversely, not all people who prefer to constantly collaborate with their peers want to always be around other people. Knowing this, you might want to consider installing private office spaces or break rooms that are designed for only a few people at a time.

The saying goes that one size doesn’t fit all, and this certainly rings true when it comes to designing the perfect environment for your staff.  So, make sure that you know your employees’ preferences before configuring your office.

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