Ideas for a Productive and Modern Office Design

by Guest Contributor, 9 minutes read
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Ideas for a Modern Office Design

Do not be fooled by what you see online when you Google “Modern Office Design.” The many pictures of hipsters sitting around on sofas with padded tables while they tap away on iPads are mostly for show. Professional office designers will incorporate trends with the psychology of human behavior. The elements of modern office design that genuinely affect employee morale and productivity are rather mundane and boring, but that is the challenge for a good designer; to be able to fix the mundane and boring problems in the most innovative way possible.

So what is driving these modern changes in the workplace? To be frank, it’s the new generations entering the workplace. Companies are now looking to attract and retain these younger workers. Because of this, modern offices are popping up all over. Keep reading and learn how your organization can create a space that is not only modern, but that also promotes productivity and overall employee happiness.

Do The Opposite Of Prison Cells

The prison warden will tell you that small cells mean more people may be held for less money, and they will say that plain gray or beige colors on the walls are cheaper than nice decorating, but the fact is that these conditions and these colors are ideal for inducing low-energy and depressive states in the prisoners who have to live in them. Do not unknowingly depress and suppress your staff with close quarters and dull colors.

When creating your modern office layout, opt for bright and modern colors. Modern workstations can invoke a sense of creativity and forward thinking through color schemes. Pops of bright colors contrast against neutral tones (such as white) can create a modern atmosphere.

Let Employees Carve Out An Area For Themselves

Have you ever visited a hotel for a weekend, and the person you are with puts his/her stuff in the drawers and on coat hangers? Or the person you are with doesn’t unpack? The fact is that some people like to nest, and some people do not.

Allowing employees to alter their local decor, to bring in personal items, and to display pictures may ruin the overall ambiance of your offices that are a testament to modern interior design, but it will genuinely make some people happier. What you need to differentiate is between people who nest, people who do not, and people who clutter. The clutterers may need a little prodding to keep their areas orderly.

Give Employees The Ability To Escape Their Desk

Creating a space that allows for employees to move workstations is one way for employees to find silence. Many companies are moving to shared space environments where their employees can freely roam and enjoy privacy. One shared office space that does a great job of providing private desks and open spaces are the WeWork offices. Spread throughout the world, these offices provide spacious and unique common areas as well as private phone booths. Younger generations like Millennials are attracted to this type of workspace because it has a community-focused and modern feel.

Providing a space with outdoor escapes, private phone rooms, or even just a common area provide employees with an escape from their desk. These ‘escapes’ also provide employees with a space to collaborate more creatively. No one wants to be chained to a desk all day so by creating break rooms, employees feel more independent thus increasing their happiness and productivity.

Less Dodging Means More Productivity

Though the sentence “Less Dodging Means More Productivity” may seem like it is part of a throw-away tip, it is actually a meaningful statement for people who have worked in offices for decades. People who work in factories have to do the same repetitive tasks over and over. People who work in offices have a little more variety, but that doesn’t mean that repetition is not present and isn’t just as painful.

Imagine you are in an office, and one of the desks sticks out in your path between your chair and the office door. Let’s say you need to get up at least 9 times per day to collect things, have lunch, use the toilet, etc. That means you have to dodge a desk 18 times per day, 90 times per week, and almost 4200 times per year. After a while, you start to notice aches in your upper thigh and hip and you cannot figure out why.

Call it Feng Shui, or call it psychological barriers, but it harms a person’s productivity and attitude if there is always a physical barrier to the things they desire, even if the thing they desire is to walk across a room. Haven’t you ever wondered why some people become so upset because they cannot open a packet of tightly-wrapped biscuits? Or why some people simply flip out because of a line of traffic? It may not matter if you encounter a physical barrier just a few times but imagine the effect if you do it 4000 times per year.

Invest In Better Technology

Introducing technology into the workplace is another way to modernize the office. In today’s young, technology-driven workplace, having a connected workplace is vital. Hotels are even catching up on this technology-driven trend by installing smart meeting spaces and tech lounges. With the world shifting online, businesses are enhancing the workplace by investing in technology for their employees. True tech-savvy offices will likely have interactive boards and advanced conferencing platforms, as well as online professional development tools.

As a business owner, investing in technology is the same as investing in employees. From high-res monitors to Bluetooth speakers playing music throughout the office, technology can greatly benefit both employees and employers. Many organizations are also moving away from manual entry of data towards a more efficient cloud-based software approach. By automating business operations, employers have more time to focus on their business.

Here at Deputy, our mission is to help improve the lives of employers and employees, using technology to transform operations and help businesses thrive. By simplifying scheduling, timesheets, tasks, and workplace communication, Deputy can transform business operations. Want a live walkthrough of our product? Set up time with one of our reps below and see how Deputy can help your business perform more efficiently:

Bring Nature Into The Workplace

It’s human nature to crave and connect to the outside world. In fact, there’s a name for it: Biophilic design. According to Forbes, offices with biophilic designs increase work productivity by 15%! Bringing plants into the office are not only appealing to the eye but they also provide health benefits by purifying the air. Take a look at Apple’s new offices called “Apple Park”. The building, which is completely circular and features walls made out of glass, has over 10,000 trees outside for employees to enjoy.

Image © Apple

There is also a lot of talk about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and even if it is all fluff and vinegar, the fact is that people feel better when they are exposed to natural light. People who spend most of their lives in artificially lit areas are typically more fragile (psychologically) than people who have a fair amount of sun in their lives. Natural light is a human need, and your office productivity may suffer if your staff is constantly shielded from it.

Make Art a Part of the Workspace

Displaying art in the workplace can alter the mood and performance of the organization as a whole. Having bland white walls resonate none of the motivation or passion that captivating artwork does. Research has shown that artwork makes both employees and customers feel calmer in the workplace, leading to better work satisfaction and engagement. Art objects have also been shown to hold high emotional value than paintings. Placing art objects around the office space is one technique for encouraging reflection and open discussion at a low cost.

Some companies take this a step further. For example, Facebook has an in-house artist program called the Artist in Residence (AIR) that make art displays around the campus. The program started out as way for the company’s values to be displayed, but now it’s a way for artists to share their unique worldview and culture in a place where it is not as predominant. The Artist in Residence program also represents an attempt to see whether an art dense environment can create measurable benefits for everyone involved, both artists and employees.

Design for Diverse Groups of People

There is no such thing as a one size fits all solution for an office space. So, design a space that allows for flexibility and for people of all backgrounds to feel comfortable. The modern workforce is now a group of people from different backgrounds, ages, ethnicity, religions, genders, and nationalities. The design of your modern office space should account for this diversity.

When most people think of an office space, they think of large desks, expensive conference rooms, and the sophisticated use of glass. However, the most modern and productive offices are changeable. Managers are able to switch things around easily without having to unscrew, dismantle, or call in movers. Familiarity breeds contempt, especially if a person is exposed to the same environment, again and again, so buy fixtures and fittings that can be moved easily so that managers may have a switch around when the mood takes them.

Give your employees a variety of options as to where they can work. Some people work better in open spaces where they can easily approach others. Some people could work better in a quiet, less intrusive environment. Providing options can help everyone feel comfortable and work more productively.

Incorporate Wellness

Incorporating wellness into the workplace is becoming more than a trend. Companies today are aiming to improve employees’ personal and professional well-being. Workplace wellness programs promote and encourage healthy work-life balance as well as employee health in general. It can be as simple as providing standing desks, which encourages standing and movement throughout the day.

As odd as it sounds, there are also call centers and writing centers with gyms attached, or with outdoor activities available on hands such as squash courts and basketball hoops, (both are activities that can be undertaken alone if needed).

The office manager of SuperiorPapers said,

“I watched a Tony Robbins seminar where he said that movement was the key to an active mind, and I have watched writers sit in the same place for hours as they work. My writers started running themselves into the ground without knowing it. They started each day with a good work output and gradually produced less through the day because they were sedate. I now insist that before any writer sits down to start a writing shift (typically 3.5 hours each) that they have to use one of our activity centers for ten minutes and get their blood pumping before they start. The effect on productivity was good, but the effect on the overall attitude of my employees and the overall atmosphere in the office was almost instantly noticeable.”

Looking for more workplace wellness programs to introduce to your employees? Check out this list for more ideas.

Create a Home-Like Atmosphere

A rising trend in office design is the concept of a workplace that resembles a home away from home. From comfortable seating to personal fridges, employees will feel right at home. Some offices even allow for pets to hang out in the workplace. Pets in the office can improve work-life balance, serve as a social catalyst, and help people de-stress. In fact, this study found that employees who brought dogs to work had lower levels of the stress hormone called cortisol.

This trend is being implemented everywhere as companies are finding that providing a home-like atmosphere encourages productivity, collaboration, and open dialogue. This is because a home-like atmosphere is less intimidating and less formal than a traditional office setup. Employees feel more relaxed and are more likely to express themselves, which is especially helpful for brainstorming and collaborative activities.

Final Thoughts – Ask Your Employees

Install a suggestion box and encourage people to add to it at the beginning of every month. Some employees will use the box as an outlet to whine, but at least it helps to show you who is the most poisonous in your office by who makes the most complaints. People will respond to your suggestion box if they think their requests are being heard, which may mean having to take a few non-design suggestions such as buying a Slushy machine, but your employees are the ground troops, and they will occasionally come up with some interesting suggestions that can affect the core of your office design.