Managing an office space is a science — well, not actually. When it comes to office design and workplace culture, researchers in a variety of disciplines have discovered some key facilities management principles that, although they might sound abstract at first, can help you create a healthier and more productive workplace.
As a facility manager, you need to constantly be learning about the most cutting-edge tactics in your field. Discovering proven solutions to everyday problems is paramount to your success, so why not trust the experts?
Even making small changes to your overall workplace layout and practices can have massive effects, according to research conducted by Ben Waber, research scientist and CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a management consulting firm. In many cases, you can increase worker productivity without having to undergo a complete office overhaul, which is good news for office managers looking to keep extra costs to a minimum.
According to their research, people with more diverse social networks tend to be more creative and productive. If your work group (or social group) has the same preferences and opinions, chances are that there’s relatively little new information or ideas being introduced. Diverse connections and having conversations with those who challenge your ideas will inspire new perspectives.
Consider having areas within your office that allow for chance encounters and for people from varying departments to connect and share ideas. This can be as simple as incororating some office design trends, such as introducing pathways to main areas (like meeting rooms and the kitchen) forcing members of different departments to interact. You might also want to encourage your employees to attend networking events in the local community where they can share ideas and get inspired.
People who sit at larger tables or a series of connected desks tend to be more productive. These setups can help foster larger workplace networks, meaning that there are more people to lean on when a problem arises.
By having larger lunch tables, you can also help to foster a sense of community in your workspace. Building a culture of support throughout your company will allow you to cultivate happier workers who feel comfortable leaning on their team members for support.
Offices shouldn’t be just about work. If your office setting keeps people isolated, it will be hard for them to form any sense of a bond with the people they work with. Tight-knit groups allow employees to receive support when going through tough times and celebrate when things are going smoothly.
Organize your office so that different groups interact and talk to each other on a regular basis. If your office demands large stints of individually focused work, then consider scheduling events where people throughout your office have the ability to interact.
“Corporate culture” used to be a buzzword. However, recent research has found that having strong company values and finding ways to reinforce them can actually improve the performance of your company.
In fact, Greg Smith, former Executive Director and Vice President of Goldman Sachs believed that the decline in the success of the firm was due to the failure in enforcing workplace values. In order for your office to avoid compromising its values, you need to operate with a certain amount of integrity.
This research from Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales has found that companies with high levels of perceived integrity are correlated with “higher productivity, profitability, better industrial relations, and higher level of attractiveness to prospective job applicants.” These are values that don’t actually influence office policy, but rather, make your workers feel proud of the place they work and want to live up to its high standards.
By infusing these values into the day-to-day of the workplace, you can help cultivate a dedicated workforce that’s primed to succeed.
Thinking about going green? New research has found that adding plants and other greenery to your office is much more than a design trend; it actually helps to improve worker productivity. This study suggests that adding plants to an otherwise bare office can help to improve worker productivity by as much as 15%.
According to the report, besides productivity, plants help to improve levels of concentration, workplace satisfaction and lead to cleaner air quality throughout the office. If you’re an office manager who is concerned about the health of your workers, then consider adding a bit of foliage to your office. When you focus on improving the health of your employees, you end up improving the health of your business.
To succeed in today’s work climate you need to constantly be innovating. The studies will help you have researched-backed reasons to help you create a more inspiring workplace. Don’t rely on guesswork; instead, put your faith into scientifically-backed principles to guide your office design into the future.
Photos: Mari Helin-Tuominen, Anh Le, Tran Mau Tri Tam, Abigail Keenan