How to Design an Office that Reflects Inclusivity

Office design for inclusivity

Office design can affect employees' overall productivity, collaboration on projects and sense of belonging in the space. Your office space plays an important role in your company culture. Most importantly, your office design can promote overall inclusivity by encouraging staff to connect with each other and bring their unique perspectives to the table. Building this type of culture takes a team-wide effort—but office design can help get you there.

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Leave room for creativity

Creative office space to attract top talent

The ability to infuse one's individual personality into an office space is important for staff members—and an effective way to attract top talent. Managers should allow staff to contribute to the style of the office as it's essential to making people feel comfortable in their work space. This could come in the form of staff-made murals, desk customizations or even whiteboard walls—anything that provides a medium for individuals to show what they value. Fostering a creative workplace can also improve the team’s ability to develop great ideas and build a sense of personal ownership at work.

Implement universal design

Adjustable furniture, wheelchair accessible entrances and clear signage are all examples of universal design that can help address a number of issues individuals might face on a day-to-day basis.Adapting the principles of universal design is an effective way to include staff in workplace experiences regardless of their personal challenges or disabilities. Incorporating these design elements helps ensure employees and guests are comfortable, accommodated and productive.

Arrange for private and public spaces

Private and public spaces in office space

Designated private and public areas help companies accommodate teams with different working styles and responsibilities—but they are also an important component of inclusivity. Private rooms allow staff to voice thoughts, opinions or concerns without worrying about immediate conflict or backlash—a crucial element of inclusivity.

If staff don’t feel comfortable expressing thoughts to coworkers and leadership, the environment won't feel truly inclusive.

Public areas like cafeterias and lunchrooms are just as important. These spaces help create moments of connection and can spark discussions between staff. In these areas, staff from different teams or of varying levels of seniority that typically don’t interact with each other have the opportunity to connect. Not all of these touchpoints need to be verbal. Providing community chalkboards or feedback forms in the lunchroom, for instance, can help staff communicate via non-verbal channels.

Promote wellness

Promote wellness in the office

Creating an inclusive office space means ensuring that each employee feels they belong. Providing employees with space in the work place to engage in physical activity can improve both the employee experience and the success of your company. For instance, it can boost morale and encourage coworkers to engage in team-building activities outside of work hours. It can also improve employee health and reduce stress.

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Consider the benefits of offering your employees a gym, a yoga/stretching room, internal fitness classes or simply a comfortable outdoor space to breathe in some fresh air during breaks. Staying active and maintaining a certain level of fitness is a priority for many. Establishing a comprehensive wellness plan will ensure employees have a sense of belonging at the company and feel their wellbeing is prioritized.

Office spaces can have a strong impact on inclusivity by providing opportunities for self-expression, creativity, wellness and team bonding—but it’s important to note that these design elements will not work without adequate processes to support them. Managers will need to ensure that conflict resolution and open communication are championed by staff in order to get the most out of an office space designed for inclusivity.

Are you looking to improve inclusivity in your office space through design changes or improvements? OfficeSpace's space management tools can help you make informed space utilization decisions, customized to your needs.

Photos: Shutterstock / fotoinfo, Shutterstock / zhu difeng, Shutterstock / Goran Bogicevic, Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com