Take a look around – is your office environment inspiring an energetic and dynamic workforce? Or is it sucking the life out of them? It may not be top of your priority list when looking at business goals but the working environment impacts so many areas of business that it really should feature as a key strategy.
We know this can often be overlooked when other business factors take priority, however here are five significant influences on business achievement that should trigger a review of how your office looks and feels.
1. Staff Retention
It sounds like a cliché but it is entirely true – any business is only as good as its people. Organisations that struggle with retaining key staff are always playing catch up. Recruitment and training is expensive and continuity of service for clients is adversely affected by changing personnel.
High employee turnover is usually a symptom of deeper issues within an organisation which could include low morale, absence of staff recognition, poor management or perceived lack of career path.
The working environment can play a central part in developing company culture, maintaining energy levels and productivity, and generating a healthy and comfortable workplace. If you’re business is suffering poor staff retention levels the physical environment is a key strategy to review. You could start by looking at the 7 things to consider when designing a productive office space.
Without regular reviews of the office layout it is likely that new employees are squeezed into the existing office layout, with an additional desk put on the end of an existing row or accommodated in what was an existing meeting or breakout space.
Losing break out and meeting space can have a hugely detrimental effect on collaborative working and therefore overall productivity. Most modern ways of working, in particular agile working rely on different working areas being available for different types of task.
Losing the space to have this flexibility can also impact on staff wellbeing. The feeling of overcrowding, either by the number of people or the clutter around, has been linked to a decline in productivity and creativity, particularly on more complex tasks. These issues could be overcome by the reorientation of workstations, reducing the lines of sight across the office, and where possible providing views through windows.
3. Customer Impressions
How you present your office will say a lot to prospective clients about your company. Whether you recognise it or not, the first impression your working environment gives will either help or hinder you chances of winning or retaining business.
If a prospective or current client visits you in a clean, smart and organised environment, those qualities will reflect on you as a business. Particular businesses will need to live up to the expectations of their clients in order to create that good initial impression. Law firms for example must but smart and modern and the creative industries should make that extra effort to showcase their flair. Conversely, if a new client arrives to a tatty, cluttered space that poor first impression will be extremely hard to shift.
If you are welcoming prospective new clients to your offices and your conversion rates are falling, addressing this first impression could be a very wise investment.
4. Corporate Identity
The idea of a strong corporate identity is that it reflects that business’ values, culture and personality. Through a corporate identity it is easy for internal employees and external contacts to tell what an organisation is all about – how it wants to do business and how it will treat staff and customers. In short, the Corporate Identity is the visual representation of a brand.
How does this impact office space? Implementing an environment that maintains visual continuity and is recognisable, not just to internal staff but to visitors as well, can be a primary strategy in reinforcing the core values of an organisation.
3. Collaborative Working
Increasingly, people from different departments, backgrounds and roles need to share ideas, work on the same tasks and contribute to larger projects together. This need for collaborative working necessitates a more modern approach to the work environment. Office layouts that divide staff into distinct functions/roles can encourage separation and an ‘us and them’ mentality between departments. Offices designed with collaboration in mind should encourage circulation and interaction between staff, whilst equally providing support for individual tasks.
An example of a design that fosters collaboration could be an array of enclosed workspaces surrounding a public space that allows people to meet and interact.
Working environments can be the catalyst for success in business, but also one of the reasons for failure. Regular reviews of the use of office space are essential to make sure your team is motivated and productive. If you have any of the 5 triggers above on the horizon this is an opportune moment to look again at what modern design and an optimised workspace could do for your business.