In today’s world, office environments matter more than ever. Not only are companies trying to entice top talent with perks and amenities, but millennial professionals are requesting workplaces that are comfortable, casual, and creative. Accustomed to being connected all the time, they don’t see the separation between work and life as strongly as previous generations. “Millennials value coherence between the physical workspace and the culture of the organization,” says Seda Evis of Birsel and Seck, A Human-Centered Design and Innovation Studio. “They expect to see the office as an extension of the purpose and meaning of work.”
But what exactly does this mean for office design? How do you satisfy the need of several generations of workers? How do you make this new “work casual design” productive? Though good design takes individual companies’ needs into consideration, you can begin thinking about what’s best for you and your employees by considering these top ten picks* for your new office:
- A variety of types of workspaces: When designing spaces for your new office, consider functionality first. Whatever your design (but especially if you’re considering an open office concept), your team will need spaces that help them perform the different functions of their jobs.
- Personal workspaces: Employees want to have places of their own, furnished to help them perform their best (see “Functional and comfortable desks and chairs” below).
- Collaborative spaces: Small meeting rooms and workshop spaces top employees’ wish lists. Smaller meeting rooms can serve as relaxation or quiet spaces, or encourage impromptu collaborations. Any size room can also function as a workshop space, by providing vertical surfaces for brainstorming sessions—whiteboards, projectors and screens, and blank tack-able walls.
- Places to relax: The open office concept can be great for collaboration, but the constant stimulation can be tough on some workers. Comfortable spaces where employees can “get away” for short breaks can improve productivity and creativity, and lessen physical issues like eyestrain and neck tension.
- Quiet “Do not disturb” spaces: More on that constant stimulation: On average, office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes, and it can take up to 23 minutes for them to refocus. In “open offices,” 58% of high performing employees said they needed private spaces for problem-solving and planning, and 62% found their office environment “too distracting.” To keep both collaboration and productivity high in open layouts, earmark private, quiet spaces.
- Functional and comfortable desks and chairs: Your employees spend long hours at their desks. By finding the best solution for each individual (e.g., ergonomic chairs, perhaps sit-stand desks), you’re investing not just in their productivity, but in their health.
- A kitchen or coffee bar: In one survey, a whopping 85% of employees requested some sort of coffee service. Kitchens are also popular, (especially with millennials), not just as areas where people can store and cook food, but as informal gathering places that can spark camaraderie and creative conversation.
- Natural light: Access to natural light makes employees feel and work better. According to the World Green Building Council, employees working near sunlit windows rate 15 percent higher in productivity.
- Nearby restrooms with extra privacy: Make sure there are enough restrooms, and that they’re conveniently located. If you are remodeling or designing from scratch, consider dividing stalls with walls rather than partitions. The walls provide extra privacy and a bit of soundproofing.
- Temperature control: You’ve certainly noticed that some people prefer warmer environments than others, and vice versa. Though you may not be able to provide individual temperature control everywhere, you can install it in meeting, brainstorming, or quiet rooms.
- Neighborhood restaurants: Consider nearby food options when deciding where to locate your new office. Employees want to be able to go out to lunch nearby. Walkability could be important if parking is problematic.
- Updated and functional technology: Your new office should have tools that enhance productivity and streamline work, like user–friendly printers/copiers/ scanners, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, and cloud-based apps for document sharing. Depending on the type of work performed, you may also want to consider video-, web-, and teleconferencing solutions.
- Healthy and “green” spaces: More and more people, especially millennials, are concerned about both the larger environment and the smaller one they work in. Using recycled materials, energy–conserving technology (like LED bulbs), and decorating with air–purifying plants can create a healthier physical space. Providing bike storage, on-site gyms, and access to walking paths and public transportation can make for healthier employees.
- “Joie de vivre” – Interior DesignEditor in Chief Cindy Allen says this quality is important in a workplace (and is not as elusive as you might imagine). Allen says that the “fun” elements you’ve been hearing about—the Ping Pong Tables, plush couches, and coffee stations—characterize a strong communal company culture: “It’s all about the human experience.”
Whitebox can help supply that “joie de vivre.” If you’re looking for office space or commercial real estate in the Dallas Fort Worth area, our team can help you coordinate a workspace that’s comfortable, creative, and conducive to productivity. By focusing on your company’s specific needs, we’ll create an office space that fits your company and makes your employees happy.
* The top ten picks were taken in part from surveys and workshops conducted by Leesman, Birsel and Seck, Herman Miller, Dale Office Interiors, Hackernoon, and Forbes.com, and in are in no particular order.