How to Design a Safe and Productive Office Space
Office spaces play a vital role in the working world. They are hubs for collaboration, concentration, and communication, and most businesses would struggle to function without them.
Office designs have evolved tremendously over the past few centuries, from the grand offices built during the 18th Century in London to the rather dreary commercial buildings of the mid-to-late 20th Century. Past the turn of the century, however, office buildings have become more stylish than ever and are now some of the biggest features on city skylines.
Modern offices have found a good balance of aesthetics and functionality, as well as offering safe and productive environments for employees.
The office environment can be crucial for employee productivity and well-being, even since more and more people are working from home following the pandemic. Offices are playing a greater role in hosting collaborative activities now, which is signaling a movement away from the infamous desk cubicle system to more open-plan spaces and hot desk systems.
As offices continue to evolve and new designs emerge, how can architects and developers design a safe and productive office space for the future?
The Importance of Natural Light
Office buildings went through a period of shutting out as much natural light as possible in the 20th century, leading to largely dull, bleak, and frankly unhealthy work environments. Artificial light, although important for work in winter months, isn’t anywhere near as beneficial to health and well-being as natural light.
A study in the US revealed that workers ranked natural light and views of the outdoors as their most wanted feature of an office building.
The benefit of natural light in the office is irrefutable from many perspectives. It can help to boost employee motivation, inspire creativity and improve employee health and wellbeing. It’s also a perk that can attract people to a job or position in itself, so employers can reap the rewards in many ways.
Any modern office building design should incorporate natural light as much as possible to help make it a healthy and productive space for all.
Creating Engaging Spaces
Hopefully long gone are the days of isolated cubicles and enclosed workstations. These epitomized everything wrong with old office environments and must have driven a fair few to near insanity. Offices of the future, particularly where more people are spending only a few days a week in the office, will need to provide engaging spaces that can encourage and accommodate collaboration.
Desks will undoubtedly be needed still, but you can probably reduce the number of desks and use the extra space to create conference rooms or private spaces for the benefit of your workforce.
Decoration, furnishings, and other items also make a key difference in office environments. Recent years have seen the rise of green spaces and green additions into office spaces that serve to bring some of the outdoors inside.
Life in the form of plants and shrubs in the office help to bring a sense of energy, as do vivid colors and designs. Plain walls probably won’t go far in inspiring creative and progressive thinking.
Incorporating Safety Features
Fundamental elements of any office or commercial building are safety systems. These are required by health and safety regulations in the UK and not having operational safety features in a workplace is breaking the law. They are critical to protecting the health and well-being of staff and customers alike.
The most common safety features are fire detection and prevention systems, emergency exits, and hygiene facilities.
Office designs have to be completed with fire safety as a high priority from the beginning. Exit routes, alarms, and ventilation systems are all part of the design process and the finer details such as door closers and extinguisher points are crucial additions to ensure that employees are working in a safe environment.
Hygiene facilities have been incorporated into bathrooms since the first office buildings were designed, but extra facilities like hand sanitizing stations may become more commonplace in the aftermath of the pandemic.
We mentioned the importance of natural light and views to employees in the first section, but other features can play an important role in creating a popular and productive workplace.
Kitchen facilities, break rooms, and even games rooms can give employees a break from the working day and help them to recharge in between productive periods and meetings.
Furthermore, the office can play a significant role in workplace culture, so encouraging a little play alongside work is a nice way to boost commitment to your company and perhaps increase job satisfaction.
A safe and productive office can be created in many ways but creating your own unique work environment takes more than the design. A happy and healthy office space could be the difference that elevates a business to new heights. What’s your office like?
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