Only a decade ago the typical working office looked very different, more often than not it would be four off-white coloured walls and a bunch of desks. But with the rise of Google and a shift in culture we're seeing a change in the workplace and with it a rise in 'fun' offices to increase employee engagement.
The working environment has never been so important, not just for engaging your current employees but also for attracting new talent. When you consider that just 2 years ago a global workplace report found that 51% of employees didn’t feel engaged at work and 17% actively stated they were disengaged, it suggests that changes are needed.
So how can you create the perfect surroundings for your employees to learn and thrive?
Bust a move
We’ve all witnessed the unstoppable tsunami of avocados sweep across our nation over the past couple of years. The health and fitness industry is booming with a sharp increase in people taking the way they fuel and treat their bodies more seriously. Yet no matter how many detoxifying smoothies we guzzle down at the weekends, the unhealthy reality is that we spend most of our time shackled to our desks from 9 until 5.
One way to counter this is to create an office that allows for healthy posture and movement.
This isn’t to say that you should be hopping on a treadmill between meetings, it’s more about walking up stairs, standing up to stretch regularly or taking a stroll when on the phone.
A study by biomechanist Jack P. Callaghan found that initially, workers should alternate sitting and standing at a ratio of 3:1 with the long-term goal of standing more than you sit. In an eight-hour workday, that means eventually employees would spend only two hours sitting.
Not only is it bad for your posture to sit down all day but it’s bad for your engagement levels.
So creating an office that has standing desks or places to walk when on the phone can all be effective ideas for mixing up the movement of your employees throughout the working day.
"Workspaces should flex to provide a variety of spaces and destinations for workers to inhabit that promote movement throughout the day." - Joan Blumenfeld, Principle of Perkins + Will.
Bringing Mother Nature into the Office
When you’re sat in the same place for 8 hours every day, it can dull the atmosphere to look out your window at barbed wire fencing or a plain brick wall.
Multi-sensorial experiences have been proven to be profoundly important for our health, this means employees should be exposed to natural light and vegetation as much as possible throughout the working day. Typically an office should have large windows and tall ceilings which are great for letting in lots of natural light and creating a sense of space in each room.
Try and locate some interesting plants too, don’t just go and grab anything green. Plants such as Cacti or Aloe Vera can help to stimulate the brain as well as improve the office aesthetic.
A great view counts for a lot too.
Being able to see green space can help the mind to focus and alleviate stress. While not everyone has the luxury of a window seat it’s worth thinking about the floorplan of your office so that everyone can experience as much of the outside as possible.
Mix and Match the Space to Create Different Working Environments
It used to be thought that wide open spaces were the best working environment, however it was soon realised that they can be incredibly distracting and one dimensional.
So today it’s thought that having a variety of different spaces throughout the office can be key to keeping your brain stimulated throughout the day. These different environments could include lounge and seating areas, themed meeting rooms and multi level offices.
You only have to look as far as the tech giants such as Google or Twitter to see exactly how mixed working spaces look. Their offices resemble playgrounds more so than they do a place of work.
Also, if you do have multi level offices with various themed meeting rooms, make sure that all employees get to utilise each area otherwise the same department could be found in the same meeting room at all times defeating the point of these different environments.
We’ve already touched on how important scenery can be, but you have very little control over this unless you’re moving to a new office and choosing between locations.
However something you do have control over is the colours and textures on the inside of your office. If you can’t look out onto an earthy calm sanctuary then maybe you can make it feel that way inside.
Deciding on what sort of colours and textures are the best fit for your office completely depends on what sort of company you are and whether you want your employees to be relaxed or stimulated. Maybe different areas can cater to both moods.
For example, bright colours such as yellows and oranges emit feelings of energy, optimism and vibrance, whilst blue tones are more calm and tranquil.
There’s no rulebook when it comes to designing an office, it’s best to play around with lots of ideas and see what starts to take shape. Better yet, gather suggestions and feedback from all of your employees to find out what sort of environment they’d like to work in. After all, it's a perfect opportunity to engage your employees and create a positive and healthy workspace they flourish in.
To help you out we created the 'UK Contact Centre Decision Makers Guide' with ContactBabel where we highlight the most effective ways to motivate and engage your contact centre agents. Grab the guide here!