If you’re in any doubt about the benefits of an office re-fit that future-proofs a healthy workforce, our Guide to Increasing Staff Productivity and Welfare Through Office Refurbishment will win you over.
Your workforce are key stakeholders when it comes to planning office refurbishment. Any employee will tell you that spending a five day week in the same workplace should be conducive to comfort and productivity – the secret is to listen to them. A formal consultation with your staff at the beginning of the office refurbishment process will enable you to address their needs and earn their loyalty.
HOW TO INCREASE STAFF PRODUCTIVITY AND WELFARE THROUGH OFFICE REFURBISHMENT
If you think of your business as a machine, then your staff are the power source, the operators and the output as well as the essential cogs.
Every machine needs looking after, as errors and niggles will affect productivity (and may eventually lead to a total breakdown).
Think of an office refurbishment as a machine service to ensure your business runs like clockwork.
The office environment you provide will directly impact the mood, atmosphere and attitude of staff. Happy, motivated staff will produce better results and will repay employers with loyalty and a good work ethic.
The Office for National Statistics in late 2015 published depressing figures that showed the UK to be one of the least productive countries in terms of output per hour in the G7 – despite working some of the longest days. You can address this by changing your workplace to meet the needs of your staff.
Employees that work behind a flimsy desk, sit for hours on a broken chair or go home with a headache every day will feel undervalued and unmotivated. Their levels of enthusiasm will dip, their productivity levels will wane and their impression of you as an employee will nosedive. Investing in an office refurbishment, with new business furniture, a smarter office layout and fresh communal facilities, is a direct investment in staff.
A new workplace environment will refresh minds, create a sense of loyalty to your company, reward staff and help new ideas to flow thanks to better engagement among staff.
Your office refurbishment should be guided and shaped by the very people you are trying to help - your workforce - so involve them in a formal consultation process that’s carried out in tandem with an experienced office refurbishment company.
AREAS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING A NEW OFFICE DESIGN TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY AND STAFF WELFARE
Has your accounts lady called in sick again with a bad back? Rather than curse her absence, address whether your office furniture and set up is the root cause.
The NHS states that back pain is the leading cause of long-term sickness in the UK, responsible for more than 15 million lost work days in 2013 alone.
Bad posture and stress are two of the most common causes of back pain - both of which can be attributed to the workplace. In fact, Spine Health highlights how sitting in an office chair for prolonged periods of time can definitely cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem.
Ergonomics must play a part in your refurbishment plans. Office chairs, office workstations and reception counters should induce comfort and there are many ergonomically-designed options that deliver better posture.
Bespoke office furniture is another option, where individual measurements are taken to create custom-fit office furniture that improves wellbeing.
STAND AND DELIVER
Standing up to work brings with it immense health and productivity benefits so if your workforce looks unmotivated sitting behind a desk, it’s time to join the sit-stand revolution.
Research into standing more makes for compulsive reading. Read on for an insight into some of the highlights.
1. Stanford Business School held a study with 56 work teams who had stand-up meetings vs. 55 groups holding seated meetings. In all cases, the meetings were short - roughly 10 to 20 minutes. In the stand-up meetings, groups took 34% less time making decisions, with no real difference in the quality of the decision.
2. Studies from the British Heart Foundation of 2,000 UK office workers found that 78% of office workers felt they spend too much time sitting down.
3. Diabetes Care suggests people should alternate between 20 minutes of sitting and standing, with a 15-minute break every two hours.
4. Public Health England (PHE) says staff should use sit-stand desks to ensure they are on their feet for a minimum of two hours a day. They also found that compared with those who sit the least, those who sit most are more than twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and have a 13% and 17% increased risk of cancer incidence and mortality, respectively.
5. A recent Bupa survey found a third of Britain’s workers don’t even bother to get up at lunchtime, choosing instead to eat at their desks.
There are a number of office refurbishment solutions to tackle sedentary trends in the workplace:
They allow employees to switch their working position to suit their mood, task or health. Adjustable options give total flexibility although fixed-height ‘podium’ style office workstations can be added to an office layout. MEETING ROOMS These don’t have to follow conventional rules. Why not replace a central table with a high-level bar-style counter that people can informally gather round on foot? Privacy and soundproofing can be provided by glass walls or pod-style configurations.
BREAK OUT AREAS
These should be designed to encourage people to move around the office and stretch their legs. A games zone is a fun way of getting people on their feet, creating a sense of wellbeing and encouraging engagement. Consider a pool table, table tennis or foosball.
It’s a simple analogy but if you plant a seed, give it water, give it heat and give it light, it will grow into a beautiful plant. Neglect the seed and it will fail to flourish. Think of your staff as seeds that you need to provide for and nurture.
An office refurbishment is the perfect time to address the basic needs of your employees and the right office design can improve every aspect. You might like to think about the following:-
1. NATURAL LIGHT
Research by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois found working without natural light can be detrimental to productivity, health and overall wellbeing. It’s just one of many studies that comes to the same conclusion.
An office refurbishment or relocation gives you the chance to increase the amount of natural light in your workplace. This can be as simple as replacing internal walls and solid partitions with glass alternatives, using low-level office partitions to aid the flow of natural light and replacing solid doors with glass examples.
2. ARTIFICIAL LIGHT
The NHS estimates that 32-40% of migraines can be triggered by light sensitivity, which can cost employers thousands in time off work and reduced levels of performance. Poor light can also cause eye strain and induce lethargy.
Space planning during the early stages of refurbishment will identify a better way of illuminating your workplace, using a combination of overhead lighting, task lighting, filters and bulbs that mimic natural-light.
3. OFFICE TEMPERATURE
Productivity levels have proven to dip if it’s too hot or too cold within the workplace. Although there’s no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, employers must abide by health and safety at work laws that dictate the temperature must be at a comfortable level, and the air clean and fresh.
Air conditioning or comfort cooling can be installed as part of an office refurbishment or relocation, with individual controls allowing people to customise the temperature in the area or room in which they work.
4. COMMUNAL FACILITIES
When you consider most employees spend at least half of their waking hours at work, having clean cloakrooms and a functional kitchen is essential.
Communal facilities, however, are often unloved and overlooked. Staff will really appreciate a fitted kitchen where there’s a dishwasher, drawers that actually shut and perhaps a shared bench-style dining table.
Cloakrooms should be bright, with lockable doors, modern sanitaryware, good lighting and decent hand washing/drying facilities. You might also consider showers, lockers and a dedicated area for hanging coats.
5. SAFETY & SECURITY
By law, your staff need a safe and secure place to work. If your accident log has one too many entries, you’re taping down wires to prevent a trip hazard or holding furniture together with gaffer tape, you might not be fulfilling your legal obligation.
Staff should come to work knowing they are looked after. Improved door entry systems, a bolstered reception area, a dedicated medical room, the replacement of broken business furniture, new floor coverings and a reconfiguration of power/data points can all better safety and security in the workplace.
AN AGILE APPROACH
Agile working balances the needs of your workforce with the work they do and the workplace you have.
In a report published by CIPD in association with The Agile Future Forum, improving productivity was one of the top current priorities across the public, private and voluntary employment sectors.
Agile working is believed to be such a revolution that even the NHS has an opinion. It goes as far as saying that agile is: “A way of working in which an organisation empowers its people to work where, when and how they choose – with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints – to optimise their performance and deliver best in class value and customer service.”
Reconfiguring your office as an agile environment is best done as part of a wider office refurbishment. Consultation and space planning is a vital first step to create a more productive and fulfilling workplace. Businesses will need to examine their workflow and workforce now and in the future, and balance this with new technologies, flexible working patterns and the tasks employees undertake.
Reading industry reports and examining our own case studies, agile working can:-
1. Improve staff motivation.
2. Increase productivity.
3. Reduce absenteeism and sickness.
4. Reduce staff turnover and help attract new talent.
5. Space save - allowing for expansion or the occupation of a smaller more cost-effective office.
6. Increase interaction and engagement among staff and departments.
7. Better match resources with workflow.
8. Allow the workforce to adapt to changing projects and workloads.
9. Give employees more control and a sense of purpose.
10. Increase staff effort and output.
Interiors can suggest ways of converting your traditional office layout to a more agile one.
Elements such as pods, communal desks, break out areas, task zones, quiet corners, brainstorming centres and hot desking suites can be incorporated into most workplaces. It’s also possible to fuse agile elements with a traditional office set up to meet individual business requirements.
We are happy to meet with your business and stakeholders, devise a staff consultation process and draw up a new office space plan showing how office refurbishment, the replacement of office furniture and a new office interior design can increase productivity and improve staff welfare.
Contact us today for advice and case studies using the contact details on the last page.
Download the guide
A safe, secure office with ambient temperatures and plenty of natural light, clean facilities, ergonomically designed furniture and an efficient working layout will undoubtedly engage your employees far more than a flimsy desk, broken chair, perilous wiring and a grubby cloakroom. Extra-specially visible provisions for their welfare, such as a fitted kitchen, designated dining area, break-out rooms and sit/stand desks which give the opportunity for ‘agile working’, will signal an even greater commitment to engagement and retention.
Our guide gives a strong indication that an investment in staff productivity really can transform your business results and includes national statistics that show a clear correlation between office environment and employee health – along with examples of office space planning and design from MPL Interiors.