The sun rises over the hills and the sea glistens; the streets are littered with fancy cafes and people scurrying to work. This is San Francisco: a place where most people only dream of working. Recently, many companies like Square, Facebook, Microsoft, and Evernote have consigned famous designers to rethink their working space. Having a classy office is not only a hot new trend – office design can also have a significant impact on your business productivity.
This article originally appeared on our Japanese blog.The author, Akane Sako, had a chance to sit down and talk with one of San Francisco’s most noted office design companies, Studio O+A. Here are a few learnings on the importance of office design for business productivity.
1) Reflect the company culture in design
It’s not just design companies who have pretty offices anymore. Having a well-designed office space helps establish and promote your business.
Think of the office as the company’s “head.” This is where the client is first introduced to the face of your business. Visually enchanting office style and design is a more effective way for conveying your brand than any word or sentence used to explain your company.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Presenting a beautiful office displays the prowess of your business. It will force viewers to not only consider the talent of the individuals who work there, but rather the business as a cohesive unit.
Because you have instilled your brand into the office – rather than attempting to insert your brand into the employee’s appearance or behavior – you can allow for the freedom of employees to work in a style that is comfortable, and allow them to be themselves. The freedom to be open at the workplace will attract better talent to your company.
Not only does your perception from the outside matter, but the internal perception of your company counts, too. If your office perpetuates your brand, it will permeate into your employees without force-feeding them your ideals. Incorporating your company colors or logo into the design of your office space are effective ways to subtlety promote your brand. Moreover, in an enjoyable, branded office space, employees will bond as a more cohesive and productive unit.
2) Design based on employee needs
The office should have a beautiful appearance to clients and guests, but the design concept should be derived from the needs of the company’s employees. For example: designing the main workspace with the intention to reduce or eliminate stress and unnecessary movement will undoubtedly increase office productivity. Beauty is important, but the effectiveness and efficiency of the design takes the forefront.
It’s not just about the working space; it’s about refreshing the whole office.
There are other spaces in the office to consider besides the workspace. It’s important for workers to have a place to take a break and relax. A relaxed space is also the best place for employees to have the best internal communication, and for new ideas to flow freely.
3) Encourage communication with an open space
In today’s office world, developing projects, workshops, and marketing strategies are all possible through the use of online tools like Skype, Webex, or ChatWork; but technology should not override the importance of human interpersonal relationships and interaction in the workplace. Without this, productivity will be stifled because employees run the risk of feeling detached, antisocial, isolated, or depressed.
In the picture above, notice how the desk layout encourages face-to-face communication. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at the employee’s work desk, but it is important to incorporate layout and design that encourages human interaction.
Placing importance on communication is always key. A great and direct way to accomplish this is to incorporate a café, restaurant, or even a bar within your company’s complex. At Twitter, their café serves beer to employees at their convenience.
4) Make the office a second home
There is an evident and deep connection between office design and productivity, but using these methods doesn’t always guarantee improved productivity. Every company’s culture is different and in order to maximize the benefits of your office design you have to take your ideals, work style, and ethics into consideration.
It may also not be 100% necessary to create a refresh space for your employees. The important point to realize is to avoid working frantically day in and day out without proper time for rest.
The office is not the place you spend the majority of your day working for your paycheck; it should be thought of as your second home, where you come every day and enjoy the productive things you do!
To learn how to apply this Silicon Valley trend to your own office space, take a look at Part 2 of this article, “Rethinking the Workspace: A Step-by-Step Guide.”
Photos by: O+A Design, Brandon K. Hill