5 easy ways to motivate your staff

March 22, 2017

Having a motivated workforce is a must for all organisations, so if you think your personnel are lacking purpose and inspiration, now’s the time to take action. There are many different ways to give your employees a morale boost, and here are five of the simplest and best.

 

  1. Make your office an enjoyable, stimulating place to be

 

Office design is about much more than simply providing enough workstations for your personnel to use. With a few clever touches, you can create an inspiring setting that’s a pleasure to spend time in. For example, rather than having a homogenous working environment, you might benefit from creating different zones within your office. As well as a section with regular workstations, you could include a breakout area where employees can go to have discussions with colleagues. You might also want to incorporate a quiet area that personnel can use when they want to concentrate on tasks without being disturbed. Zoning your office in this way can give your staff members greater control over their working days, and in turn this can reduce their stress levels, raise their productivity and generally make them feel happier.

 

Traditionally, office décor has been fairly dull and nondescript. However, companies are increasingly switching onto the advantages associated with injecting some personality into these places. Introducing splashes of vibrant colour can be an effective way to elevate the look of your office, and you might also benefit from displaying some attractive artwork. It pays off to bring plenty of greenery into your working environment too. Plants look great and they can improve air quality. There’s also evidence to suggest that they raise worker output. A study by a team from the University of Exeter found that in ‘green’ offices – which feature a lot of plants – productivity could be up to 15 per cent higher than ‘lean’ offices with relatively few bits of greenery.

 

  1. Offer the right incentives

 

When it comes to providing incentives that will motivate your employees, the most obvious is a pay rise. However, if you’re looking to keep your costs down, there are a range of other rewards you can offer to your personnel that should help to put a smile on their faces. For example, perhaps you could give them an extra paid day off for their birthdays. You might also want to provide awards and prizes for certain achievements. This can help to focus people’s minds and it shows them that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. On a more basic level, simply remembering to praise your staff members when they do something well is important.

 

  1. Provide opportunities for advancement

 

If your personnel know that – as long as they put in the hard work and show enough talent – they will be able to progress in their roles, they are more likely to demonstrate commitment and drive. Conversely, if they feel they are stuck in a dead end job with no opportunities to progress, your workers are likely to lose interest. So, it’s essential that you provide your employees with fair and attainable promotion opportunities. By putting in place clear targets that your team can work towards in order to move up into more senior roles, you stand a better chance of keeping them motivated.

 

Effective appraisals are an integral part of this process. These feedback sessions can help employees and managers to understand one another’s expectations. It’s also vital that your workers have access to suitable training so that they can expand their skills in order to climb the career ladder.

 

  1. Lead by example

 

The most inspiring and best managers tend to be those who lead by example, so this is something you should always try to do in your role as a boss. If you turn up to work each day with a positive attitude and lots of energy, there’s a good likelihood that your employees will follow suit. Bear in mind that this applies to the finer details as well as your general approach. For example, if you want your personnel to turn up to work on time every day, it’s worth making an effort to get to your desk nice and early. Managers who have one set of rules for themselves and another for their employees can struggle to earn respect and trust.

 

  1. Give them more of a say

 

Giving your employees more of a say in how things happen within your company can also be a big morale booster. By allowing your personnel to have greater input, you can help to foster a sense of team spirit and make them feel genuinely valued and respected. There are many different ways to bring people into the fold and give them a sense that they are more connected to the decision making process. One very simple but effective tactic is to offer them a say in how your office is designed, and enabling them to personalise their workstations.

 

You could also ensure you have regular staff feedback and brainstorming sessions to give people a chance to express their ideas and to come up with their solutions to problems. As well as helping to make people feel involved in the running of your organisation, this can turn on a tap of new ideas that help to drive your business forward.

 

There’s definitely an art to keeping workers motivated and engaged, but following suggestions like these should help ensure you get the basics right. The techniques covered here aren’t difficult, and they can have a hugely positive impact on the outlook of your employees. From tweaking your office design to empowering your personnel, there are a host of ways to improve the mindsets of your staff members.

 

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Could ‘healing offices’ be the holy grail of workspace design?

March 15, 2017

From the purely functional and often drab to the imaginative, attractive and airy, the world of office design is undergoing a period of profound change. Bosses are increasingly switching onto the benefits of providing appealing and stimulating environments for their personnel. By being more responsive to the needs and preferences of their workers in this way, organisations hope to achieve a range of goals, from enhancing morale to reducing sickness absence and boosting productivity.

 

One of the latest and arguably most interesting ideas is to create so-called ‘healing offices’. So, what exactly is this concept – and could it really be the holy grail of workspace design?

 

Healing offices explained

 

The company at the forefront of this trend is Dutch design studio D/DOCK. Its Healing Office® concept draws on research data and theories of environmental psychology in a bid to encourage positive behavioural changes, enhance mood and improve the lifestyle of personnel. The idea centres on a total of 10 indicators, including daylight, indoor climate, physical activity, nature, connectedness, autonomy, control and healthy food.

 

According to D/DOCK, its approach could reduce rates of sickness absence by up to 30 per cent, increase productivity by as much as 20 per cent and even raise workers’ life expectancies by up to a decade. The design company also suggests that it could lower organisational costs.

 

From concept to reality

 

Putting its ideas into practice, D/DOCK has created the interior of The Edge in the Zuidas or ‘Financial Mile’ district of Amsterdam. The innovative tower, which recently won an Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence for its environmentally sustainable approach to design, is used by a number of companies and it has a very distinctive look and feel. Described by Bloomberg as “quite possibly the smartest office space ever constructed”, it is packed with more than 20,000 sensors and over 15 smart systems to optimise everything from cleaning to lighting and heating.

 

Characterised by its soaring glass panelled walls and spacious, light-filled atrium, it is an homage to responsive technology. Individual offices light up when people enter and mobile phone apps automatically adjust temperature and brightness. Workers don’t have to worry about their phones running out of power either; these devices charge wirelessly when they are placed on desks.

 

A hot-desking system means individuals don’t have designated workspaces. Instead, an app finds them a suitable place to go based on their personal schedules. This could be a regular sitting desk, standing desk, meeting room, work booth, balcony seat or an area in an enclosed room designed to optimise concentration. With only 1,000 desks for the 2,500 people based in The Edge, the idea is that conventional workspaces are only used when they are actually needed. From large, open meeting areas to tiny rooms featuring just a lamp and lounge chair, there are a host of other environments for people to utilise.

 

The attention to detail in this cutting-edge office is staggering. A good example of D/DOCK’s meticulous approach is the mesh panels that have been installed between each of the floors to allow stale air to filter into the central open space, where it rises and escapes through the roof. The process creates a natural ventilation loop and helps to give the impression of being in the outdoors. Meanwhile, every work area in the tower is within seven metres of a window to maximise the natural light that people are exposed to. The building also contains games rooms, large flatscreens that can be synced with any laptop or phone and coffee bars with machines that remember how individuals like their hot drinks. There’s an on-site gym too, and an app that automatically tracks people’s workout progress.

 

What do users think?

 

The main tenant of The Edge is Deloitte. Speaking to the Guardian about its employees’ experiences in the tower, senior manager at the consultancy firm Harry Vlaardingerbroek said that unlike in offices previously used by the company, the new environment brings people together. He remarked: “Now no one has their own desk and we have open floors so you can work with colleagues with better comfort and climate.”

 

Deloitte also suggested that worker absenteeism has declined since the firm moved to the new office.

 

How to create your own healing office

 

OK, so having access to multiple smart systems, tens of thousands of sensors and vast light-filled spaces might be a little on the ambitious side for a regular business, but if you’re keen to embrace the general concept of a healing office, there are simpler, smaller-scale and less expensive design ideas that you can employ. For example, perhaps you’d benefit from investing in some individual desk lamps to complement your overhead lighting. This will ensure that your employees have greater control over brightness levels at their workstations.

 

You might also want to consider dividing your office up into different zones that are suitable for group meetings, informal discussions and individual work. Creating defined spaces like this and encouraging people to move between them will give your workers greater flexibility. If you have the space, it’s worth considering creating an on-site gym too. Even if it’s relatively small, this could encourage your employees to keep fit. Simple touches, like providing bowls of fresh fruit for your staff to eat, can bolster your office’s health credentials too.

 

Also, bear in mind that workplace essentials such as office desks and chairs should be high-quality and provide maximum comfort. By making sure that workstations are spacious enough to comfortably accommodate computers, phones and stationery, and by ensuring that seating offers proper support, you will help to minimise the risk of your personnel developing back and neck problems at their desks.

 

Whether or not you believe healing offices are the holy grail of workplace design, you could find you benefit from taking on board at least some of the ideas associated with this concept. As well as potentially making the working day more pleasant for your employees, these design touches could raise productivity and therefore boost your bottom line.

 

 

 

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5 office design trends you’ll see in 2017

March 9, 2017

There’s no denying the importance of effective office design. Get the setup of your workspace right and you stand to raise morale among your employees, increase productivity and even reduce absenteeism. A practical and stylish space could also help you recruit and retain the best workers. Highlighting this fact, in a global study of nearly 8,000 workers conducted on behalf of Robertson Cooper, a third of respondents revealed that the design of an office would influence whether they decided to work for a company or not.

 

If you’re determined to get your working environment just right, it pays to keep tabs on the latest office design trends. With this in mind, here are five key approaches to watch out for in 2017.

 

  1. A move away from ultra-open plan

 

In some big offices, expect to see a move away from vast open plan spaces populated by very large numbers of workstations. This impersonal, trading floor style of space can certainly help companies to make the most of their square footage, but it’s also associated with a range of potential problems, from excessive noise and a lack of privacy to increased stress levels. Open plan as a design concept looks set to stay, but sprawling work areas are losing favour. Instead, companies are increasingly opting to divide large areas into zones where smaller clusters of people are grouped together. For example, one sizeable space may be divided into four or five subsections. These areas tend not to be separated by walls or large dividers, but they are clearly differentiated to create quieter and more intimate spaces.

 

Low-level office screens and carefully positioned plants and cabinets can be used to create subtle but important divides between different sections within the same large space. This approach can still represent an extremely efficient use of space and it ensures rooms don’t lose their big, open and airy feel.

 

  1. More imaginative, flexible layouts

 

Thanks to WiFi and mobile devices, many workers are no longer tied to their desks for the duration of the working day – and this fact is set to become even more apparent this year. A rising number of businesses look set to shift towards more imaginative and flexible layouts that give their employees greater control over their environments during the working day. Forward-looking companies are seizing on this idea to create a variety of zones that cater to different needs. From breakout areas with special seating that is designed to facilitate group discussions to secluded, quiet spaces intended to promote concentration, offices can include a number of very different areas that serve distinct purposes.

 

  1. Greater use of responsive tech

 

Expect to see more responsive technology being integrated into workplaces too. The advanced solutions now available to companies are transforming the office environment as we know it. From lighting and heating systems that adjust automatically according to individuals’ preferences to desks that wirelessly recharge mobile phones, a host of innovative solutions are slowly but surely creeping into our work areas. The Edge office building in Amsterdam is at the vanguard of this trend. Among its many high-tech solutions are sensors positioned in LED lighting panels that report detailed data on humidity and temperature in a bid to perfect indoor climate control. The office also features big flatscreens that can be wirelessly synced with any laptop or phone, and it even has espresso machines that remember how individual workers like their coffee.

 

The Edge may be ahead of its time, but many other companies are starting to follow suit in terms of incorporating responsive tech into their offices.

 

  1. More of a nod to the natural world

 

Pantone has made a ‘tangy yellow-green” its colour of the year, saying the hue symbolises the connection people seek with nature. Whether this particular paint is an interior design hit this year remains to be seen, but green will certainly be a big feature of many workspaces in the form of plants. Sometimes called biophilic design, incorporating more greenery into offices is known to have a positive impact on employees’ morale. It can also improve air quality, and when done well it makes an impressive style statement.

 

An abundance of pot plants may spring up in offices this year, and watch out for the inclusion of living walls too. These vertical hydroponic systems feature plants contained in discrete panels. They can be neatly manicured or left to grow to create a wilder look. Living walls offer a relatively simple yet highly effective way to inject added vibrancy and life to a range of work areas, from meeting rooms to atriums.

 

  1. More on-site gyms and standing desks  

 

With many people working long hours and growing concern over the impact of prolonged periods of inactivity on health, more bosses may be set to adapt their offices in a bid to promote employee wellbeing. For example, a greater number of workspaces may be set to get on-site gyms. In the past, these facilities were considered a luxury and they tended to be seen only in big workspaces. Now though, even small companies with limited space are switching onto the benefits of giving their personnel a place to exercise before or after work, or on lunch breaks.

 

Standing desks will continue to grow in popularity too. These adjustable work surfaces are increasingly being seen as a necessity rather than an extravagance and many workers now expect to be offered these innovative furnishings.

 

With trends like this to look out for, you should have lots of inspiration if you’re keen to overhaul your office this year and create a more appealing, dynamic and effective space.

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First Impressions – what does your reception say about your business?

March 6, 2017

Have you ever thought about what first impression your business is giving? Research shows that we form a first impression in just 0.1 second. This isn’t a lot of time to ensure the first opinion is a good one. So, take a look at your reception furniture what does it say about your business – what would your opinion be if you were entering the premises for the first time?

 

It’s not just the place people judge but those greeting them too. What are they wearing, how do they sound? All of these are valid questions that impact people’s opinions.

 

After that first interaction our opinion rarely changes, so let’s make it a good one. Get thinking about the furniture, people, and welcome guests receive. If you get these right you are on track for a positive reputation.

 

Don’t believe us? Put it to the test watch our latest video and see what you can deduce from these snappy images.

 

 

We’d love to hear your feedback and you can join the conversation by visiting us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

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How to create an organised classroom in 3 simple steps

March 2, 2017

Regardless of whether you’re in your first teaching job or you’ve been doing it for years, it can be tricky to get the hang of creating and maintaining a perfectly organised classroom. Letting your study space fall into disarray can be chaotic and unsettling not just for you, but your pupils too, so it pays to think carefully about how you can keep your room neat, tidy and clutter-free. For some handy hints and tips, keep reading.

1. Use effective storage solutions


You can’t expect to maintain an organised classroom if you’re not readily equipped with effective storage options. It’s vital that everything in your space has a place to stay when not in use, and it’s just as important that you know exactly where to find the things you need. The good news is, there are a plethora of different storage solutions that you could incorporate into your classroom depending on what it is that you need to stow away. For example, bookcases and cupboards are ideal for storing textbooks, while trays and drawer units are perfect for keeping stationery supplies. At Furniture at Work, we offer a range of high quality education furniture in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you shouldn’t struggle to find storage that fits your space and satisfies your precise needs.

2. Create an effective filing system

As a teacher, you’ll appreciate that there is much more to your role than giving lessons and marking homework. It’s likely that you’re expected to complete stacks of paperwork on a daily basis. While you no doubt try your best, it can be tricky to keep on top of the administrative side of your job, and it’s easy to let your space become cluttered and untidy. So, to make sure you’re staying on track at all times, you might find it useful to create your own filing system. From class schedules and lesson plans, to useful resources and materials, to pupil registers and reports, this is a great way to maintain order in your study space.

How you set up your system is up to you. You could go all out and dedicate an entire filing cabinet to staying on top of things, or you could arrange your essential documentation in plastic boxes or trays. You might even want to create sub-folders or colour code your work by category to make sure you’re ultra organised at all times.

 

3. Rethink your furniture layout

 

If the layout of your classroom furniture is all wrong, it’s likely the whole room will suffer. Failing to think about the arrangement of your furnishings can make the space look and feel chaotic, and you may struggle to make the most of the room you have. In turn, this can have a negative impact on your teaching and on your students too. So, if you’re keen for your lessons to flow smoothly, it pays to organise your furniture in an effective manner.

 

The size and shape of your classroom may influence how you arrange your desks or tables. Whether you choose to organise these furnishings in rows, clusters or in a circular shape, the configuration you use should enable you and your pupils to move around the room with ease, and it should also complement your teaching style.

 

As long as you’re fully prepared, creating and maintaining organisation and order in the classroom isn’t as difficult as you might think.

 

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3 workplace resolutions for 2017

February 14, 2017

Is your office décor uninspiring and drab? Are you not getting enough exercise during the working day? Do you find yourself constantly searching for missing documents? Whatever your problems in the office, the new year is the perfect time to make some changes. With this in mind, here are three useful workplace resolutions that could benefit you in 2017 and beyond.

 

  1. Move around more

Sitting is now being likened to smoking by some experts in terms of the the level of risk it poses to public health. Changes in technology and working habits mean that many of us now lead far more sedentary lives that our predecessors did in previous generations. Worryingly, research has linked excessive sitting with a range of serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain cancers. Predictably, it also raises people’s risk of obesity. Sitting down for prolonged periods of time is thought to slow down the body’s metabolism, which impacts its ability to regulate blood pressure and sugar and break down fat. A study conducted by a team from Harvard Medical School and the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggested that inactivity causes nine per cent of premature deaths around the world.

So, given the clear dangers associated with too much sitting, what can you do protect your health in the office? One simple thing could be to invest in Sit Stand desks. These innovative furnishings give you the option of standing while you work. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of regularly taking breaks from your desk to move around the office. Why not go for a walk or hit the gym on your lunch break too? These simple but effective tactics could help to stave off a range of medical problems.

 

  1. Clear the clutter

Sick of searching for lost paperwork? Perhaps it’s time to invest in additional office storage. Having plenty of filers and cupboards to house everything from documents to books and stationery supplies will help you to keep your workspace organised. If you’re a little short on square footage, you could invest in space-saving solutions like under-desk pedestals and full-height cabinets.

As well as making sure you’re properly kitted out, it’s worth putting in place an effective filing system, and if you haven’t already done so, try to get into the habit of filing your documents as you go or at the end of each day. This will help ensure your workspace doesn’t gradually slide into disarray.

 

  1. Get serious about style

An attractive office not only looks professional and impressive when guests visit, it’s also inspiring for you and your colleagues to use. Having the perfect colour scheme and stylish design touches can be a big morale booster and it might even help you to work more effectively. So, if you’re bored of the way your workplace looks or it’s beginning to look a little tatty, why not make some improvements? Simply repainting the walls, hanging some new artwork and introducing more greenery should give your office a new lease of life.

 

Resolving to make improvements like these could help to make 2017 one of your most productive and enjoyable yet – and the benefits should last long into the future.

 

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Organised Mess – How Your Zodiac Organises You

February 1, 2017

From your love life to how successful you become, some things in life are written in the stars. But did you know that the stars are also to blame for how messy or organised you are?
 
Yes, you read that right! If you’re someone who tries hard to be organised but just can’t bring yourself to sort your wardrobe into colours or arrange your filing cabinet into alphabetical order then you’ll be relieved to know that it isn’t actually your fault because it’s all down to what star sign you are.
 
Allow the latest infographic from Furniture At Work to explain…


Filing Cabinets from Furniture at Work

Share your #OrganisedMess results on Twitter @Furniture_Work (via Furniture at Work).

 

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Why Your Office Needs A Personal Stamp

January 17, 2017

Could your office be improved with some personal design touches? To help you get your head around how customisation in the workplace can benefit your business, keep reading.

It’ll impress your visitors

It’s no secret that when it comes to office decor, first impressions count. Worn carpet, scuffed walls and broken light bulbs are a big no-no, so in order to have a positive impact on those who visit your premises, it pays to make the effort to freshen up your workspace. However, while a simple lick of paint can help brighten up the place, you could take your decorating to the next level and get personal. Incorporating your company’s image throughout the space will show your clients that you mean business and they’ll be more inclined to take you and your firm seriously.

The good news is, there are a number of ways you can boost your brand. For example, old-fashioned and worn furnishings are not only unpleasant for your workers to use, but they could also leave your visitors feeling less than impressed. High-quality furnishings are extremely important in areas such as meeting spaces, boardrooms and anywhere else that you might hold a conversation with a guest, so if your current furniture choices are beginning to look tatty, it might be time for an upgrade. For desks, chairs and storage solutions that can help portray your firm’s identity, you can browse the Furniture at Work™ website. Regardless of whether your brand is modern and contemporary or classic and traditional, you shouldn’t struggle to find exactly what you need.

 

Aside from kitting your office out with befitting furniture, you could also invest in branded accessories. From mousemats and pens, to coasters and cushions, there are a variety of extras you could strategically place around your workspace to help you make a great impression.

 

It’s good for your employees

 

While you can personalise your office in line with your brand, you could give your workers the chance to customise their own spaces. In 2014, a study was published online by Georgia State University professor Kris Byron and University of Michigan professor Greg Laurence. As part of their study, both researchers approached the idea that personalisation in the office is often used as a territorial marker to help employees express who they are. It’s a given that if you were to personalise your workstation, you’d choose knick-knacks that are a true reflection of you as an individual, but how exactly can this benefit your employees?

An interviewee from the study who was an event planner explained that the thank-you notes displayed on her pin board were there to reassure others of her reliability and competency – two traits that are essential in her role. Some participants admitted that they choose to customise their space to help emphasise their characters and highlight their position within the organisation. For instance, while an employee in a management role might proudly display a hard-earned certificate, a member of the design department may choose to strategically exhibit their best doodles and drawings to showcase their talents.


Aside from confirming individuality, personalisation can also help build relationships between your employees. While all of your workers are unique and different, allowing them to be creative like this is a great way to get them to realise their shared interests, and in turn, create a friendly and harmonious atmosphere in the office.

Adding a personal stamp to your office design doesn’t need to be difficult, and you should find that making a few simple changes can have a positive effect on both your customers and your employees.

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Why the Traditional Office Still Matters in Today’s Virtual World

December 12, 2016

There’s no denying the fact that we live in an increasingly digital, virtual world, and this is having a huge impact on the way in which many of us work. According to an analysis of government figures by the Trades Union Congress, more than four million people in the UK regularly worked from home last year. This represented an upsurge of nearly a million compared with 2005.
 
Being able to plug in and complete tasks remotely is allowing a rising number of us to shun the twice-daily commute and, in theory at least, achieve a better work-life balance. So, given the trend towards greater home working, what role does the traditional office now play? Is this familiar fixture of working life soon to be a thing of the past or will it continue to serve an essential purpose even as technology continues to advance?
 
Here, we take a look at a few of the reasons why the office as we know it still matters to workers and employers alike – and examine how these areas can be given a 21st century update to ensure they remain relevant and useful now and in years to come.
 
Fulfilling a social need
 
Especially to those in busy, crowded offices, the prospect of being able to work from home undisturbed by noisy colleagues can seem inviting. However, while some people do thrive in this relative isolation, others quickly find being away from their co-workers to be a lonely experience. This fact is reflected in the growing number of shared workspaces that have been set up around the world. In fact, according to a prediction by DeskMag, more than 10,000 new co-working spaces will be opened around the world this year alone.
 
These offices allow freelancers and entrepreneurs to come together in a shared environment. As well as providing people with desk space, they give users a chance to break their solitude and enjoy a more sociable working experience. Some might just want to have the occasional conversation around the water cooler, while others use these places to network, give and seek advice and share ideas.
 
The popularity of co-working spaces in towns and cities across the globe suggests that for those who prefer to be in the company of others, there will always be a place for shared offices.
 
Enabling better communication
 
It’s true that emails, phone calls, video-conferencing chats and cloud-based shared documents and systems mean it’s now easier than ever for remote workers to communicate with their colleagues. However, sometimes there’s no substitute for face-to-face discussions – and offices provide by far the most convenient setting for these interactions. From formal meetings to impromptu chats, these traditional working environments enable colleagues to exchange ideas in person.
 
By facilitating the easy flow of information in this way, offices can spur creativity, reduce the risk of misunderstandings between individuals and departments and generally help to ensure that processes run smoothly. All of this is beneficial for personnel and employers alike.
 
Creating a sense of team spirit
 
Being together in a building with their colleagues can also help to increase the sense of team spirit that people experience within a company. After all, co-workers tend to feel closer and more connected if they see and speak to each other on a regular basis. Also, when people are together in offices, they can get involved in a range of activities that enhance this feeling of camaraderie and belonging. From fancy dress fundraising days to bake sales, there are a range of things colleagues can do in offices that simply wouldn’t happen if everyone worked from home. Even seemingly insignificant gestures, like people bringing in cakes to share out when it’s their birthdays, can help to foster a sense of shared purpose and collectivism.
As well helping to increase job satisfaction, strong team spirit can encourage people to pull together and work more effectively, which is of course good news for companies’ bottom lines.
 
Creating a flexible workspace for the 21st century
 
For the reasons listed above, and potentially for many more besides, offices remain essential for lots of workers and organisations. However, that’s not to say that these environments aren’t changing dramatically in line with technological and social trends. So, if you’re keen to create a workspace that’s befitting of the 21st century, it’s important to be savvy when it comes to design.
 
For example, if you want to provide your personnel with flexible working options – so that those who want to work remotely from time to time can do so – why not introduce a hot desking policy to ensure you’re making the most efficient use of space? Also, you may want to join the rising number of employers that are switching onto the benefits of creating different zones with their offices. From breakout areas with comfy, informal furnishings that provide the perfect setting for discussions between colleagues to quiet spaces where people can concentrate on their tasks without being disturbed, you could include a number of different sections in your workspace.
 
You might also want to inject some fun into your office by incorporating a games area or quirky design elements like a staff art wall where employees can display photos or drawings. People are increasingly put off by stuffy, formal offices and many now expect a more light-hearted space to work in. By creating an engaging, entertaining and vibrant office, you may be able to increase morale and boost creativity among your staff members.
 
Of course, it’s still essential to get the basics right when you’re planning your work area. For instance, comfy and supportive seating is a must, along with spacious desks and plenty of storage. Getting these fundamental elements of your environment right will help to keep your employees healthy and happy.
 
As long as offices continue to reflect the needs and preferences of employees, it seems likely that these spaces will remain a staple of our working lives for the foreseeable future – even in the face of increasing digitalisation.
 
 

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Lower the Noise Levels in Your Office in 5 Simple Steps

December 8, 2016

When it comes to perfecting the sound levels in your office, you might struggle to strike a balance between stifling silence and too much noise. While a murmur of background chatter is normal in most workplaces, it can be tricky to know how to keep this to a level that’s acceptable for everyone involved.
 
Aside from being a common annoyance among workers, a noisy office setting can seriously affect productivity and concentration levels and increase stress and tension, leading to an overall sense of unhappiness and a significant dip in employee morale. In fact, a study carried out by the University of Sydney in 2013 found that a lack of sound privacy was the biggest frustration for employees.
 
So, if you sense that some of your workforce might be struggling, or you’re just keen to create a harmonious working environment that everyone can enjoy, keep reading. In this blog, we look at five ways you can lower the noise levels in your office.
 
1. Rearrange your office layout
 
Firstly, it pays to look at your office layout. Altering the way in which your space is arranged could help you keep your sound levels under control. For example, workstations that are placed close together in clusters can help compartmentalise noise. This can be especially effective if you then sit those who are in the same team together as this will prevent employees from shouting across the room to speak to each other. Instead, they can simply chat among themselves without causing much of a disruption to the rest of the office.
Aside from moving furniture around, you could rearrange some of your equipment too. Gadgets such as printers, photocopiers and fax machines are known for being noisy, especially if they’re being used constantly throughout the day. To prevent these pieces of technology from causing too much of a disturbance, why not place them in a far-off corner of the office? Better yet, you could put them in a separate room.
 
2. Make use of plants
 
Believe it or not, plants have been proven to be highly effective in reducing noise levels, especially in open plan office setups. A plant’s stem, leaves and branches all play a part in helping to absorb sound, particularly in hard-surfaced areas, such as rooms with wooden floors or concrete walls. Their flexible qualities also mean they can deflect and refract sound. The more greenery you strategically position around the office, the greater the impact will be. Bear in mind that large, leafy plants are your best bet when it comes to muffling as much noise as possible. Aside from helping you control noise levels in your workspace, plants are thought to improve air quality, not to mention they’re extremely aesthetically pleasing too.
 
3. Create a quiet space
 
Whether it’s being interrupted by others asking questions or just the general chatter in the room, in the hustle and bustle of a busy work environment, some of your employees will no doubt struggle to concentrate on the task at hand. So, for when the office is just too distracting, you could provide your workers with a quiet retreat.
 
If your workspace is big enough, you could dedicate an entire room to this. However, if you’re lacking in square footage, you could simply use a corner of your existing office. Using screen partitions, you can create a quiet, peaceful area for your employees to use, blocking out the noise of the rest of the office. At Furniture at Work™, we offer an impressive range of office screens that can be used in a variety of different ways, including curved and folding models. What’s more, this style of partition can easily be moved around, meaning you won’t have the commitment of a permanent segregating wall fixture.
 
4. Allow your employees to use headphones
 
Giving your employees permission to use headphones is a great idea, especially if some of your workers struggle to concentrate as a result of a noisy office. Allowing your staff to zone out with their favourite tunes will also help to keep chatter to a minimum, giving those not wearing headphones a chance to get on with their work with less distraction. To really keep the sound out, you could go for high quality noise cancelling models.
 
5. Kit out your space with soundproofing materials
 
You could pull out all the stops and kit out your office with soundproofing materials. There may be a number of areas in your space that you can alter to make sure they are absorbing as much noise as possible. For example, soundproof walls can significantly reduce sound transmission from one room to another, while noise reducing ceiling panels can help muffle loud footfall from above. As for your flooring, carpet is ideal, however vinyl flooring has its own sound absorption qualities too.
 
You could even go as far as to install acoustic box inserts into your plug sockets to eliminate sound transfer through walls, or fill any holes and edges in wall structures with an acoustic sealant to stop noise leaking out. Although there’s no denying that this is a costly and time consuming task, insulating your office with specially designed materials could be particularly useful if you’re finding it difficult to get your sound levels just right.
 
The truth is, it’s near impossible to create a completely silent office – and you shouldn’t want to either. Especially in open plan offices, a small amount of noise is healthy, and it could actually benefit your employees. A low hubbub of soft background chatter can be comforting for workers, making them feel more at ease and less self-conscious while they get on with their day. So while you might want to keep your sound levels under control, it’s OK to allow a little noise filter through the office. Finding the perfect balance of noise in your office is key, and by putting these tips into practice, you should be able to create a harmonious environment for you and your colleagues to enjoy every day.
 

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