When it comes to designing your office space, both aesthetics and functionality make a huge difference to how productive your working environment is and how both your staff and clients view your business. But are looks or practicality more important, and how do you know when to favour one above the other?
Ensuring your workspace is functional is important for obvious reasons. If your employees cannot carry out their jobs in the most effective and organised way, then working time will be lost, while frustration will no doubt begin to rear its ugly head. But what about aesthetics? How does the way your office looks affect your business’s productivity and reputation?
The importance of aesthetics
Well, for one, an unappealing, uninspired or simply unclean workplace may put off potential employees, meaning you might not end up being able to employ the best possible candidate for each role. Furthermore, it may repel potential clients and customers too if they are invited into your workplace only to be less than impressed with how you have chosen to present it. It is no secret that first impressions say a lot, and if you are not willing to go the extra mile to make your own office space welcoming and appealing, they may wonder if you are going to go the extra mile for your customers?
On top of this, the right surroundings can simply just boost productivity. If business owners - or the designers they choose - take the time to design offices to be uncluttered, slick and aesthetically pleasing, employees are likely to have more faith in the company they work for and may be less distracted by unnecessary additions to their surroundings.
It is also worth noting that studies have shown that the right art and the right interior design can not only change the atmosphere within an office, but also quite literally serve to inspire those working within an office space, unlocking creative potential and spurring individuals on to achieve more.
Looks versus practicality
What all this means is that striking the right balance between practicality and aesthetics is vital. Focus solely on functionality and morale and reputation may both suffer as a result. Yet focus just on the design and look of a workplace and you may make your staff’s job unnecessarily hard and reduce potential output as a direct result.
All this talk of the importance of great aesthetics does overlook one important point: without any substance, the amazing interior design or decoration you employ may well seem empty, vapid or even pretentious. The designs you implement should serve a purpose, and by making sure that both looks and practicality are considered together throughout the design process, business owners will find that one side will bolster the other. It is important to remember that one is not more important than the other and instead that each should inform the next.
What is right for you?
Balancing aesthetics and functionality is also about finding the right solution for your own specific business and the way in which your staff work best. A call centre will need to be designed very differently to an artistic hub, and whether or not your staff need to collaborate or work very much alone will feed directly into how you balance the visual appeal of your workspace with how functional it happens to be.
We are drawn to things that are attractive in all aspects of life, and customers and staff may be likely to be attracted to your business if you present your workspace in a good light. By finding the right layout for your office and reinforcing your business’s personality through design, you are more likely to attract the right people to your company - and retain them too. So be sure not to simply opt for something that just looks good - pay attention to what you really need in your workplace and then find the best way to present it, with everything from comfort to brand identity taken into account.
Choose the flourishes that suit your business
Today, games stations and gyms can be found in the offices of many largest corporations. Plush bean bags languish in corners waiting for executives to spitball ideas on them, while spas await lunchtime, eager to comfort those in need of a break. Just because such additions are becoming more common doesn’t mean you have to offer such lavish features to your staff though.
Instead, consider what your staff will actually benefit from. Those workforces that are active throughout the day may not want to spend their breaks in the gym, while those who spend their days sitting at their desks may not want to spend their down time sprawled out on bean bags. Finding the right perks for your workers might not only boost their morale and energy levels, but might also help your business to stand out in terms of design too. What your workers need and the space you have available for such extravagances should be balanced carefully to make sure that whether you offer Fußbal tables or smoothie makers, the additions you add serve your staff well and make your business distinctive too.
The little things
It is not just about the big statement pieces either. Almost every aspect of your interior design can balance aesthetics and functionality effectively. The right approach to lighting will boost productivity while also showing your workspace in quite literally the best light. Furthermore, by utilising natural light as much as possible across the workspace, you can also reduce overheads by decreasing the amount spent on utility bills.
When designing your offices, you might also want to think about downtime as well as all that hard work. Ensuring there are comfortable places for workers to relax when they need a break may boost efficiency and morale, and could even offer you a dedicated space where you have free reign to really go to town with your choice of decor during the design process.
The best office design is not about choosing whether you should focus on aesthetics or functionality. Instead it is about understanding how one can directly inform the other, and finding ways to sum up your company’s ethos in a way that is simultaneously visually pleasing and conducive to productivity.
October 2, 2017