Is workplace design hindering SME growth?

Workplace design has undergone a revolution in recent years. Across the world, offices are transforming from formal, serious spaces focused solely on work into multi-purpose environments that embrace fun as well. Tech giants like Google are among the pioneers of this new approach. Its offices have features ranging from basketball, golf and rock climbing facilities to napping pods that block out light and sound.

But while large companies are increasingly turning to these freer, more dynamic environments, such workspaces may be inaccessible to many small to medium-sized enterprises.

Revealing stats

New research has found that a large number of SMEs are not opting for ultra-modern offices. According to Crown Workspace, just 54 per cent of businesses with a turnover of under £1 million believe these designer offices are accessible, compared with 92 per cent of businesses with a turnover of £50 million or more.

Just over half of SME owners polled said they believe high-tech workspaces would be too expensive to rent, while 29 per cent thought these environments would be in the wrong locations for them. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) revealed they didn’t think these offices would suit their brand.

Hitting recruitment, retention and productivity

Not being able or not wanting to utilise these contemporary style workspaces could hit small companies’ competitiveness. Employees have increasingly high expectations when it comes to the offices they use, and so those businesses that don’t embrace modern trends in workplace design could find they struggle to recruit and retain the best personnel.

Failing to switch up their office style could also impact on businesses’ productivity. Traditional open plan workspaces have many benefits, but they are associated with a range of drawbacks too. For example, workers can become frustrated by excessive noise and a lack of privacy. In turn, this can harm people’s ability to complete their tasks effectively and efficiently. More modern offices, in contrast, tend to be divided into different zones to counter these issues. Many include quiet areas, as well as breakout spaces where people can have discussions with colleagues without disturbing others. By giving employees greater flexibility in this way, contemporary workspaces can promote increased productivity.

Achieving a designer office on a budget

While going full Google in terms of your office design might be unrealistic for your business, there may be some elements of designer offices that you can incorporate into your workspace. For example, consider creating a quiet area for private or confidential work. Simply introducing some office screens could enable you to do this quickly and cheaply. You could also cordon off a breakout area complete with soft seating where people can go to take a break, have a coffee or hold impromptu meetings.

Consider mixing things up when it comes to your office desks and chairs too. In addition to regular workstations, you could include some high tables for team work, and why not offer your employees the chance to use sit-stand desks too? Think about introducing recreational activities to your staff room as well. Anything from table tennis to games consoles can help your employees to unwind and relax during their breaks.

Regardless of the size of your business and your budget, there will be steps you can take to create a more enjoyable and practical environment for your team.

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