What would the 'perfect' office look like?

Given how much time we spend at work, it’s vital that our offices are pleasant places to be in. But knowing how to design an office that people actually like isn’t easy. From getting to grips with layout to deciding what temperature to turn the thermostat to, there are lots of issues to consider and decisions to make.

Fortunately, help is at hand. Keep reading for a number of key pointers that could help you to create the perfect office.

A practical layout  

The nature of your business will dictate the best layout of your workspace. For example, innovative teams tend to need open areas as this aids with the sharing of ideas and helps the creative process. More generally, workers need enough room to be able to get on with their tasks comfortably. If they are squeezed into small work areas, their productivity will suffer.

It’s also essential to create a work environment that allows employees to concentrate. While open plan offices are popular, the noise and distractions they often create can hit productivity. One simple but effective way to minimise these distractions is to incorporate desk or floor screens into your office.

Ergonomically designed furniture

Because workers often sit at their desks for much of the day, a comfortable chair that’s designed to allow for maximum concentration is a must. Ergonomically designed office chairs are also vital for employee health and posture.

Sit-stand desks are becoming increasingly popular as more people switch onto their health benefits. These units can easily be raised or lowered as necessary, giving employees the choice of standing or sitting while they get on with their tasks.

Appealing break rooms

The importance of break rooms is often overlooked when companies are creating offices, but in fact these areas are a necessary addition to all workspaces. A few minutes break can significantly enhance a worker’s ability to concentrate and be productive.

If you’re looking for inspiration to create an appealing rest and relaxation area for your personnel, take a look at our breakout furniture range. You might also want to consider adding fun features such as a foosball table and games console.

Lots of natural light

A study carried out by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois found that office workers who had greater exposure to light in the office benefited from more hours sleep and better quality sleep than their counterparts with less light exposure. They also did more physical activity and had a better quality of life. Research like this underscores the importance of providing workers with as much natural light as possible.

It’s clear that lighting has a big impact on health, productivity and mood, so employers should make sure that access to sunlight and windows is optimal throughout offices. Where natural light is limited, it’s a good idea to install daylight bulbs. These illuminations provide a softer, warmer light than traditional solutions. On the other hand, avoid harsh fluorescent lighting, which can cause fatigue, headaches and eyestrain among workers, and make it harder for them to focus

Another handy design suggestion is to place mirrors around the office in order to increase ambient light levels.

The ideal temperature

Temperature has long been a cause of tension in offices. Setting a number on the thermostat that pleases everyone can seem impossible. In fact, research conducted by Software Advice found that more than half (56 per cent) of workers polled were dissatisfied with the temperature in their offices at least several times a month, while 60 per cent said that having more control over the temperature would make them more productive.

Although people have their own personal preferences, studies have shown that slightly warmer temperatures are more conducive to greater productivity and accuracy in the workplace. So, while the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends a temperature of 20°C for offices, you might want to turn your heating up a little higher than this.

Good air quality

Air quality may not be something you’ve paid much attention to in the office, but the air we breathe can affect our ability to think and focus clearly. Fresh air is best, but in modern buildings with in-built air-conditioning, a good alternative is to install air filters.

You should also include plenty of plants around your office, as greenery can absorb chemical compounds from the air that are given off by synthetic materials, plastics and cleaning materials. In addition, plants can lift people’s spirits and make offices more attractive.

Art and colour on the walls

Another area to focus on is décor. It’s well known that colour can have a big effect on the performance and even the health of workers, and it can impact on mood and brain function. While beige, brown and grey were popular choices in the past, these hues may foster a sense of laziness. White remains a common colour preference, but although it looks efficient, it provides little stimulation. Blue, however, can be calming and peaceful, and in turn this can lead to raised productivity. Green and orange are also well worth considering. These colours are thought to promote creativity and broad thinking.

One way to introduce colour into a workplace is to hang paintings or pictures on the walls. Artwork that showcases nature can be particularly good for easing stress.

There is no one type of office that’s perfect for all businesses. However, by taking this advice on board and adapting it to suit your particular company and your employees, you should succeed in creating an environment that’s ideally suited to your needs.

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