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5 Ways Office Furniture Can Improve Productivity

06 Mar 2018  |  Co-working  |  Design  |  Trends

The office is where we go to work… except, increasingly, it’s not that simple. With the trend towards agile working, we’re used to working at home, in coffee shops, or on the road. That means the modern office has to adapt to meet the changing needs of employees.

One challenge facing companies is how to attract people back into the workplace in order to retain knowledge, collaborate with colleagues, to drive processes and desired culture.

We recently explored how office furniture looks to the home to improve productivity. By blending form and function, by offering comfort as well as efficiency, companies can provide smart environments where employees can feel inspired.  Not only does this inspire greater productivity, it does so in a way that is consistent with the culture of the business.

We’re often asked the best ways to achieve this.  It’s a fair question. Workplace design has long moved away from sterile cubicles towards something more collaborative and convivial, but if the office is too cosy and relaxed, there’s a danger nobody will get any work done. Following in the footsteps of early adopters into a radically agile environment is a known mistake as good design should always be evidence-based and tailored to the company’s culture and people.

It’s all about getting the balance right.  Here are a few ways in which the choice of office furniture can improve productivity.

Adjustable Sit/Stand Desks – More and more businesses are offering sit-stand desks as a standard option for their employees. Costs used to be high and they were available only to those with generous budgets but now they’re readily available across varying budgets.  And there’s real evidence to back up their effectiveness.

The Well Building standard includes a section on active furnishings, which requires at least 60% of work settings to offer some form of standing option.  This needn’t be at a height adjustable desk. These could also be at a static height or located in meeting rooms or informal collaboration zones.

The concept is simple: if we sit in the same position all day, our posture – and therefore our productivity – suffers.  Changing our physical state by standing up keeps the body ache-free and the mind alert, and with a sit/stand desk it’s possible to carry on working comfortably.

Are you seated comfortably? –  What you sit on is more important than what you’re sitting at.  The chair has direct contact with your body and should therefore support you in whatever task you’re completing. Seating should be varied to meet the different tasks you’ll typically engage in throughout the day.  Look for chairs that are designed specifically to suit mid-to-long-term focussed or concentrated work, and then complement these with alternative settings that are support your posture when listening or relaxing.

Zoned Office Layouts – in any given day, you’ll most likely perform a variety of work-related tasks.  Some will require the space for collaboration, others will need an environment for quiet, focussed activity.  Realistically, that means having entirely separate sections of the office designed for specific purposes.

In an agile office, the use of zones can make this an easy, effective process.  Booths or partitions can shut out noise and distraction for ‘concentration zones,’ while softer furnishings such as sofas create ideal ‘team zones’ for collaborative working.  Even the lighting can be adjusted between zones to allow different moods, tailored for the type of work you wish to encourage.

Ban ‘Al Desko’ Dining – If there’s one thing that’s great for improving productivity, it’s making a clear distinction between where you work and where you relax.  However, it’s amazing how many of us still eat at our desks, blurring the boundaries between the two.

By creating dedicated breakout areas, businesses can encourage the workforce to down tools at lunchtime and move to a central area.  This has two advantages: not only does it keep the desk clear for work activity in the afternoon, it inspires chance meetings and opportunities for collaborative working – a different, complementary type of productivity.  Note: this is a cultural shift as much as a practical one, did you know there are more germs on a keyboard then in the bathroom! So you might find it’s necessary to ban ‘al desko’ dining with a clearly defined desk policy!

Be Luxurious – as domestic design seeps further into workplace design, the aesthetic of the office is changing. Gone are the days where you expect a standardised, uniform aesthetic from one company’s offices to another’s. Today, there’s a much more eclectic approach to style as companies add a vivid personality to décor and furnishings. 

The opportunities are almost endless.  The overlap in domestic and commercial finishes means it’s easier to source finishes and details that add a wow factor to workplaces.  Whether it’s the natural appearance of wood or marble, the style and sophistication of velvet, the bling of brass or black chrome, there’s a material to match the mood you want.

As office furniture consultants, Sketch will recommend the best solution for each business.  Sometimes, that might even mean doing without furniture in a particular area.  A completely clear floor-space, with just a whiteboard on the wall can be the perfect arena for a quick brainstorming session.  Or a meeting room with a standing height table but no chairs, where you have to keep on your toes, literally and philosophically. 

As with any type of office furniture, it’s all about understanding the needs of the business and supplying a solution that keeps the workforce happy, healthy, engaged.

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