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Enticing employees back to the workspace

Part 1: open up, build for collaboration, and embrace the fresh air.

 

Office and facilities managers have probably never been so in demand as they are right now. Across every industry the concept of hybrid working, and enabling a truly flexible approach to working from home, the office, anywhere, has taken hold – meaning big change for traditional workspaces.

Talk now is of a practical nature, and understanding the best way to re-imagine the workspace to attract people back in. Clearly the priority is to make people feel safe, but what then? What else can be done to support this hybrid model, while tapping into wider workspace trends, many of which existed before the pandemic? Trends such as:

  • Supporting greater collaboration as well as ‘personal space’
  • Technology driving and enabling the work anywhere culture
  • Employees wanting to choose where and when they work?

The challenge of course is in accommodating a range of needs into existing (or future planned) workspaces. Then there’s the question of ‘how?’. A business might well see the need to transform offices to improve productivity, aid recruitment, and boost employee wellbeing. But they can also be light on the details needed to make this happen.

At Form Workplace Solutions, this is the hot topic for all our clients right now. So, to give you food for thought, we offer up our top recommendations and practical suggestions for getting started. In Part 1 we touch on the need to get open, collaborative, and well ventilated!

enticing-employees-back-to-the-workspace

1. Open plan, open minds

Any space, irrespective of its dimensions, becomes transformed when you open it up. Not only does it instantly feel bigger. But by removing partitions and rethinking the desk, storage, and workspace layout, you’ll also be able to create a more dynamic flow of people through it.

Allowing more natural light and air further enhances the space, making it feel instantly more welcoming and relevant. It’s also an important first step for:

  • Inspiring a more open, collaborative working culture
  • Demonstrating a commitment to mental wellbeing and health
  • Cutting back on the cost of artificial lighting

education-workspace

2. Introduce collaborative hubs

We can all appreciate what’s needed to get people thinking, sharing, and working together. That doesn’t include the traditional approach of ‘stack em’ high’ (packing in as many desks, phones, computers, and people as possible). Instead, as many of our clients are now demanding, the emphasis is on creating spaces that have no other purpose than to bring people together. Once this goal is set, ambition can truly open up:

  • The look and feel of each space should be free from conventional ‘corporate’ constraints, and be opened up for funkier, more human-centred design that helps to relax people and stimulate creativity
  • Bring the outside in doors, with these hubs potentially defined by borders made from nature (biophilic design featuring plants and flowers etc.) that helps clean the air and soak up ambient noise
  • Enable more ‘splash down’ seating that encourages those using the space to just inhabit it and get busy working. Think large sofas, small scale (soft) amphitheatre seating etc.
  • Let technology play a role, with glass boards for brainstorming, pull down screens for presentations etc.

return-to-the-office

3. Get your ventilation sorted

The one thing all employees definitely have in common is that they spend 100% of their time breathing air. Add in health concerns, and indoor air quality is a major concern:

  • Good ventilation reduces air contaminants, expels CO2, draws in fresh air, and helps regulate temperature/humidity
  • Humidity over 40% can also help reduce airborne contaminants from viruses
  • Lower levels of CO2 and higher levels of fresh air helps boost productivity and decision making (as this Harvard study found)

Upgrading your HVAC system or increasing ventilation is therefore another top tip. The value here speaks for itself, and can be measured in terms of reduced sick days, a more pleasant workplace, and the ability to regulate energy costs.

creative-safe-workspaces

In summary

With change comes opportunity. A truism that certainly applies to the transformation of the workplace, as many businesses look to encourage a return of employees to the workplace – via the hybrid model – while striving to keep them safe, happy, and productive.

Design plays a central role in this. From quiet zones to full on team sharing spaces. Getting the layout, environment, and decoration right is increasingly going to prove make or break.

What helps is having an expert on call to guide your decisions, and for detailing what’s practical for the space you have available – before designing and implementing on-demand. An expert like Form Workplace Solutions.

In Part 2, we’ll be exploring the importance of acoustics, furniture, and good storage – watch this space!

 


 

Form Workplace Solutions has a highly experienced design team with a long track record of bringing innovative concepts to the office; and as a registered supplier with the Low Carbon Workspaces initiative, we can also ensure new innovations are delivered in the most cost effective way possible.

We’re bursting with ideas on how to bring future office designs to life. If you’re looking for expert know-how and practical support, then get in touch by contacting Alex Ryan on 01494 464686 or email us at info@formws.co.uk.

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