Considering the number of hours spent at the workplace on average, it makes sense to make an office space as appealing as possible. Improving and enhancing the environment can definitely have positive effects:
- Increased productivity –
if people feel good about their surroundings, then it’s likely that levels of productivity will increase due to higher morale.
- Quality of work –
in certain environments where creative thinking is very important – in a creative agency such as advertising, branding and design for example – a more ‘interesting’ and unique environment can help stimulate creativity.
- Stronger identity with the company –
employees and visitors will make a stronger connection with your company. If the office layout, furniture and details such as pictures on the walls are all of a bland ‘seen it everywhere else’ style, then it’s just ‘the office’ to your staff and a nondescript workplace to your clients.
Of course, improvements can cost money but there are various ways to improve your office economically if you’re on a restricted budget.
1. A thorough clean
Not just a quick wipe over of work surfaces and vacuuming the floor, but a thorough deep clean. It could be worth hiring a professional cleaning company or, if you already use one for everyday cleaning, have them carry out a full clean.
A deep clean would include getting amongst the computer cabling hidden under the desks and cleaning all the dust off, cleaning phones and IT equipment thoroughly, getting rid of that stubborn stain that’s been on the carpet for months and thoroughly cleaning the windows.
A full clean along with a resolution to keep the office looking pristine will make a big and cost-effective difference.
Hand-in-hand with the deep clean above, getting rid of all the accumulated clutter will help the look and feel of the office. People are often advised to de-clutter their living space to help creative flow and to improve mood, so a clearer and cleaner office will likely improve the morale and performance of your people.
It’s likely to prove quite a shock when you realise how much clutter there is in your office. Take a look around: isn’t it about time that beaten up old printer was honourably retired to the local tip? Do you really need to keep those scruffy lever arch files bulging with old paperwork from the year dot?
Be ruthless. Don’t say ‘this might come in handy one day’ or ‘we might need to refer to this sometime.’ If it’s been sitting there untouched – now’s the time to get rid of it.
There’s often a tendency to kit out an office in the time honoured but bland way with grey filing cabinets and ‘corporate’ desks and chairs. If looking to equip an office cheaply, it’s often the standard office equipment that people go for.
There are various places selling used office equipment of various types and design, so maybe replacing some of that insipid furniture with something a bit more colourful and of a different style and finish to the norm is worth considering.
It can help make your environment more in keeping with the type of business you’re in. For example, there’s a UK creative agency who invested a small amount of money in having bean bags for relaxed meetings to stimulate creative thought.
4. Unusual office equipment
The odds and ends people use every day can make a difference. How about a plant pot that doubles as a fish tank? How about pencils shaped like drumsticks? Post it notes in the style of a block of wood? An eraser in the shape of a giant keyboard ‘erase’ key? A USB hub in the shape of a bunch of tulips? This site shows some of what’s possible.
The idea of using unusual and funky everyday items helps in personalising the workplace and offers scope for employees to personalise their work space. Perhaps you could run a little internal contest for who can find the most unusual and reasonably priced item?
Making some changes to the lighting not only transforms the office but make it more comfortable. With the advent of longer lasting bulbs, it may be possible to consider reducing or phasing out the use of fluorescent lighting and using some tasteful and more restful spot lighting instead.
There’s plenty of choice now – halogen uplighters for general lighting and table lamps for restful lighting at individual work areas are just two examples.
6. Pictures and office art
Instead of the bland landscape print or fluffy cloud sky photo, consider a few alternatives. How about some close ups of famous old logos?
Create your own photo art inexpensively. A close up of a flower or, if you’re not confident in your photography, download one from a photo website. Pay a little to have it blown up and framed – and maybe have a theme of close up flowers of various sorts, or plants, or wildlife. The ideas are endless.
7. Natural light control
Try and make the most of natural lighting. It’s obviously preferable to use natural light where possible, but all too often people spend all their working day working under artificial lighting mainly due to combat glare on computer screens.
Explore the idea of using more natural light – careful positioning of desks and work stations and the use of blinds (there are various types to choose from) may enable you to let more natural light in and use it more?
Your unique office
The office as a workplace has undergone tremendous change over recent years. Some of the world’s most famous brand names have offices bearing little resemblance to the standard grey office furniture lit with overhead fluorescent tubes. Of course, you may not have their budgets but some of their thinking and ideas are worth a look.
The office certainly isn’t what it used to be.
Ben Livings runs Sadlers Farm Office Furniture. He has helped design and install stylish offices all over the UK and enjoys creating functional and attractive work spaces for his clients.