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Just let me work!

Information workers toil away in the depths of office buildings, and their expertise is the most important capital a company has – at least that’s what is said in ceremonial speeches. Companies come up with more and more creative ways of committing their personnel, but they might have forgotten the most important thing: the working conditions. There is a direct correlation between the design of the working environment and workspace and job satisfaction. Employees are comfortable in good facilities. When they are comfortable, they also work efficiently – benefiting the organization directly.

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People are at the core of the design of functional working environments. A good office makes it possible for everyone to get the job done. Information flows freely, and, as a bonus, the eyes and mind are also rested. 

Here are some tips to help you in the design:

1 Why renovate?

Workplaces rarely change their furniture and interior designs purely for aesthetic reasons. When beginning a process of change and creating something new, it is a good idea to consider why you are doing it. Which needs does it meet? Is the project focused on well-being, environmental responsibility, costs, or business needs? Does the change pursue savings or is the aim to give things a boost with new or renovated facilities?

“Clarifying the targets and good communication are something that should not be forgotten.”

2 Everyone has a say

Users do know. Sometimes it is a good idea to spend time bringing out the problems. When you can make a list of the problems the current premises have, a brighter future is already closer. Involvement has more far-reaching effects: it commits people to the decisions that are made. Resistance to change decreases when people are able to influence those decisions. The management committing to the objectives and investments in high-quality communication are among the cornerstones of change management.

“Few people are indifferent to their own working environment. Involve the personnel.”

3 Research, don’t be careless

Opinions, needs and wishes are important, but raw facts are also necessary. Counting users, desks and floor area is the most simplest, but diverse space use surveys and other tools make it possible to investigate the use of space and people’s behavior in more detail. All organizations are different.

What makes a functional working environment in one place can’t just be copied to another. Surveys, in-depth interviews and workshops clarify the needs of individuals, teams, and the organization. They also help in giving the plan direction, speed and priorities.

“It is well worth investing in a decent survey and high-quality facts.”

4 Space for diverse needs

Clear targets and an in-depth survey help in creating the space portfolio. In addition to the physical premises, the virtual facilities should also be considered. How is data stored and shared? Is mobile working supported? Does technology facilitate cooperation between different physical facilities?

Different functions and duties need different kinds of facilities. Asalesperson who is on the move a lot might visit the office only briefly, an office assistant needs a large desk and monitor, and the R&D team spends most of its time creating ideas in teamwork. How do the premises, furniture, and equipment support tasks that require concentration? What about interaction? Are there enough “retreats” – small meeting rooms and break rooms? Who gets their own office and why? Where can confidential conversations be held? Are there special ergonomic needs to consider?

Mobile technology makes it possible to expand the working environment outside the office. Informal meetings can be arranged in a restaurant, for example. Taking a break from your desk and coming up with ideas while you drink coffee sitting on the lobby couches may give your everyday work a boost.

“The space is designed to support varied activities”

5 What did we actually agree?

When adopting a new working environment, everyone should agree on common practices and rules. Open-plan offices, in particular, have a variety of users with different expectations of their co-workers. Can conference calls be made in the open-plan office? How do we arrange the booking of shared facilities? Where can I keep my bicycle helmet? Am I allowed to eat cabbage casserole at my desk? When can I be left undisturbed? Change is a permanent state in the working environment, which is why the rules should also be checked periodically.

“The working environment needs monitoring and maintenance.”

I don’t have the time… I can’t… Who can help?

If you do not have the time or the skill, professionals can help you. Technopolis’ network of partners can help you in developing your working environment, contact:

Satu Hurme-Tikkanen
Head of Workplace Design and Services
satu.hurme-tikkanen@technopolis.fi
Tel: +358 (40) 556 5695 

The result is more functional space and more satisfied, more productive employees.