We read reports at home, answer emails from the coffee shop and churn through spreadsheets during the commute.
When work can be done virtually from anywhere, the modern workplace has to justify its continued existence. The most innovative and nimble companies aren’t seeing the current state of agile work as a threat, something to be reacted to by desperately clinging to the old ways of doing things. Instead, the redefinition of the workplace ought to be seen as a rare opportunity to re-establish what your workplace’s strengths are, what your team values about in-person collaboration, and what the office means to your company.
(Pictured above is a 2018 Amicus workplace fitout for a global insurance client whose brief was a work-space to welcome and inspire their growing number of employees.)
Here are 5 simple ways to rethink your office and leverage your workspace to inspire your employees:
1. Know where you want to go
Define what your aspirations are for your new vision of the workspace before getting stuck in the mud in the design phase. Have a clear picture of where you want to take your workspace. What behaviours do you want the space to promote? What are the ruts you see your team falling into time and again? Being goal-oriented and looking honestly at your workspace and the way your team uses it will give a clarity to the entire process. Amicus Founder and Chairman, Andrew Holder, says Amicus’ approach to helping clients is to start with a focus on their aspirations, “Before pen hits paper, we observe how our client’s employees work, what their day-to-day tasks are, and then use that information to design the most functional, efficient, and welcoming space for that organisation.”
2. Don’t ignore the culture piece
Your workspace is nothing without the people that inhabit it. You’ve got to create activities and prioritise the cultivation of a happy, inspired, and engaged team. Fast Company acknowledges you’ve got to “make it a habit to evaluate morale in your workplace; if it’s suffering, a break for fun can lift spirits and boost success.” Treat your team to town hall meetings, yoga, massage, or team lunches and they’ll be sure to grace you with their best selves. Even something as simple as a Wifi-connected speaker is a low-energy high-impact way to create atmosphere and energy. Music is the ultimate uplift.
3. Love your greens
Plants in the office are a breath of fresh air. As corporate indoor plant experts, Frenchmans, point out, indoor plants “are extremely efficient in reducing pollutants and improve almost every aspect of the quality of the indoor environment.”
An ABC article reported “plants have been found to improve mood… In a three-month study of UTS office staff, participants with plants reported a reduction in stress and negative feelings by as much as 40 percent. International researchers have found plants can help to reduce the amount of sick leave people take.” Both in the way they look and the effect they have on the indoor climate of your office, keeping plants in your office will breathe new air into your team.
4. Don’t be a workstation tyrant
A keyboard, mouse and a monitor is a workstation setup that feels like it belongs in the pages of a late-1980s IBM catalogue at this point. There simply is no going back from the freedom the laptop, smartphone, and tablet have gifted to the working world.
Take that as your cue to lean in: accommodate the wildly divergent ways people want to work with sit-to-stand desks, quiet areas or go full sci-fi with privacy pods, phone call rooms, and generous communal spaces. Watch as your team laps it. Everyone will appreciate the effort to make them comfortable and trusting they know best how they work best.
5. Talk to the professionals
Considering that most companies only change their space every 5 years or so it’s no surprise that it’s hard to find the expertise and experience in-house to manage such a huge project. Using an experienced workplace firm can take weeks off your new office timeline and get your employees inspired from the start of the project. Companies are also realising that an address change can accommodate a lot of other changes to behaviour, brand, culture and productivity.
With companies becoming aware of these opportunities, companies like Amicus are developing workplace strategy services. Amicus has evolved from a design and construction firm into a workplace environment specialist.