Modern businesses are in constant competition to attract the most talented and valuable workers in their industry to come and work for them. There are a number of ways that businesses go about this – offering competitive salaries, including generous employee benefits programs, and generally doing whatever they can to set themselves apart from their competitors.
Creating the kind of work environment that attracts the top talent requires a multifaceted approach. It’s not enough to just make yours an attractive business on paper; you also need to pay attention to the physical environment you create for your workers.
Renovating an office space is a rare opportunity; it’s not the kind of thing that most businesses are likely to do more than once or twice in the course of their entire existence, so it is important to make it count. Relatively conservative office renovations can update the look and feel of your office and leave you with a fresh and more inspiring space for your workers.
But if you’re willing to push the boat out a little bit and try something brave and new, you might just end up with something even better than you had ever imagined.
Traditionally, offices are segmented and fractured environments. The conventional wisdom is that the physical layout of the office should reflect the corporate hierarchy – managers get their own offices, with the size of the office being proportional to the seniority of their position, while the average employee is either confined to a cubicle or grouped together with the other workers in their department.
The effects of a closed office on your employees’ morale and outlook is often overlooked when designing an office layout. Some businesses have done away with the cubicles and consider this in itself to be so forward-thinking that they don’t feel the need to take any other measures to show their workers that they aren’t like other companies.
However, we suggest going even further than this. Much further in fact. An open office is the antithesis of the cubicle culture that has taken over so many big businesses.
Benefits of an Open Office
One of the key advantages of an open office space is that you will be able to fit more employees into the same amount of space. If you are hoping to expand your team in the future but aren’t ready to upgrade to a larger and more expensive office space, making it more open is a potential solution.
Not only can an open office space work for your business, but it also presents a number of potential benefits to your employees. An open office is a firm statement of your intentions and the kind of office culture that you want to cultivate. A more open office will allow much more natural light in. This might seem like a small thing but it makes a big difference. Not only does natural light provide some very real health benefits, but it will also enable you to keep your electricity bills down.
There is one big drawback to an open office layout – noise. When you take away all the walls and ceiling-height dividers from your office, the sound is free to travel unimpeded, and believe us, that is exactly what it will do. An open office can quickly become a very noisy environment, sometimes to the detriment of your workers’ productivity.
Not only does noise pollution impact the ability of your workers to work productively, but it also greatly reduces their sense of privacy – something which makes many workers feel uncomfortable. Of course, if members of staff need to conduct confidential phone calls or meetings, they need to have a closed space in which to do it, but this can be provided without giving up on the open layout concept. It can be difficult for workers to concentrate and perform to the best of their abilities when they are distracted by excessive noise.
How Acoustics Impact Productivity
We now know that noise distractions can reduce productivity, and that in order to foster a productive working environment, businesses need to consider how they manage their acoustics. Ideally, offices should be designed from the ground up with acoustics in mind. Most businesses won’t have the opportunity to do this, but if you are planning office renovations, then you are presented with a unique opportunity.
Most of us have probably never given much thought to just how many sounds there are travelling through the average office space, but there are far more than you might realise. You have the inevitable sounds of workers talking to one another, phones ringing, printers whirring, computer fans blowing, and fingers tapping on keyboards to name but a few.
There’s no way that you can have a functioning and productive office without these background noises, so the question is what you can do to mitigate them. The answer is to design your office space with them in mind and to use acoustic barriers that don’t impact the open nature of your space.
In order to ensure that your open office doesn’t become a cacophony of noise, one that will soon drive you and your workers to the brink of insanity, work with a company like amos beech to plan your renovations with office acoustics in mind. Amos beech offer workplace consultancy services, as well as interior design and complete office fit outs. They can work with you to plan an office space that is designed to optimise performance and enhance office productivity.
Furniture and Screens
Of course, even the most open office is still going to have furniture in it. If you are looking for ways to control the acoustics, then your furniture choices are an obvious starting point. Different materials will have different effects on sound; some are incredibly effective at absorbing sound waves, but others can reflect them and amplify them. As a general rule, soft surfaces will absorb sound waves and dampen the noise, while hard surfaces, especially surfaces that are curved, will instead serve to amplify the noise. Where hard surfaces are needed, it is often possible to overlay them with fabrics and other soft materials that mitigate or counter the sound-amplifying properties.
Sound will also bounce off walls, floors, and ceilings and, as with furniture, hard surfaces will reflect sound back and amplify it. Adding sound insulating materials to these areas is still effective, but also often has the effect of altering the heat insulative properties of your office. Most offices have numerous computers and other devices working throughout the day, all generating heat and noise.
Unfortunately, insulating sound often means also insulating heat, whether this is desirable or not. Placing sound insulation on the ceiling can also be complicated by the presence of vents, lights, air ducts, not to mention sprinklers and fire alarms. You will need to think carefully about how you deal with this issue.
Acoustic insulation for your floors is a much simpler proposition than your ceilings. Adding carpeting to your floors will help to reduce the amount of sound being reflected back into your office, as well as keeping out the noise from the floor below. Unlike your ceiling, you don’t have to worry about your carpeting blocking off vital infrastructure in the same way.
As well as building a new office space that works for your employees, renovations are also an opportunity to ensure that your office is working for the environment. A more sustainable office gives you an obvious focus for your future marketing messaging – green sells! If you are able to tell your customers that you are making a renewed effort to improve your eco credentials and make your office a more sustainable workplace, they are more likely to choose your business over your competitors.
Not only this, but sustainability is the future – literally and figuratively. As time goes on, the most in-demand workers in many industries are going to be those that have a firm grasp of environmental issues. Many businesses are already waking up to the unsustainability of an unsustainable approach when it comes to marketing their business to an increasingly environmentally-conscious marketplace.
Finally, a more sustainable approach to your office means more efficient use of your available budget. By factoring in sustainability when you are renovating your office, you can set your business on a new path that will reduce your energy usage, reduce the amount of waste that you generate, and enable you to prepare for the future.
Many businesses put off office renovations or will only pursue them when they become a necessity. This is understandable given what a big and expensive undertaking they can be. However, if you think that a rethink of your office space could benefit your business and enable you to more aggressively pursue your targets, you should consider biting the bullet and working with a business like amos beech to design an office environment that will breathe new life into your business and your workers.