“Workplace Design is Important”
“Looking at the average office interior objectively, it is a strange place: a great barrack, with bright lights shining down on the heads of workers regimented at groups of desks and with bits of screen sticking up around the place. At the far end, perhaps, are rooms where people sit in isolation – for no very apparent reason, except that they are paid more.” Chapter 1, Introduction: Tomorrow’s Office by Santa Raymond & Roger Cunliffe published in 1997.
The sub title for the book is ‘Creating effective and humane interiors’. Throughout the book, there are observations and proposals about the way in which we should be working. 20 years later, is it shocking that many companies, particularly outside the main metropolitan ‘hubs’, are yet to truly embrace the benefits: improved productivity; greater efficiency; enhanced working environment; staff recruitment and retention; corporate branding?
Different priorities and financial constraints are almost certainly the primary reasons for lack of adoption. Many organisations may also believe that ‘new ways of working’ do not apply to them and believe new practices really only reap benefits for large corporates.
Workplace design and planning should be a collaborative process – facilities management, human resources and employees. Seemingly minor details have a big impact. Reported in the British Council of Offices June 2016 Report “What Workers Want”: Open-plan offices are still the dominant choice of occupiers, but only 45% of respondents were satisfied with the noise levels in their office. It is, therefore, important to have areas where employees can concentrate on work in a quieter setting.
The importance of the office to the employee cannot be denied, and is highlighted by the fact that 25% of the respondents would be willing to commute an extra 30 minutes to work in their perfect office.