How to overthrow your uninspiring office space
We’ve all been there—waking up Monday morning uninspired by the idea of spending the next five days sat at a grey desk, surrounded by grey walls, with a slither of natural sunlight if we’re lucky. Add this to slow internet, ancient office chairs and a kitchen that’s falling apart, and it’s not surprising if we’re demotivated during working hours. Tushar Agarwal, CEO and co-founder of HubbleHQ discusses the best ways to revitalise your workspace and team within it.
Time and money are often the loudest protests against overhauling drab office spaces—but when it comes down to it, your workspace will make or break your company. Inspired offices mean inspired teams; and time invested in creating the optimal environment is time well spent.
From working with thousands of companies over the years, to learning from what’s worked best for us as a team, we've seen first-hand that it's the businesses who choose to invest in their workspace who really see the benefits—and in the long run, succeed.
Put the team first
There’s no way around it: teams have to be at the centre of any workspace design. They aren’t just important, they’re the very heart of a company; after all, they’re the people who drive business success day in, day out. As such, ignoring them completely when designing the space they’re going to spend the majority of their time in each week is a dangerous game.
Figuring out what your team wants and needs to be as happy and productive as possible has to be step number one with office redesign. And it doesn’t have to be hard; it can be as simple as sending round a survey. Getting their input on both big and small issues will really help get a rounded view of what your team is looking for in a workspace, from gym facilities to bike storage, desk layouts to decor.
The thing is, small changes can often go a really long way. Simply providing a variety of different areas, such as team pods, private phone booths and breakout zones, can transform your team’s approach, focus and enjoyment at work. Making use of the latest office research available can help too—there’s loads out there, and going that extra mile can show a team how much they’re valued.
It’s also great to see the wider global movement that’s placing importance on mental and physical wellbeing in the workspace. Long gone are the days of cubicle farms and thankfully, companies now focus on treating their teams like people, not numbers. We’ve seen time and time again that a happy and healthy workforce is much more productive, while also enjoying their work.
Don’t limit yourself when it comes to ideas. You can always cut back if there are time or budget issues, but it’s much harder to think of a new, big creative idea halfway through the process.
Having said that, when redesigning a workspace, the key is to keep who you’re designing for front of mind: your company. There’s no point copying an idea you saw online or at a competitor’s office just for the sake of trying to be on trend. By staying true to your company values, business objectives, and team’s needs, the end result will authentically reflect who you are as a business; and it will be a place the team want to come and work in.
This means there's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to office space. A company who has a strong culture of collaboration might need lots of open plan spaces; with mood boards and sticky notes everywhere to support cross-team collaboration. This has recently become really popular across the Nordics; where many offices now have large shared dining tables where teams can eat lunch together and collaborate.
But a company that relies on its professionalism and client relations might look for that ‘wow’ factor. Scenic window views, stunning architectural design and top-notch coffee and catering facilities may come higher in your list of priorities if you want to boost your company’s image through your workspace. In contrast, creative businesses could take inspiration from innovative art and graphic design studios and indulge in more left-brain amenities like retro arcade games or libraries.
Just don’t forget the basics
You could create the quirkiest, most creative office in the world, but if the heating doesn’t work or the internet is unbearably slow, then none of that matters. Savills recently released a study showing that the basic amenities are still valued more than anything else. Comfort, good lighting and fast WiFi all make the top 10 most important factors for an ideal workspace.
Sorting the basics like clean bathrooms, removing limescale from the kettle and making sure the lift works will be the difference between a happy or unhappy team. While novelties can make workspaces engaging and inspiring, getting the fundamentals right should never be overlooked.
Overhauling a large workspace can seem like a daunting task, and yes—it can take time and energy. But so can having to re-hire for roles because your team don’t like where they work, or making up for an unproductive quarter because your team lacked focus and motivation. Invest the effort now, because, at the end of the day, having an inspiring office where your team wants to come and work in is invaluable.