Make work spaces work

For many of us, the way we work has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Technology and mobile working kit have meant that where we work has become adaptable and fluid and the idea of spending our 9-5 at one desk has long gone. Even the word ‘office’ conjures up images of a place that ideas go to die (thanks Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant). We can work from home, from client’s reception areas, from airplanes or coffee shops…and we often do, especially if our workspace is not facilitating our needs or inspiring us to do our best work.

trifle* is a commercial interior design studio and consultancy that prioritises a business’ people when designing spaces that reflect a brand and its team as well as allowing for optimum communication and creativity. This does not solely mean extensive and costly refurbishments – companies often have enough space, it is just not designed to suit their needs or work styles.

So how does the trifle* team do what they do? Here is a quick guide to some trifle* principles of great workspace design.

Make your space work:

Your workspace is a valuable asset and needs to work hard for you in a tough climate. There is a reason many SMEs are working from co-working spaces which provide community spaces to gather in and collaborate thus creating opportunities for creative sparks and positive collisions in conversation. They also have an enormous choice of working environments – the desk is not king here – so people can choose a space that suits the working mode they are in at any time. The average desk usage is under 70% of working hours with many inhabited far less than that and yet many businesses waste valuable square footage providing a desk per person 24/7. Meeting rooms are often not the sizes that companies really need – we’ve all seen someone taking a 1-2-1 in a meeting room for 10 people because no other space is available. Time getting under the skin of your business and how your people work is time well spent.

A landscape of settings:

In any working day, people need to do different kinds of work – collaborative, concentrated, meetings and everyone needs a space to stretch their legs and have a cup of tea and socialise with their team mates. The trend of open plan work space provides great benefits for collaboration but historically at the cost to focussed work. This does not have to be the case. A great workspace provides room for all of these work styles and more.

Tell your story:

Your work space can bring your brand to life for your clients and visitors as well as your (potential) staff. Workspaces can attract and retain talent if they tell your story, feel welcoming and allow for good work. A great reception or welcome area is key, but do not let the creativity stop there. Just because a space has to house lots of workstations – which does not mean banks of individual desks of course – does not mean it has to feel stark or ‘grey’.

Being well at work:

A workspace that considers wellbeing is crucial. We’ve all heard that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ and recent studies from Ulster and Queen’s University Belfast have shown that sitting for 6 hours per day markedly increases your chances of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses and certain cancers. So, while ergonomic chairs are important; sit/stand desks, standing tables for meetings or collaborative working and areas that you walk to (upstairs is even better), all help with breaking the cycle of sedentarism. Other important factors in a healthy work environment are access to well-filtered water, healthy snacks, access to natural light and trifle* favourite, biophilia. Biophilic design – using greenery and plants in a considered way – in a space has been proven to increase air quality, oxygen levels and consequently health. Studies have shown that people recovering from surgery, heal faster and with less pain medication, if they can see a single tree so imagine what bringing the outside in can do for your team’s happiness and wellbeing.

Take a break:

Eating at your desk is a no-no and even the smallest spaces can provide areas for eating and drinking in another environment (and even the quality of your coffee has been proven to matter). Humans can only concentrate for an hour at best and recommendations are to break for 10-15 minutes in every hour. This does not mean switching screens but encouraging people to move about and get some refreshment. After all, the best ideas often don’t happen in boardrooms; informal interaction with colleagues can often lead to some spontaneous lightbulb moments.

Enrich and empower:

Studies from the University of Exeter showed that an enhanced space, decorated with plants and pictures showed an increase in productivity of 17%. An empowered space, where individuals are consulted about their needs in the design of the office, saw an increase in productivity of 32% without any increase in errors. “Not only does office design determine whether people’s backs ache, it has the potential to affect how much they accomplish, how much initiative they take, and their overall professional satisfaction.” (Dr Alex Haslam and Dr Craig Knight, 2010)

Whether your business is on the move or trying to bring your company values to life in your current space, some time and consideration can make all the difference. If you would like to talk to trifle* about your space, then get in touch at hello@triflecreative.com.

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