The hipster office environment is everywhere at the moment, especially with younger enterprises. You only have to read this article from Buzzfeed to realise how prevalent the “cool” office culture really is. The trend isn’t just exclusive to the UK either, it’s global.
So what’s influenced this paradigm shift where employers are so focused on making their office environment their own personal playground? We can be cynical here, stating that they’re only inheriting this approach to add kudos to their brand, but there’s no denying the knock-on effect this has on team morale. The reality is that spending that extra time on developing your office environment will, in turn, make your employees happier.
A government report released last year re-affirms this, stating that your employees surroundings are an important consideration when evaluating job satisfaction. It can directly affect work motivation whilst also being considered as much as a source of pressure as heavy workloads and poor work-life balance.
So as a start-up, what changes can you make to your office space to benefit employee wellbeing? Aside from taking inspiration from Google and other corporations, let’s look at offices more within relative reach. Here are some more modest case studies to take inspiration from and improve your office environment.
Case Study #1: Save the Student
The popular student discount site, Save the Student recently partnered with GreatBeanBags to kit out their Manchester-based headquarters with fun, office bean bag chairs. Perfectly complementing the SME’s brand colours, these soft furnishings give their team a comfortable place to sit and relax during their breaks.
As a business owner, your office furniture should be an important consideration when taking into account employee wellbeing. Public Health England, a Government body concerned with protecting health and wellbeing, recommend giving your employees flexibility in where they sit, not just confining them to one singular workstation. The government report from earlier expands on this, highlighting the legal regulations involved in office furnishing whilst also presenting business owners with a link between poor office furniture and musculoskeletal disorders – a common cause of workplace sickness in the UK.
Another alternative to soft furnishings around the office are standing desks due to their numerous health benefits.
Case Study #2: Impression
My second case study is a little closer to home. At Impression Digital, we take our office environment very seriously. Not only is our office equipped with likes of a table tennis table, darts board and several games consoles, our team also have free reign to a drinks fridge that’s fully-stocked with soft-
drinks and alcohol all year round. Impression’s co-founder, Aaron Dicks, partly attributes our 100% employee retention rate to this modern office design, regarding it as a gesture of appreciation to the team’s hard work.
Our office is also assembled of two entirely open-plan rooms; one to house our aforementioned recreational activities and the other to house our actual workspace. The benefits of open-plan office spaces are discussed in my next case study with Edinburgh-based tech business, Freeagent.
Case Study #3: FreeAgent
Freeagent offer accounting software designed exclusively for freelancers and smaller enterprises. As well as offering fun recreational equipment like snooker tables, they also offer up a massive amount of variation in their workstations – a strategy perfect for promoting productivity across your team.
Employees can choose to work at nearly every form of workstation available, from traditional desks, to soft-furnished boothes and picnic-style, indoor benches. In addition to this, each workstation is offered in either an open-plan or contained format, meaning their employees can cater their environment to however they wish to work that day.
Open-plan designs and contained booths both come with their associated advantages and disadvantages. While Public Health England recommend open-plan designs in order to promote a sense of collaboration amongst a team, a space for privacy is also advisable for concentration and confidential conversations.
Considering the size of your office space is critical as it gives your employees options; they can work in whichever dynamic they require. Not only are you providing a varied working atmosphere, you’re also allowing your employees to be productive by whatever means necessary.
The Real Importance of Wellbeing
Although this post has covered several important workplace considerations in a modern office, there are also a whole host of other factors to bear in mind. Factors such as workplace lighting and room temperature are also important; regulating these will ensure your employees are comfortable and working in optimised conditions.
Remember, supposed job perks like office parties, group lunchtimes and bank holidays are actually commonplace nowadays. We live in a occupational age that demands you do more for your employees, and rightly so. Employees are now considering workplace wellbeing more than ever and getting it right can even mean greater commercial performance.
A previous gov.uk study even suggests that positive wellbeing is correlated with higher profitability, productivity and better quality output of goods and services for your business. Considering the workplace environment will not only benefit your employee’s well being, it can even positively impact your business’ success and longevity.