In a new study from architecture firm Gensler, there is evidence that supports that workplace performance is directly linked to the level of innovative office design. We're not talking strictly about fancy technology. Innovative office design is implemented through all areas: from how comfortable a desk is to whether the employee lounge is laid out to accommodate both large groups and private conversations, from conference room adaptability to inspirational reception areas. "We've proven that design not only influences the innovative process," writes Gensler, "But also that, done correctly, design has the power to drive new innovation forward in a direct and measurable way."

True workplace innovation starts when you think three steps ahead regarding your current office environment. Consider how to combine new design to boost productivity and breakthroughs. Though it's difficult to find one universal metric that easily measures productivity in the workplace, there are four key "work modes" that are essential to achieve productivity and creativity: focus, collaboration, learning, and socializing.

According to Gensler's 2016 study, 48 million U.S. workers are working in an office that is not set up to help them innovate. This represents billions of dollars in lost revenue and profit for countless organizations. You could potentially be leaving money on the table, not to mention stifling your brand growth and employee loyalty, with an outdated office design.

Make sure your innovative office supports these four work modes, you could see a rise in creativity, productivity and breakthroughs among your colleagues and employees.

Focus

To achieve deep work mode, your employees must first be able to access an environment that allows them to focus for long periods of time. But in the age of the open office, this isn't always possible.

A Basex study from 2009 shows that the average employee spends 28% of their time dealing with unnecessary interruptions followed by recovery time to get back on track. To reduce interruptions, outfit your work space with smaller work "cubbies" that can double as study rooms (see the Learning mode below) and perform a survey to see whether more private offices or quiet floors are necessary. You can also reduce noise with sound-absorbing acoustic furniture such as wall panels, room dividers, and modular pods that promote privacy and focus.

Collaboration

It's not considered "cheesy" to be a team player--in fact, it's necessary to build a successful company. 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project. When projects fall short, so do annual revenues.

By creating a work environment that fosters authentic collaboration, you can solidify the company culture and even reduce staff turnover. Don't force collaboration by creating large conference rooms and demanding big group meetings. Instead, look at leveraging your modular office furniture setup to include additional end tables for impromptu meetings. Create smaller private conference rooms that save space by integrating data and tech in the tables or desks. If you have large, segmented departments, provide them with their own "touchdown" spaces such as acoustic seating areas or carrels that can accommodate groups of three to five people.

Learning

This is the Knowledge Economy, and as a result, the ability to recruit and train employees with proprietary knowledge systems or company workflows is essential. Therefore, you'll need a space for your employees and colleagues to learn and develop their professional skills either on the clock or even after hours.

You need versatile spaces within your office for both formal and informal trainings. Formal training requires just that: a training room. However, if you're also using the room for executive conferences or group meetings, you can maximize your office footprint by implementing innovative wall storage for folding chairs, modular tables, and wireless or mounted tech to save space.

Informal training areas, where employees love to self-study, can be off to the side of the staff lounge or coffee bar, using comfortable seating or a dedicated "media learning lab" with headphones, integrated tech tables, adjustable height desks or even treadmill desks, which promote circulation and keep the brain energized.

Socializing

Workplace burnout is caused by a lack of break in routine, a toxic or misaligned company culture, and/or creative stagnation. Keep your office atmosphere fresh by encouraging colleagues and staff to take regular breaks, converse, and meet new people outside of their departments.

To improve the social climate, an employee lounge that caters to different sized groups is ideal. Use a mix of diner-style booths, bar top tables, and occasional tables with couches and chairs.

And don't forget about the reception area. It's not just for guests. Most of the time, your reception area is where everyone enters the office. As a result, it sets the tone for their work day. Make sure your employees feel welcome to enjoy a cup of coffee or converse in the reception area before they make their way to their workstations.

When you create a modern office design that meets these four work modes, you could see productivity rates go up as well as overall well-being among your company's workforce.

Published on: Nov 28, 2016
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