6 Ways to Create User-Friendly Office Environments

There are many factors that impact how productive employees are, but recent research shows that user-friendly office design has one of the biggest impacts on employee satisfaction and output. In other words, where people work makes a big difference in how people work.

According to Gallup’s 2014 State of the Global Workplace Report, 51 percent of respondents said they were not engaged at work, and almost a quarter (17.5%) said they were actively disengaged.

That is a lot of lost productivity—and money. Simple updates to your workspaces and user-friendly office design concepts can improve morale and your bottom line.

Incorporating Top User-Friendly Office Design Trends

Creating a user-friendly office space includes everything from technology solutions to floor plan to furniture to paint colors.

Sound like a lot of work? Don’t despair.

Many of the top office design trends can be incorporated into your existing workspaces without a major and expensive overhaul.

1. Hide the Wires

Scott Lezzia, principal at design firm Workwell Partners, told Fast Company that getting rid of wires and other technology-related clutter from desks and conference rooms is one of the things people ask for most.

Bundling wires and hiding them under tables and creating an efficient filing and storage system for personal desk clutter can go a long way to making workspaces seem more organized and user-friendly.

Investing in updated technology solutions and integrating office technology can also reduce the need for multiple devices and connection points such as docking stations that can clutter up a desk or conference room table.

2. Be Flexible

Many employees are being asked to do more with less, and workspaces should—and can—follow suit.

Multipurpose spaces can be configured for a variety of uses including huddle rooms, meeting breakout areas, or individual workspaces. Furniture plays a big role here.

Also read: Choose devices that support a mobile workforce [infographic]

Office desks that are oval-shaped rather than rectangular make it easier for four to six people to meet, turning someone’s office into an on-demand conference room. Height adjustable tables in huddle rooms or common areas can facilitate standing meetings.

Temporary partitions or soundproof panels can divide an open space into private workstations when employees need more privacy and quiet.

3. Update the Aesthetic

A user-friendly office is about more than the furniture and equipment people need to do their jobs. Design elements including paint, fabric, and texture also make a difference to employee productivity.

Talking with Fast Company, Jeff Miller, vice president of design at office furniture manufacturer Poppin, says color boosts happiness, productivity, and creativity. Colorful office furniture and accessories are an easy way to give your workspaces a facelift.

Using a variety of materials in your architecture and design, such as reclaimed wood and exposed concrete can also foster an environment of well-being and productivity. And of course, lots of windows and natural light make every feel—and work—better.

4. Be Interactive

One hallmark of user-friendly office design is multifunctionality, even down to the walls. Walls all over your office can be whiteboards to capture on-the-spot collaboration or creative bursts, projection areas for small or impromptu meetings, or even gesture enabled screens that can display and share content from anyone’s device.

[Related: Technology for a more productive workplace]

5. Organize your People

Many workplaces have people organized by job function or company divisions dictated by the organizational chart, but studies show that grouping people who share a corporate goal or a client is a better way to foster collaboration and productivity.

To test it out in your workplace, have groups work together in a conference room or common area for a week or two and see how it goes. If it works you can make a more permanent change.

6. Relax

Once you’ve maximized your office space for work, don’t forget to incorporate some space for winding down as well.

Dedicated lounge areas allow employees to relax, refuel and interact with their co-workers in a more informal, comfortable environment. And thanks to portable technology including laptops and smartphones, even lounge areas can quickly transform into collaborative, productive workspaces.

User-friendly offices need user-friendly technology

The more time employees spend at the office the more they expect their office to be as comfortable and inviting as home. User-friendly office design can be incorporated into any type of workspace by any type of company.

Want to learn more about how it can be done? Read about how Missouri Employers Mutual, a workplace safety firm, gave their headquarters a makeover using the principles of user-friendly office design. And don’t forget that user-friendly technology is a key component to user-friendly offices.

Missouri Employers Mutual needed to update its headquarters after going nearly 20 years without a tech refresh.