Office environments are changing to reflect how we use technology, interact with our colleagues, and meet with consultants and clients. Our friends at Edmiston Jones recently investigated the links between furniture choice, interior spatial planning, and productivity at work.
The negative health impact of sitting for extended periods is well documented and research shows the many benefits of increasing physical activity in the work place. This can involve simple low cost solutions such as alternating seating between an office chair and a fit ball throughout the day or encouraging the use of stairs over the lifts. Another idea is to have “walking meetings” or “standing agenda items” if it is a larger group.
The clear message is a “sit less” culture in the workplace.
The health benefits of moving at work and improvements to employee productivity are linked – increased employee wellness leads to fewer days lost due to illness, improving the bottom line for businesses and employers. Known as Activity Based Working (ABW), the approach reduces the area each employee occupies at a desk and encourages greater use of other more informal spaces. Staff need to plan their time more effectively and as a result productivity increases.
Managing distraction in an ABW office environment is a careful balancing act and one solution will not fit all organisations. Although open plan offices are an effective use of space, tension can exist between solo tasks and collaborative activities. Careful planning of spaces, appropriate furniture selection and detailing to achieve sound-proofing are all elements to be considered in the design of an effective and enjoyable workplace. Engaging professional assistance is vital to ensuring that the physical environment supports people achieving the objectives of the organisation.
In any organisation there is risk in change. However, with risk there is opportunity and workplace modifications create the opportunity to reinforce a cultural change.