Office design has traditionally been left in the hands of finance, operations or office management. It’s been regarded as a kind of box-ticking exercise.
But all of that changed when Google came along and took office design to a whole new level, putting people and HR at the core of office design.
Google blew away the tired-out, cobweb-ridden, mundane office formula and created a new, vibrant employee-centred working environment. Their take on what an office should look like included gorgeous office spaces, free gourmet food, games rooms, snack rooms, breakout areas, relaxation tanks, slides, fireman’s poles, workout spaces, basketball areas, conference hubs, gondalas, you name it. Essentially, Google has invented a whole new science of human-centred office design and sent engagement levels through the roof as a result.
And it’s this human-centred office design that should be implemented in all offices now, with HR pulling at the strings to help drive up engagement levels in the business. Of course, mere mortal companies have nothing like the budget of Google and so they can’t be expected to replicate this, but there are many simple steps that organizations can take to create a more effective and human-centred working space.
For example, research from the University of Exeter tells us that employees who get to have some input in the layout and design of their office are healthier, more satisfied and 32 per cent more productive. So, why not poll your employees for their opinions about what their office should look like, or have an online suggestion box and voting software system so employees can vote for the best ideas?
Also, another very easy thing to do is to have an open policy allowing employees to personalize their desks. In fact, you should actively encourage employees to personalize their workspace, as this study from the University of Kentucky shows that employees who do this tend to have stronger feelings of well-being.
And one of the key ways to create a modern, human-centred office is to put flexible working at the heart of it. This is because the modern business contains flexible workers, including co-located employees, remote workers, and occasional office workers. This means creating a dedicated, flexible, and pleasant hot-desking area and having a bring-your-own-device policy in place, so occasional office workers can work effectively in the office and feel they’re valued and respected as part of the team.
What should be noted, however, is even though the design is human-centred, both the hotdesking environment and office design suggestion boxes will be software and technology-enabled. So don’t implement all that yourself – you’ll need to work closely with the IT team to make it happen.
Of course, most of us will have a long way to go before we can emulate Google’s dream office experience. But going the extra mile by creating more human-centred workspaces can help employees do their best work – and you don’t need to be Google to achieve that.