Industry Thoughts

Is It Time To Allow Employees to Design Their Own Workspaces?

By wizu | 25 May 2020

While the title may sound counterproductive and expensive, studies have shown that employees are happier and more productive when they have control over their own workspaces.

When a company takes a one-size fits all attitude toward designing workspaces, it can create problems for employees. No one is exactly the same, yet each employee is treated as a cog in the production line, rather than an individual. Each person has their own preferences and needs. When your business can accommodate employee needs, you’ll find your workforce is happier and more productive as a result.

Control of Work Environment Makes Happier Employees

More businesses are finding that providing their employees with a dynamic office space makes them happier. Not only that but giving them more control over their workstations. They’ve found that employees are more motivated, engaged, productive and happier. But why?

Part of the reason for this stems from aches and pains many employees suffer in the workplace. Many of these are caused by having desks, chairs, computer monitors and more set at the right height. Making changes to the type of desk, the height of a chair, and the distance away from a monitor may seem like negligible changes. However, they can have profound effects on employees and their comfort.

For instance, if a tall employee has to sit at a desk that’s not high enough, they will have to hunch over the desk and keyboard while working. This can lead to muscle strains in the neck, shoulders and back. Even the right placement of a keyboard can have a profound effect on an employee’s wellbeing. The better they feel, the happier they will be, which leads to increased productivity.

This isn’t just about workstations, but also control of where an employee works can make a huge difference. Some employees are able to sit and work for 8 hours, but there are many others who are unable to sit this long for various reasons. Instead, these employees may benefit from having another work area that’s more flexible and comfortable. The space may include a table, comfy couches and chairs, and more. This all works to ease physical discomfort, while increasing creativity and inspiration.

Personalised Workspaces

Allowing employees to personalise their office space makes them happier and more productive. This is because they can set up their work area to improve their own efficiency and creativity. This is a powerful tool that businesses can use to retain employees and recruit talented candidates.

Elements of a Personalised Workspace Design

Here are some important elements to consider when allowing employees to design their own work areas:

1). Personal articles: allowing employees to give their workstation some personality is highly beneficial. Adding personal effects to their area allows each employee to create an environment where they feel comfortable and energised.

For instance, allowing employees to move their office furniture and desks in a way that’s more comfortable and pleasing provides a stronger sense of belonging and ownership of the space. In this way, they’ll have a stronger connection with the work area as well as with the company.

Some people thrive in an environment that’s more colourful and filled with art. On the other hand, there are people who work better in an environment that has a more subtle décor and colours.

The point is that each person is a unique individual. When your business recognises this, and allows for creative décor with personal articles at their workstations, employees will be happier, engaged and more productive.

2). Ergonomics: office furniture that’s made for one size fits all causes problems for employees. Instead, they need to have furniture and equipment that fits their needs and requirements.

Ergonomics deals with making sure the workstation fits the employee. This has the effect of reducing stress and injuries (repetitive strain injuries, back, hip and other injuries) caused by working at a desk that doesn’t fit.

A desk should be high enough to give enough room to knees, legs and feet. If a desk isn’t adjustable, then other ways must be found to help each employee’s desk have the right height. These may include putting the desk on blocks, raising/lowering chair height and more.

Chairs should fit the spinal curve to provide the right ergonomic support. They should also be adjustable in height, with adjustable armrests, too.

If employees work with a desktop computer and a separate monitor, the monitor should be at arm’s length away, with the top of the screen just below eye level.

Even the placement of the keyboard, mouse and other tools should be done correctly to ensure comfort and ease of use. And don’t forget that allowing employees to choose the best keyboard, mice and other implements for their work can also make them more comfortable and productive.

3). Accessibility: the workplace is diverse these days, which means the workplace needs to be accommodating. This may include anything from wheelchair ramps, braille signs, and even digital and vision accessibility technologies.

4). Lighting: an area that’s often overlooked is lighting in a workspace. Different types of lighting can affect individuals in various ways. For some, fluorescent lights cause headaches and eye issues, while too much natural light may cause migraines for some.

By giving employees the ability to manage the lighting at their workspace, they can find what best works for them. This may even mean providing a flexible work area for those employees who have troubles with eye strain and more.

6). Temperature control: control of the temperature can make it easier for people to work, too. This is another often overlooked issue in offices. It’s usually either too hot, cold or stuffy for many people. If someone’s too cold, they’re usually told to wear additional layers to be more comfortable.

However, with the Internet of Things, it’s possible to adopt cooling and heating systems that are “smart” and more easily accommodate the needs of individuals. There are even tools that allow employees in an office space to work together or “crowdsource” the optimal temperature for their area.

Allowing your employees to have more control over their workspace can make them happier and more productive. Overall, this has the effect of making your business even more successful than ever.

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