Encouraging social interaction and creating spaces for your team to develop genuine interpersonal relationships is conducive to developing high team morale and boosting productivity in the office. Creating comfortable workspaces that provide opportunities for informal communication, and downtime helps reduce stress within teams.
According to studies by Wellable Labs, “41% of workers said stress made them less productive, 33% said it made them less engaged, and 15% admitted to looking for a new job because of stress.”
With that in mind, it is in the best interest of employers to design office spaces that reduce stress, boost productivity and reduce attrition.
Until recently, office workers often settled for a cramped communal kitchen area, a round lunch table, or sofa corner as their hub of ‘downtime activity.’ With hybrid working and working from home increasingly common, this no longer cuts the mustard. Workers are used to their home comforts after two years or more of having an element of working outside the office. Providing attractive social spaces encourages collaboration and a space to for staff to share their thoughts freely. Stepping away from the desk and into a more informal setting can allow your team time to unwind, but also unleash creativity and build relationships.
Your social space can take several forms:
A social space in an office is to some extent, expected – particularly in larger organisations. At the outset of a new office fit-out, keep this at the forefront of your plans. An office layout with rows of soulless desks and an afterthought social space won’t quite do it in 2023.
Your social space should be accessible from the main office space to encourage its usage, while at the same time offering refuge and some privacy. Consider modular areas, with partitions that can be moved depending on how the space is used.
Some might prefer to use their downtime to catch up with work away from the hustle and bustle of the office, so allowing peace and quiet is crucial. Booths or acoustic walls can facilitate this, while also doubling up as a safe refuge for staff needing to speak to management or make personal phone calls.
Other members of staff may want to use the space for more informal uses - to congregate around a tabletop game and let off some steam. Your space should be multi-purpose, flexible, and cater to all needs and personality types.
Consider an open-plan kitchen area where the team can congregate in the morning and talk about the day ahead over a healthy breakfast, or offer a mini bar to celebrate a job well done at the end of the week.
It is crucial to understand the psychology of your office and the knock-on effect of its design on your team. With much of the workforce splitting their time between the office and home, the aesthetic of your office fit-out should reflect that.
Office fit-outs are increasingly leaning toward home comforts – with cushions, sofas, lamps, and softer design fittings bridging that gap between home and office.
Biophilia remains as popular as ever when it comes to office social spaces. Designers find themselves continuing to be drawn to greenery, wooden features, and natural light. “Workers in environments with natural elements such as greenery and sunlight reported a 15% increase in their level of well-being.”
Colours are proven to increase mood – social spaces within the office present opportunities to brighten up your workers' day, while also engaging them in the company culture. That’s right! Social spaces are the perfect opportunity to embed your brand colours, subconsciously of course… This can be interwoven through your space in various forms – from the colour of the walls right through to the textiles, fabrics, and curtains.
By making the office feel less like a chore, businesses are finding increased staff morale, reduced absenteeism, and higher productivity.
Somerville Fit-Out Ltd are in receipt of Selective Financial Assistance grant for SFA - Capital July 2018 from Invest NI. This project is part funded by European Regional Development fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.
The funding enabled us to procure essential machinery to develop our manufacturing output, and continue delivering quality furniture to our clients.