Work Environment: How Important Is It?

Picture 4Remember workplaces with pool tables and beanbag chairs?  Remember Pets.com and 1999?  Remember thinking: wouldn’t it be great to work someplace that had a coffee bar and an foosball table?

The following shows Google’s offices in Zurich: Link

Scrolled down through all the pictures?  Feel jealous?

Here’s the real question: would changing your surroundings change your work?  Google’s office is an extreme, of course, and it actually might be going too far, but, here’s the question: are creative surroundings good for productivity?  Is making work look less like work just a ruse or is there anything to it?  Is it possible for a non-google company to create a non-office atmosphere in a plain old office.

Some offices approach decor in a simple way: they do nothing.  Beat up filing cabinets and some broken blinds — who needs anything else, right?   But for most of us, the problem is getting past the kind of bland corporate spaces that may be clean and efficient but lack a sense of fun or personality.   While some may decorate a cubicle with personal photos, images, and even lighting, the overall effect can still be…well…boring.

For a distinctly un-conventional but classic take on office design, check out the classical stylings of  Florence Knoll here: Link

Looking through her work, you can see that offices can have style without necessarily going the unconventional route of Google.  Here are a few take aways from her classical design with some practical tips added in:

1.)  Common Area — Create a space that isn’t the lunchroom but isn’t an office either.  It can be a couple of chairs in a corner that are perfect for a quick meeting or a place to quietly review documents.  This gets people out from behind their desks and gives them a place to interact that isn’t a cubicle, office, or conference room.

2.) Artwork — why does your office have to have the typical landscape or motivational posters?  Why not hold a contest and get artwork from local schools?  Or hold a photography contest among employees?  Or dig up some advertisements from corporate archives and reproduce them.   The point is to do something creative that won’t break the bank but will personalize the atmosphere of your office.

3.)  Paint — sounds simple but why don’t more people do it.  Paint a wall a bold color.  Maybe it matches your logo, maybe it doesn’t, but it will be different and will create a special atmosphere in the office space.  Paint is cheap and changing it is easy — so why not?

4.)  Lighting — most offices have overhead fluorescent lighting.  While many people complain about the light quality, they may actually be effected by the amount of light.  Fluorescent lights ‘fool’ your mind into thinking there is enough light with a uniform, shadowless light.  In fact, you may be getting anywhere from 1/10 to 1/100th of the recommend lighting levels.  No wonder people have headaches working under that light.  A quick fix is to place individual desk lamps at each desk (or your own).  It adds an extra element of decoration and relieves more than a few headaches.

5.)  Glass Boards — Most offices use white boards for brainstorming and presentations.  A piece of frosted glass mounted on the wall works just as well and look a lot more snazzy.  It’s also easier to clean, too.  Most markers wipe off clean from smooth glass.

There are probably hundreds more ideas out there  –share yours with everyone here.  Whether you work in an office or run the show, changing your work environment, even slightly, could shape not only what you think about work but how you get work done.

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Tim McPherson

By Tim McPherson

Tim McPherson, President and COO for Nesco Resource, has over 27 years of experience in all facets of the Staffing Services Industry.

7 Responses to “Work Environment: How Important Is It?”

  1. Randy Levinson says:

    I think that a comfortable and collaborative workspace is a key factor in keeping employees happy enough to want to come to work and produce for the company. In a “grey” environment it is difficult to get inspired and to be creative in your approach to your job. Think of how unmotivating it was to watch Tom Hanks in the begining of the film Joe Versus the Volcano (I imagine I was not the only one to watch that movie), Or how unmotivated Mr. Incredible was in his job at the insurance company in The Incredibles. The set design in both cases was designed to be unmotivating and yet it resembles many workplaces of today. With little investment I also believe that the environment can be designed to inspire the worker, the worker will be happy when inspired, an inspired worker will be more motivated to produce, a more productive worker means more profits for the company.

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  1. […] Work winner has started Fit For Life, an employee wellness program. We’ve focused before on workplace aesthetics, but this program brings up some good points about efficiency (employees working later because they […]


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