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Unconventional Workspaces: Life Beyond the (Cubicle) Walls

When was the last time you took a nap at your desk?

Better question: when was the last time you wanted to take a nap at your desk?

According to a NASA study, a 26-minute nap helps improve employee performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.

Many companies have implemented quiet rooms or nap zones to give employees that better-than-caffeine boost they need to finish out their day strong. BrightHR in Manchester has taken it a step further by bringing an actual office bed for team members to catch their rejuvenating midday snoozes.

Talk about unconventional.

Nap zones are just one of the innovative ways companies are creating a better workplace for their employees—and their "thinking outside of the cubicle" is paying off.

The Benefits of Unconventional Workspaces

Office Ping Pong Table

Specifically, employers who’ve designed spaces to fit their employees’ needs find workers are generally happier and healthier and may even spend more time at work.

In fact, a recent survey by Gensler reported that just nearly 50% of all employees say they would work an extra hour per day if their workplace had a better design and layout.

Every office manager can clearly see those benefits.

So, what does an unconventional workspace look like for your company?

Many companies are doing away with traditional office design characterized by neutral colors and enclosed spaces and cubicles, which can stifle creativity and hinder collaboration. Instead, companies are giving office managers the go-ahead to create spaces and opportunities that foster employee engagement and interaction, and even provide the comforts of home.

If you’re ready to break the mold of stagnant, segmented workspaces, check out these actionable office design tips.

Get colorful.

A quick and inexpensive way to test the unconventional design waters is to move from drab greys and browns to bright colors in your office.

Studies have shown that colors can have positive psychological effects on your employees, from improving focus and productivity to increasing energy and creativity.Consider brightening up your workspace by including your business logo colors in your office design.

Check out Moo, a London-based online business card manufacturer, for inspiration. The rainbow of colors they print on business cards are cleverly used as accent colors in their offices, giving a sense of playfulness that may be uplifting to employees and customers.

Open up your office space.

Open Office Work Stations 

Today’s workers, most notably the millennial generation, do not want to be chained to desks.

Employees desire choice when it comes to how they work. Some are motivated by communal spaces where they can bounce ideas off each other, collaborate and feel a part of a team.

Creating a collaborative workspace means rethinking the cubicles that can discourage teamwork. Large, open work areas with portable walls and communal seating options encourage employees to configure spaces to best suit the personalities and working styles of those working together to get the job done.

The open-office design trend provides employees with a fun, synergistic workspace where collaboration is natural and encouraged.

Provide areas for privacy.

Privacy Spaces for Office

While communal spaces encourage vital employee interaction, some work can’t be conducted in an open office setting. Background conversation and noise can be distracting during an important call or individual focused work.

Therefore, many offices feature a mix of open and closed spaces, where private meeting spaces with walls and doors are included throughout an open workspace. These conference rooms often have partial glass walls and soundproofed drywalls to maintain openness while providing privacy.

Take AOL’s west coast headquarters, for example, where glass-walled offices are offset by open areas that allow employees to mingle and bounce ideas off each other. Employees enjoy the best of both worlds, privacy when needed and the opportunity for collaboration just around the glass-walled office corner.

Create the comforts of home.

comfortable office space

When designing an innovative office space, think “living room.” The homestyle comfort trend in office design means employees are enjoying the same relaxed vibe they feel at home, only during working hours.

And while it’s not necessary to add a coffee shop or showers to your workspace, you can make changes that will encourage employees to make themselves at home while at work.

Incorporate relaxed seating

Relaxed Office Seating

Sofas, bean bag chairs, cushioned benches and even hammocks replace traditional ergonomic desk chairs in unconventional office design, much like the conference room couches in Path’s San Francisco offices.

At Evernote, comfortable, eclectic seating and informal relaxation spaces support collaboration. Even a cushioned staircase provides an unconventional place to sit alone or have impromptu meetings.

Inviting seating encourages employees to “let their hair down,” allowing creativity to flow in a relaxed environment.

Add at-home touches

You can make your workspace more comfortable by adding design elements or creative finishes you’d find at home, such as plants and greenery, yoga mats and meditation spaces. Dropbox’s San Francisco office features a ping-pong table and a music room with a piano.

Using movable furniture can also increase comfort, as employees are free to rearrange furniture (much like they would at home) to suit the work task at hand.

Lightweight furniture with wheels makes the workspace both dynamic and comfortable. Movable green wall dividers and other outdoorsy elements, like Skype’s seats that look like large rocks, can bring a calming touch of nature into the mix.

How to “think outside of the cubicle”

The design of your office directly impacts employee productivity, focus, creativity and health—not to mention employee commitment and satisfaction.

Integrating unconventional elements into your workspace shows your employees and customers that you are not only on trend with the latest in office design, but that you prioritize the wellbeing of the people who make your business run.

We can help you transform your office into a space that inspires innovation and productivity, and where your employees look forward to walking into every day. Call us at 877.779.3409, or use this form to send us an email.

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