Anna Marszałek, Workplace Research and Space Planning Senior Manager at Nowy Styl Group, tells us about the five most important problems contemporary offices have to deal with and the ways to eliminate them during an arrangement process.
According to our research, ¾ of employees take into consideration an attractive look of an office before choosing their potential employer. The majority of them want to see an office first before they sign a contract. What can't a workspace lack? What are the main factors that distract employees and cause their frustration?
The size of social spaces is a problem for 33.5% of employees working in the offices we have surveyed*.
Eating is one of human basic needs. Being unable to consume a meal for 8 hours or eating meals in uncomfortable conditions causes people to experience growing dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, the majority of office canteens we analysed when carrying out our research, turned out to be too small, too dark or not equipped with the right air-conditioning.
However, a canteen, especially the one in big companies, should be a place where employees can socialise with each other and build mutual relations. Meals eaten together not only help employees get used to working together and relax, but also facilitate exchange of knowledge and new ideas. A canteen should be designed in the right way, so that it attracts employees and ensures a place for everyone who wants to make use of it.
It is important for every big company, which has enough space and financial resources, to think of a cafeteria. A smaller organisation can provide employees with a spacious canteen, where they will be able to warm up and consume their meals. A huge table at which employees can get together and talk should be a central place in every cafeteria. Another important aspect is the proper air-conditioning. At one of our clients for whom we realised a project, there was no window in the canteen and the air-conditioning was out of order. Employees had to open the door to their open space, which consequently caused all smells and loud conversations to be spread all over the place where they tried to concentrate and hold talks with their clients. A solution to this problem was to improve the air-conditioning and change arrangement of walls, so that the canteen could be fitted with a window. This aspect was crucial to employees. During the workshops we organised, they stressed their wish to have at least a dummy window in the room. After rearranging the canteen, the place became much cosier.
"Having a friendly cafeteria with great atmosphere will not only provide a relaxing environment for your employees, but will increase your business productivity. Your employees will be fit mentally and physically, helping your business and productivity" – we can read this in the "How the Office Cafeteria Affects Employee Productivity" report (Bojan, S., 2014).
Acoustics in an office is a problem for 31.6% of employees working in the offices we have surveyed*.
According to independent research presented by the portal www.bhp.abc.com.pl, 85% of employees who work in offices based on the open space concept think they are too noisy; the noise causes half of the people employed to lose concentration, while 60% of them to raise their voice when they want to hold a conversation (also on the phone). Such working conditions make it difficult for employees to concentrate and work efficiently.
Most often the sources of noise are as follows: the surroundings (e.g. sounds of the street coming into an office through the windows), the workspace (too many employees within one space, huge open spaces, or office devices, such as printers), and employees themselves (phone calls, conversations held at a desk and not in a meeting room, or teams working together within an open space). The surroundings is something that we cannot influence, however in terms of the other two aspects, there is always something we can do ‒ the workspace can be designed properly so that it minimises the noise generated, while employees can work out rules for using the office.
It is advisable to think of acoustic solutions at the designing stage. An open space with long desk rows that looks like a sewing room is not a good idea. The more varied and diverse the office is, the better acoustics we can achieve. Employers no longer care for packing as many people as possible within one open space, but they strive to provide their employees with the right conditions for carrying out everyday duties. An open space can be designed in a good way but with modern solutions in mind. Proper carpet flooring or an acoustic ceiling may not be enough. It is therefore worth implementing acoustic panels that section off particular teams, telephone booths that ensure comfortable conversations, or furniture systems with high sound-absorbing walls. In this aspect, it is advisable to trust a specialist. The cost of an acoustic consulting service is much lower than the cost of potential losses the company can generate when working in a badly designed space. Nowy Styl Group, as a supplier of space arrangement comprehensive solutions, offers this kind of service as well. An acoustics specialist will advise the client on how to choose the right place for sound-absorbing materials that will increase the acoustic comfort of a particular space.
The influence of light on employees' productivity is greater, despite the fact that employees complain about noise more often.
Lighting is the most important factor influencing employees' efficiency in an office – it plays a vital role for no less than 77% of the respondents ("Impact of Office Design on Employees' Productivity," Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management, 2009).
There is probably nobody who would like to work in a cellar! The lack of sufficient access to daylight may change our circadian rhythm, which means the hours during which we are energised and those during which we are sleepy. These disorders lead us to be sleepy throughout a day and have problems with sleeping at night. As a consequence, we are not productive at all. In order to avoid this, desks should not be placed farther than 8 metres from the windows.
Air-conditioning in an office is a problem for 27.9% of employees working in the offices we have surveyed*.
Direct ventilation may cause considerable discomfort, therefore air-conditioning devices should be arranged in the right way. Unfortunately, air-conditioning is often designed at the very first stage when nobody has thought of desk arrangement yet. Later on we can see at our clients that their employees cover an air conditioner with a carton. To avoid this kind of situation, it is necessary to design an interior, including its arrangement in a comprehensive way before starting a project. Only then is it possible to ensure that desks will not be located directly under ventilation.
Another important aspect is to provide employees with the possibility to change the temperature in an office – to control air-conditioning or to open the windows. In 2010 Craig Knight from the University of Exeter conducted research that showed that the greater influence on the work environment employees had, the more motivated and happier they were. They also felt stronger identification with their company and performed their tasks more efficiently. Such aspects, which are seemingly trivial, are in fact highly important to employees.
- Meeting places
Both the number of formal meeting rooms and the number of informal meeting places in an office are a problem for 26.5% of employees working in the offices we have surveyed*.
In the past, employees spent the majority of their workday sitting at a desk. Now, many of the tasks we perform require cooperation. The character of meetings has changed as well, however unfortunately office conditions are not suitable enough. There are too few meeting rooms, they are constantly occupied, or their arrangement does not meet employees' needs. People then meet at a desk and disturb other colleagues.
Offices used to be fitted with one or two huge conference halls in the past. Nowadays, the majority of meetings are held by teams consisting of 3–4 or 5–8 people. This aspect should be taken into consideration at the designing stage. An ideal solution is a research process that can be conducted by experts from our Workplace Research and Consulting Department. In order to arrange a new office properly, it is necessary to find out what types of meetings are most often held in a particular company, what their character is, how big the teams holding meetings are, at what time of a day they are held, where employees like getting together, and how the current meeting rooms are used. It is advisable to locate meeting rooms close to employees (nobody wants to go down from the fifth floor to the first one, especially if the person has a few meetings a day). Therefore, a good project based on employees' real needs and the activity profile of particular departments is necessary.
It is also worth taking a closer look at the system of booking. At one of our clients, part of long-term cyclical reservations turned out to be no longer valid, but the meeting rooms were displayed as unavailable.
In the process of designing an office, it is necessary to think about its future users. For us, an office is a place where people realise their business processes, therefore we always take these three aspects into account when arranging office spaces.
Compiled by A.T.
*Number of respondents: 2,486; number of the companies surveyed: 8
A monotonous posture – it is the cause of many civilization diseases. Our work environment has to change by offering processes that support our methods of operation and inspirational furniture, especially office equipment and accessories.
Therefore the aim of the "Health" Active Office AWARD is to raise the industry's awareness, speed up the introduction of new products and inform office users about good, ergonomic models.
During the Orgatec 2016 fair, the award was given to 600 exhibiting furniture manufacturers. According to a top-class jury, Nowy Styl Group achieved 9th place with their modular seating system Tapa.
Pictures from the award ceremony held in Berlin:
The fair will be held in Paris on 28‒30 March. Using the products awarded for their design and functionality (Red Dot Award and Iconic Award), such as modular poufs Tapa, the Meta-Fora system (part of the Sand line), Levitate and Play&Work desks, as well as the furniture made by the Swiss brand Sitag that will be presented by the River Seine for the first time, we will show how to arrange an effective workspace.
We count on many inspiring meetings that we will hold when playing games on our mini golf course. The guests who will demonstrate courage and perseverance will be rewarded with our great gifts.
28‒30/03/2017, 9.00 a.m. ‒ 6.00 p.m.
Paris, Porte de Versailles
Colourful sofas in informal meeting zones, acoustically isolated places for undisturbed work, furniture that can be adjusted to the individual needs of its users, canteens that look like cafes or a swing in a fun room – at the fair in Milan (4–9 April) we will show how to trigger employees' potential with the right interior arrangement.
The work style in an office is changing rapidly. In order to respond to the change, new interior arrangement concepts focused on people's needs (so-called anthropo-design) are coming into being. Employers are paying greater attention to employees' needs, since they know the success of their companies depends on their employees' creativity and efficiency. The organisers of the fair in Milan encourage exhibitors to show forward-thinking and present solutions adjusted to the modern workplace – the so-called workplace 3.0. How will our company respond to this challenge?
Let your imagination swing
– With our stand, we would like to show that there is something childlike in each of us. It is the youngest who have exceptional imaginations; these can also be very useful at work. Moreover, it is children who can truly enjoy life. Why don't we improve our working day with a few little pleasures, such as drinking refreshing lemonade or sitting on a swing? This can stimulate creativity and have a positive influence on people's efficiency at work. Nowadays we have a wide range of arrangement possibilities, enabling us to arrange offices in an interesting way – says Sławomira Rzepkowska who is responsible for arranging our stand at the fair in Milan.
Visitors to our stand will be invited to make use of the most cutting-edge modern technology. Using special glasses, they will move into a virtual office where they will be able to change arrangements, furniture colours and systems, walk freely around an open space, or sit in a comfortable armchair in a managerial office. The #OfficeVR application was presented for the first time during last year's ORGATEC fair in Cologne, with unanimous positive feedback. It has since been improved: we have added new furniture and functionalities.
A multitude of solutions
At our 320 m² stand we will present many solutions, including: Play&Work desks with height adjustment, which allow employees to adopt both sitting and standing positions (designed by WertelOberfell); Xenium duo back chairs (designed by Martin Ballendat); SitagWave chairs with intuitive adjustment, which ensure perfect spine support while looking very attractive (designed by Uli Witzig); the Navigo chair, which provides proof that ergonomic products can also be exceptionally comfortable (designed by Oscar Buffon); Tauko chairs, which make reference to the design from the 60s and warm up the office space (designed by Przemysław Mac Stopa); modular tables from the same line, which can be arranged in different configurations, thanks to their shapes; the Tepee system, which helps to isolate employees visually and acoustically from people working in an open space, allowing them to perform tasks that require concentration or hold effective meetings within a small team (designed by Hilary Birkbeck); colourful Tapa poufs, which can be freely arranged according to the user's preferences (designed by Mac Stopa); Levitate desks, which make reference to the home office design trend (designed by the famous pair WertelOberfell).
To hit the target
For us, an office is a place where people realise business processes. A well designed office arrangement project is an optimal combination of these three elements. As an expert in arranging offices, we present not only products but also specific solutions that are worth implementing in communication, concentration and relaxation areas. To ensure our offer responds to the needs of each organisation, we encourage clients to conduct a space efficiency analysis or an employee activity analysis in different departments. This is the work our Workplace Research and Consulting Department deals with.
– On the basis of our analyses, we prepare recommendations for the new project concerning the number of desks, the type of equipment, the desksharing possibilities, the number and size of informal meeting places and the amount of telephone booths for particular departments. This type of data helps us design the right office for our client. We stress our competences in this field with the motto "We KNOW HOW to #MakeYourSpace" – says Karolina Manikowska, Workplace Research and Consulting Department Director.
We warmly invite you to visit our stand – no. A11 B08 in hall no. 24.
Workplace 3.0/SaloneUfficio is part of the international Salone del Mobile fair. Only companies that have been invited by the organisers can exhibit there. It will be the second time our company participates in the fair, held in the capital of Italian design.
Our furniture will also be part of an artistic installation of the Interni press office designed by Przemysław Mac Stopa within the Milan Design Week. The "Material‒Immaterial" exhibition can be seen on 3‒15 April.