When you walk in to your office on a Monday morning for another day at work- how do you feel? Motivated? Excited? Or filled with dread at the prospect of surviving another week at the same desk doing the same work, surrounded by the same sounds of the telephones and the other workers?
It's a well-known fact that the majority of Britons spend around 40 hours a week working in the office- that's more time than anywhere else in Europe. It's not surprising then, that experts have found that our office environments affect our productivity as staff, our mood and our health. Being surrounded by the physical uniformity of an office, where there is no individuality or sign of creativity can often make people feel dreary and less productive than usual.
So what makes a good office?
According to a recent article in the Stylist magazine, experts believe that a personalised office can significantly improve productivity and staff's mental well-being- provided that the staff help to decide how they are arranged. Following a study about the correlation between office morale and office layouts, Professor Haslam of the university of Exeter explained:-
'We found that while an attractive environment increases worker productivity, even more critical is employee autonomy...we think that when people feel uncomfortable in their surroundings, they are less engaged.'
- S Alexander Haslam, professor of social psychology at University of ExeterWe have had a look at ways in which some companies have incorporated innovative ideas in to their office designs, in order to make the workplace a more creative, enjoyable and varied environment to work. The Google offices in Zurich are a particular favourite of ours:-
This is the Google reception- the space is used primarily as a break out area, with masses of contemporary styled seating. The windows are full length, bringing in a lot of natural light, but there are also many additional lights surrounding the reception area for practicality.
There are various meeting 'pods', which promote staff collaboration with a high degree of privacy. These additions are really unique and quirky.
There are a number of different meeting pods, including this taxi and some igloos! These designs are unique, fairly informal, and are designed to act as welcoming and creative hubs for colleagues to work from.
Every room holds a separate theme, with unusual additions like this rowing boat of bean bags. The company have allowed big windows, which capture a lot of natural light.
The offices have incorporated both formal and informal office environments- we often forget that people have unique needs to focus. Some feel more comfortable working in an informal environment with background noise, whereas others prefer more traditional working environments with little noise. The glass partitions will also act as a sound barrier, separating the two working environments effectively without isolating either group.
There are a number of different 'environments' including this meeting room environment which is an igloo!
Now, these are very unique chairs! I would be very worried about getting tangled in it though!
The desks are used for dual screen computers, so they need to be quite roomy. Each workstation has a special light, ensuring that there are sufficient amounts of light for each person. Can you see the exercise ball under the desk?!
There are fireman's poles and slides galore for easy access to lower floors. The trees add a fresher touch to an office environment, moving away from the mundane style of traditional offices.
This is the library room- a room that is used by people who want to come and work or relax quietly. The different 'environments' are useful because they offer some variety for the staff to choose from, so that they don't get sick of their surroundings.
As you can see, the Google staff in Zurich have really gone to extremes in order to create an interesting, varied yet balanced work environment, where they have the ability to learn, collaborate, focus and socialise- the balance of formal and informal settings is particularly interesting as it offers suitable but varied working environments to all individuals. It is innovative in style, and does not stick to a traditional or specific office structure.
Now, we're not suggesting that you install helter skelter slides or penguins in to your offices, but it might be interesting to think about how you could make your offices a little bit more quirky or unique. There are loads of things that you could do, and something interesting would give you extra talking points, and help your customers to remember you better.
For more information about quirky offices, please visit: Stylist Magazine and read pages 51-54