Creating an office design that works for everyone can be challenging. Small individual offices are quiet and more private, but at the same time they can be isolating and take up too much space.
Open offices are great for collaboration, yet they can be very distracting, creating a noticeable drop in productivity. So what’s the solution?
Ideally companies want mixture of both worlds, and they can find it in a new concept called office neighborhoods.
What's Inside an Office Neighborhood & How It Helps Your Business
Office neighborhoods provide a great compromise between a completely open plan office design and a more closed off style with cubicles and fully enclosed office spaces.
Companies embracing the office neighborhood concept ditch the traditional idea of everyone having a fixed workspace and instead create flexible activity-focused work zones that employees can move between freely.
Office neighborhoods split the workforce into groups or “communities” who need to work together on a particular day or for longer term projects. Being a part of a community instills a sense of belonging and promotes collaboration and communication between team members.
Each of these communities is assigned a workspace where employees can work closely together, which might include a mixture of open-plan office space, small office or quiet rooms, and designated team areas.
In office neighborhoods, seating is unassigned so that rather than being given a desk and workstation, each employee is free to move around the space, collaborating with colleagues and seeking out the workspace that suits the different tasks they’re working on throughout the day.
The entire business premises might also be considered as a type of working neighborhood. Just as factors such as transport links and distance to shops are important to someone who’s apartment hunting, millennial employees seeking work-life balance will hunt out a company that offers an attractive office neighborhood that may include green spaces, comfortable places to relax, access to healthy food, and exercise facilities.
If you’re looking to attract new employees and provide an environment that promotes productivity and well-being in your existing employees, you might want to think about redesigning your office space into something more agile.
Identify Potential Communities for Your Office Neighborhood
Before starting to plan out an office neighborhood, it’s important to understand exactly how your staff members work.
Each individual in the company will have a set of different tasks defined by their job description. Some of these tasks may be completed alone, while others will require working with others. Some work may require concentration and quiet, while other tasks might be completed faster in a collaborative open environment that inspires creativity and communication.
Once you have a better idea of the work tasks each of your employees do and when they do them over the course of a business day, you can split the workforce into teams, based on who they need to collaborate and work closely with.
Plan a Flexible Working Environment
Ditch the concept of everyone having his or her own desk or workstation. Office neighborhoods are designed as fluid working spaces that individuals can move between.
Keep individual work needs and preferences in mind. Providing a range of seating and desk options allows each employee to choose a workspace that suits them.The office neighborhood is an open plan design at its heart, but it should also provide common areas and project rooms for small groups to communicate and work together.
Quiet zones are also essential to provide a space for distraction-free work. Office phone booths like the Zenbooth are ideal for this as they’re a flexible, modular option that can be moved around to create different office layouts. They are an easy way to create private workspaces in an open-plan office without completely remodeling.
Office Neighborhoods Should Provide Social and Well-Being Spaces
Office neighborhoods provide an attractive and well-rounded lifestyle to those who work there, often blending the boundaries between work and leisure pursuits.
Think about what you can provide that will improve the overall well-being of your employees and help them to be happier at work. This is especially important for millennial workers, who favor an office style that achieves their worklife balance goals.
Comfortable and relaxing common space is essential for taking breaks and socializing, which is important to build connections between team members, boost productivity, and reduce employee stress. These common areas can also double up as an informal meeting space or be used for a quiet and more relaxed working space.
Providing healthy snacks is also a great way to improve the physical health of your employees, which will have a positive impact on their mental well-being and productivity. Some companies, such as Google, go as far as providing unlimited healthy meals to their staff — a surefire way to keep employees at the office for longer, as well as keeping them away from chocolate or soda vending machines!
A company gym is an attractive perk if you have the space and budget; if not, there are other ways to encourage employees to move their bodies more for better health and productivity. Standing desks or treadmill desks burn more calories than sitting down, and they provide an alternative workstation option. Providing a shower at the office also encourages those who want to run or bike to work.
Make the Most of the Space You Have
While some big companies have built entirely new spacious offices designed on a neighborhood concept, with careful planning and innovation you can create an effective office neighborhood in your existing premises.
Consider replacing desktop computers with laptops, or even tablets. These not only take up less room, but they also encourage a more flexible work environment with each individual free to move around and work wherever suits them at that moment.
Think out of the box — an unused corner could be an informal seating area with the addition of a couple of beanbags or comfy chairs, just perfect for two employees working closely together, or a small group meeting.
Contact the Zenbooth team for ideas on how to make your office more modern, and to learn about the benefits of our comfort and executive size booths.