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How to Design Office Cubicles That Motivate and Inspire Your Staff
It has been said that the average working adult spends more time at the workplace then they do at home. With that said, it is becoming increasingly important for employers to provide a work environment that is aesthetically attractive in order to retain top talent, improve employee morale, and boost productivity. Workers who comfortable in their physical surroundings are likely to be more energized, more productive, and more efficient. Here are a few tips and techniques on how to design office cubicles that motivate and inspire your staff.
Break down the bullpen
First, remember that traditional office design - which typically reserves space along the walls, including the coveted corner offices, for upper level employees - is based on a hierarchical organization. Many experts feel this entire line of thinking is outdated. Consider breaking down barriers in your organization by giving all staff equal workspaces which can help reduce interpersonal issues and cultural infighting over status.
Let there be light
Access to windows and natural light is a must. If you design your workspace correctly, you will not have to be stingy when deciding who gets to sit near a window or skylight. The average employee resents being cooped up in an uninspiring, boring cubicle where they are unable to determine if it is day or night outside. Figure out a way to add peep holes and windows to your cubicle design.
Another tip that goes hand in hand with access to windows and natural light is experimenting with your lighting options. Lighting can have a significant effect on your employees' disposition and frame of mind. Sometimes, a simple design tweak such as changing the angle of the cubicle can make all the difference in the world.
Experiment with bold color schemes. Historically, cubicle designers are famous for their heavy reliance on neutral colors. The downside is so are the people who design prisons, hospitals, government buildings, and elementary schools. You do not want your office design to evoke unpleasant memories and experiences for your employees.
Adopt a common sense approach to how employees can personalize their workspace. As long as no employee is infringing on another employee or being distasteful, allow personal design touches from the employee such as family photos, wallpaper, bamboo wall hangings, and plants. An added benefit of natural plants in an office environment is that they help improve the air quality. Sometimes those little individualized details make a world of difference.
Help your employees cut down on clutter. There are a few ways to do this, including adding some sort of organizational system to every cubicle. This will help keep employees organized which will also prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by all of the piles of work inside their cubicle.
Since employees spend so much time at work, consider investing in ergonomic chairs and desks that will reduce eye, back, and neck strain. Healthy employees are happy employees and much has been reported about the dangers of too much time trapped at a desk and the effects of bad posture. Accounting for ergonomic considerations can reduce employee stress and injury.
Think outside the box
Some designers are ditching traditional cubicles in favor of portable cubicles (similar to the hot desk concept, yet employees actually transport the entire cubicle, not themselves), standing desks, roll-around cabinets, and other modern touches that can make a workspace feel more individualized and personal.
There is more to designing inspiring cubicles than the cubicles themselves. Just as much thought and advance planning should go into the common areas since providing relaxing spaces to unwind for a few minutes actually facilitates creative collaboration. This is the rationale behind the world renowned Google office design. Employees who are working intensely need the time and space to decompress for a bit. By not only allowing this down time, but by encouraging it through your organization's office and cubicle design, you will end up with happier more productive employees.
Don't forget to account for important, but often overlooked factors like fire safety, ADA requirements, electrical and data cabling arrangements, noise and acoustics, and planning for departmentalized workflow. Depending on what type of work is done in your office (web design vs. government weapons contractor) you may be able to experiment with open plan or high privacy environments.
Here are a few more cubicle design options you can consider to get your creativity flowing.
- Look into collaborative desk setups instead of standalone cubicle units.
- Sometimes just choosing low cube walls can go a long way towards fighting the war against boring workplaces.
- Consider using nontraditional materials such as wood or laminate for effect instead of going for the traditional "corporate look" that every office has.
- Experiment with little details like shelving and rugs.
- Consider adding lamps or other soft lighting to reduce dependence on overhead lighting.
- Depending on your employees' needs, try installing bigger desk surfaces to reduce clutter and accommodate technology such as dual monitors and 3D printers.