Small businesses owners have a lot to think about. If the significant challenge of running a successful company isn’t enough, businesses have to stay on top of their digital presence, ensure staff are supported, and continue to find opportunities for growth – all while keeping everything running smoothly. With so many plates to spin, it’s easy to leave something as seemingly trivial as office design by the wayside, but this could be a significant oversight: good office design is vital for small businesses.
For better or worse, many industry giants – particularly in the world of tech – have become renowned for their unusual and gimmicky offices. Whatever your take on artificial grass and table tennis, workspace layout and construction really do play a big part in staff productivity. Careful office presents a valuable opportunity to instigate changes that, while seemingly small, can make very big differences for small businesses everywhere.
Office design impacts productivity and wellbeing
With the average full-time employee spending 35% of their waking hours during their working life at the office, our working environments are as integral to our lives as our homes. As more research emerges into how our physical environments impact our wellbeing and productivity, it’s become clear that office design can make a substantial difference to employee productivity and wellbeing.
One of the biggest factors consistently shown to affect happiness is natural light. There’s a reason why so many modern offices are designed and constructed with frameless glass windows and walls, and why architectural glazing has become an integral feature of so many city centres.Research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (among plenty more) has found that teams exposed to daylighting are able to focus more, apply direct attention for longer periods, and report better wellbeing.
Other factors include offering desks or spaces that cater to both collaborative and private work, along with things such as standing workstations, which some studies, such as those by James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, found can improve fitness, as well as posture, and even creativity.
While small businesses may not be in a position to design their own building from scratch, they can use this knowledge to their advantage when choosing office spaces, or when considering workplace layout. In a small office, it’s worth thinking about the fact that one or two changes will likely have a bigger impact on the overall space than in a large corporate working environment, catering to hundreds of staff.
Small offices offer more scope for big change
One of the great things about running a small business is that even little changes can have a big and measurable impact on your company culture. In a large corporate setting, no-one is likely to spot the cactus in your cubicle; but when it comes to small office spaces, changing working stations or adding things like artwork can make a noticeable difference.
With the potential to implement changes quickly and affordably, you can feasibly take control of your office space overnight, and ensure that your working environment provides a positive space for your staff. By making a conscious effort to ensure your office is a pleasant place to be and work, your team are almost sure to notice, which can help maintain morale, and performance.
While you might not be able to install the staff swimming pool you’ve always dreamed of in a small office space, you do have a degree of creative freedom that doesn’t apply to a large brand. There’s no need to conform to expectation, and you’re free to set an example to both your staff and clients, reflecting genuine pride in every aspect of your company.
Positive design sets the stage for your growth as a brand and business
Good office design does more than serve as a platform for your business to operate; it can create a physical space that represents your brand as a whole. Given that many small businesses aim to grow over time, getting office design right early on can set an important benchmark for your growth later. This is particularly true as we move into a professional sphere in which millennials and a younger workforce increasingly expect a working environment that’s been designed with thought, and care. In this regard, your office can even be used as a tool to attract and retain the best staff.
Designing a layout that’s conducive to your success is about more than just creating a functional space: the best environments can encourage your business to thrive, and reinforce your corporate identity. In a small business, every element of your brand – from your social media marketing to the tone of your email correspondence, plays an integral part in forming your identity – and your office space is one of the most powerful ways to make a statement about who you are.
James is the chief content creator for Cantifix, a leading architectural glazing firm based in London in the UK, supplying everything from innovative glass floors to frameless glass walls. Cantifix regularly help construct effective modern workplaces that enable businesses to create the very best working environments.