All too often, the discussion surrounding workplace design focuses more on the layout and configuration than the furnishings, which are arguably of equal — and sometimes greater — importance. The aesthetics, comfort, and variety of office furniture can boost employee productivity by as much as 32 percent. By including features that meet employees’ needs and bring the comforts of home into the workplace, leaders can create environments that motivate, reduce productivity drains, and make employees want to spend time in the office.
People spend an average of a third of their day working, making their working environment a lot like a second home. Providing them with high-quality furniture that’s beautiful, comfortable, and supportive can help them work at a steady pace with fewer interruptions caused by muscle fatigue or discomfort. Given the amount of time that employees spend hard at work, supporting productivity by providing comfortable environments conducive to allowing employees to work in the ways best for them.
The drastic shift in the role and purpose of the office in the wake of the pandemic is another significant factor to consider. While working from home, employees grew accustomed to working in new spaces, using various strategies to ensure they completed their tasks. They also often had the freedom to relax during their downtime and breaks, something you can provide them in the physical workplace too.
Leaders continue strategizing about the return to the office, with the average workplace occupancy rate in many cities across the country remaining below 50 percent. Many leaders anticipate a need to make additional concessions to make their RTO plan successful.
What if the right office furniture could not only create a warm, welcoming environment that employees want to return to but also enhance their health and productivity? The time is now to begin incorporating functional, comfortable features that evoke home while supporting productivity in the workplace.
Provide Spaces for Different Work Styles
The modern workplace can’t solely prioritize cost and utilitarianism. The massive shift the office has undergone over the past few years is forcing organizations to design spaces that attract and retain talent with a combination of aesthetics and functionality that’s tailored to the workforce’s unique needs and wants.
It has become clear that employees value flexibility but that doesn’t only pertain to the ability to work remotely. Flexibility with scheduling and with how employees work while in the office are also critical elements. This notion becomes increasingly essential as the idea of working set hours on set days rapidly evaporates, necessitating flexible workspaces that can accommodate occasional meetings, hybrid workers, and teams.
Leaders must reimagine how the office can be utilized, whether everyone is in-office or not, accommodating the varying needs while offering a comfortable, inviting environment that encourages productivity and creativity. What this looks like is different for each organization but may include providing individual workstations and quiet areas for focused work, meeting rooms for gatherings and meetings, and lounge areas or breakaway spaces for collaboration and downtime.
For example, you might add ergonomic furniture options like adjustable chairs, sit-stand desks, and other furniture pieces that enable workers to adjust the furniture to their unique comfort level. You could also consider switching between traditional office tables, including large conference tables, and smaller modular options that empower employees with greater options over their preferred working location.
By providing workers with more choices and catering to their different working styles, leaders can simulate the comforts of home right in the office.
How can organizations achieve this quickly and without the headaches associated with furniture glut? CORT Furniture-as-a-Service™ (FaaS) – part of CORT Permanently Flerxible™ Solutions – allows companies to benefit from access over ownership, facilitating seamless changes to design different workspaces in the office to accommodate employees’ different working styles.
Incorporate Colors Through Artwork
Workstations and seating aren’t the only considerations. Nearly eight in 10 people in the United States have some form of artwork in their homes. Why not bring it into the office too?
Art can help inspire and motivate, it can remind you of the meaningful impact of your work and help prevent eye strain by giving computer-weary eyes a break from the screens. Art also triggers certain areas of the brain to boost mood and lower stress levels. Perhaps most importantly, art provides a perfect opportunity to leverage the power of color psychology.
Most workplaces have relatively bland white or gray walls, which can feel stark and even depressing at times while not conveying a homey feeling. Painting the entire office is rarely practical, particularly given leasing restrictions and budgetary concerns. Artwork solves the dilemma.
Colors impact productivity in various ways. For example, while yellow inspires positive and analytical thinking, red imparts an alert energy to the space. Blue can be calming, making it ideal for creating focus, and brown offers feelings of strength and safety.
Making incorporating artwork into the workplace easier is another area CORT shines. For example, you can incorporate more yellow into the design in a subtle way with art, such as CORT’s Retro Wall Art or Trinket Wall Art. To add calming blue tones, you might consider Abstract Frond II, which gives a calming feel with the different blue hues. CORT’s catalog of options allow for hassle-free integration of artwork into the space, and when it’s time to change things up or shift to a new design, that’s equally simple and seamless.
Create a Living Room Space in the Office
Truly successful workplace design meets employees’ desires and varying styles while also providing elements that people can’t get at home. Spaces where they can gather to relax together, socialize, and collaborate can help achieve that.
Not everyone works best sitting at a desk for eight hours every day. Incorporating living room space in the workplace checks several boxes. It provides comfortable areas for employees to lounge during breaks, which invites socialization and could spark spontaneous brainstorming sessions. These spaces could also be ideal for breakout meetings or quiet work.
Adding living room-like spaces blur the lines between home and office, creating uplifting environments that allow workers to work as they want and where they want for maximum productivity. CORT makes it simple to bring the living room into the office. For example, combining the gray Decker Sofa, the yellow Talia Chair, and the Astrid Pillows creates a functional office living space. The area can be accented with round tables with power instead of home coffee tables, addressing design and technology needs in one.
Foster Connections to Nature By Incorporating Greenery
Although only approximately 66 percent of homes have plants and greenery inside, nearly everyone can peek outside their doors and windows to catch a glimpse of nature. Facilitating employees’ connection with nature inside the workplace can increase positive feelings, enhance mood and self-esteem, and provide a boost to productivity.
Live plants can improve indoor air quality, but if that’s not an option for your workplace, look towards faux plants and flowers to add subtle touches with small arrangements in the reception area and communal space. Alternatively, leaders can opt for bolder natural greenery by bringing in large plants and trees, all of which help make people feel more grounded, calm, and comfortable. Although faux greenery doesn’t add oxygen to impact air quality, they do add a biophilic element to the workplace that can make a lasting impact on the office atmosphere.
Establish a Home Away From Home at the Office
With the many demands on today’s workspace, aesthetics may be easy to overlook. However, incorporating elements of home into the office design and addressing the differences in how people work and learn by incorporating flexibility can increase productivity and engagement. It can also help attract and retain talent while welcoming people to spend time in the office.
Done correctly, strategies must address employees’ different work styles and provide comfortable work areas to accommodate them. Adding colorful artwork, plants, and inspiring living room elements can make a tremendous impact. At the same time, leaders must recognize the continuing evolution of the workplace. Opting for agility and access over ownership with CORT FaaS and CORT Permanently Flexible Solutions® enables decision-makers to seamlessly change things up, scale up or down as needed, and get exactly what’s needed to support employee productivity and comfort.