The 5 mistakes you should stop making in your office

The 5 mistakes you should stop making in your office

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

Hundreds of millions of people — at least 15 percent of the population in developed countries — work at a desk, in an office. But there are many things to do about it.


Hundreds of millions of people — at least 15 percent of the population in developed countries — work at a desk, in an office. But there are many things to do about it.

1. Stop thinking of art just as a distraction

Many would say that if artworks pieces are disposed in an office, workers would be distracted — and the classical image of one employee dreaming at his desk comes quickly to mind. But what if I say this is terribly not true? What if escaping from reality could sometimes (often) have a positive impact on your employee’s life work?

Indeed, it has been proven multiple times that art can also be a real trigger for motivation to work; because it inspires them, impulses creativity, and new and bright ideas. Furthermore, it makes them feel comfortable — an incredibly important element while thinking that the marketplace may be full of opportunities and the best people will only stay in places where they feel at ease.

2. Quit lean offices

Following the first point: it’s then time to get rid of lean offices and start enrich your spaces. Dr Craig Knight, who studied the psychology of working environment at Exeter, led a study proving how much art can impact employee’s productivity. To highlight that, he took into account four different spaces: a lean office, providing only the necessary tools to work ; an enriched one with some art and plants already arranged ; another one where employees could engage in the disposal of arts qualified as empowered and the last one qualified as disempowered because after employees had chosen where to put plants and pieces of art, the experimenter undid all the personal touches the employees brought.

The result was quite striking: people were 15% more effective in enriched spaces than in lean office. Furthermore, they also had fewer health complaints.

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3. Give some space to your employees

If the previous study showed that enriched spaces are much better places for work than the lean ones, one should also consider another huge point. It is important to listen to your employees and not shut their ideas down, in work but as much as in terms of decoration. Why?

The other major result from Knight’s study was that people worked even better in offices where they had the ability to choose the way it looks. Indeed, if you want your employees to feel at home, they should definitely have the possibility to choose what surround them: calendars, paintings, photographs of their children… By controlling the look and style of their work areas, they will feel instantly more confident in the way they approach their work. Furthermore, even a welcoming place, if totally imposed by team managers — could be felt as alienating.

Finally, the last result from Knight’s study highlights another important characteristic: if people feel better in empowered places, they would feel the same than in lean places if management move things they try to implement. So don’t forget to consult them — often.

Photo by Slava Keyzman on Unsplash

4. Shut “open plans”, open “open spaces”

Open plan offices are very common: these are these very sterile places where a large number of employees are at their desk, sometimes separated by partitions to offer a bit of privacy. On the contrary, this configuration also enables the monitoring of employees by their supervisors: at every moment, someone can stand behind you, peering at your shoulder, without notice. This is stressful and impersonal. Even worse, the practice of “hot desking” where desks are allocated on a first-to-come basis can make your employees feel anxious even before coming to work.

But there is one great thing with open plan: proximity between pairs. And this precise point should be used at its advantage forcreating a real open space where people are getting closer together. In this sense, the Google campuses around the world got it right: far from a traditional workplace, workers discover an original environment where they can better communicate with each other but also where they have the right to rearrange with their own personal accessories. And from a results point of view, it seems working perfectly.

Google Campus Dublin — Photograph by Peter Würmli

5. Stop being common, start being unique

Today, even though the purpose of the company is widely different from one another, most offices look the same. But it should not be that way.

Placemaking elements do have the ability to express a brand’s company, its values but also to connect staff together. Furthermore, Rhian Windrige, of CBRE, the largest commercial real estate services in the world, pointed out the fact that placemaking principles have the power to retain top industry talent. And some organisations are here to help you. With its concept of “Living office”, the company Herman Miller allows you to better choose your furniture according to your needs but also how to align them with your values and core identity. Hence, if people appreciate the offices they work in, because they could participate in the choosing, making of their offices, they will be more likely to stay and more likely to perform even better, making everyone happier.

It starts now.