November 11, 2016

Workplace Week: 10 elements to good workplace design

It’s Workplace Week next week. This event features some of the UK’s most innovative and creative workplaces and highlights what makes them stand out from the average workplace.

London is the epicenter of the convention, with a mix of events, including speeches, workshops and tours around cutting edge workplaces.

There is a theme to this year’s Workplace Week and it’s sport: treating employees like top class athletes. A central tenet of this theme is how to use the management of the workplace as a tool to create the right practices and environments, thereby enabling every employee to be the best they can be. On November 16, there will be a series of discussions under the heading ‘The Cognitive Athlete: Managing the workplace for peak professional performance…beyond wellness’.

Given the sporting focus, it’s not surprising that there are some speakers from the sporting world, such as Tim Henman. There are also neuroscientists, business leaders and workplace management professionals.

Some of the big questions that will be asked and discussed over the day include:

– How does the brain really work and what can we do to make it work better individually and collectively?
– What can we learn from the world of sport that we can use in business?
– What are the factors that make the biggest difference to the performance of the brain?
– How can we go about creating a ‘cognitive culture’?

The tours around workplaces will take place over the week, including the RBIS Digital Studio Workplace Tour. The Studio is designed in such a way to support agile and collaborative working, containing privacy and collaboration areas. Then there’s the Expedia Workplace Tour. Expedia, which was voted “the best place to work in the UK’ in a recent survey, has F1 simulators, a massive roof terrace and many breakout areas in its London office.

There will also be several fringe events, such as the one on ‘Virtual Reality and the Workplace’. Hosted by office design organisation Area Sq, this event will look at how virtual reality has progressed over the years and how it can and will be used in both to inform office design and in terms of the employee experience. The Area Sq design team will tell all about the latest developments in technical visualisation.

Obviously, not all organisations can afford to spend money on innovative, whizzy workplaces, with nice touches such as F1 simulators and rooftop terraces. However, good workplace design is still achievable. Employers and HR need to think about what image the workplace reflects, what kind of culture and working environment it engenders. A collaborative, agile workplace will require an office that enables collaboration to happen.

According to the global design, architecture, engineering and planning company, HOK, there are 10 elements to good workplace design:

1. Thermal comfort and temperature
2. Access to nature, views and daylight
3. Sensory change and variability
4. Colour
5. Noise control
6. Crowding
7. Human factors and ergonomics
8. Indoor air quality
9. Choice (having a variety of work settings that support a variety of work functions, such as quiet zones, collaboration zones and socialisation zones)
10. Employee engagement