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Four design tricks to make your staff happy

The office design market has certainly undergone some changes over the past few years. In previous years, we were constantly being briefed to work on reception areas, boardrooms or meeting rooms for our new clients. Basically, companies wanted to spend their design coin on areas that would be seen by their clients.

Boy has it changed! These days our design briefs often revolve around staff retention and staff acquisition. Employers are finding that good staff are hard to find – and sometimes even harder to hold on to. As a result, we are being asked to design spaces that employees actually look forward to working in.

If you want to wow your employees, there are four things you should consider:

1. Ensure your space reflects the nature of your business.

Creative spaces that make staff excited to come to work and proud of their environment should not be underestimated. Incorporate your company values or use design aesthetics that reflect the industry you work in. We did a fit-out for Woods that reflected elements of their industry: they’re in land surveying, roading and infrastructure so their fit-out had timbers, concrete, (designer) rust and highlights of road-marker yellow. The industry connection is subtle but it creates an exciting ad thoughtful backdrop.

2.  Match the space to your people.

Is your team all about fun and vibrancy? Yet your fit-out is a drab, plain old office space? This is SO common! It is not expensive to inject life into a space. Staff need to work twice as hard to express themselves and enjoy themselves at work if their working environment is boring! The fit-out we did for Charlie’s (now The Better Drinks Company) is a perfect example of how to bring fun into the workspace. This office matches the staff and the image they want to project with its New York loft-style backdrop, orange-crate partitions and cushy meeting room booths. There’s even a slide to reflect the company’s sense of family and child-like fun.

3. Check your workflow.

Do you have a large office where people need to retrace their steps regularly because the layout is not productive? No one likes to waste time, particularly when it’s spent walking back and forth to centralised storage or a badly placed photocopier. Workflow analysis in an office is very important – but more importantly, you need to act on the analysis. Simple changes can make huge differences to your team’s happiness.

4. Be careful with open-plan. 

Really? Can you have too much open-plan? TOTALLY! I’m a strong supporter of open-plan offices… so long as you have the right amount of breakout spaces or quiet places. Not all teams work well with exposure to other more vocal groups. For example, marketing often needs to collaborate, chat and brainstorm; finance does not. The differences between team requirements are important to consider for everyone to be happy in their work. Your office plan must have a good balance of spaces for collaboration spaces and for quiet.

Lizzi Hines is the senior designer and managing director of Spaceworks Design Group, which specializes in commercial, residential retail and hospitality fit-outs. They’ve won awards for their work and have worked with some cool clients, including Google NZ, Lego, LG Electronics, Bayleys, Universal Pictures & Music, Little Stitch and Mardee. www.spaceworks.co.nz 

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