Five fast ways to a knockout workplace

Originally published in Fast Business, 19 May 2014

Here’s how to create a knockout workplace for your business that will inspire your employees and enable a social, mobile and flexible way of working.

Once upon a time, the open-plan office was the revolutionary solution of the future. It wasn’t long before that conversation became passé. The workplace is changing – fast. As business becomes more social, more mobile and more collaborative, our workplaces also need to change to accommodate an increasingly flexible way of working.

So how can you cater to everyone’s needs?

1. Variety is key

Productivity tends to ebb and flow throughout the day, so creating a flexible workspace is key to keeping workers active when they feel that ebb approaching. Introducing a variety of settings into your workplace can actually improve employee productivity, according to research by Regus, which found that 73 per cent of Australian respondents believed their companies were more productive as a direct result of more flexible working.

That doesn’t mean you need to throw out all the desks and embrace activity-based working right away. If it’s not an option, there are smaller steps you can take to boost productivity.

Get started by setting up a lounge area with comfortable modular furniture in one corner and a big communal table in the other. Add a co-working area filled with sticky notes, whiteboards and blank walls. Then arrange for different vertical-level seating options, from tatami mats to beanbags to standing desks. It’s important for workers to be able to get up and move away from their desk for a change of scenery.

If you’re ready to take the idea further, consider moving to an activity-based workplace, which has numerous benefits for business.

2. Mobile and connected

Flexibility is key for workers – and it has great benefits for business too. You can help employees work from anywhere by setting up an infrastructure that enables mobility and connectivity. Consider cloud services, store documents in an easy-to-access central electronic filing system and provide the mobile tools to help staff work remotely.

3. Go paperless

There are many attractive incentives for employing a paperless strategy. It encourages a streamlined and simplified workflow, lets employees access documents when working remotely, saves on costs, boosts security and permits easy management and filing of important contracts and documents.

4. Keep it natural

Taking in a healthy dose of sunshine or nature in the workplace helps to boost wellbeing and productivity. Although floor-to-ceiling windows and company greenhouses aren’t ideal (or affordable) for every business, investing in potted plants and natural lighting solutions can work wonders. If possible, set up an outdoor work area with sprawling picnic tables (and power sockets) where people can kick off their shoes and get busy.

5. A splash of colour

Companies can now look to colour theory for solace. Studies show that looking at the colour green before doing a creative task will help a lot, while according to The Colour Affects System, developed by psychologist Angela Wright, certain colours naturally stimulate certain parts of the brain. Now, that’s an easy mood changer.

A sleek and stylish office looks great, but it takes more than aesthetics for a workplace to function. A knockout work culture is also fundamental – a beautiful desk is nothing if workers are chained to it all day.

Image: Fast Business