How the right office design can inspire creativity

With employees spending most of their time at work, it is important for employers to ensure that they create office spaces that inspire employees

Employees spend a third of their life at work, or on average, 25 – 30 years. It therefore stands to good reason that the office should be engaging and stimulating to those who spend a good portion of their time there.

Yet, according to the Gallup Engaged Workplace study, a staggering 87% of global employees are not engaged at work while a whopping 91% in South Africa say the same. Simply put, an engaged workforce is the difference between a company on a path to success or failure. As the owner or manager of a business, these statistics should be cause for concern as lethargic, uninspired, overworked or stressed staff are not good for business. So unless you are AirBnB and have the luxury of turning a disused warehouse into a new headquarters to improve employee privacy and socialisation – a project that is now the blueprint for its global offices – there are other more realistic fixes business owners can pursue to yield tangible, long-term returns and talent retention. 

Founder and head designer of Conduit Interior, Grant Johnson, understands the need for an inspiring workspace. He has spent much of his career focused on designing creative office layouts that provide staff with the opportunity to tap into their own creativity, allowing them to feel valued and apart of the team. He shares his interior corporate design advice for getting the most out of your staff. 

Provide places for me-time to help staff de-stress.

At times, work can become hugely overwhelming so instead of staff feeling burnt out after a long week and taking a few days off to recover, providing them with a place to de-stress can reduce client absenteeism. According to research conducted by Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear from the University of Sydney, between 25 and 30% of employees in open-plan offices are dissatisfied with workplace noise. It was also found to increase epinephrine levels and cortisol in the body which leads to stress and health issues.

 Provide private spaces for ‘team-time’ to encourage brainstorming

Creating spaces for collaborative downtime is essential as this is when the creative juices begin to flow and when staff feel relaxed enough to share their ideas. South African developer Korbicom, producers of legal management software Ghost Practice, for instance, thrives on optimising “team-time” for developers to think in private while larger meeting spaces enable idea sharing. By introducing breakaway places, think spaces and technology-centric meeting rooms, the team’s experience is enhanced, global communication optimised and staff acquisition and retention measurably improved. 

Allow for social gatherings during working hours

While crowded open plan offices surrounded by coveted corner offices have been a mainstay for decades, the reality is that it breeds high noise levels. While it does encourage staff to be social, it’s not what you want in this environment and can be distracting for those who are not part of the conversation. This is where communal coffee bars and cafes are highly beneficial in an all open set-up as they allow employees to step into a non-corporate environment which in turn encourages ad-hoc interactions and cross-pollination.