Office – part of a worker's life
Poland's Central Statistical Office's research from 2012 shows, that almost 45 per cent of respondents spend more time at work than an established work week (over 40 hours a week). In this group, a staggering 12 per cent of workers accomplish 1,5 times the norm (60 hours a week). The reality of such overwhelming amount of work affects a worker's health and mood negatively. If long working hours are accompanied by an uncomfortable environment, the time spent in the workplace will not be used effectively. It is worth remembering that an office suited to the workers' needs is a space providing adequate and - most of all - comfortable working conditions.
The interior of a worker-friendly office is, above all, adequate to the type of work done -says Maciej Zuber, an architect for Archas Design. The choice of individual solutions, such as open space and hall type offices etc, makes it possible to use the space effectively and to adjust it to a specific type of work. People working as accountants will feel better in closed rooms, whereas stock-brokers will function well in an open space, which will enable them a free exchange of comments on the dynamically changing exchange quotations. While designing a friendly office interior, the workers' visual comfort is also significant. A skillful use of materials, textures and colours will allow to continuously boost the workers' creativity, as well as to increase their work efficiency.
Not just a workplace
Adjusting an office to the workers' needs immediately brings to mind equipping the office space with comfortable desks and armchairs. Ergonomics is naturally an integral part of creating a comfortable workplace arrangement. An employer wishing for the investment in an office design to bring actual results should, however, remember about a range of different aspects.
An issue often ignored by employers are the physiological needs. It does not of course refer to suitably long breaks, allowing the workers to use the toilet without any problems. An important element influencing work efficiency is the provision of sanitary facilities. A corporate canteen should also be a standard in the workplace, as well as a constant access to beverages such as fresh juices and various kinds of tea and coffee. Modern office designers put an emphasis on adequate facilities for the workers. It also means that employers are more aware of the importance of an appropriate work environment. Office designs include not only spaces like conference rooms, common rooms, gyms or relaxing areas -stresses Maciej Zuber of Archas Design. The workers can also spend their lunch break or some time after work in a friendly environment, indulging in their hobbies or having a discussion with their co-workers. Such actions have a positive impact on the image of the firm as well as on the way people function inside the establishment, which no longer is a cold space, associated only with work. Instead, it becomes a place, that ensures development on every level.
Firms aware of the impact of an office arrangement on the efficiency of their workers strive for increasingly more innovative architectural solutions. For instance, looking at pictures of the offices belonging to Google it is easy to see that the employer has provided - apart from comfortable work areas - so called relaxing areas for their workers. Despite what it may seem like, the multicoloured rooms with comfortable sofas or games tables do not necessarily have to make the personnel lazier during the working hours but may allow them to get back their strength and energy faster. Providing some comfort for an office worker is also important for their efficiency later on - agrees Maciej Zuber - Relaxing areas in office blocks allow a worker to get some rest during the lunch break, so that they can carry on with their duties with revitalized energy levels. Because of that, rooms intended for relaxation and entertainment are a good investment for the firm. It will result in the employees identifying with the institution, a better attitude towards their duties, as well as in creating a comfortable work environment.
Another argument towards creating relaxing areas in an office lies also with the latest research on the beneficial effect of a nap on a worker's efficiency. Dr David Dinges, commissioned by NASA to analyse the impact of sleep during daytime on human perception, proved that a short nap improves the memory. Moreover, the word 'nap' is more and more commonly replaced by the term 'powernapping'(sleep to gain power) for a reason. Nodding off at work for a few minutes will increase the ability to understand things and will speed up the workers' reactions to the incentives around them.
A viable investment?
Financial means pose restrictions on firm owners' ability to create an office arrangement suited the the workers' needs. Although a new arrangement is associated with costs, it is advisable to treat this decision as an investment, which will bring substantial benefits. Appropriate workplace arrangement suited for the variety of the tasks carried out guarantees an effective and creative way of thinking for the workers. It allows more interaction and, what is worth stressing, optimises the costs and helps to create optimal working conditions in every office space - insists Zuzanna Mikolajczyk, President of MIKOMAX Smart Office - People are a source of innovation, let's create the right conditions for them to be innovative. Let's make use of everyone, because an average group of workers may come up with genius-level ideas, let's not rely only on outstanding individuals. A well utilized office space has a positive influence on the workers' mood and health, and increases efficiency, as well as creates a positive image for the firm.
Archas Design's architect Maciej Zuber also adds, that the costs of an office space arrangement are dependent purely on the particular workplace's requirements: An office suited to the workers' needs is an investment, whose costs depend on the individual solutions. Obviously, it is possible to choose a design that requires a smaller part of the budget but which still is comfortable for the people using the facilities. The type of solutions used depends on the character of work carried out in a given room. If constant communication is required, open space offices work best in this situation. When it comes to professions, whose work process is individual, closed rooms are useful. It is of course possible to use indirect solutions, which are rooms common for a number of workers. While suggesting creative solutions to the investors it is therefore important to know, how particular groups of employees work and what is for them the most important.
Designing one's own office is a big challenge nowadays. The image of an employer and a workplace changes with the development of modern technologies. A company, which becomes the workers' second home, should ensure that it provides not only the best working conditions, but also best relaxation facilities. It is because every firm's true potential lies with its employees.