If you’re moving to a new office soon, you may already have a wonderful vision of what it’s going to look like – the layout, the furniture, the décor.
But what do your employees want?
There’s a lot of controversy already about preferred office designs. The cubicle concept made people miserable, but a lot of people aren’t the biggest fans of open offices either. Whatever the research says, all you want right now is to ensure your employees are going to be efficient, productive, and happy. So how do you decide what furniture does that best?
Here’s our secret to you – Stop guessing, and ask.
Get advice on choosing the right office furniture straight from the people who will be using it themselves. Survey your employees on the furniture they want. See how helpful their advice could be.
General Employee Furniture Needs
At the very least, some pieces of furniture are a given when you’re designing your office space. You will need desks, chairs, and storage. You will also need tables for common items, lighting, and décor.
Technically you could run an office with just this stuff. But your employees won’t be very happy. They might still want rec rooms and coffee machines. They may like a particular kind of chair. They may want keys to their own drawers. They may need meeting rooms, cafeterias, and lounges.
Most importantly, they want to know that you value them as employees, and the best way to show that is by listening. So ask:
- What kind of furniture will help you work your best? You can be specific.
- What kind of office facilities or rooms will you need?
- How much desk space would you like?
- What kind of office layout would you prefer?
These questions should give you a general idea of what furniture to get and what not to.
Office Furniture Based on How Employees Work
Whether it’s based on the nature of their job, or on their working style preferences, your employees would like furniture that allows them to function at their best all day.
Bonus points if you can offer different kinds of furniture to accommodate their varying energy levels so they can avoid burnout. Here are some working styles your employees may prefer:
Furniture for Solo Work
Those who code all day like to put their headphones on and slide into deep, focused work. Designers, writers, and customer support agents also spend a good part of their day sitting at their desks and working alone.
That is why, these people would prefer personal workstations they can make their own, privacy screens to block out distractions, and supportive, ergonomic chairs to keep their productivity (and backs) working optimally throughout the day. To know what they want, ask your employees:
- How do you prefer to work?
- How much of your work will you be performing alone?
- What level of privacy will you prefer at your workstation?
Furniture for Collaborative Work
Furniture that promotes interaction can also inspire great moments of creativity. We’re talking open-office tables, swiveling chairs, and smaller workstations so that everyone is closer to each other.
Marketing and R&D teams tend to benefit from this kind of furniture because it’s easy to glide to someone else’s desk, look over the team’s work on their computer, swivel around to ask the guy behind you, and have an open discussion right there without hassle. It beats having to make appointments and going to the meeting room every time. Ask:
- How much of your work will involve face-to-face communication with your team?
- How much of your work will involve collaboration across different teams?
- How open would you like the office layout to be?
- What’s the average size of your meetings? And how many do you attend in a week?
Furniture for Virtual Work
If your employees have to coordinate with people who don’t work in the same office or company, you want to give them the best technology so they can communicate well. This means good connectivity and video call technology including televisions, cameras, speakers, and microphones.
Ideally, these long-distance calls would take place away from the rest of the office so that nobody else gets distracted. This means dedicated meeting rooms with a large table and a couple of chairs, or a phone booth for private calls.
We’ve given examples here, but your employees could be different. Your coders might like to socialize while they work while the introverted marketing associate wants a bit of privacy. So ask them the right questions to find out what kind of furniture they want.
It’s likely you’ll find an equal split between those who want to work alone and those who don’t. Plus, most employees do a bit of both every day. Fret not. You don’t have to design a confusing office plan to accommodate them all.
Instead, think of your office layout in terms of zones.
Have one zone that allows your staff to work in private, and another that fosters collaboration. The workstations at which your employees will work most of the time can be a mix of both, like long, open tables with decent privacy screens.
Office Furniture Based on How Employees Take a Break
Your employees will love it if you get them furniture that helps them excel in their respective careers. But if you thought this would keep them glued to their desks all day, you’re wrong.
Employees will still take breaks. And you need to get furniture for that too.
While breaks may seem unproductive, a lot of new ideas and solutions come up from this kind of informal interaction, especially across teams who sit at opposite ends of the office. Some people take breaks by spending time alone, and they come back to work refreshed and ready to tackle their tasks.
Furniture for Alone-Time
Everyone needs some alone time, even at work. Usually, it’s to get away from the noise and buzz in the office. That is why some of the top brands have private pod-like areas with comfy furniture for people to relax in between sprints.
Some companies have rooms filled with many small ‘private lounge stations’ – complete with a plush chair, an electrical outlet, and a side table for venti coffees. Your employees might just bring their laptops and do their best work here. To know what your employees want, ask:
- How do you usually recharge during your breaks?
- What facilities will help you make the most of your break?
- What kind of private relaxing space would you design for yourself at the office?
Furniture for Socializing
But most people like to congregate for non-professional conversations and mid-day catch-ups. Open lounges and cafeterias are not only great places for your employees to relax in, but they encourage dialogue between members of different teams.
A lot of top companies agree that this is where people get some incredibly original ideas and solutions, even if the intent was just to relax. Cross-departmental interaction isn’t this easy at your employees’ designated workstations. Give them a nice break-room so that they can relax, socialize, and let new ideas flow. Ask your employees:
- On average, how many people do you usually socialize with during your breaks?
- What furniture do you think will make the lounge/cafeteria/common areas more inviting?
- What facilities will help you make the most of your break in common areas?
Ask your employees for their opinion on something and you automatically boost morale. Especially if the results are something they’ll ultimately be working with.
That is why, asking your employees about what kind of furniture they want will not only help you make the right choices, but also improve engagement. In today’s world, it’s important to keep your employees happy, and asking them the right questions is a good place to start.
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