Take a look around your office: what you see today will likely appear much different tomorrow.
That’s because law firms – how they look, feel and function – are undergoing a massive makeover.
The longstanding office-based model is no longer the only option. Firms are experimenting with open floor plans, co-work spaces, and hot desks. Some have ditched the idea of walls, ceilings and doors altogether, in favor of virtual practices that exist only in the ether.
On the color front, the traditional gray, beige and white are now considered the worst choices for an office. These neutral tones – associated with sidewalks, battleships and prisons – induce feelings of sadness and lethargy, according to this University of Texas study.
On a less macro level, firms are discovering that everything from overhead lighting (blue-enriched light bulbs that are 17,000K boost mental sharpness and memory while reducing fatigue) to the plants in the lobby (lush green foliage improves productivity 15 percent) can make a huge difference in both office morale and annual earnings.
A similar revolution is happening with personnel. Some firms have remote policies that allow employees to work wherever and whenever they want to. Others are finding that by redesigning their spaces, workers actually prefer to come into the office rather than work from home or Starbucks.
8 Office Tweaks To Boost Your Bottom Line
- Rearrange the furniture. Simply moving your desk from here to there might make a big difference. A change in furniture placement “lifts mood, provides concrete satisfaction, and instills a sense of effectiveness,” says Dr. Carrie Barron of Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in Psychology Today. “Inner and outer harmony happen when pieces are placed in a way that makes sense for you.”
- Change the lighting. Harsh white light or buzzing fluorescence increases stress and lowers mental performance. On the other hand, cooler lighting makes workers more productive. Natural sunlight – especially in the morning hours – is even better. Tip: arrange your office so that light can travel freely.
- Add comfort, art and beauty. These qualities help draw employees back to the office. “Backlash against open-space floor plans is causing some companies to create more flexible, thoughtfully designed workplaces that facilitate employees’ workflow and needs,” writes Gwen Moran for Fast Company. “Redesigns will include more private spaces and work stations that facilitate concentration and deep work. Beautiful spaces that have exceptional technology and facilitate work may even attract more remote workers back to the office on a regular basis.”
- Establish “library rules” for open spaces. Collaborative areas might be off-limits for phones, devices and conversation.
- Pay attention to color. “Decorate your workplace with a vibrant medley of stimulating hues that increase output and spark creativity,” writes Kim Lachance Shandrow for Entrepreneur. “Low-wavelength colors, like restful green and calming blue – two of the most common colors in Mother Nature’s palette – improve efficiency and focus. Red, a high-wavelength color, is active, intense and alarming at times. If there’s something in the office you want to urgently draw employees’ eyes to, it’s best to paint it red. Mellow yellow, often viewed by color psychologists as the shade of optimism, is energetic and fresh. It is believed to trigger innovation.”
- Match the space to the task. “Different workspaces are good for different tasks,” says behavioral scientist Dr. Anja Jamrozik in this Fast Company piece. “It’s easier to understand this when you think of the home environment. You wouldn’t entertain in your laundry room, for example. In the office, it’s the same. The two most common types of tasks are focused work and collaborative work, and they need spaces that prioritize and optimize the setting for each. Take advantage of what you have, and move to an area that fits your task.”
- Emphasize health and comfort. This applies to office temperature, ventilation and ergonomic furniture.
- Reduce the clutter. You don’t have to be Marie Kondo to tidy up your workspace. An organized environment promotes well-being and reduces the risk of errors.
What changes to your office design have worked or not worked?