4 Simple Steps For Creating an Inclusive Office Design

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Engagement and inclusivity in the workplace should always be encouraged as one of the leading factors in business success. For the 4th consecutive year, for example, Google has been named the best place to work for its engaging culture and empowerment of employees.

That’s why in today’s post, we’re discussing some simple steps to create an inclusive office design, so your employees can thrive in a creative, flexible and motivational atmosphere where they feel engaged. From flooring options that allow for ease of movement to encouraging employee input before, during and after the reconstruction, our tips will help you create a welcoming and productive office space which makes your employees love coming to work.

Optimize your floor plan

Over the last few years, we’ve seen traditional office spaces transition into flexible, co-working environments that prioritize engagement and creativity. A versatile layout is key to encouraging communication, leading to greater inclusivity in the workplace.

To be truly inclusive, your floor plan should allow for ease of movement, with enough room for wheelchair access. Think large walkways and ramp access to ensure that everyone can move around the office freely whenever they may need to – whether that’s getting to a meeting or making their morning coffee. It’s essential that your flooring solutions complement ease of movement, so an option to consider is resilient flooring which is durable and cost-effectivemaking it perfect for corporate environments which are likely to undergo heavy traffic.

On that note, creating a communal area which caters for everyone is a great way to encourage conversation between your employees. It could be as simple as arranging a table and some comfortable chairs in the kitchen space, along with access to tea, coffee and perhaps in view of a TV to help work seem like a more inviting and homely place to be.

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Let your employees have their say

To enjoy their jobs, recent research has found that one of the most determining factors is feeling respected – and one of the best ways to offer this is to allow employees to have their say. Whether you’re planning a complete office renovation or are simply updating your kitchen space, finding out what your employees want and implementing those things will leave them feeling valued and included.

Active discussion from all participants in the group is an essential feature of a successful meeting or session. So, some options to consider which allow everyone to have their say are a poll or questionnaire via email or an open discussion inclusive of the entire office. To get the best from your team, we recommend creating a safe and open environment where everyone feels comfortable to have their say, whether that’s requesting a coffee machine in the canteen or lift access to all floors. After all, you know your team better than anyone, so the best strategy is entirely dependent on the environment in your office.

Allowing your employees to have their say during the build is an effective way to encourage the conversation – particularly if they’ll be working there during construction time. One option could be to allow them to suggest furniture choices or allocating different areas such as storage and breakout spaces. To ensure that the office still remains safe and inclusive during this time, protect all areas with quality protective sheeting where required – this way you’ll minimize potential damage to surfaces and equipment and retain office functionality throughout the construction process.

Select your color scheme

Contemporary research has shown that color is a powerful communication tool which can greatly influence mood and behavior. Blue has been proven to be an intellectual color, representing trust, logic and communication – so this could be an effective color to introduce in your main office area where staff are likely to spend long hours at their desks.

In meeting rooms, however, yellow has been proven to encourage creativity, friendliness and optimism – an effective color to inspire people with the confidence to contribute. In areas such as the kitchen, where employees should feel able to relax, opt for orange – which is known to create a sense of comfort, making it perfect for a casual office lounge.

To effectively inject some color and personality into the office you don’t have to do a full decorative makeover, instead, use colored accents to anchor your desired color scheme. From company logos or artwork on the walls to colorful office furniture and flooring, using more subtle splashes of color can still be a highly effective way to convey your design ethos. Of course, it goes without saying that you should be sure to ask for employee input on these decisions to promote an inclusive office culture.

Offer flexibility

With young professionals increasingly opting to work at companies who offer flexible design, workspaces and hours, a flexible workspace is crucial to creating an inclusive office design. One option that’s growing in popularity is desk hoteling – a method of office management that negates the need for permanently assigned seating by allowing users to reserve a desk for a period of time. This structure takes uses the concept of hotdesking but adds greater flexibility as it desks can be booked in advance and users can choose a specific desk that suits the type of work they’re doing at a time that suits them.

Implementing this kind of structure in your office is a great way to promote a more flexible working environment and use office space more efficiently too, but it does require good management and employee involvement to succeed – not everyone likes the idea of change. Be sure to communicate the benefits this versatile desk system would give staff and listen to any concerns they may have about it. It’s also advisable to invest in some desk hoteling software that gives users real-time availability of desks – this will work to deliver a smooth transition and optimum usability from the get-go.

Alternatively, simply offering your employees the freedom to change their office layout according to their desires is an effective way to give them some autonomy. Allocating certain areas of the office which can be rearranged can increase the productivity of group meetings and introduce a sense of community in the process.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The key to creating an inclusive office design is ensuring that your working environment instills a sense of community and collaboration, where valuing each member of staff is a priority. With so many different ideas to take into account, updating your office design can seem difficult. But, with our tips, we hope you’ll be on your way to creating a workspace that creates a positive and inclusive impact on your employees.

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Author bio:

Alex Jones is a content creator for Kendon Packaging. Now one of Britain’s leading packaging companies, Kendon Packaging has been supporting businesses nationwide since the 1930s.