How To Build A Productive Home Office – 10 Tips

With the rise of flexible working, a lot more people are choosing to work from home. However, with the rise of remote working, comes a new issue – how do you motivate yourself to stay on task when you work remotely?

When you’re in a traditional office environment, it is generally a lot easier to slip into “work mode” and stay focused than it is at home. Your house can be full of distractions; children, gaming consoles, chores, television, people dropping by . . . sometimes just being able to get into the right mindset is a challenge. (Especially if you like to work from the comfort of your pyjamas!)

That being said, if you can overcome the challenges and distractions, you can actually end up being more productive working from home. Today, we’re sharing our top tips on building a home office that will actually allow you to get stuff done.

1. Make sure everyone in your house knows when you’re “at work”

One of the largest disruptions when you work from home can be the people that live with you. At first, your presence in the house may signal availability – and you might find yourself being walked in on and disturbed throughout the day.

However, if you make it clear that you are still in the office (just your own office) and that you’re working, usually people will learn that you’re off limits during working hours. A few polite ways to say this could be:

“My company uses monitoring software on remote workers, so I need to stick to my work – could you come back at lunchtime?”

“I have a really tight deadline and I’m working at home to avoid all the noise of the office and get some deep focus. I’ll get back to you in a few hours.”

You could also have set “breaks” during the day where everyone in your households knows you’re accessible for ten or twenty minutes every few hours. That way, if they want to speak to you, they won’t burst in and interrupt you mid-flow – but they’ll feel like you’re making time for them. Or a system wherein you signal how available you are to be contacted. A good example of this is the hotel room policy: if you’re happy for people to walk in for a chat, leave the door empty; but if you need deep concentration hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob.

The key is to set clear boundaries that everyone agrees with – and enforce them.

2. Get dressed every day

A large benefit of working from home is not having to wear uncomfortable work clothes . . . but, as tempting as it may be, make sure you aren’t working in your pyjamas either. The act of getting up and dressed helps your brain to wake up and focus, otherwise there’s no signal telling you “time to work!”.

3. Have a separate space for working

Having a separate space dedicated to working helps your brain distinguish between “home” and “work”. Not only that, much like having an assigned desk in the office, having a set area to work every day can help you build a consistent routine. You know where everything is – and you know that once you’ve sat down it’s time to get down to it!

4. Invest in high quality furniture that will help you work

When it comes to office furniture, much like mattresses, it’s well worth the investment. Both of these things are worth spending a bit extra on for the same reason: you spend so much of your time using them that they have a profound effect on your comfort and overall health.

Consistently sleeping on a bad mattress can damage your back – and so can sitting in an office chair that promotes bad posture.

We highly recommend investing in ergonomic furniture because it’s designed to help keep you comfortable, which keeps you productive throughout the day – but also minimises the risk of long-term back problems.

Remember, you’re going to be sitting in this chair for at least 8 hours a day; if it isn’t supporting your body, it’s likely to be causing problems.

5. Have some personal touches that inspire you

Much like in the office at work, having personal touches in your home office can help you stay engaged during the workday. Be careful to ensure that you aren’t allowing household clutter to encroach on your working space, though!

6. Add some plants

Plants in the office have a large array of benefits, from making you more productive to improving your health. They’re a great way to improve your office’s air quality – plus, they just make a nice aesthetic addition.

We’ve written an in depth post about the benefits of adding plants to your office and some ideas for how to on this blog before; if you’d like to learn more, feel free to read this post.

7. Build up and add storage to the walls

When you work from home, often you won’t have the luxury of space. To make the most of the space you do have available, consider building up and using your walls to your advantage by adding shelves and storage to them.

8. Consider a sit-stand desk

In recent years, there’s been a lot of research around the health risks of the sedentary lifestyles that a lot of us lead. Sitting time for a significant amount everyday contributes to a number of harmful consequences such as:

Sit stand desks are a great way to combat the negative effects of sitting for too long. We provide a wide range of sit stand desks suitable for all needs and budgets, feel free to send us an enquiry!

If you’d like an in-depth explanation of the pros and cons of sit stand desks, why they’re supposedly good for your health and some of the research behind them, feel free to read our post about whether you should buy a sit-stand desk.

9. Have set working hours – and stick to them

When you work from home, it’s easy to get distracted and not work enough or get carried away and work too much. If you set hours for work and stick to them, you’ll get into a consistent routine and find your body automatically switching to “work mode” during these hours.

10. Experiment with different working hours

If you work remotely and aren’t bound by needing to interact with your colleagues during the workday, you may want to try working different hours. Instead of 9 to 5, you may find you work better early in the morning or late at night. If you’re more productive at a certain time of day, why not take advantage?

Hopefully, you found these 10 tips helpful! If you are trying to build your perfect home office, Quills Group provides a wide range of high-quality office furniture suited for every budget, so don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

The Stats You Need To Know When Designing Your Office (Infographic)

Sources:

  • 97% of survey respondents stated that they regard their workplace as a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer. HR in Asia
  • Pets in the workplace improve employee morale, productivity, and personal workplace satisfaction. – Banfield
  • Multiple computer screens were found to increase productivity up to 50% for employees.CBI Office
  • 67% of employees with access to free food at work are “very” or “extremely” happy at work. – SnackNation
  • Offices see up to 11 per cent gains in productivity from improved ventilation, up to 23 per cent gains in productivity from improved lighting design and significant improvement in employee recruitment and retention as a result of green retrofits. – GreenBuildingPress
  • 25% of survey respondents would be willing to commute an extra 30 minutes to work in their perfect office.What Workers Want
  • 76 percent of millennials, ages 18-34, feel somewhat or very strongly that that office design and aesthetic influences their impression of a company.PR News Wire
  • Adding plants to the office caused a 37% fall in reported tension and anxiety; a 58% drop in depression or dejection; a 44% decrease in anger and hostility; and a 38% reduction in fatigue.CIPHR
  • Only 24% of U.S. workers are in optimal workplace environments. Allwork
  • In international surveys from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase,95% said working privately was important to them. However, less than half (41%) said they could work privately. Worse still, 31% of employees have to leave the office to complete their work. – Quills
  • Employers who can focus are 31% more satisfied, 14% higher performing, and see their companies as more innovative.Allwork
  • Employees lose as much as 86 minutes a day due to noise distractions.The Guardian
  • In environments with white noise, or sound masking, employees report improvements of up to 38 percent for the performance of simple tasks and 27 percent for complex tasks.Hok
  • Studies have shown that in some offices the introduction of sit-stand desks increased productivity by 46%!CNN

Improve Office Culture With These 6 Fun, Professional Additions

In recent years, we have seen a distinct shift in office design – towards fun. Businesses are embracing the human touch; more effort is being expended to improve office culture and cultivate a happier workforce.

There’s legitimate research behind this – happy employees are more productive, they stay at your company longer and have overall better job performance. Considering the average cost of losing an employee can be 6 to 9 months’ salary,  keeping your employees happy makes sense from a business perspective.

Our last post, Why Smart Businesses Are Focusing On Employee Happiness, explored the benefits behind focusing on your employee happiness; today, however, we’re going to be sharing a few ways that you can make your office a more fun environment.

First, though . . . is it worth investing in workplace design to improve office culture?

Yes. In a survey conducted by Management Today, 97% of respondents stated that they regard their workplace as a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer. How valued your employees feel is a big part of your business’s culture.

1. Living wall

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Our first suggestion is a design improvement that has a big impact: the living wall. Living walls are a great way to revitalise your office and reap the very real benefits of having plants in the workplace.

Depending on your budget and the amount of space you have available to use, there are multiple ways that you can incorporate a living wall into your workspace. The first is, as in the photo above, a wall unit made of plants. For a cheaper option and more minimal effect, we like the DIY plant wall approach:

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If you’d like to install a shelf-plant-wall, here at Quills we offer a lot of shelving units that are perfect.

However, living walls aren’t just a design enhancement – having plants in the office has been shown to boost productivity by 15% and plants can improve overall office health and happiness. Not convinced? Here are a few health benefits studies have shown plants to have:

 Neuropsychological symptoms were reduced by 23% when plants were present. Fatigue reduced the most – by 30%

Mucous membrane symptoms were reduced by 24% overall when plants were present. Cough decreased by 37% and dry throat by 25%

Dry or flushed skin was reduced by 23% with plants in the workspace – Source 

For a full post on the benefits of adding plants to the office (and some ideas for how to add them in!) read our post.

2. Pool table

Our next suggestion is something we can vouch for – we have one in our office! A pool table is a great way to provide and encourage accessible fun in the workplace. Plus, it encourages team-building and allows people from different departments to interact. All things that help to improve office culture!

A new study from BrightHR and leading psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper revealed young employees that have fun in the workplace, from belly laughs and birthday celebrations to Xboxes and massages, take less sick leave, work harder and are more productive. – Source

We highly recommend this pool table as it also doubles up as a meeting table…genious! It’s a highly efficient use of space. (Even better, having a game of pool at the end of a meeting is a great way to keep everyone motivated.)

3. Funky desks and office furniture

We’ve already mentioned the importance of office design for employees feeling valued and satisfied at work – but office design can also affect their mood. Boring, drab furniture can leave employees feeling demotivated; bright, engaging colours can leave them feeling inspired.

A great way to improve office culture and bring some fun to the workplace, without losing any professionalism, is to invest in some quirky furniture. The right furniture can liven up the office, while still allowing it to feel like a place of work.

An example of some funky office furniture we’re loving at the moment is this Chemistry Canopy!

This canopy is something a little bit different and creative for your employees to personalise . . . but it’s still professional. If you’d like one of these canopies for your office, send through an enquiry!

Another easy way to add some fun to your office furniture is to play with your colour scheme. We’ve talked about colour in office design in depth; if you’d like to learn about colour psychology and how to use it in the office, feel free to read our post.

4. A vending machine

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If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that the snack bar is the most important part of the office. A vending machine is a fun addition to the office that all your employees will thank you for! (Just remember to keep it stocked.)

5. An office dog (if none of your employees are allergic to them)

Did you know that there are genuine benefits to allowing pets in the office? Interacting with a dog, whether it’s yours or someone else’s, has been proven to reduce stress levels and release the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin.

“The atmosphere in the office is warmer now and more sociable. People will stop you in the corridors to stroke your dog so you start talking to someone in a different part of the company who you’d never normally have spoken to, or have only encountered over email.” – Quote from a Nestlé employee after the offices started allowing pets at work. Source.

Allowing pets in the office or adopting an office dog could be a good way to improve office culture.

6. Living Logo

Our last recommendation is an office favourite of ours – living logos.  

Living logos are fully customisable signs you can use to add some creative branding to your office. These signs are made with real moss; however, a glycerin based fluid that stops any further growth and need the plants have for attention replaces the sap of the plants in the logo. This means that the moss will retain its natural features, but will not grow.

Even better, the logos require absolutely no aftercare or maintenance. Not even sunlight!

Your office culture is essential for keeping your employees happy and satisfied, so we hope you take these suggestions on board! If you’re redesigning your office, but aren’t sure where to start, feel free to take a look at our Quills Interiors website and see if we can help you or take a look at our seating guide and desking guide.

Is The Office Obsolete? Why Your Office Is Still A Worthwhile Investment

In recent years, there has been a clear trend in the direction of more flexible working. Working remotely or from home is on the rise; shared offices, hot-desking and open offices . . . the workplace of the future is a far cry from office cubicles. However, have these changed rendered the traditional office obsolete?

Here at Quills, we don’t think so. Today’s post is exploring the roles of offices in the modern business world – and explaining to you why we feel that offices are still a worthwhile investment.

In a survey conducted by Management Today, 97% of respondents stated that they regard their workplace as a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer.

1. While working from home can be great, your employees need a base sometimes.

Although working from home may be popular with employees – and can help with employee productivity and loyalty – remote workers will want to come into the physical office sometimes. Having an office as a base is important for allowing your employees a chance to feel connected to the wider company.

Plus, working from home can be isolating; a lot of remote workers actually prefer to come in and work in the office a couple of days a week. Ensuring that these workers are coming into a good environment will both improve their productivity and encourage them to come in more often.

2. Office design affects employees’ mood and productivity.

A topic we’ve discussed many times in this blog is the fact that your office’s design has a direct impact on your employees and how they work. Things like the use of colour can affect your employees’ moods; the layout can affect their happiness and sense of privacy.

Your employees spend most of their day at work. Most of their time is spent in the workplace environment – an environment that you control. Your office can be inspiring, uplifting, motivational . . . or it can be bleak. Uninspiring, drab, lifeless. As you can guess, the results of people working in each of those offices would vary greatly.

Investing in improving your office is investing in improving your employee’s and their work. If your office is bleak and uninspiring, do you think your employees will be producing their most innovative work?

3. A way to build and display your office’s culture

Company culture is one of the most important facets of your business. If your company has a positive culture, it can be used to build employee happiness and loyalty. However, a cold company culture can lead to employees feeling distrusting and disconnected from your business.

An office is one of the best ways to build and display your company’s culture. Your employees have a chance to see your business’s branding and the atmosphere you’ve created, as well as how the workforce interacts.

As an example, take a look at these two offices; what can you tell about their company culture? What would you think each business values?

Office 1

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Office 2

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4. Extroverted employees work better in an environment with other people

Extroverts are people that enjoy social stimulation and like to be around people; they tend to be outgoing and talkative.

It’s estimated that extroverts account for 50-74% of the population – which means they’re likely a large part of your workforce. While extroverts can enjoy and succeed with remote work, a lot of them perform better in a social environment with other people. Having an office is essential for these personality types to have the opportunity to interact if they need to.

5. Innovation is born in close quarters

In 2013, Yahoo’s CEO famously banned telecommuting, stating that while people may be more productive at home, they’re more collaborative and innovative at the office.

We’ve spoken about the benefits of collaboration in our post about the benefits of open offices, but many business leaders (in particular, Steve Jobs) feel that collaboration is one of the most important things for your business. Innovation, skill development, new ideas . . . these can all come from collaboration.

However, collaboration needs a place to happen. When all your employees work remotely, it becomes much harder for them to interact and share ideas. Investing in an office where people feel comfortable and are happy to come in means investing in a space for collaboration.

6. Employees need a place to build connections with each other

Following on from our previous point, investing in your office gives your employees the best chance to develop connections with each other. Having a friendly, well-connected workforce can help with the flow of information and efficient working, as well as employee satisfaction and better teamwork.

While employees can virtually work together, it’s far harder to build a rapport with someone you email as opposed to someone you physically work next to. Offices are the best place for employees to develop personal relationships with each other.

7. Attract new talent

Did you know that 76 percent of millennials, ages 18-34, feel somewhat or very strongly that that office design and aesthetic influences their impression of a company?

When you’re trying to attract new talent to your business, it’s a two way street – you have to want people, but they also have to want to work for you. If over 70% of the workforce under the age of 34 care about your office design, not investing could be costing you a lot of talented employees.

While the office landscape may be changing, we don’t think the office is by any means obsolete. Here are just seven of many reasons that your office is still a worthwhile investment. If you’re interested in upgrading your office and would like some assistance, feel free to take a look at our Quills Interiors case studies and see if we can give you a hand.

Call: 0845 078 0324   Email: sales@quillsuk.co.uk   Live chat: www.quillsuk.co.uk

Colour In Office Design – Why It’s Important & How To Use It

Your office design is just as important as the people that are sitting in it – and it’s especially important to those people. In recent years, office design has taken a more people-driven approach and there is now a large emphasis on how your workspace makes your employees feel. One of the best ways to achieve this? Use of colour in office design.

The psychological effects of colour have been studied and stood by for years; the results are rather clear: colours directly affect our psychology. They have the ability to affect moods and create atmosphere – colours can even be used to convey meaning.

According to multisensory design, everything around us is a stimuli – so make sure that your office is stimulating your employees in the right way.

Why You Should Utilise Colour In Office Design

There are a lot of reasons that you should utilise colour in your office design, but here are a few of our favourites.

As you can see, with so many benefits to correctly optimising your office’s colour scheme, there’s no reason not to.

Commonly Used Colours And Their Meanings

Note: A lot of our associations with colour are personal and relevant to your culture. An example of this being the colour white. In Western culture, white can be used to represent purity (for example, “wearing the white hat”, weddings, angels), but in many Eastern countries white is associated with mourning.

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Image Source

Warm Colours vs. Cool Colours

When deciding what colours to use in your office design, another factor to consider is whether you’re going to go with warm or cool tones.

Image result for warm colours and cool colours

Source

If you’re unsure of what is considered a cool or a warm colour, this colour wheel is a useful guide.

Warm colours

Image result for warm colour palette

Warm colours are colours made with orange, red, yellow and combinations of these with other colours; they’re associated with heat and sunlight. Warm colours cause stimulation – they’re attributed with increased emotional response and passion.

However, due to warm colours being emotionally stimulating, they can also cause volatile emotions such as anger.

A prime example of this would be the colour red; red is an emotional colour. It can represent love and romance, but also anger.

Cool colours

cool color

On the other hand, cool colours are much more calming. Made of blues, greens and purples, the connotations of cool colours are things like water and ice. Cool colours make you feel calm, relaxed and refreshed.

However, while cool colours may be calming, they can also result in feelings of sadness and isolation or detachment.

An good example of the use of cool colours is the popularity of the colour blue. A lot of offices utilise blue to work in and a lot of corporate businesses have blue branding. This shows professionalism – but no emotion.

How To Introduce Colours To Your Office

Now that you want to utilise colours in office design, how do you go about it? Firstly, there are two things to consider.

Accent colour or main feature?

Painting your office walls a new colour or installing a bright carpet is going to be a dramatic difference – and one that might not be beneficial. Depending on the colour and the atmosphere you’re trying to create in your office, you may want to add an accent colour instead of it being the main focus.

Accent Colours

Accent colours are a way of adding colours in office design in a more subtle way.

For example, this office breakout area has added orange in as an accent colour; it’s not too overpowering, but it still allows the colour to be clearly visible. (This breakout area furniture is available at Quills Interios service and is called “Skyline” email: interiors@quillsuk.co.uk for further details.)

When dealing with colours that are emotive, featuring them as accents is preferable. As previously mentioned, especially with warmer colours, you can have too much of a good thing.

Reminder example: yellow can be good for creativity, but too much of it can over-stimulate and rile tempers.

Main Colours

Adding colours in office design as a main feature can make a bold statement and really draw the eye.

Image result for fabricks

Image result for fabricks

Fabricks walls are a great way to achieve this bold statement – and they also have the additional benefit of helping your office’s acoustics. Available in a range of colours to suit any business and a brilliant way to separate your office space, Fabricks are a great way to inject some colour into your office!

If you’re interested in Fabricks, don’t hesitate to send through an enquiry – we’d be happy to help.

A blend of the two . . .

While on the topic of accent colours or main features, we thought we’d share one of our favourite examples – one that has the best of both worlds.

Our O’Zone range is a perfect solution. In areas where people need to work, accent colours can be utilised in the form of colour-co-ordinated seating in a minimal (and not distracting) space. However, in breakout zones, you can feel the full effects of the colour.

Not only do you reap all the benefits of utilising colours in office design – while avoiding all the drawbacks – our O’Zone range is also an incredibly efficient and fun use of space. Plus, it offers both privacy and collaborative working opportunities, both of which are essential for a productive working environment.

We hope we convinced you to try adding colour into your office design – and showed you some inspiring ways of how to do this. If you are interested in redesigning your office, but you don’t have the time or experience to do it yourself, feel free to contact us or check out our Quills Interiors website.

Call: 0845 078 0324   Email: sales@quillsuk.co.uk   Live chat: www.quillsuk.co.uk

Benefits Of Open Offices – Open Offices: The REAL Drawbacks & Benefits

Today we’re going to be sharing the benefits of open offices with you, so you can decide if they’re the right fit for your business.

Open offices are the new workplace standard, accounting for 70% of our offices. However, in recent years, there has been rising backlash against the open office. In our two-part series, Open Offices: The REAL Drawbacks & Benefits, we’re investigating the truth behind all the hype surrounding open plan office to help you see the real benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits Of Open Offices

Benefits Of Open Offices; the real benefits and drawbacks, plus how you can optimise your open office.

Office Culture

One of the largest, most noticeable benefits of open offices is the improved office culture. In an office where employees are segregated and quiet, there is a much colder atmosphere than one where everyone is open and friendly. This can lead to employees feeling bored, disinterested and disconnected from their coworkers – and therefore the wider company culture.

While one of the largest drawbacks of an open office can be the noise, the opposite is just as harmful. In fact, a quiet office can be just as harmful to productivity as a loud one. The opportunity for silent working can help employees focus on certain tasks, but working in silence constantly is counterproductive.

The solution to this, as we mentioned in the first instalment of this post, is flexibility. Instead of introducing a segregated and quiet workplace, just giving employees the option to work quietly can massively help their productivity. One of the popular ways that offices are installing this solution is office pods and meeting booths.

One of the variety of meeting booths and office pods we have to offer.

Here at Quills Office Solutions, we provide a wide range of meeting booths and pods in a variety of sizes and designs perfect for any office.

Collaboration

Expanding on the first post, employees can collaborate more easily. Without doors and walls separating them, employees naturally have a lot more access to each other. This allows them to build relationships with one another and share ideas.

There are clear benefits of this – coworkers can ask for advice, assistance or feedback from fellow workers or senior employees without needing to set meetings or knock on doors. Employees can bounce ideas off each other and the increased collaboration can result in innovation within your business.

Removes workplace hierarchy and makes bosses more approachable

Another benefit of the open office is removing the traditional hierarchy in the workplace and making employees of all seniority levels accessible. Removing these barriers enables bosses to have a better feel of the office and employees to feel like they can approach and interact with their bosses more.

Improved inter-departmental relationships

In traditional offices, different departments are kept very much separate – sometimes to the degree of being on different levels of the office building. With open offices, employees from different departments have the opportunity to interact and familiarise themselves with each other.

Not only does this improve inter-departmental relationships, it also helps employees to familiarise themselves all aspects of the business and develop an wider understanding of how everything slots together.

Cheaper for businesses

One of the largest benefits of the open plan office is for the business; open offices are often far less expensive than their counterparts. When building and furnishing an open plan office, typically  businesses have less need for utilities and office equipment. This is largely in part to shared resources; in an open office, you’ll only need one printer, for example.

 

Easy to change the office layout

The open office is more flexible than its traditional counterpart. If an office layout isn’t working, it’s relatively easy to redesign it. In an office that’s segregated, however, re-designing the layout would mean knocking down walls and doors.

Allows bosses to monitor employees working habits better

As an employer, one of the benefits of the open office is the ability to see what your employees are doing. This allows you to ensure people aren’t slacking off or wasting working time. On top of this, the knowledge that employees are on display can encourage them to work harder and employees prone to slacking off are less likely to.

 

Negatives Of Open Offices

While there are a variety of benefits to open offices, there are also a significant amount of drawbacks. To ensure you can minimise any negatives and optimise your office’s effectiveness, we recommend you take a read of our post about The Negatives Of Open Offices.

The Solution

While there are definite drawbacks to the open office, they are still proven to be far superior to office cubicles. Plus, most offices cannot afford to build individual offices for all their employees.

So what’s the solution?

Most offices are moving towards a flexible workplace. This means that there’s a mix of the open office and dedicated spaces for working privately. Flexible offices allow you all the benefits of the open office, while allowing people to work privately. Employees needing privacy and freedom from distraction have space.

How can you make your office flexible? With the addition of private spaces. Office pods and meeting booths in particular are becoming more popular in the workplace.

One of the office pods we can install for your office.

Here at Quills Office Solutions, we provide a wide range of meeting booths and pods perfect for adding some privacy to your open office. If you would like to in learn more, feel free to take a look at our interior website or send us an enquiry.

Call: 0845 078 0324   Email: sales@quillsuk.co.uk   Live chat: www.quillsuk.co.uk

The Negative Impacts Of The Open Office – Open Offices: The REAL Drawbacks & Benefits

The open office is the trend that changed the landscape of the workplace – the trend that became the new normal. A recent survey has shown that nearly 70% of office workers are now working in open space offices. However, there is one thing this trend doesn’t have?

Open offices apparently have no scientific backing, in fact, most scientific studies into the open plan office have drawn negative conclusions. Open plan offices have been shown to be unhealthy, they lower employee satisfaction and actually decrease productivity. 

International studies from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase have shown that 85% of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and can’t concentrate.

**Part 2 of this series: The Benefits Of Open Offices is now live; make sure you read that post too**

That being said . . . a few years ago, open offices were all the rage. Open offices were claiming to increase productivity, employee happiness, creativity and collaboration. People were sold the idea that open offices would fix everything wrong with the traditional office.

As with all trends, a pinch of salt is always a good idea. The truth in all likelihood lies somewhere in between. Open offices may not be all good – but they probably aren’t all bad either.

In this two-part post series, we’re going to be investigating the open office, taking a look at all the statistics and identifying the real benefits and drawbacks, instead of the the hype. Our first post will identify the negative aspects to the open office and our second will highlight the benefits. We hope you find all the following information useful.

Negatives Of Open Plan Offices

Too much noise

One of the most immediate drawbacks of an open plan office is the noise. At any given time, an open plan office probably has music playing, employees talking and people on the phone – minimum. Not to mention background noise such as typing, the sound of printing, noise from the surrounding area, etc.

Studies have shown that employees lose as much as 86 minutes a day due to noise distractions.

While all noise is distracting to workers and harms productivity, the worst kind of noise for concentration is actually the most common type in an open space office – intermittent speech. 

Intermittent speech is when you hear bits and pieces of a conversation, a sentence here and there. It’s incredibly common in an office – when your coworkers have a conversation; when someone answers the phone and you only hear one side of the conversation; when people are talking outside the office door and you hear snippets of the conversation.

Studies show that when performing cognitive tasks (staying focused and attentive, reading and processing text, working with numbers) performance was worsened more by intermittent speech than any other type of noise.

Workers can be up to 66% less productive when exposed to just one nearby conversation.

Lack of privacy

Open plan offices have a complete lack of privacy that significantly impacts employees.

For one, working in an open office means that your screen is consistently able to be seen. This can result in feelings of paranoia and false productivity. Moreover, this can also add to a sense of distrust in the company culture, as many workers can feel like managers don’t trust them and want to micromanage.

Additionally, constantly feeling the pressure to look productive can have the complete opposite effect. A lot of people need a small break between tasks to recharge, such as spending ten minutes staring into space or playing a mindless round of Solitaire. With their boss and coworkers over their shoulder, however, employees feel pressure to not take these breaks and be busy . . . Meaning they aren’t taking the breaks they need to and are under-performing due to burn out.

In international surveys from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase, 95% said working privately was important to them. However, less than half (41%) said they could work privately. Worse still, 31% of employees have to leave the office to complete their work.

Stifling For Creativity

Leading on from the previous point, lack of privacy in an open office can actually stifle creativity.

A study conducted in 2011 showed that employees actually felt less creative after moving to an open office (as well as less productive). One of the biggest benefits of the open office is supposedly the increase in creativity . . . but what if they’re having the opposite effect.

(It’s worth noting that employees in that study did state that they felt their communicative skills had improved after moving to an open office.)

Unhealthy

Open offices are absolute breeding grounds for bacteria and have been shown to increase employee absences significantly.

The University of Arizona conducted a study that found out that when an employee came into work sick, about half of the commonly touched surfaces like telephones, desktops, tabletops, doorknobs, photocopier, lift buttons and the office fridge were infected with the virus by lunchtime. In flu season especially, this means sickness can travel throughout your whole office almost immediately.

In a Canada Life survey, employees working in an open office took over 70% more sick days than those working from home.

Hard for introverts to work

Researchers estimate that 16-50% of the population are introverts; this means that a large percentage of your workforce are likely to be as well. One of the largest problems with open plan offices, however, is how unsuitable they are for people with introverted qualities.

Introverts and highly sensitive people (HSPs) tend to respond more intensely to sensory stimuli, and they typically need quiet, calm, distraction-free environments to be truly productive.” – Source

Open plan offices, with their lack of privacy and constant noise, are extremely difficult for introverts to work in.

If your office is designed in a way that puts a large percentage of your workforce at a strong disadvantage, overall productivity is going to take a large hit. On top of that, so is your employee satisfaction and happiness . . . which can in turn lead to higher turnover rates.

Decreases friendliness in the workplace

When thinking about the benefits to the open office, one of the first things that jumps to mind is collaboration. Being able to see, hear and interact with your coworkers on a daily basis helps you to develop stronger relationships with them; in turn, strengthening all of your work through free-flow of ideas and stronger inter-departmental relationships.

That’s what you’d think, but studies have shown that open plan offices actually make us more anti-social and less friendly towards our coworkersIn fact, both coworker friendships and the perception of supervisor support were negatively impacted by open offices.

There are a lot of possible explanations for this:

Stress

A combination of all of these negatives inevitably contributes to the fact that employees in open-plan offices are considerably more stressed. Due to this, employees in open offices are also more at risk of stress-related illnesses such as high-blood pressure.

In studies from Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, head researcher Dr. Vinesh Oommen found “The outcome of working in an open-plan office was seen as negative, with offices causing high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure and a high staff turnover.

The Solution

To conclude, there are certainly drawbacks to the open office plan. However, open offices are a trend that’s firmly situated in our workspaces . . . and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. So, without getting rid of your open plan office and returning to cubicles (which are even worse for employees), what can you do?

Most offices are moving towards a flexible workplace. This means that there’s a mix of the open office and dedicated spaces for working privately. Flexible offices allow you all the benefits of the open office, while allowing people to work privately. Employees needing privacy and freedom from distraction have space.

How can you make your office flexible? With the addition of private spaces. Office pods and meeting booths in particular are becoming more popular in the workplace.

One of the office pods we can install for your office.

Here at Quills Office Solutions, we provide a wide range of meeting booths and pods perfect for adding some privacy to your open office. If you would like to in learn more, feel free to take a look at our interiors website or send us an enquiry.

Call: 0845 078 0324   Email: sales@quillsuk.co.uk   Live chat: www.quillsuk.co.uk

5 Benefits Of Plants In The Office & 5 Ideas For How To Add Them

One of the many services Quills provide is interior design solutions; this means that we like to keep up to date on office design trends. For the past few years, we’ve seen people introducing new life to workplace design. Today, we’re going to be discussing the benefits of plants in the office – and why your office needs them!

Benefits Of Adding Plants To Your Office

Aside from aesthetic value, adding plants to your workplace has legitimate benefits for the office and your employees. There are a variety of positive changes introducing plants into the office studies have shown.

We’re going to share some of the key reasons we recommend introducing plants to your office space . . . and then some suggestions for how to work them in.

1. Increase Employee Productivity

Having plants in the office positively impacts employee’s productivity.

In 2014, Dr. Christ Knight, a psychologist from the University of Exeter, teamed up with academics from four universities in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands to conduct a series of studies in which employee productivity was tracked in offices before, during and after the introduction of plants.

The studies were conducted over two months and the findings were that employees’ productivity improved by an average of 15% in green offices.

Interestingly, being able to see plants didn’t just increase overall productivity – it also increased memory retention and attention span. In the study, there was one plant per square metre of the office; each employee had at least one plant in their eyeline.

In an office, productivity is one of the most important factors. If such a simple change can have such a big improvement on an office’s productivity, your office should definitely have plants.

Suggestion for office design: Add a small plant to each employee desk

There’s a simple way to ensure that your employees always have a plant in sight – place a small one on their desk. Here at Quills, we have a variety of small plant pots perfect for perching on the edge of a desk.

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Biodegradable Plant Pots With Petunia Seeds – Maximum price £1.91 each.

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Mr. Ceramic Plant Pot – Maximum price £2.71 each.

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Desktop Garden In A Tube – Maximum price £4.38.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are just a few examples of the planters we have to offer.

2. Increased Health + Lower Absence

Having an office with plants has numerous links to increasing employees’ health, in turn lowering their absences from work. A Norwegian study showed that office workers with plants showed significant improvements in certain areas of health.

  • Neuropsychological symptoms were reduced by 23% when plants were present. Fatigue reduced the most – by 30%
  • Mucous membrane symptoms were reduced by 24% overall when plants were present. Cough decreased by 37% and dry throat by 25%
  • Dry or flushed skin was reduced by 23% with plants in the workspace – Source

Healthy employees are hard working employees. If one of the benefits of plants in the office is better health . . . why wouldn’t you want to introduce them?

Suggestion for office design: Have an indoor tree in your office

If you don’t want to add clutter to your employees’ desks, you could try having one indoor tree for the entire office. Not only is this an easy option, indoor trees are often very low maintenance!

3. Cleaner Breathing Air

Did you know that indoor air pollution has been ranked as one of the top five environmental risks to public health?

Pollutants originate from a variety of things – even indoor items such as furniture, clothing, cleaning products and more – and build up inside air. Most offices aren’t the most well-ventilated of buildings, which causes the air to become stagnant and so it’s even easier for pollution to build up.

Dirty air directly impacts your employee’s health – in fact, it can even cause sick building syndrome, which is something that can completely destroy your employees’ productivity.

There’s a relatively simple solution: plants.

Remember those high school science lessons? Plants absorb our dirty air and, through photosynthesis, effectively cleanse it, releasing clean oxygen.

Therefore, one of the benefits of plants in the office is that plants improve your workplace’s air quality – helping your office remain healthy and productive. Yet another fantastic reason your office should have plants!

Suggestion for office design: Living Logo

LIVING LOGO FROM EXAPRINT-1Some businesses take their branding to the next level by bringing their logo quite literally to life!

Living logos are a creative way of adding plants to your office that give you all the benefits of plants, whilst simultaneously allowing you to strengthen your brand presence and office environment at the same time.

Plant-logos are a wonderfully unique and creative addition to your office. If you are interested in creating a living logo for your office, we can help you.

Plus, our living logos require absolutely no aftercare – no water, no soil and no light. They’re quirky and convenient!

Feel free to contact us for information about pricing and installation.

4. Better Working Environment

Adding plants to an office just overall improves the office’s environment. Plants are visually appealing; studies have shown that office workers feel far more satisfied when they have a view that overlooks vegetation as opposed to another building or road.

While worrying about the aesthetic value of your office may seem pointless, marketing research has proven that up to 80% of how we perceive and experience situations is based on our visual environment. Logically, we can all agree that our mood is surroundings somewhat dictate our mood. Clutter can create feelings of disorganisation or stress; open spaces can feel calming.

Because of the strong impact design has on mood, spending a little time focusing on the environment your employees are working in makes sense.

Suggestion for office design: Terrariums

Terrariums are an easy and unobtrusive way to add plants to the office, but they’re a little more interesting than your typical plant pot.

Terrariums are contained in a small glass plant pot, holding multiple types of indoor plants. This creates a far more unique display than your average cactus on a desk.

5. Reduces Stress & Increase Employee Happiness

While having plants in the office is proven to improve employee health, one of the other benefits of plants in the office is just as important: employee contentment. Workplaces that make use of plants have been proven to not only improve employee’s happiness, but also to decrease stress.

A study conducted in 2010 by the New University of Technology Sydney found that office spaces featuring plants had significant decreases in negative emotions and stress levels.

  • Tension/Anxiety – 37% reduction
  • Depression/Dejection – 58% reduction
  • Anger/Hostility – 44% reduction
  • Fatigue – 38% reduction

Suggestion for office design: Living WallImage result for living wall

Another unique idea for incorporating plants into your office’s decor is the living wall. This is essentially a vertical garden where flowers grow out of the wall instead of the ground.

These come in a variety of sizes – from the size of an actual wall to the size of a small canvas, so you can seamlessly insert it into your office’s existing decoration scheme.  Related image

If an entire vertical garden isn’t feasible for your office, you could take a more minimalist approach to the living wall. We personally love how understated this shelving unit acting as a living wall looks; it’s not too overpowering, but has the same effect of adding life to the space.

Here at Quills, we offer a multitude of storage options – some of which would be perfect for creating your own minimal living wall.

Hopefully, this post inspired you to try adding some plants to your office.

If you are trying to improve your office or incorporate some of the suggestions we’ve mentioned above, don’t hesitate to contact us and send through an enquiry.

Call: 0845 078 0324   Email: sales@quillsuk.co.uk   Live chat: www.quillsuk.co.uk

 

Living Logo

Meeting Booths Quills Interiors

Our Meeting Booths Range

In one of our Social Media updates last week, we shared an article which detailed the story of a New York consulting firm who introduced the concept of employees not being assigned their own seating area. In their article, they mentioned ‘Meeting Cubes’ that were being used across the business, so following on from this, we thought we’d share some information on our two best, flexible Meeting Booths that we have to offer your business here at Quills Group.

 

Square Meeting Hub

Quills Group Meeting Booths

 

Standard Features

Blazer fabric as standard

Package available to include central MFC table

Table supplied in Beech, White or Walnut

5 Year Guarantee

 

Specifications

Booth Size – 2400 w x 2000 d x 1600 h

4 Seater Meeting Hub

Acoustically rated to 30dB

 

Circular Meeting Booth

 Quills Interiors Meeting Booth

 

Standard Features

Blazer fabric as standard

Circular shaped meeting booth

Package available to include round table and four chairs as pictured

5 Year Guarantee

 

Specifications

Booth Size – 3000 w x 3000 d x 1600 h

Acoustically rated to 30dB

 

For more details and prices regarding alternative fabrics, installation and delivery, please contact us on 0845 078 0324 or email us at interiors@quillsuk.co.uk