Your employees are not telling you the truth.

You’ll think it’s easier this way, obviously. Designing an entire office so that your employees can perform well and meet your business goals is tough. Very tough. And you don’t want to hear your employees telling you they don’t like it.

But knowing the truth will help you make a few strategic changes, and even small improvements can help your team to thrive and your business to flourish.

So here it is.

The 7 Office Design and Furniture Mistakes that are Holding Your Employees Back

If any of the following faults are present in your office design, your employees are not performing at their best potential. The good news is, these mistakes can be fixed and we’ll tell you how.

1. All Out in the Open

The jury’s back on whether open office layouts are productive or not and the result is a big NO. 

It’s hardly surprising anymore. The noise, interruptions, distractions, lack of privacy, scrutiny from the boss, scrutiny from colleagues, contagious diseases, and social anxiety are just some of the issues employees face in an open office layout.

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What about collaboration? And beneficial interactions? Those arguments became redundant when a 2018 Harvard study showed that open office designs actually lowered face-to-face conversations (and increased the use of emails and IMs) because people became more withdrawn.

How to fix it: We both know open offices are a lot more cost-efficient and nobody really wants those old-fashioned cubicles back. So the solution here is to go hybrid and have both options available. 

The reason people aren’t happy with either layout is that different people do their best work in different ways, in different moods, at different times of the day. For example: Someone may want to work in an open setting with their teammates for most of the day but retreat to a quiet space when they need to focus on a deep, specific task at hand. 

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The trick here is to give your employees the freedom to choose their working environment so that they can work in a way that suits them, and adapt accordingly. If you want your employees to be productive you have to allow them to be so.

While it’s always preferable to have the open layout and private workstations in different parts of the office, companies with smaller spaces can consider installing private pods or phone booths to give employees a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle around.

2. Crowding Up the Room

Speaking of a crowd, whether it’s at the workstations, in the cafeteria or in the lounge, you need to give your employees space. 

To minimize the cost of real estate per employee, it’s understandable for businesses to seat as many people as possible in their office. It sounds economically reasonable in theory, but when your employees start bumping into each other and say “excuse-me” more often than “hello”, something is definitely not right.

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How to fix it: Space it out. Give people enough room to move, breathe, and protect their personal space. You’ll find that with more room in the office, your employees will also be able to express their personal creativity and productivity more freely.

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If your office is too small, arrange the workstations into clusters that seat complementary teams (like sales and marketing), instead of stuffing as many desks as spatially possible.

Looking to add workstations for your office?

3. No Place to Be Human

Your employees want to do their best. But when burnout and mood swings creep in, they definitely need a break. 

The best solution here is a well-designed break room, a real one and not that little corner by the door with the water cooler and two love-seats.

Faulty office design places emphasis on work and ignores employee well being. What these businesses fail to understand is that a quality break room can refresh and recharge an individual who will then come back to work with new ideas and increased efficiency. 

How to fix it: Before you start to worry about implementation, break rooms don’t have to be a multi-million dollar expense akin to colorful headquarters we see in industry articles, complete with hammocks next to a full-service bar, and a fireman’s pole drop to the miniature golf course downstairs.

Instead, all you need to do is think about what your employees need. You can create a simple lounge area with both group and individual seating. Add some gaming equipment, a few good books, and the best coffee machine you can buy. You’re already way ahead of more than 80% of your competitors now.

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On a modest budget? Get creative with your office design and furniture choices. For example, we have a sturdy conference room table that doubles up as a ping pong table so you can collaborate in the morning and have inter-department championships at lunch time. 

4. Very Few Meeting Spaces

Speaking of conference tables, another office design mistake is having very little space for meetings.

This situation is actually subjective if given a little bit of thought. If you’re a ten-person startup, for example, your folks can have productive huddles right at their desks. But as you grow and branch out into different teams, you’re definitely going to need more meeting spaces.

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How to fix it: Meeting rooms take up a lot of space, money, and time so no, our first solution is not to just keep adding more rooms. At BureauOne, we want businesses to be efficient. Therefore, before making the investment, explore these more space-, cost-, and time-efficient solutions first.

Check to see if teams can rearrange their schedules to avoid conflicts. Maybe some meetings can be avoided with a simple online collaboration tool. And try to minimize the time it takes to have a meeting. Convert quick huddles into standing or walking meetings so you can free up the conference room for others. Physical activity has been proven to boost productivity and inspire creative ideas too. Win-win. 

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If you need more meeting areas and all the current conference rooms are already furnished, you can create smaller huddle spaces with meeting room furniture. You can also install sound-absorbent, AC-powered meeting booths around the office for shorter, quicker meetings so that large teams with high-priority tasks can use the big ones. 

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Get Started With BureauOne Today


5. No Place for Visitors

An office is bound to have visitors, like potential hires, investors, clients, and delivery folk. A comfortable waiting area is important for people to kill time before a meeting or interview. The visitor’s area, whether it’s a lounge or reception, is often overlooked during the designing stage, especially when you’re a startup on a modest budget. 

The truth is that the visitor’s area is the first impression people will have about your business and you want it to be the right impression.

Talented hires will consider working with you, investors will decide if they want to support you, clients will choose if they want to hire you, and the entire thinking process starts from the moment they enter a well planned waiting room.

In today’s world, when there are tons of your competitors targeting the same audience as you, that first impression really matters. 

How to fix it: Creating an inviting reception area is neither hard nor expensive. Take a look at our range of reception furniture on rent here. You’ll see that all you need is a few good seating options with pleasant decor that’s in line with your brand. Hiring a receptionist and installing a television is up to you and your budget, but know that they’re both smart investments and could really make a difference in how people perceive your company.

6. Tuned in to Monotony 

Is everything in your office the same color? Is there too little or too much of your brand ethos on the walls? Are there simply long rows of desks with absolutely no artwork or décor?

Research shows that employees are more productive when they connect with the brand and when they’re passionate about it. If your office layout doesn't imbibe what your brand stands for, or worse, doesn’t allow employees to express themselves, the business is not going to flourish. 

Research in organizational behavior has shown that employees actually don’t want material rewards as much as they want appreciation, excitement, and a strong connection with their office brand.

How to fix it: Add personality to your space to remind your employees of why they’re coming to work for you everyday, that allows them to connect with the brand and makes them feel like they’re a part of something bigger. 

In the same way you think about your customers, think about what your employees resonate with, so that you can enhance your office design and include members in a culture that motivates and excites them.

Between planning a layout, coordinating with manufacturers, and running your business, furnishing an office can really stress you out. (And cost money too).

BureauOne makes everything simple. 

We provide efficient office space planning for free, high-end office furniture on rent, and the flexibility to scale, swap, and experiment as you build your brand. 

Whether you’re furnishing an office from scratch, or are looking to make some changes, ask our experts about anything you need here, and we’ll get back to you in just a few days.