The Weekly is STREAMING now. Join us at HorizonTV

10 ways to work better

Each office workplace requires a different blend of people, processes, tools, and spaces to support its employees. HDR's Allison Arnone has tips that can guide you toward the perfect balance for your company.

October 19, 2015 |
HDR Insights

Let’s face it: some offices aren’t exactly the most motivating places to work. We’ve all visited (or worked in) an office with a soulless beige color palette, ominous florescent lighting, high cubicle walls and low morale. But flipping to an open-plan “modern” workspace—with no cubicle walls, no boundaries, and no privacy—sometimes creates more problems than it solves.

So how do you strike a balance between the two philosophies? The truth is: office design is not one-size-fits-all. Each workplace requires a different blend of people, processes, tools and spaces to support its employees. The tips below can guide you toward the perfect balance for your company.

1. Engage employees and culture. Engaged employees are committed to an organization’s goals and values, and motivated to contribute to its success. Their productivity and job satisfaction is supported by a workplace that enables connections between coworkers and teams, communicates organizational goals and values through the environment, facilitates work activities and allows individual expression through personalization and reconfiguration of space.



2. Wellness matters. Because employees’ physical and psychological well-being affects productivity, performance and quality, progressive companies are using their workplaces to support a healthy lifestyle by providing spaces for physical activity, appropriate levels of sensory stimulation, environmental control and social interaction.

3. Accommodate personalization. The proliferation of personal technology tools blurs the boundaries of traditional work settings. As a platform for mobile work, and in combination with social media and virtual meeting technology, the ability to work, connect and collaborate anywhere and at anytime is expanding exponentially. The workplace must engage technology seamlessly while facilitating productivity and efficiency gains.

4. Access shared tools. High-tech and low-tech equipment and communication tools support the work process. Whether it’s a white board, an ergonomic hot desk or a dock station, the right tools appropriately placed can go a long way to support work efficiency and effectiveness.

5. Embrace mobility. Organizations are adopting mobile/flexible working as a strategy to increase productivity, employee engagement and performance. What that looks like depends upon the organization’s culture, work process and real estate. Drivers like attraction and retention, work-life balance, employee satisfaction and real estate costs dovetail with the need to build stronger networks and teams to craft an approach that supports working anywhere, anytime as long as the work gets done.



6. Manage change. The success of any workplace change depends on carefully and actively managing that change to improve acceptance, ensure timeliness and promote necessary culture shifts. The most effective change management programs are highly communicative and consist of defining the scope of workplace changes, participation, on-going education with occupants, and feedback.

7. Reshape teamwork. Today’s dynamic operational environment is transforming teamwork to become more virtual (distributed), self-directed and mobile. Communication happens primarily through electronic media (e-mail, telephone, video conference). Corresponding challenges for the workplace include virtual team building, social networking and a periodic need for face-to-face interaction.

8. Support working alone. The wave of new workplace practices increases the potential for visual, acoustic, thermal and lighting distractions, which in turn results in lost efficiency and lower job satisfaction. The workplace needs to provide settings to support concentration, working alone and privacy (visual, acoustical, spatial and digital).

9. Create space for collaboration. The most beneficial work relationships occur when people physically interact with each other, working collaboratively, sharing knowledge, and communicating effectively. Branded spaces should be designed in proximity to team members with collaboration tools that will accommodate and support small groups, impromptu discussions and web meetings.



10. Socialize for best connections. Socializing in the workplace is critical to foster relationship development for knowledge sharing, effective teamwork, sense of community and shared culture. Enhance social interaction by providing casual and flexible spaces that act as destinations located along common paths of travel.

A downloadable PDF of these ideas is available here.

About the Author: Allison Arnone, the Principal Workplace Strategist at HDR BLiNK, appreciates creativity and artistic talent at every level, from food art to fine art to fabulous architecture. A proud Drexel University grad with a BS in interior design, Allison uses her creative and analytical skills as a Principal Strategic Planner to support and inform great workplace design with innovative solutions. In the spirit of continuous improvement and sharing lessons learned, Allison formed the S + T Workplace Research Group and is also responsible for developing the Post-occupancy Evaluation program at HDR. A native of both Hudson, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, Allison is now enjoys living in the picturesque region of central New Jersey with her three kids. She loves doing anything outdoors, cooking up something new and dreaming about owning a coffee shop in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

HDR Insights | HDR

Our blogs are written by our employees at HDR. While we are most well-known for delivering architecture and engineering services—for adding beauty and structure to communities through high performance buildings and smart infrastructure, we provide much more than that. We create an unshakable foundation for progress because our multidisciplinary teams also include scientists, economists, builders, analysts and artists. Our thought leader bloggers represent offices from around the world and write about ideas, experiences and insights into our practice and the greater design community. Come visit us at Insights

Related Blogs

December 18, 2018 | Multifamily Housing | HDRNicholas Taylor, Design Lead

Social sustainability has become a central concern in terms of its effect that spans generations.

June 08, 2018 | Education Facility | HDRDavid Keenan, Principal, Education and Graeme Spencer, Associate Director

In gathering this constant flow of data and recognizing the shifting trends, how can educational institutio...

April 24, 2018 | Healthcare Facilities | HDRDavid Redemske

Research has shown that inmates are getting older and sicker.

March 06, 2018 | Engineers | HDRDave Kurten

When modeling is applied to engineering systems, the same benefits can be realized by both our project team...

Healthcare operations: The good and bad of the ‘visit per room per day’ metric

Image: Pixabay

February 28, 2018 | Healthcare Facilities | HDRZhanting Gao, Advanced Simulation Specialist, HDR

Merely pursuing a high “visit per room per day” metric may drive up other resource needs and, in turn, rais...

Aerial view of a behavioral health center
October 05, 2017 | Healthcare Facilities | HDRJeri Brittin, Director, Research

Confined treatment centers for civilly-committed individuals.

Students in the University of Nebraska Manter Hall
September 22, 2017 | Laboratories | HDRJune Hanley

Here is how the See + Hear + Do = Remember mantra can be applied to maker spaces and instructional labs....

April 04, 2017 | Building Team | HDRJeri Brittin, Director of Research, HDR

Many assume that post-occupancy (POE) is a clearly-defined term and concept, but the meaning of POE in prac...

March 24, 2017 | Healthcare Facilities | HDRJoel Worthington & Beth Zacherle

Pediatric experience design must evolve beyond the common mantra of “make it fun” or “make it look kid-frie...

January 19, 2017 | Sustainability | HDRJennifer Bienemann, Environmental Engineer, HDR

To help one of the most complex cities in the world develop an actionable strategy to meet visionary GHG re...

Overlay Init

Your card will be charged: 0