Smart office designs 'to boost productivity'
Dubai , April 11, 2011
Smart, innovative and efficient workplaces help businesses not just to cut occupancy costs but to add real value in a post financial crisis world, according to interior design experts.
As cost control comes firmly under business microscope, office design is often assigned to the top of list of budgetary cuts. However, ignoring workplace design can actually have the opposite effect, said experts at International Interior Design Association (IIDA).
Poor design often leads to operational inefficiencies which diminish productivity and business performance, they added.
Cheryl Durst, executive vice president and CEO of IIDA, said there has never been a more important time to ensure your office space is being used intelligently and creatively.
“Smart, innovative and efficient workplaces help businesses not just to cut occupancy costs but to add real value. A thoughtfully designed workspace can increase productivity, foster a sense of community, and minimise environmental impact. It also expresses the values of the organisation,” said Durst.
She is among the industry experts confirmed to speak at "The Office Exhibition 2011, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 17 to 19.
While the HR community has been quick to highlight the importance of employee morale in facilitating business recovery, there has been less focus on the influence of the physical workplace environment in contributing to a positive staff experience, the expert said.
This is despite extensive studies that show a well-designed office is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to retain workers and make them more productive, she added.
Dr Michael Burchell, partner and director of The Great Place to Work Institute UAE, said the overall look and feel of an office has a profound and lasting effect on the frame of mind of each employee.
Burchell represents a global research and management consultancy that recognises best workplaces in over 45 countries worldwide. Earlier this year he announced the top 10 companies to work for in the UAE and said that the best companies also design their offices in people-centric ways.
"Facilities that are safe and contribute to good working environment are an important demonstration of respect. In our visits to world's best firms we find the leaders there understand that behaviour is a function of a person interacting in their environment. Take Microsoft Gulf for example, the top company to work for in the UAE," he noted.
"The majority of this office consists of various types of meeting rooms, breakout areas, gaming zones – all designed to enable employee collaboration," he noted.
Reiner André Saayman, area portfolio manager for MEA, Microsoft and Microsoft Gulf said: "Microsoft is committed to providing employees with the latest office design and workplace solutions to optimise productivity and enable innovation so that they can best support clients’ business needs."
"We achieve this through our dedicated real estate and facilities program called The Workplace Advantage (WPA), which enables us to meet the unique needs of Microsoft’s businesses through the provision of appropriately, designed and equipped workplace environments," he noted.
“The way the workplace is designed can have a crucial influence on the way people approach their work," explained Durst.
"In addition to encouraging workplace collaboration to boost an organisation’s thinking capability; we must also pay attention to basic employee needs such as lighting, indoor air quality and comfort. All factors which help to reduce absenteeism and improve overall job satisfaction," she added.
Exhibitors at The Office Exhibition agree. Leading Middle East office furniture supplier Gemaco Interiors says the optimisation of working conditions has always been the focus when designing office environments.
“Creating an office environment in which people feel comfortable has a profound effect on office life and results in considerable cost savings too. Today, highly energy efficient white LED lights are revolutionising the potential of LED," said Patrick Taylor, group sales and marketing director for Gemaco Interiors.
"Aesthetically pleasing and totally controllable, they also offer longer life and lower maintenance. Clean, fresh indoor air flow is another important consideration. This helps your staff to breathe easy and also minimises damage to soft furnishings, he noted.
"But with the average office worker spending approximately 80,000 hours sat at their desk during the lifetime of their career, an ergonomic workstation is the most important workforce investment a business owner could make. Improving the wellbeing of your staff improves their performance and efficiency too while eliminating costly medical expenses,” Taylor added.
The Office Exhibition is the Middle East’s premier trade event for office fit-outs and organisers say this year’s show is as much about celebrating design excellence as it is about building the business case for design solutions.
“Office design is so integral to how a business operates and also makes a very powerful brand statement to staff and customers, yet many companies do not recognise it as a business priority,” said David Wilson, event director of The Office Exhibition.-TradeArabia News Service