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Resulting in a healthier, more comfortable and happier workforce

While we’ve previously discussed how mobile technology advances have been a driving force for creating more varied and flexible workspaces, there are many business factors influencing these new age work environments including the need for more cost effective, faster, ways of working and smarter, higher productivity, through increased staff wellbeing and morale.

Witnessing these revolutionary designs popping up, have left some members of staff envious, others intrigued, but some office workers are concerned to be seen using them when introduced! These designated spaces have often been thought of as simply a space for staff to take a break and relax (hence the name) and so, especially in this economic climate, it’s not surprising to learn that some are afraid they’ll be seen as ‘skiving’.

Colleagues Working In Breakout Area

So what is an organisation to do when looking at introducing more creative and collaborative ways of working? Well, these breakout areas can be very important workspaces for improving work practices… But surely they need to be introduced intelligently, ensuring they are integrated into the organisation’s culture, if you’re to see a return on that investment?

Top tip: Get everyone involved

A well-planned design that would otherwise be unoccupied space in the office can bring increasing value – perhaps it’s somewhere to hold informal meetings or quiet areas for brainstorming?

Let teams make suggestions on how they can best utilise the space before any change is introduced.  Some may prefer the fixed workstation to fulfil their set role.

Things to consider in Breakout areas

If you’re reducing the amount of individual workstations, or introducing bigger open-plan layouts, you’ll need to consider the implications of both power and noise.

Some modular furniture, sofas and booths, offer connectivity upgrades, which enable employees to charge their portable devices. There are also trolleys that enable your staff to collectively charge their laptops or tablets all in one docking station.

Away from the deskCollaborative working may stimulate ideas and discussion within breakout areas but with this, noise levels increase. Privacy pods are increasingly popular choices to ensure meetings are kept discreet and do not disturb others. Likewise, you’ll also need to ensure that telephones or areas, which may incur excessive noise, are kept away from ‘quiet’ areas as they may prevent their full usage or affect productivity levels.

Sofas may offer a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for both visitors and staff, but you’ll need to ensure you provide posture awareness for staff, and risk training, as well as your visitors’ needs! There are options where laptop stands attach to the actual laptop, which ensures users have the opportunity to set up more ergonomically wherever they are and this can be beneficial to agile workers too.

While many organisations are aiming for paperless procedures, some organisations find flexible workspaces or hot-desking environments highlights issues with limited storage space. You may find it beneficial to introduce hot boxes or lockers to address this.

Giving up on the ‘individual’ workstation?

While hot-desking may allow a company to have smaller dedicated workspaces, it can sometimes mean there is less opportunity for individuality. You need to be aware that people aren’t all made to the same shape and size and so it is very important to introduce office chairs that are highly adjustable to ensure they fit the majority of individuals, thus reducing the risks of musculoskeletal issues.

  • – Consider the seat slide – It is very advisable that this is a feature on all your office chairs giving a much bigger seat range, and thus more likely it can fit shorter and taller individuals.
  • – Don’t underestimate the arms – smaller individuals often experience problems with simple height adjustable armrests, as they’re not able to get close enough into their desk. Consider multifunctional armrests – if the armrests don’t slide back then they make not suit the more petite, which could result in poor posture leading to back pain.


Personal WorkstationYou should also consider maximum adjustability in desktop equipment too. So for example, a set height monitor block will not set a monitor at the right height for different people using the same setup; you may wish to consider monitor arms, many of which offer increased adjustability. The same goes with document holders – the more range they have the more likely they will be suited to each individual user.

See also: Your Guide to Chair Features

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