If I Were in Charge, Here’s What I’d Have in My Ideal Workplace

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Apr 29, 2013

If you had the chance to design your ideal workplace, what would it be?

Let’s stipulate that these spaces would be clean and safe, because that’s the very least you should expect from work. I’ll also set good technology as a baseline: computers and phones, quality office machines, and a solid WiFi connection.

Considering all the ways we work nowadays, I think I’ve come up with what I’d consider to be the ideal workplace.

Professionally designed

Sure, you can send your office manager to buy a few plants and hire a guy to paint a wall, but nothing beats workplaces that have been professionally designed and decorated. Investing in a designer to help think about workflow, create workspaces, and to convey a company’s cultural vibe, demonstrates another level of respect for employees.

My ideal would be for every workplace to have a designer who has helped translate the company inside the space.

Open work areas

It’s easier to turn your head and contribute to a conversation or idea when you’re physically in the same space. Open workspaces help teams integrate and generate great new ideas; they encourage spontaneous brainstorming.

Plenty of smaller meeting rooms

As much as open spaces can be collaborative and energizing, sometimes you need an enclosed space in which to work. Smaller rooms adjacent to open spaces allow you to minimize interruptions, make phone calls, or have small meetings.

I think smaller meeting rooms are precious spaces that are often under-provided in companies.

Large spaces with fully integrated technology

For meetings with more than five people, it’s important to have a large space where you can view presentations and work collaboratively.

My favorite large spaces have several seating options beyond a massive table. Whiteboards, good lighting, and varied seating go a long way.

An ideal meeting space has integrated technology that makes collaboration more productive.

A well-stocked breakroom

A boring breakroom says volumes about a company. Think beyond a fridge and microwave!

Pull in seating, several fridges, and stock the shelves with paper goods. Have space for mugs and a dedicated coffee area. Drink fridges with cold water, or even better, cold caffeine, are fast ways to win.

An island makes serving company lunches easier, and a good recycling area keeps everything tidy. Whatever’s inside your breakroom, make sure the space is well decorated.

Games and physical fun

Whether it’s a ping-pong table, or a video gaming station, the ideal workplace makes space for fun. One company where I worked had a dilapidated foosball table that witnessed some of the greatest matches in foosball history. I’ve seen two story gaming rooms, down to a simple basketball hoop outside.

Encouraging socials and clubs, holiday celebrations, trivia contests, Friday afternoon Nerf gun fights, it all builds teams and company culture.

Companies need bonding space where they can let off steam and recharge creatively.

Standing desks and better seats

There have been many studies released lately on how beneficial standing desks can be for people’s overall health. It’s time workplaces started offering standing options.

Additionally, better chairs are more comfortable, can reduce repetitive stress injuries, and will last longer. I’ve worked in a few places with couches, bean bags, and other alternative seating options — it breaks up the day and can give people a chance to vary their positions.

A Mothers’ Room

Many states now have laws on the books requiring employers to provide an area that is not a restroom for women who would like to pump milk for their baby. Even if your state doesn’t mandate a mothers’ room, it’s just common decency to create such a space for employees.

The ideal mothers’ room would have a fridge for storing milk, a sink for rinsing out containers, a couple of comfortable chairs with electrical access, a couch or other space to recline, and all with a lock on the door.

Flexible hours and family-friendly

While some companies might require specific time-bounded commitments from their workforce, many companies are in a position to offer flexible hours to their people. An ideal workplace is flexible, realizing that it’s more important for great work to be produced than to require people to be at Point A from 8:00 until 4:59.

Workplaces that are family-friendly, from allowing employees to make family commitments (as long as work is completed), to on-site day care, would be a dream.

Great people

The best offices in the world are nothing without great people. The ideal workplace isn’t just physical; it’s the energy and collaboration from a solid, well-functioning team.

A high trust environment that encourages best practices and recognizes its co-workers regularly is the most ideal workplace.

Have you thought about your ideal workplace? What would you include that I missed?

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

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