As an indoor generation, who spend 90% of our time indoors, our moods should no longer be affected by the changing seasons. However, research has shown that around 1 in 15 people in the UK are severely affected by the change in weather and are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD, also known as winter depression, is a type of depression associated with the change in seasons and is most common in the autumn and winter months, triggered by the lack of light. Symptoms of SAD include lack of energy during the day, loss of productivity, low mood and feelings of stress and anxiety.
By making a few, simple changes in your office environment, you can prevent your workforce from being affected by SAD.
Integrate outdoor spaces – encourage employees to get outside
During winter months making the most of daylight whilst working nine till five can seem near impossible. Employees tend to spend their lunch breaks inside to avoid the cold weather. Integrating an outdoor space into your workplace can be beneficial in tackling SAD. By having an easily accessible outdoor space, employees will be more likely to step outside to make the most of the daylight hour. This will help them to increase exposure to valuable natural light.
Maximize exposure to natural light – situate desks near windows!
As workplace designers, we mention this one a lot – but it really is a no-brainer! Light is one of the best remedies for the negative effects of SAD. When creating an office space, it is crucial to ensure that your employees aren’t working in dim-light as poor lighting can leave us feeling less productive and tired. If your space is located in a basement and windows aren’t accessible, consider integrating desk lamps to increase your overall light levels.
Improve moods – Im-plant your office with greenery
Plants have been proven to have major, positive effects on employee well-being. They reduce stress, increase productivity, clean the air.. the list goes on. Filled with nothing but desks and computers, office spaces can often feel sterile. Studies have shown that enriching your workplace design with plants, can improve your employees’ moods and reduce the number of sick days.
Integrate communal areas – encourage staff to socialise
What’s worse than experiencing SAD, is feeling left alone with the problem. Consider integrating comfortable, communal areas into your workplace design and create opportunities for socialising in a more quiet environment. Having an appropriate space, where your employees can share their experience and voice their opinions outside their desk space, is crucial in helping prevent SAD.
Join us for the first in our breakfast talks series…
Resimercial Office Design
As we see society shifting towards achieving a more balanced lifestyle we are increasingly creating space that feels less institutional and more like a home away from home…
Trends in workplace interior design move at a rapid pace, the trajectory of which, mostly track our social and cultural change. Popular cultural perspectives on work-life balance in recent times has become more fluid and in response, flexible work arrangements have become increasingly more abundant, including an in increase in employers offering work from home policies.
Employers are becoming increasingly less rigid about their work environments, more aware that their staff can work from anywhere at any time, and in order to retain and attract the most talented individuals, they are finding the need to offer office environments that are more employee centric.
Resimerical office design has come about in response to this and seeks to create office space that is attractive in terms of its comfort, friendly and relaxed ambiances, an antidote to our past when the workplace was more formal and inflexible.
The trend recognises the need for differing work and meeting spaces that cater to agile working and in the same way that residential design does, serving the different moods and moments a person faces throughout their day.
Similarly while the general aesthetics of the office are secondary to the function, we’re seeing a much greater cross over with residential themes and concepts. From a materiality point of view hardwood flooring has become popular in office spaces for its familiarity and warmth, and breakout spaces and reception areas are increasingly modelling around living room style formats, with comfortable lounge chairs and rugs, becoming comfortable and causal spaces that people feel at home to do a variety of tasks in.
If you feel there is a desire amongst your staff to bring some of the comforts of home into your workplace talk to us today about creating a home away from home office, where your staff can be their most productive selves!Creating a Mindful Workplace
Stress is now identified by the World Health Organisation as the “health epidemic of the 21st century.”
Work is a significant contributor of stress for most Londoners, and not only does it have an impact on our health, job-related stress is becoming increasingly harmfull to businesses globally, causing absenteeism and reduced levels of performance. But, as workplace designers, there are ways we can take when designing your new office that will help you create a less stressful environment for your staff.
Design for employee control.
Consider a hot-desking work environment where employees can choose where they sit at the beginning of each day, and not be tied to a particular desk that is allocated to them at the beginning of their employment. Not only will the ability to choose their own work setting each day enable your employees to feel in control over their environment but, it allows them to reconfigure and customise their workplace to suit their everyday needs. This kind of perk will help to lessen individual stress and anxiety.
Design for face-to-face interaction.
By allowing space for collaboration you are not only encouraging teamwork and innovation but also helping to minimise digital communications. The act of constantly checking for new messages puts us into a constant “high alert state”. A well designed collaboration space will reduce any physical barriers and encourage more face-to-face interaction, curbing endless email chains.
The creation of real interaction is only part of the equation. Face-to-face interaction itself is linked directly to a reduction in stress. As humans are inherently social beings, research has shown that those who rely more on digital means of communication also report higher rates of stress and anxiety.
Design for work, rest and play.
Most offices have a tea point with facilities to make drinks and store lunch items, but does the space you have encourage employees to take sufficient time out and unwind. Regular breaks that allow us time away from our desks and computers are essential to our mental wellbeing.
By creating an inviting breakout space your staff will feel more ok to take a break and unwind with their colleagues, talk about their work and get support if they are feeling under pressure. In the right setting, we often encourage employers to consider incorporating miscellaneous items such as a pool table or table tennis as these help further to facilitate interaction, inclusion and comradery between your staff and further alleviating feelings of anxiety.Embodying Brand In Your Workplace
94% of employees say the more meaning their job has the more likely they are to be engaged and your workplace design is a key element in establishing purpose in the workplace.
Your workplace design is an opportunity to knit together the DNA of your company and remind your employees not only why your organisation exists, but encourage behaviours that are consistent with your brand and install your brand values into your company culture.
Google, Facebook and Lego are all prime examples of this, creating unique and playful workplaces that reflect their brand ethos so their employees can immerse themselves into their work.
While slides and cubby houses might not be your thing, many modern workplaces incorporate their branding in their office design by displaying their logo or using the company colours, but effective workplace branding goes beyond this.
Look to create a story behind your company, something your employees can connect with and feel their own cause resonates with. Consider telling the history of your brand graphically in wall art or décor, or incorporate your mission into the very fabric of your workplace, creating a space in which everyone can understand your company goals and inspire your staff to work towards them.
People want to be a part of something big, something larger than themselves. Investing in workplace design to reflect your brand goes towards this and allows your employees to feel like they are part of a wider cause ultimately resulting in more engaged employees and greater productivity.
How To Avoid The Summer Time Slump
Keeping your workplace motived this summer.
It’s that time of year again. Our social media accounts get flooded with those glorious European holidays pics, cliché photos of feet in the ocean or how about that cringe-worthy picture of the pre-departure cocktail at the airport?! Business slows as our co-workers go on leave and while some of us are fortunate enough to get away for summer vacation, how do you keep employees engaged and motivated in the workplace once the warm weather hits?
Create space to escape in the office
Holidays are an important time for rest, relaxation and improving well-being, and at the end of it we return to work feeling revived, productive and ready to take on anything. While it’s important employees are encouraged to take long breaks, short breaks during work time are just as important and valuable in keeping your workforce productive.
Consider making space in your workplace where employees can escape to get some down time when they feel they need it. Acoustic office pods allow single or multiple users to work or take some quiet time in privacy, reducing distracting sounds and interruptions, enabling them to return to their work station feeling refreshed, re-engage and with rejuvenated metal wellbeing.
Create opportunities for connection
Not only can connections with fellow colleagues provide us with emotional and psychological strength to deal with stress, connections with people boost our overall happiness and morale. Workplace performance consultants Gallup say their research repeatedly shows a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. For example, women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).
By creating space in your workplace design where staff can connect with one another you are more likely to foster more engaged employees who feel they are part of a group. A communal town hall space centrally located in the workplace is an ideal way to create chance encounters and enable your staff to connect. Similarly a tea point or break out space where you can host summer BBQ’s and team lunches are a great way to foster workplace relationships and enabling people to feel like they are part of a community.
Introduce seasonal perks
Have a bit of fun with seasonal events. They’ll not only help your staff to feel happier in their workplace but also help to foster connections between staff, further helping with your staff engagement. There’s plenty of summer events to get involved in like Wimbledon or the Tour de France that will inspire your staff to get involved.
A town hall space where you can comfortably host such occasions and screen sporting events that will assist in encouraging your staff to get involved in festivities is essential and an important factor in making sure people are inspired to get involved in your workplace.Our Team
Our team is what makes AIS unique.
Today we’re taking time out from our norm to come together and celebrate our team. We our incredibly proud of our team. We recognise that delivering a successful project is only made possible by the dedication of the people behind it. Our efforts to inspire and support our team members is important to us, ensuring the satisfaction of each individual.
Our enthusiasm and passion for great workplace design drives the success of each and every project we undertake. We now have over 55 carefully selected professionals nationally, with a diverse range of experience across all sectors and project sizes, ensuring we have the best team capable of delivering any project.
Together we are made up of creatives, business development professionals, hard working project managers and a tireless support team, each contributing gold to make us who we are today.
Our new collaborative and open plan work environment at St Paul’s House challenges everyone to strive for outstanding results. We encourage all to express their opinion and have a voice during the process – and the outcomes translate to better, more resolved designs and happy clients!
Human + Nature – Incorporating biophilia in the workplace
With changing attitudes and technology advances making us increasingly aware of our health and wellness we are realising the spaces we work in should cater more to these needs. Biophilia is the innate human attraction to nature and natural processes, it recognises that we as humans are a part of nature, not apart from nature and we are at our best when in natural environments.
Introducing biophilia into your workplace design has been demonstrated through research to have significant physiological and physical benefits. Health benefits span to including the ability to reduce stress whilst physiologically it has been said to increase productivity, creativity and general feelings of well-being.
How to incorporate biophilia design into your workplace:
Maximise natural light
Sunlight has a huge impact on health and general well-being in the workplace, helping to regulate the body’s sleeping patterns and circadian rhythms. Modern workplace design allows for the optimisation of spaces with a more human centric focus, open plan work environments and we often see the placement of cellular offices and meetings rooms near the core of the floorplate, allowing for large, open plan desking around the perimeter closer to glazing, allowing natural light to flood spaces where most people will be working.
Planting and greenery
Simply adding greenery in the form of indoor plants can have major positive benefits for employees and enable them to feel more in tune with nature. Incorporating plants into your offices is said to enhance employee performance on memory retention, improve work retention rates, deter illness and promote clean-air breathing. Your staff will be able to enjoy natures beauty and feel more connected to the outside world whilst at work, ultimately leading to happier and healthier employees. Additionally an office with vibrant greenery conveys a positive and engaging brand image to your visitors.
If real planting isn’t an option then there are indirect connections to be made with nature when you incorporate man-made objects and features that mimic natural forms, patterns, materials, colour or textures. This is known as biomimicry. Naturally occurring aesthetics have an intrinsic ability to create both complexity and order whilst also being visually stimulating. The repetitive patterns we see in nature are referred to as ‘fractals’ – which are the geometric figures and shapes that repeat at increasingly fine magnifications to make up the same character as the whole. Human visual systems have adapted to efficiently process fractals with ease and they have been found to have a profoundly calming impact. The inclusion of these patterns and textures in your workplace will create a harmonious working environment and allow your staff to better contribute to your organisational goals.
How To Beat The Office Blues
Disengaged and unmotivated employees can not only affect your workplace culture but are generally less efficient, lack accuracy in completing daily tasks and can cost your company with absenteeism and loss in productivity. We’ve taken a look a few design features you can integrate into your workplace design to dissolve any struggles with office blues…
With a new era of increasingly more autonomous workplace policies upon us it is important that your workplace environment caters to everyone. The implementation of more open plan or agile work environments not only demonstrates that you trust your employees but also allows your staff to choose their own work environments, depending on their personality type or their mood supporting their overall mental wellbeing.
Make it light work
Not only does allowing your staff access to natural daylight improve their productivity while at work but also contributes to better sleeping patterns, information recall and general mood. We recommend placing workstations around the perimeter of your floor plate to maximise the amount of natural light your staff can access. If space doesn’t permit this, create informal break out areas and collaboration spaces as close to natural light as possible and consider replacing solid partitions with glazing to increase the overall reach of natural light.
Going green is now a huge opportunity for many of the businesses we create workplaces for. This can be created in your workplace design by bringing nature and greenery into the workplace which can help to reduce stress and boost creativity, as well as naturally improving your air quality having a major impact on the overall wellbeing of your employees.
Break it Up
Dedicating ample room for your breakout area that has space for rest and recreation is a true indication to your employees that you care about their wellbeing. Encouraging positive relationships and social connection is vital for your team morale. These social spaces often create links which allow for better collaboration and helps employees feel more connected and positive about their work.
Supporting Learning In The Workplace
Today’s progressive workers are increasingly in pursuit of more from their workplace, seeking out work environments that support their social, cultural and technology demands.
Satisfying and inspiring workplaces that meet these desires is no longer something nice to have but a necessity for any organisation that is looking to attract and retain the best talent. Practices that instil worker engagement are now more crucial than ever in gaining employer contentment and productivity. We’ve taken a look at some key initiates that support employee learning and can be integrated into your next workplace design or refurbishment project.
Create space for play and creation:
Modern working cultures grew out of industrialisation and the idea of measurable productivity. With many employees now believing that their future success depends on their ability to be creative, the future workplace is much more complex and we are seeing a change in values from a highly pragmatic thought process to one that values cross current and creativity based thinking. In order to allow these processes to occur it is important to include space for ‘play’ and experimental learning. These spaces might be included as a ‘workshop’ and offer open plan space with less formal, casual furniture and varied soft seating options.
Space to support inter-generational learning and mentoring:
As we see the 5G (Fifth Generation) workforce emerging, with 50+ workers remaining in the workforce for longer, working alongside 20somethings each eager to learn from one another, it is important to allow for space that facilitates peer learning. This is space that allows for collaboration and mentoring to take place which in turn leads to upskilling. By bringing professional networking under one roof you create fertile grounds for collaborative learning, which empowers workers – and is also an internal support community.
Above all else, in order to facilitate learning in both a changing work culture and more diversified workforce, offices need to become more adaptable, designed and built to satisfy multifaceted identities and to meet the ‘always on’ demands we have set upon our workforce. Your space needs to be diverse in its’ offerings and cater for people to reconnect with their peer groups or industry specialists to share knowledge, offer space for focus so that knowledge can be retained and space for experimental learning all under the one roof.Personalisation and Place in the Future Office
Increasingly we see our clients asking for more and more personalisation in their new office design briefs. Creating personable and authentic workspaces allows for greater connection with your people and to the place in which you are creating business outputs.
There are two main approaches to office personalisation. The first is adjusting environments to cater for people’s needs, whether that be certain ergonomic requirements or preferences, adopting your space plan to work in line with the way your teams are structured or perhaps allowing for temperature control to be adjustable by each individual at their desk. The ultimate goal of this approach is to make your people feel they have some autonomy over how their space is used.
As well as being personal to your staff often we will look to create a tangible link to the place where you are located or where your business originated from which often creates a sense of pride amongst staff much like our patriarchy towards our home country.
We have helped many of our global clients to put in place office guidelines that have helped them solve the dilemma of moving abroad and potentially watering down their identity in doing so. These will prescribe the way in which each workplace should be both global and local, personal and universal and often set out guidelines to allow for the integration of elements native to their location and individual staff whilst still upholding a unified brand identity.
Personalisation is certainly a trend that will influence future real estate strategies as adaptable space becomes more sought after and we expect to see these trends continue to dominate the workplace into the future.Agile Working – Leaving money in your pocket in more ways than one…
From cultural changes, to physical and ergonomic gains providing your workforce with the choice of freedom that agile working brings is fully justified. In essence, incorporating agile working strategies into your workplace design provides your team with the freedom to make individual choices by creating flexible and different work areas within the office. This is key in in creating creativity and innovation within the workplace.
Effective agile working strategies have been credited with the capability to stimulate divergent levels of thinking, increase productivity and facilitate more effective virtual teams, therefore not only creating better organizational outputs but also assisting in keeping your employees engaged at work and ultimately increase your financial gains.
Similarly a number of recent studies have revealed that agile working as an increasingly popular workplace trend, by virtue of introducing new ways working has assisted in creating a greater culture change amongst millennials who view work as a thing rather than a place, manifesting a more inspired and motived workforce that are more likely to boost your outputs.
In less speculative terms, by introducing agile working strategies into your office design you can make up to a 20% reduction in your property costs, meaning that an agile office refurbishment would provide a saving of between 15 – 20% when compared to the traditional cost of an office refurbishment. Particularly when this is viewed over the whole life of the asset, the resultant operational cost savings due to space efficiencies are significant.
Likewise given the flexibility of agile office designs, if there are changes within your teams or if your team is expanding, an agile workspace can easily accommodate for this. Given space is often shared, additional items such as partitioning don’t need to be removed or added further reducing an organizations annual running costs and making agile working a clear choice
particularly for start-ups that are experiencing rapid expansion, generally within minimal capital.
With world class organsiations such as Google and Unilever utlising such environments, you can be sure that with an agile working strategy incorporated into your office interior design
scheme will not only assist you in increasing your financial retention but also assist you in attracting the right talent, and bring greater positive measureable results to your business.
The concept is simple – create a more pleasant space to work in, integrate features that influence innovative work practices, your staff enjoy being at work and feel appreciative of their new workplace and are more motivated to perform.
A recent survey by the International Interior Design Association found a direct correlation between office design and designing for smarter ways of work and the bottom line of an organisation.
So what design decisions can you integrate into your new workplace design or refurbishment project that will help you to influence new and more effective ways of working.
Create neighborhoods for better productivity
When thinking about how to plan your new space think of the layout in terms of ‘neighborhoods.’ Neighborhoods are areas where workers with similar needs are accommodated.
Carefully consider how each department is spread amongst your floor plan, allowing those who need to collaborate to be close by to each other.
Furthermore by positioning work stations, collaborating groups and equipment in logical locations each employee can save a few seconds or even minutes on everyday tasks.
Create better communication flows through hot-desking
While the concept of hot-desking might seem scary to some, in workplaces where collaboration is key – such as creative environments, hot-desking allows for project teams to come together and work on projects as a team for the duration of the project, allowing for easier flows of communication.
It can also help to improve your workplace culture by allowing departments to mix and help employees learn what other around them are working on, understand company wide goals and realise how each team can help to achieve these.
Additionally hot-desking can result in cost reductions in relation to your new space, having said to reduce space requirements by up to 30% in some instances.
Create accountability through open plan environments
Issues concerned around work ethic can often be ironed out by introducing more open plan ways of working.
Not only does this allow the employer greater control and insight in the way their team is working but it creates an air of accountability given the simple fact everyone can see one another. By bringing the office walls down in an workplace the space gets filled with accountability.
Even in a workforce where people work autonomously the concept translates – when surrounded by hard-working people will likely change their ways of work and perform better.
It also eliminates opportunity for other distractions such as social media or distracting phone calls to take place. In an environment where people can see all and hear all, your staff should become more conscious of their work outputs.Top four reasons ‘WELLNESS’ is on the agenda
1. Growing awareness of health and wellbeing.
Changing attitudes and technology advances are making us more aware of our bodies and more proactive in monitoring our own health. While we’ve long known that employee health and efficiency are linked, with the increase of wearable technology offering round the clock monitoring employees are demanding that their health requirements no longer be compartmentalised to outside work time.
From a workplace design point of view, increasingly we are asked to design yoga spaces or quiet rooms into projects as employers recognise that introducing the right workplace design features to ensure your staff are fit for the future will have a lasting impact on employee performance.
2. Maturing workforce.
Not only in many Western cultures are we now an aging society, but people are choosing to work past the retirement age for the sake of pursuing supplementary careers. While the benefits of having an older and more experienced workforce are numerous, mature staffing comes with more demand on company healthcare provisions and as a preventative measure, employers are increasingly being pushed to advocate healthy work practices.
As well as providing wellness and health programmes, we’ve seen many employers putting their staff needs first and pursuing advise on how to create a workplace that is designed to be comfortable for older employees, seeking advise on solutions such as adjustable chairs and desks.
Aligned with this thought process we have recently been working with Arthritis Research UK, who wanted their people to be the main focus of their new office fit out. We assisted their team in designing a workplace that focused on supporting employee health and wellbeing, including a mix of flexible workspaces such as stretching and quiet rooms, the inclusion of flexible seating and desking, as well as developing their project in line with the WELL Building Standard.
3. Retaining talent.
As competition for top talent gets increasingly more and more competitive, salary is no longer enough to recruit the best.
Research shows that wellness agendas can make a difference when obtaining top talent. A recent survey conducted by Corenet Global, aimed at understanding the impact health and wellbeing have on the workforce revealed that 80 percent of employees agree that the wellness offering of an organisation will be crucial in attracting them to, or keeping them in an organisation within the next 10 years and an even higher percentage said they expected these programmes from their employers.
Wellness programmes as a retention tool are best targeted at physical workspace design-creating the right workplace design to deliver the right type of working and recreation space for your employees is considered to be the top priority amongst employees.
4. Employees Choice.
Employees are more demanding now more so than ever on their employers to keep them engaged and motivated at work.
In a digital age where employees now have their rhythms set by technology and an increasingly ‘always on’ culture it’s only fair that there is push back from employees to improve their quality of life whilst working.
Employment trends are showing a steady rise in the amount of employees placing higher value on non-financial factors such as flexible work facilities and becoming more critical and choosy about who they choose to work for.
Additional factors such as work- place sustainability ratings and office building performance scores are now considered important decision making factors for many millennials joining the workforce.
As wellness programmes rise in popularity, employee expectations will rise. Intelligent employers are those starting to think about wellness now for the benefit of their future.