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Encouraging Learning in your Workplace: Designing for Change


If you are in the start-up phase of a business or you are looking to redesign your current workplace there is a great deal of value which can be gained by seeking the input of your staff. Not only does this demonstrate to employees you value their ideas, but it will also lead to an environment where people are much happier and this will increase employee engagement and productivity. 

Joint Venture

Your staff are the ones who have first-hand knowledge of how the workplace either aids them in their job or causes any issues. It is important to let staff know that you intend to carry out modernisation work and therefore there will be some upheaval. However, you can soften the impact of this by asking for their suggestions in terms of layout, design, furniture and décor.

It is those with direct experience of dealing with the impracticality of a printer on a different floor or a draught from an air conditioning unit, who are in the best position to put forward ideas for change. Senior management on the other hand, may well be unaware that anything is causing an issue or slowing down the pace of work. 

Don’t Forget About Practical Aspects

If you are redesigning your workplace it is important not to forget to make any practical changes whilst work is in progress. For example, now may be a good time to install modern security measures or to consider whether your heating or cooling system needs an upgrade. Better to do this now, while the fabric of the building is being altered, so final decoration can conceal any maintenance work.


In recent years office buildings have seen considerable advancements in how they are designed and decorated. There has been a move towards a more open plan design, although this does need to be tempered if you employ large numbers of telephone staff.

Completely open plan designs were actually found to unsettle employees if they were continually being bombarded by voices or by people passing their desks. The solution is to screen off areas or create smaller offices for sales staff around a central open area where productive quiet work takes place.


There are now many more options for office furniture and there is nothing to say every piece has to be matching or conform to traditional office styles. For smaller, more creative companies, it can be fun for staff to choose vintage desks and then upcycle them if they need any changes made, such as painting or varnishing. While this may not work so well in much larger companies you can still give your staff the option to choose a style of desk or chair they like. Create a short list of ones of varying design and colour and then give staff free rein to choose their own within that selection.   

You can also allow staff to bring items from home which will make their space feel more welcoming, for example photos, framed art or small ornaments. Plants are another way to improve the air quality within a building, while also making it more attractive. There has been a great deal of research which shows greenery makes workers happier and increases productivity, so let employees make their own choices in terms of plant varieties. 

Breakout Areas

It is also important to give your staff space to get away from their desks. This can be in the form of breakout areas which offer comfortable seating and where staff can meet for coffee. You normally can find these setups with new start-ups and practices that have recently opened. These hubs have also been found to increase productivity as it is in these more relaxed areas where people gather, sometimes even just for informal meetings, that more creative thinking occurs.

With Wi-Fi now often available throughout a building, people can even go to breakout areas to work on their laptop, just for a change of scene. Therefore, confer with your employees about how they would like these areas to be arranged and decorated and if there are any features they would like to see added.

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