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Redesigning workplaces imperative to improve productivity

Rehnuma Tasnim Sheefa | December 10, 2023 00:00:00

On Sunday mornings, we all feel pissed off to get back to offices after the weekend leisure. I bet there are hardly any employees who like to work. But just think how people would survive without working. Work or want--this adage reinforces this question. Working, no matter what, is very essential, of course monetarily but also psychologically. Then again, why workplaces usually don't attract us?

Well, the answer is pretty simple in a context like Bangladesh. The offices here are very typically designed--a lot of small rooms side by side, a very gloomy ambiance with a generic white paint, insufficient lighting and ventilation, lack of visibility within colleagues and the exterior, and many more. A space which does not appreciate human presence on itself will never attract attention and willingness to get back every day, no matter how high-paying a job it is. And that's basic psychology.

Design of an office has a lot to do with psychology. The story comes as a generational change. The typical example of offices which had been operating since decades back had employees back then who were the breadwinners of the families. But now there's a huge shift of change--today's generation mostly doesn't work to earn for the family or bread. They work to be actively productive and involved in career development. Hence this group, if they do not like anything about the office, either the environment, people, etc, they quit without a second thought.

The shift of change in culture: There are many offices in Dhaka which have been designed in a way which is more welcoming and sustaining. The employees feel more comfortable and productive to work in a vibrant environment.

As employees' lifestyles become more comfortable, there is a greater demand for modern work life and space. One such example is the newly renovated headquarters of BRAC International. The office on the 14th level of the BRAC Centre is an exception in itself. As an international nonprofit, BRAC International wanted to give a fresh look that reflected their cross-regional work as well as create a space that employees would feel proud to work in.

The design draws heavily on BRAC's values and their core brand DNA. It is designed as a modern yet humble office space that draws heavily on earthy and nature-oriented office interior by using many leafy plants on the indoor office premises. There are also many beautiful photos of programme participants throughout the office to inspire the staff.

The eye-dragging view of the whole Banani and beyond is a very complementary factor and helps the employees to release stress amidst working hours, not making them feel claustrophobic. The new contemporary office interior is one of the first of its kind in the BRAC building and several other floors have been inspired to implement similar design elements on theirs.

Few employees share, as BRAC International staff, they feel proud of their office and enjoy working here, while welcoming their colleagues from country offices who also feel good to have such a modern and beautiful head office in Dhaka. They wanted to create a workspace where people feel inspired to come and work. The office also has standing desks for employees to take breaks from long hours of sitting.

Features of a well-designed office: There are few key factors which are very important to be kept in consideration when designing an office space. As we see, in offices like Google, Apple, Meta, the culture of open office and transparency between employees and within colleagues are very well-practised. Though they have their own premises which are well- designed to be a perfect work environment, it is for their employees to be the most productive and attentive during their working hours.

But even on a floor if we can organise and maintain few things that can serve similarly. Keeping visibility with the outdoors throughout the whole floor is very important. The importance is immense for the natural light at daytime and reducing the typical claustrophobic environment.

There must be rooms for different purposes and segregation but those should not be partitioned with solid materials rather be transparent or translucent ones. Open-office concept is also appreciated as it builds the bonding between colleagues and gives more fresh vibes as the area looks bigger overall. Recreational zones where employees can gather for a small chat and refreshments is a must these days.

And finally, the colour schemes, vibrant bright office walls always keep people hyped and motivated. There can be painting and murals of walls which add up aesthetically within the space. Also, using indoor plants can always help to keep the interior looking fresh and soothing.

There are also offices which have customer- service areas. The experience of a visitor should always be kept in mind before designing. The waiting areas can be designed as beautiful lobbies or lounges, giving a positive impression.

A well designed office is not only aesthetically appealing but also sustainable and comfortable for the employees. To an employer, the wellbeing of employees should come first in consideration prior to every other aspect.

The author is the principal architect of Parti.Studio. She can be reached at [email protected].

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