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How to Fix Office Design Mistakes that could be Secretly Making Your Profits Go Down

As a business owner, the most valuable asset that you have is your people - the team. Their maximum performance is critical for your business to make more profits.

But, do you know that even if you hire the best people and use all the strategies to make the best out of your team, there could still be some reasons behind them not being productive as much, to meet your expectations?

If, for some unfortunate reason, your office building is designed not meeting the proper standards, the building itself could be making your team sick, unproductive and increase absenteeism. You would not be able to increase your profits with a sick team.

Negative internal talk is not always the reason behind the lack of motivation. The environment has a major impact on it as well. This is why that it doesn’t matter how hard you try to motivate your team by using all the business strategies that you may know. You might not get the results that you want, until you address the real issue: the building.

If you would like to know more about how buildings can make your team sick, read my previous article explaining more about the sick building syndrome. Keep reading this article to find out architectural strategies that can be adopted to fix your office from sick building syndrome.

If your existing office is a sick building, you have to start by improving the air quality of the office.

1. Improve Ventilation

The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems should be designed according to the ventilation standards in your local building codes. Afterwards, you also have to make sure that you maintain the HVAC system properly. So it continues to maintain the desired ventilation within the building.

If there are strong pollutants the air should be directly vented to the outside. Specially in areas like rest rooms, copy and printing facilities.

2. Use Healthy Building Materials

To prevent the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from generating inside the building, you can use healthy building materials.

To reduce mould and other organic contaminants, don’t use carpets and water retaining roofing tiles. Instead use stone, ceramic or hardwood flooring and use proper water proofing.

Avoid using synthetic or treated upholstery fabrics.

If you are storing paints, solvents, pesticides and adhesives, store them in closed containers in a well vented area. Any maintenance work using them should happen when the employees are not working inside the building.

If you recently carried out any interior work, or maintenance to the building, there could be new materials that are emitting VOCs. You can often identify it with the strong smell coming from the new materials. Without immediately occupying this area, what you can do is, to let them cure for some time. Keep the place well ventilated to the outside to off-gas the pollutants.

3. Air Cleaning

You can use air purifiers to remove some, if not all, of the pollutants from the building. It is not the best practice to just use air filters while you still have the pollutant sources in the building. So it is important that you get rid of the pollutant sources first.

The office space can be designed in an open plan form to make the interior uncongested. So the air purifying is more effective.

4. Lighting

Let Sunlight in:

You always have to maximize the use of daylight within the building.

You can use design interventions like skylights, courtyards, terrace gardens, glass windows and frosted glass to let the sunlight into the building. The purpose is to get adequate light levels as well as to connect the occupants with the exterior environment. This sense of daily variation of sunlight is the critical factor in your circadian rhythm which controls your sleep-wake cycle.

Letting sunlight also helps in cleaning biological contaminants.

Artificial Lighting:

The recommended lighting levels should be maintained. For a general office it is 500 Lux and for a deep plan office it is 750 Lux. Make sure you choose flicker-free lighting sources. The colour of the artificial lighting should closely match with natural daylight.

If you are going to build a new office space, then you are in luck! You can hire an Architect and make sure the building is designed to create a healthy environment for your team.

5. Site Selection

When starting from scratch, you have the ability to select the best site which will save you at least half of the trouble. You can select a building site that’s located away from pollutant sources, contamination, radiation and noise.

6. Scale, Proportion and Form in Building Design

When a building is designed with the appropriate scale, proportions, and form, it is aesthetically pleasing. And also it helps the function of the building. So the building creates beautiful spaces that are nice to look at and stay. Architecture can affect how you feel, when you’re inside a building. If properly done, spaces can make you feel more lively and engaged.

Establishing a balance between scale and proportion is what separates great architecture from average buildings. Be mindful that only an Architect can bring these qualities to your office building through proper design.

7. Reduce Artificial Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

All electric appliances produce EMFs, and unfortunately there is no way to completely remove this. With the current technology and the equipment we use, people are exposed to weak electromagnetic fields everyday. You can easily measure an EMF using a handheld instrument called a gaussmeter. This helps you identify the safe distance from an EMF.

This subject is still under research. So there is no recommended safe exposure level. Various experts give safe exposure levels ranging from 0.5 milligauss to 1,000 milligauss.

The good news is there are specifications for wiring techniques and inspection to prevent and detect high EMFs in wiring. So, you can reduce the effect by properly wiring the office building.

8. Noise Levels

Acoustic insulation panels can be used to reduce exterior sounds from entering the building. And also to reduce eco in large interior spaces.

9. Ergonomic Design

The interior and furniture designs should respond to human proportions, this is called ergonomics. This is a complex subject matter that can largely help the well-being of your team. A qualified Architect or an Interior Designer would know how to do this for you.


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