Have you ever been told to do something that you knew deep down was a good idea, but not wanted to do because you didn't come up with it? That happens every day in the world of office design where kingly decrees come down from on high and employees are told what is going to happen to them and their office. When you spend 8+ hours in the office, and have been for several years, even small changes can mean huge adjustments for staff.
Because of this, it is very important to have employees be involved in the decision-making process of any office design to improve what change management experts describe as buy in – or the commitment level of staff affected by the changes.
While it would be foolish to leave every decision up to the masses, it is very wise to release some key decisions where there might be a lot of push back. Here are a few ideas you might use in your upcomign office redesign or move:
Naming Conference Rooms: Every company these days seem to have clever names for their conference rooms. Scientists, presidents, video games. You name it, there is probably a conference room named after it. This is a fairly superficial item in the scope of an office, but to employees who will be using the rooms on a regular basis, the ability to name them something clever will be a fun way to feel connected to the workplace.
Choosing Furniture: While furniture choices are often made because of budgetary reasons, there is still come flexibility with regard to which items are chosen. I've long advocated for companies to make their offices Chair Democracies, where staff can select the chair that suits them bust within a range of options or prices. Some chairs are simply more comfortable for certain bodytypes and giving staff the right chair for them is an awesome step in the right direction.
Choosing and Making Decorations: Another semi-superficial way employees can be involved in office design is by giving them the ability to decorate and design certain things throughout the office. Pocket Change had one of their employees design a large wall mural, Zappos lets all of their employees decorate their desks in any way they desire, and other companies add chalk walls for staff to add messages to one another.
Project Update Blog: An interesting part of LivePerson's office design was to give regular updates about the process and ask for feedback through a project update blog. This helped prepare staff for things that will be happening by keeping them in the loop if they were interested.
Usage Measurement: One passive, but important way employees can be involved in office changes is to measure their usage to better understand and optimize the workplace. If conference spaces are mainly used by small groups of 2-3 people, but have enough room for 10, and are always booked – you might want to reduce the number of large conference rooms and add several more small conference rooms. By using data, and showing employees how they work, it will be easy to explain why a change is actually better for them in the long run.
What methods have you used to improve staff buy-in your office changes and projects?