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Friday, July 22, 2011

How an Office Space Creates Identity

Humans are creatures of habit. We crave familiarity, and we thrive off predictability. This is why, according to an article on SydneyMorningHerald.com, shrinking offices and shared work spaces diminish a company’s and its employees’ identity.  The concept of "hoteling" can crush employee morale. Having employees "check in" to secure a desk or office space does allow companies to cut back on overhead costs but at what price? The lack of a designated work space can negatively impact productivity and job satisfaction, which ultimately affects the bottom line. Here are ways to help employees create a sense of comfort and familiarity in the workplace.

·         Give each employee a designated work space. Even in a shared office space, giving each person his or her own desk can raise their productivity significantly. As the SydneyMorningHerald.com article points out, "the human urge to put a personal stamp on the immediate environment is insurmountable," so even if the practice of hoteling makes the most economic sense, it doesn't necessarily benefit employees. Happy workers work more efficiently, so it is important to meet their needs by supplying them with a space that is their own.

·         Don’t move them around too frequently. Humans are also social creatures, thriving off the chance to socialize with others. Sitting in the same part of the office creates a sense of belonging, and being surrounded by familiar faces gives employees a chance to be social with people they recognize on a regular basis. These levels of predictability, according to psychologists, have a positive impact on the company's staff. Sometimes office managers need to move employees around for any number of reasons, but they should try to limit these changes in the office space.

·         Encourage them to personalize their desk/office space. Employees should be encouraged to surround themselves with personal belongings that show off the personalities. Not only does this promote interaction between staff members, but it also helps them create a space that feels comfortable and familiar to them. The article states that people working in offices that use the hoteling method have been known to deliberately leave behind personal items in areas that are not assigned to them – a clear sign that they crave a sense of identity within their office space. Giving each employee a secured space that they can make their own will satisfy their urge to personalize their environment so they can better focus on their tasks.

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