Why Your Office Space Planning Should Include Play Areas

Category: Office Design

Office Space Planning with Play Area

Traditionally, most offices have been all work and no play, but that appears to have changed in recent times. Indeed, companies as diverse and successful as Google, Facebook, Red Bull and YouTube have included play areas as part of their office interior designs, claiming they offer multiple benefits for employees. So what are these benefits and should your office planning project include areas where staff can relax and enjoy themselves?

A Morale Booster

Perhaps the most obvious benefit that comes from including areas where employees can have fun in the office is a boost in staff morale. The long-term results of higher morale include reduced absenteeism, greater productivity and reduced stress levels. According to Forbes, the latter is vitally important.

"When under stress, many of our middle and higher mental functions diminish," says John Gaspari, an LA clinical worker, who advises businesses on topics like morale. Those mental functions include intuition, emotional balance, communication skills and moral awareness, which are all necessary for an employee to perform strongly.

Google have incorporated a number of 'play areas' into the office space planning of its Manhattan HQ, including a Lego play station, walls which can be written and drawn on and even dog walking areas. "We're trying to push the boundaries of the workplace," says Jordan Newman, a company spokesman. One of the results has been increased attendance, even among employees who have the option of working from home instead.

Creative Thinking

Although morale is an important factor, another reason for creating 'play areas' in an office is to improve the level of interaction between employees. Yahoo, for example, revoked mobile access on the basis that some of the most creative ideas and insights come from discussions between employees within social areas of the workplace.

This would appear to be backed up by data gathered by the Harvard Business Review, which found that face-to-face interactions are by far the most important interactions in the workplace. Moreover, researchers learned that offices which create 'collisions' or chance encounters between knowledge workers produce better overall performance.

"The most creative ideas aren't going to come while sitting in front of your monitor," says Scott Birnbaum, a vice president of Samsung Semiconductor. By implementing social 'play areas', however, a business can encourage natural encounters within the office, inevitably leading to greater levels of workplace discussion.

Posted 30th May, 2016

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