Reinventing the Office

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hp_sponsored-byOffices have run much the same way for centuries. People get together a few times a week in a room, or a bunch of rooms, crank out some work, share that work for feedback, and then go home. Fortunately, in recent years, companies have been willing to challenge those traditional notions of what an office is, and how people should work together. If there’s one remaining rule to establishing an office, it’s this: Look at your team as a group of individuals, rather than a single unit, and address their needs. People work differently, and we’re all in this office building together, so with that said, here are some tips on how to reinvent the office.

1. Set up spaces for all types of work and workers

Recent years have found offices tearing down walls, installing communal desks, and building out shared spaces. This can be great for increasing conversation and collaboration, but not all people do their best work if they feel crammed up next to other people, or forced to interact when they want to put their heads down and concentrate on some work. It can be tempting to want to err on the side of the extroverts, as the introverts can always “put their headphones on” to block out distractions, but modern offices can be particularly stressful environments for introverts. The social stigma of being the only person in the room not constantly chatting can only further the sense of being an outsider, which isn’t good for your team.

Your office should have space for all employees to feel comfortable. This means areas that channel creativity through collaboration, but it also includes quiet spaces where people can work alone, undisturbed, and without feeling any pressure to take their mind off their work in the name of “collaboration.” These individual break-out spaces should be just as warm, welcoming, and socially accepted as the communal conference rooms to encourage people to work where they feel comfortable.

2. Upgrade your lighting

Get rid of those awful fluorescent lights overhead. Not only do fluorescent lights flicker—too quickly for you to see, but in a way that will nonetheless leave you with a headache—but their flat, too-even lighting eliminates the subtle shadows that your brain uses to read depth. Such unnatural lighting is stressful on the eyes, especially as they’re already strained by our computer screens.

The American National Standards Institute found that most offices provide 2–5 times more light than is necessary, which is also hard on the eyes. Providing desks with task lighting is not only lighter on the electricity bill, but it’s more eco-friendly, homey, and gives everyone control over the lighting in their own personal space.

3. Get the right tools for your job

Every day, technology takes a greater role in our lives. We’ve come to rely on it for even our daily essentials, so there’s nothing more frustrating than when a tool just doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. When the Wi-Fi goes out, it’s no minor inconvenience anymore. In the age of sharing documents over the cloud, having no internet means no work gets done.

Make sure your appliances and tools are user-friendly enough to be accessible for any member of the office, but also powerful enough to handle the busiest days. HP LaserJet printers are built for both a home office of one and a corporate office of two hundred, with secure cloud access, and seamless functionality from mobile devices, even when they’re out of the office. Revamped toner chemistry allows the toner to melt at a lower temperature, which leads to a more efficient and reliable machine that sucks up 53% less energy while delivering 33% more pages per cartridge.

Any time something is moved from one place to another is a chance for that thing to be intercepted. So, files that are stored on secure servers or physical vaults are traditionally vulnerable for hackers with access to the printer. That’s why HP’s printers have best-in-class security on-board: To make sure documents are secure in transit.

Printers of this class have historically been behemoths, but the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M477fnw is 40% smaller than its competitors, which makes it powerful enough to handle the most intensive offices, and light enough to fit right at home.

4. Philosophical toys

Not every device in the office needs to be built for productivity. Early philosophical toys—like the kaleidoscope and camera obscura—were objects that people used to challenge their preconceived understandings of the world. We might be less impressed by the stereoscope today, but its technology is also the basis of 3D film. Innovative employees should be able to get their hands on the latest gadgets, even if they aren’t directly applicable to the company’s work. Whether that means having a 3D printer, a drone, or hoverboards in accounting, stocking the office with modern philosophical toys encourages employees to think about our ever-changing relationship between the world, both digital and material. And there’s no telling what insights that can lead to for your company.