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Designing a safe office environment

16 March 2020

There are many key factors involved in designing a new office environment – or upgrading an existing one. Perhaps one of the most important is ensuring that health and safety considerations are integrated at every level. Alongside breakout spaces, inspirational colour schemes and food and drink options it’s also essential to provide a space for employees that is healthy and safe. These are some of the most important features to bear in mind.

  • An effective fire safety infrastructure. Make sure that you understand the legal requirements for fire safety when it comes to creating a safe office environment. This will include ensuring that you have a range of measures in place to preserve structural integrity and protect building inhabitants. Some of these will be integrated into the fabric of the building itself – such as passive fire protection options like fire doors and walls – while others will be external and visible e.g. fire extinguishers. Make sure that your building has clear escape routes and fire response systems in place, such as sprinklers and alarms. It will be crucial to ensure that all those in the building understand how to respond if a fire does break out – and how to use any equipment you have provided.
  • Appropriate lighting. Poorly lit offices can lead to health issues for employees and may make for discomfort on a day-to-day basis. When you’re designing an office environment try to take advantage of natural light as much as possible – this will be particularly helpful if you’re keen to be cost effective where utilities are concerned.
  • Adequate toilets. Integrate bathrooms into internal design so that there are enough for all those who occupy the building, without the likelihood of waiting or queues. You’ll need to ensure that these are hygienically designed and properly ventilated, as well as easy to clean.
  • A positive layout. Many an office design has simply involved placing desks wherever they will fit. However, this can lead to uncomfortable conditions and even impact engagement and productivity as a result of creating a poor employee experience. Take the time to plan your office layout in advance, bearing in mind the numbers involved and the legal requirements, such as access and escape routes. It’s important to factor in the aesthetic impact of your choices but this should come after you have focused on the most important elements, such as comfort, privacy or access to key facilities.
  • Electrical safety. It’s worth investing in high quality electrical equipment for your office otherwise you may risk downtime and accidents. Poor quality electrical equipment can result in shocks and may even be the cause of fires that can completely destroy buildings. Make sure that you buy the best quality that you can afford and then train employees in how to use it safely.

Designing a safe office environment involves taking into account a range of different factors, from health and safety legislation to the size and make up of your workforce. These are just some of the key factors required to ensure that your workplace is a safe and happy one.