How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion Through Office Design

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are becoming increasingly prevalent concerns for companies. In fact, 69% of executives say they consider inclusion to be a vital issue to address at their businesses. Creating a safe, welcoming environment in your organization can, in many ways, tie to office design and diversity. Using office design to promote inclusivity is a practical way to create a space where everyone feels comfortable and included. 

Inclusivity in the office may feel like an abstract concept, but it’s actually a practice with real-world impacts and tangible applications. When you create an open space for everyone, you can foster better workplace morale and ensure you get top professionals to work for your company, removing any barriers to their accessing or engaging with your business.

If you’re wondering how you can promote diversity throughout office design, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide to walk you through the process. Follow these strategies to help you optimize your space for diverse employees with different backgrounds and needs.

The Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

An inclusive office design can offer a wide range of benefits for your organization. You’ll discover that office design and inclusivity efforts are an investment in your company culture, team and quality of work. Explore how your efforts can cultivate an optimal work environment across your organization.

Diverse Perspectives

When you cultivate a heterogeneous team of dedicated professionals, you get a wide range of perspectives that can lend new insight to your day-to-day business operations. Developing an open-minded team ready for new ideas can give your company an advantage, as diverse viewpoints push your organization to think outside the box.

More Creativity

With a wealth of perspectives and backgrounds in one team, you carve out space for more creativity and vibrant solutions to crucial issues. Diversity naturally fosters a willingness to be innovative and engage with new ideas, promoting dynamically creative solutions.

Fostered Innovation

According to research, companies with more diverse teams were 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders. Varied and dynamic employees push each other with unique perspectives and ideas to find new solutions for complex industry requirements.

Faster Problem-Solving

A team with broad-minded perspectives can more effectively assess issues and find excellent solutions. With the distinct advantage of seeing multiple angles of a problem, they can talk through possible solutions and find answers faster and more effectively.

Improved Decision Making

Along with the ability to solve problems well, a diverse team can also better make decisions. Hearing from many perspectives helps root out biases or one-sided thinking, giving everyone the chance to find the best ideas for the entire team.

Increased Profits

Companies with more diverse management personnel make 19% higher revenue. A management team that can appreciate many different viewpoints, bring a balanced approach to their responsibilities and engage employees from various backgrounds is empowering. These abilities help them drive more revenue as they build workplace morale and problem-solve effectively.

Higher Employee Engagement

When your company demonstrates its investment in diversity and creates an inclusive environment for everyone, it deepens employee engagement across the organization. Feeling a sense of belonging is vital for employees in any workplace and helps team members feel appreciated and motivated.

Less Employee Turnover

As you cultivate stronger workplace morale, you also reduce employee turnover and build up retention rates. Employees will want to stay with your company when they perceive your commitment to diverse ideas and appreciation for all your workers.

Strengthened Company Reputation

Showing you care about open-mindedness, fairness and diversity across the workplace boosts your company’s overall reputation to the world. You demonstrate a willingness to pursue new ideas, listen to unique viewpoints and continue to grow — qualities that potential job candidates and customers will value.

Better Recruiting and Hiring Results

As you strengthen your company’s reputation, you’ll recruit and hire more effectively. As you build your platform of inclusivity and engagement, qualified professionals will want to join your dynamic team.

10 Ways to Design Workplaces for Inclusivity and Diversity

Your office’s layout, structure, furniture and even decor can go a long way toward creating a space where everyone feels engaged and welcomed. To help further inclusivity, use some key design features.

1. Designate Accessible Private and Public Spaces

One critical step you can take to ensure an inclusive environment for your entire team is to designate spaces accessible to employees’ unique needs. Because each team member has different responsibilities and working styles, you want to offer private rooms and public areas to engage colleagues.

Set aside private spaces where staff can discuss work-related concerns, brainstorm and troubleshoot in a more interpersonal environment. You’ll also want to offer public areas like lunchrooms and lounges for the team to engage with each other and build rapport. A comfortable public setting also provides an avenue for employees from different departments and seniority levels to communicate with and learn from each other.

2. Offer Avenues for Design Creativity

Infusing their own personalities into their workspaces can help team members get more personally involved with their work. When you allow your staff to contribute to their office style, you’ll help them feel more comfortable and give them space to design an environment fostering productivity.

Some options you could offer to encourage employee creativity include:

  • Whiteboard walls
  • Desk customizations
  • Workspace layout choices
  • Staff-made murals

When you give your employees room to design their own spaces, you help them gain a sense of ownership over their workflow and output.

3. Use Smart Technologies to Create Personalized Environments

Employees have different preferences for temperature and lighting, and an uncomfortable environment can impede their overall productivity. One highly effective option might be to let them adjust their ambient setting. 

Use intelligent technologies and apps that empower workers to adjust glare, heating and air conditioning, lighting and other environmental factors in their own space. When they can adapt their workspace to their preferences, they’ll work more effectively during each day at the office.

4. Design a Non-Hierarchical Floor Layout

Instead of creating corner offices and executive suites that promote a hierarchical format, use open floor plans and worker-friendly spaces to make everyone feel comfortable. Rather than focusing on bigger and more luxurious offices for higher-ups, use your floor plan to create a more inclusive design where everyone works on the same level in some ways. 

Offering personalized and comfortable work environments for all your employees can deepen employee retention, improve morale and motivate those at all company levels to do their best work.

5. Give Workers Workspace Options

Throughout the day, different employees handle different types of tasks and have varied learning and working styles. Give them options for sitting and standing desks and room to move around if they want. You can also try a policy where no one has a set desk but can move around as needed throughout the day. 

However, keep in mind that some more introverted or traditional employees may prefer a set space to work most comfortably. To best meet everyone’s needs, you might provide multiple options for each employee. Offering different areas for unique work preferences will empower everyone to enjoy their work more.

6. Create Versatile Spaces

Hybrid office designs provide a wide range of options for different employee preferences. To help facilitate productive work each day, you can provide multiple spaces for other workflow preferences.

Some primary workspace options you can offer include:

  • Private pods or quiet corner zones for focused work.
  • Soundproof meeting booths for one-to-one discussions and small group meetings.
  • Small desk clusters for team members to work on a collaborative project together.
  • Breakout areas to step away from the computer momentarily.

Provide room for everyone to focus on the environment they need for a particular task.

7. Employ an ADA-Compliant Office Design

Designing an ADA-compliant office allows you to create a space any employee can navigate. That way, you open up the possibilities for hiring thought leaders in your industry, as any individual can use your facility:

  • Include multi-sensory alarms throughout the building
  • Create walls and surfaces with distinct textures and colors to help those with visual impairments navigate
  • Provide ramps and elevators along with stairwells
  • Offer knob door handles and easy-to-manipulate openings optimized for those with lower manual mobility

8. Provide Comfortable Work Areas

Include ergonomic keyboards, customizable chair sizes to fit individual employees and other options that enhance overall wellness. Research office accessories that can help employees stay comfortable and focused on the job, such as ergonomic footrests, lumbar support cushions and desk wrist rests. You might be surprised how much these seemingly small details can help all employees feel more motivated and productive at the office.

9. Give Everyone Enough Space to Work

Use anthropomorphic parameters for each office space so everyone can work in their most comfortable and productive state. Give employees room to stretch and move around if they need to, which can prevent them from feeling cramped in a tight work area.

10. Incorporate Biophilic Design Features

Biophilic office designs can help workers feel more alert, motivated and comfortable in a space. Incorporating some potted plants and natural design elements like wood or stone and designing offices with plenty of natural light can improve workers’ physical and mental health. If your building design can’t provide natural light effectively, consider investing in LED lighting that mimics sunlight.

5 Additional Tips for Promoting Diversity and Equality at Work

Employing some best practices for management and day-to-day operations can also help you encourage equality and comfort for everyone at your company. Along with office design, keep in mind some other ways to help create a more inclusive work environment:

1. Evaluate Your Recruitment Practices

Recruiting practices often incorporate inherent biases based on first impressions and other immediate factors. To help create an equal hiring process and get the best-qualified candidates for the job, you must account for human error. Consider using recruitment software, having multiple staff members review applications or having anonymized applications to optimize your processes.

Creating a diverse recruitment panel can also help ensure your company can fairly evaluate applicants and choose the best person for the job, regardless of background or identity.

2. Maintain Regular Diversity and Inclusion Reports

To help keep the entire facility accountable, ensure your company frequently maintains and consults diversity and inclusion data. These reports help establish transparency across your organization and encourage departments to build more diverse teams. They can also help you identify potential blind spots, such as a lack of diversity in leadership, and work toward a more inclusive environment for everyone. 

3. Establish Conflict Resolution Protocols

When you encourage a diverse and inclusive office, you can expect many different opinions to emerge. As you navigate conflicting opinions, have the proper protocol in place for addressing disagreements and finding a resolution. Ensure management is trained in listening effectively and appropriately handling conflict. You could also use an intuitive feedback system that allows people to communicate issues safely.

To help manage this feedback, you can assign a request manager to respond to and resolve queries. For example, an employee may request a transfer if they’re experiencing unfair treatment from a co-worker in a small department, or a worker with mobility issues may prefer an office closer to the entrance. When you give employees space to address these needs, you’ll move forward more effectively in an inclusive environment.

4. Encourage Team Volunteering and Service

Foster an attitude of inclusion by creating opportunities for employees to serve together. Volunteer with your team at organizations serving the needs of underrepresented individuals. You can use these service times to meet needs in your community, develop a sense of appreciation for diversity among your workers and build rapport among team members.

To help engage employees, you might conduct polls or offer other opportunities for volunteering feedback. Explore organizations your employees care about and see if you can find opportunities to serve there. You might learn about some new organizations with exciting missions your team can be a part of!

5. Build Diverse Teams

To maximize engagement, inclusivity and creativity, foster diversity among your internal teams. Build a team with members representing diverse backgrounds and knowledge pools, and create opportunities to build rapport and problem-solve together.

You can also establish a one-on-one diverse mentorships system. By pairing team members together and having them take turns mentoring the other person, you’ll give everyone the chance to offer unique insights and feel validated in the workplace for their unique skillsets and backgrounds. Plus, you’ll foster engagement between employees who may have different viewpoints.

Create Inclusive Office Designs With Arnold’s Office Furniture

When you work with Arnold’s Office Furniture, you can get vibrant, accessible furniture for every area of your office. We offer a full line of workplace furniture to streamline your operational requirements. If you’re looking for solutions to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace, we can help with a wide range of decor selections for your office. We can assist you in providing multiple work environment options for different employees, facilitating productive work for everyone.

Whatever your office furnishing needs are, our dedicated team is here to help you find the right solutions. For questions or inquiries about our offerings, reach out to us to request a free quote today.

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