According to Cambridge Dictionary, inclusivity is “the fact of including all types of people, things or ideas and treating them all fairly and equally”.
Workplace inclusion is about making sure everyone feels valued, safe, and respected. Inclusion isn’t something that can simply be achieved, then we stop working at it – it requires a consistent level of ongoing learning and development.
Inclusivity is increasingly being recognised as an important issue in the modern workplace – it has a huge influence on the way that your company operates, the happiness and comfort of your staff and the experience of visitors.
While progress is being made, there’s still a lot of work to be done to improve workplace accessibility and create positive inclusion opportunities for all within the modern office space.
Why make your workplace more inclusive?
The advantages of a more inclusive workforce include a positive culture, mutual respect, and greater opportunities for everyone.
Diversity and inclusion are increasingly becoming important factors for attracting new recruits to your team or retaining the top talent in your sector.
“More than 3 out of 4 job seekers and employees (76%) report that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.” according to Glassdoor.
Inclusive companies improve employee satisfaction, are better able to attract and retain talent, and subsequently can be more productive than non-inclusive environments.
Increasing workplace inclusivity through office furniture
Your workers interact with your office furniture every day – they might find themselves in the same room using the same furniture for hours at a time. The design of your office, therefore, needs to accommodate this. Though there are technical specifications that may be in place within legislation and standards, these should be exceeded with the aim for office furniture to actively assist users in their job roles and improve the overall experience of the workplace.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that a single design solution cannot accommodate all users. Not every need can be met; some may even contradict others’ needs. Flexibility is essential. Workers may need to regularly adapt furniture to changing uses and demands. Several agile solutions should be offered to ensure that your space caters for all the needs of all your team, all of the time. By considering diversity and staff requirements, often a solution can be achieved that is accessible to everyone.
How to make your office space more inclusive
Enhance your layout with furniture choices
One simple and immediate change you can make is the physical layout of the space.
Consider if there is enough room to move about freely without collision – imagine from the perspective of those in a wheelchair, on crutches, with a mobility cane, with an assistance dog, pregnant women or others who generally need more space (for example if they are carrying items).
Also, consider visibility – for example, can signage be seen from most angles or is it obscured by something else? Can you opt for low-glare lighting? Is there enough visual contrast between objects and surroundings so that they can be easily distinguished?
Zoning furniture can help create clearly defined spaces that can be adapted to several needs, while simultaneously assisting in guiding the flow of traffic through your space.
Another great opportunity to establish an adaptable space that supports the need of the individual user is modular furniture. Modular furniture is a fantastic contemporary addition to any office space that can be configured, and reconfigured, in multiple ways to suit group working, mark out zones, and help with wayfinding.
Improve your productivity with acoustics
Providing private spaces that are comfortable and quiet is a good idea for those who need some space to decompress, practice their faith, or concentrate on detailed tasks.
There are several options you can take to create more privacy.
Office pods & booths are useful and popular for creating single occupancy or small meeting spaces. Perfect for virtual meeting spaces, collaborative work with colleagues, or providing a comforting environment to offer respite in a fast-paced office, Office pods and booths have become an essential part of the modern office.
Materials that assist in sound absorption are another key element to make your office more accessible, increasingly comfortable, and productive, while simultaneously supporting hearing difficulties.
Acoustic furniture helps produce private spaces where people can study or carry out tasks that require concentration. Use acoustic screens or high-backed privacy pods to create mini havens of peace and tranquillity that block the rest of the workspace for focused tasks.
Comfort is key
Comfort, particularly seating, is one of the most important considerations when looking to make your space more inclusive and accessible. Comfort starts with a good ergonomic design. That’s why every office chair in our collection has been carefully selected for comfort, functionality, and aesthetics. Our most popular office chairs are supremely comfortable and offer an array of practical features including in-built lumbar arch support and adjustable armrests, heights, and backs. This helps to ensure your team can sit comfortably and stay focused all day long.
Discover our full range of office chairs here.
Breakout spaces and quiet zones are becoming increasingly popular with companies looking to be more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of their employees. Our range of breakout furniture and cafe furniture creates places for people to mix and create those "watercooler moments" that breed innovation and success. These flexible and social spaces are places to relax, grab a coffee and bond with colleagues in a comfortable, welcoming environment.
The Norden chair is a great option for quieter break-out spaces and busy office environments alike. Offering a sturdy design and extreme comfort, the Norden chair combines an ergonomically shaped polyurethane foam seat shell with a fully upholstered finish to create a supremely comfortable chair.
Discover the office breakout and café furniture range.
Challenge the “normal” positions
Office furniture should cater to a range of mobility needs and help to promote healthy lifestyles for your team. For example, ergonomic chairs improve the body’s posture and help prevent physical stresses and strains that cause or aggravate injury.
Do is a great task chair with its user-centred design and weight-balancing mechanism. Do also has optional height adjustable or multi-adjustable arms with soft rotating pads and optional arm width adjustment for those that need armrests bespoke to their needs.
Progress can also be helpful with its optional control panel that is operated using Bluetooth® technology between the desk and an advanced mobile app, aimed at developing a healthy routine into the workday. The panel tracks the usage of the desk, reminding users to adjust their station, and changing the user's prolonged sitting behaviour.
When deciding on seating, you should also consider whether a wheelchair user can transfer onto the chair if they wish. Or if they choose to stay in their wheelchair ensure there is space for it and an ability to adjust the settings around them.
Height adjustable desks can be set to the correct level to provide optimal comfort to the user- great for inclusivity and for employees looking to become a little more active in the workplace. Offering users the option to alternate between sitting and standing, this range of modern desks is extremely useful for those who want to vary their position throughout the day and move around more during the working day. Adjustable desks are proven to mitigate the health risks posed by prolonged sitting, making you healthier and increasing productivity.
Discover our wide range of adjustable height desks, from single desks for home workers to bench desk systems for large offices here.
What inclusion looks like can vary from company to company – ultimately, it’s about responding to your team’s specific needs and working together to find the best solutions.
If you’re wondering what first steps you can take, listen to your team, and involve them in your workplace design choices. this will already be a helpful step towards being more inclusive as they make choices to suit their respective needs. When staff are allowed to contribute towards these decisions, they’ll better understand the furniture functions and feel provided for. Remember that making more inclusive choices often benefits multiple people in your workplace, if not everyone.
Explore our wide range of office furniture, or if you need help choosing an option that will best suit your team get in touch with one of our experts today!