Including Women in Office Design
This might feel a bit like shameless opportunism so close to International  Women’s Day, and perhaps it is, but the topic is, none-the-less, an important one. What has changed since Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, Caroline Criado Perez excellent book? In the book amongst other things, she points out how the designed world is created for less than half its inhabitants. This is a quick and by no means an exhaustive list of some of the things that might be worth considering to make the designed elements of your office a more comfortable space for more of the men and women who use it.


Come in from the Cold

Go into almost any office across the nation, in  the height of summer, and the first thing to hit you after an arctic blast might well be a group of employees clad for polar expeditions trying to carry out the day’s tasks. According to a paper published by Prof. Kingma of Maastricht University,  heating/cooling systems were created for a 40-year-old  70kg average man in the 1960’s. If any more reason was needed than just the comfort of your staff, a study published by German researchers  shows that women work better in warmer temperatures whereas the reverse is true for men.


Give me Space

This has several dimensions.

In surveys, women  have highlighted the need for a quiet space where they could have a block of uninterrupted time to complete work.  Given that women make  up a large percentage of part-time and job share positions, time pressure can be particularly acute for them. However, in work carried out by Oxford Economics, these  sentiments were echoed throughout the workforce. Who knew,  fancy slides, vintage arcade games, and ball-pits weren’t top of everyone’s list for enabling a productive day’s work.

In a similar vein, working mothers have highlighted the need for a lockable, screened  comfortable  area for breastfeeding or expressing milk if that is what they choose to do. Of course, a fridge space for storage also needs to be taken into consideration. As Federal guidelines suggest  this space could be multi-purpose and could contribute to the well-being of all employees.



All of us are slightly different, and a one size fits all policy on furniture is about as apt as a one size fits all uniform. However, it  is a lot less amusing than turning up to work looking like you borrowed your big brother’s suit, using furniture that does not suit your physiology can lead to poor posture, over-extension, and a host of associated maladies. Rather than eviscerating the piggybank going for  bespoke furniture, an upfront investment in adjustable ergonomic furniture (Ergonomic Chairs, Adjustable  Standing Desks, Monitor Arms) can save you a fortune in lost productivity



If you are  sharing an office, it might be another thing to consider when choosing a space. Women have said that  a clean, well-maintained, hygienic-space, with clothes hooks and bins for sanitary products, is the minimum  requirement. Preferably, slightly larger cubicles and at  least one cubicle with a sink inside would be better still.  If your building provides gender-neutral toilets, which can help make people feel more comfortable, just check that toilets can, in fact, be used by everyone. As Criado Perez points out in an article for The Guardian, the provision of restrooms should reflect the user’s requirements.


Probably the most important aspect to take into consideration when designing an office for your staff is their ideas.  A few moments gathering staff input could lead to a more comfortable and a more productive office.

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