Business owners invest plenty of time and money on office design in a bid to increase productivity and employee morale.
A report by CMI Workplace highlighted that a strong office design can make employees up to 33 percent happier at work. Likewise, 48 percent of respondents in another study by Sapio Research said that the design of their workplace had a significant impact on their decision to stay with a company.
Office design is an important factor for both HR professionals and business owners to focus on. Competition for the best talent is fierce and for a top employee to leave or reject your company based on an easy fix such as workplace design can be frustrating. That’s why companies are taking inspiration from Google who has one of the most creative and beautifully designed offices of all.
In truth, it’s not feasible for every office to have slides and sleeping pods; it doesn’t always fit. However, there are additions that can be made to most offices that will make them ones employees want to work in.
As well as the necessary items such as a functional desk, comfortable chair and refreshment facilities, what are some of the other things employees want in an office?
The introduction of home comforts in the workplace is a trend that has come with the rise of the Millennials. By 2020, the Millennial generation will make up more than half of the UK workforce, so it’s important for business owners to acknowledge their wants, else they risk losing out on the top talent.
Millennials will be the driving force for the next three decades and their preferences are beginning to shape offices around the world. Most prominently, Millennials don’t separate work and home life as drastically as generations that came before and the office is becoming more of a casual working environment. This means that home comforts and entertainment are ever more common in the workplace. Some of the most popular:
- Pool/ping pong table
- Coffee machine
- Social areas
- Games console
By creating a ‘home away from home’ office with home comforts and social areas to distract themselves from work, those busy periods with long shifts won’t seem so hard for staff. Happy employees equal productive employees.
Plants and greenery
Is there much worse than an empty office space? An office devoid of pictures, accessories and any elements of a ‘human touch’ put a block on productivity and creativity. Working in a bare, copy and paste environment doesn’t do anything to inspire and boost the mood of employees.
An easy fix is to add a few plants and indoor trees around the office. Humans are hardwired to be drawn to nature and as such prefer to be surrounded by environments with natural light, fresh air and vegetation.
It’s simple. By providing a natural space with greenery, employees’ moods will be boosted and performance will improve. Recent studies have found that plants in the office can boost productivity by as much as 15 percent.
Employees that work in an office will most likely spend most of their time sitting at a desk. Taking intermittent breaks away from the computer screen have long been advised, and breakout spaces are becoming a vital part of the office.
A breakout space is an area that allows employees to remove themselves from the desk and engage in brainstorming sessions, team catch-ups or private conversations with a colleague or on the telephone. The space can also be used for more informal purposes and act as a place for employees to switch off for a while when they reach maximum stress levels. Allowing a time-out can do wonders to the quality of work.
One of the best ways to implement a breakout area is to find a space near to the main office area and provide comfortable seating; it doesn’t have to be a large space.
With so much time spent at work, employers must consider implementing healthy habits at work – and we’re talking more than just a bowl of fruit in the corner. Employees are beginning to wake up to the health concerns around the desk job, and any office that promotes healthy habits will be welcomed.
Sitting has been referred to as the new smoking, implementing sit-stand desks has seen hype on the back of recent studies. A 2017 AXA PPP Healthcare poll of 2000 workers found that almost half sit at work for between four and six hours per day. Adding the hours sat down at home and in commute, it’s no surprise over 70 percent of respondents experienced musculoskeletal issues including neck, back and shoulder pain.
Whether a worker is in pain through sitting for too long or just wants to give their metabolism a boost from being more active during the working day, having the option to sit or stand is a solution that is ergonomic and movement friendly.
The best technology
Technology has changed the world that we live in and if businesses want to attract and retain top employees, keeping on top of technological needs is a must. Despite the evolving technological landscape and reliance on technology in the office, it seems that not enough is being done to give employees what they need for their job.
Employees can soon become frustrated if their quality of work is being jeopardised by the lack of tools available to them. Technology can hold a company back but having the latest software and technology for your workforce can push it forward.
Leesman data, for the first quarter of 2018 shows that organisations are failing to provide digital and virtual systems that support employees in their roles. 23 per cent of those surveyed agree that they do not have the technology tools and infrastructure that enable them to work in the office or from different locations.
Quiet space for work
Open-plan offices are fast becoming the norm, and rightly so. This type of design promotes collaboration and creativity but, on the other hand, they aren’t associated with silence. We’re not suggesting that you resort back to the dreaded cubicles; privacy can be achieved in a modern open office too.
To be productive, some people work better in quiet, isolated areas. When concentration is needed for an important piece of work, employees and managers alike can retreat to a quiet zone, away from the distractions associated with a shared workspace.
If there aren’t any separate rooms available to transform into a quiet zone, set one up in the corner of the main area with office partitions and signage discouraging phone calls or conversation.
When all is said and done, you want to create an office that inspires your workforce and helps them do their job. Changes that have employees in mind will more often than not do that, so listen to the needs of employees. If your employees are satisfied, that’s the first step in a running a successful business.
About the author
Mark Brown is the owner of Lismark Office Products, a company specializing in designing and creating bespoke office layouts using high-quality furniture. Mark is an expert in office furniture and design and has spent over a decade providing businesses with advice on setting up office spaces to enhance productivity and increase happiness.