More than ever before the design of a workplace directly correlates to employee satisfaction and productivity. How the workplace looks and functions for employees has come a very, very long way since the days of matching cubicles, in endless rows, with a shared break room. Companies around the globe have implemented incredibly unique workplace layouts to encourage employee satisfaction and productivity. Businesses like Google have gone as far as having nap pods, indoor rock climbing, and arcade rooms for employees to unwind.
The way an office looks can definitely have an effect on if someone will accept a job, keep a job, or be happy at a job. The current workforce is overturning and being mainly populated with younger generations of Millenials and Generation Z. This demographic has grown up in a time where we have so much information coming at us from all angles, and the variety of lifestyles changes just as quickly as we can absorb information, so sitting in a stuffy cubicle, with no variety each day is not the ideal situation. They crave collaboration, feedback, and motivation from those around them. There are ways to design the workplace to cater to these needs and keep employee, and employer, satisfaction at an all-time high.
We’ll cover four workplace design trends that have shown to boost employee satisfaction, productivity, retention, and overall wellbeing.
A flexible workspace can include combinations of modular and stationary workstations. A flexible workspace doesn’t have to overtake the entire office. It can simply be a way to break up the day and allow employees to walk away from their desks or offices and enter a different space for some variety. This may be modular furniture or a sitting area where they can lounge on a couch and work as if they were at home. Furniture and tables that can be moved like extra large bean bag chairs and box tables can allow collaboration in a chill environment that boosts creativity. Standing desks and adaptable desks promote health in your employees and allows them to stretch their legs, which increases blood flow, and in turn productivity and thinking power!
Similar to the flexible, futuristic workspaces, a blended workspace is probably the most adaptable and most common trending workspace. A blended workspace, also called activity-based, has a variety of spaces that cater to the needs of everyone.
This includes social “neighborhood” areas, with tables and chairs strewn about in collaborative workspaces, while still having an open feel. Multipurpose activity-based areas can have tables, desks, whiteboards, projectors – basically everything you could need to hold a creative meeting or brief, with a much more casual feel to a conference room.
Having a comfortable meet-and-greet space for clients and guests can make all the difference in having meetings. When someone comes in for an interview or a client visit, they can be led to a casual lounge-style area where they can feel comfortable, welcome, and relaxed. Placing these lounge areas further into the office as well can create a little tour walk-through that can showcase to guests and prospective employees the ins and outs of the rest of your workspace, and that’s a great way to show off what you’ve built, and what it might be like to work there.
In lieu of private offices for employees, offering them privacy pods or quiet spaces can be a great way to still get that privacy they need to get work done, but being able to offer it to everyone. Smaller privacy pods and enclosed workspaces have proven effective in allowing closer focus on work, without outside distractions. Employees can be in their own “world” and dive into projects while blocking out background noise and interruptions from others. Part of the open office concept that fails is having too many spontaneous conversations and interruptions, that may only disrupt for a few moments, add up to hours a week spent being distracted. So having quiet areas or rooms can help alleviate this time spent otherwise talking with others when deadlines need to be reached. Then you can come out of that quiet zone and back into the collaborative environment!
Technology in the workplace is not a new concept. It’s ever-changing and ever-growing, so the workplace should reflect that. This doesn’t mean you need to buy your entire office new computers, but there are things that can be done in the workplace that make it more tech-friendly, savvy, and convenient.
Conference rooms should be fully equipped to handle any technology that is necessary for a meeting. Having wireless capabilities is key, as well as fewer wires and less mess. When your team is coming in for a meeting, they will likely have their laptops with them and the room needs to accommodate their needs. Have communal chargers in the center of the table, hide all unnecessary wires for a clean design, and allow for wireless casting to the conference room TV. This allows everyone to watch, learn, and listen along in a collaborative space.
Tech stations and tech-friendly lounge areas can make the flexible workplace even better when employees don’t have to bring chargers with them, or even their computer. Touchscreen monitors and portable iPads can make the mobile office come to life. Companies who work over wifi will have no problem switching from one machine to the next. Allowing employees to work as remotely and unplugged as possible, helps them feel better than having to be tied to a desk all day.
A workspace that focuses on employee wellness is going to be healthier, happier, and more productive. Focusing on your employees’ overall wellness and experience in the workplace is sometimes overlooked. In this day in age, employee satisfaction ties directly to how they feel and how they are treated when they are at work. There are 8,760 hours in the year, and over 2,000 of those are spent at work. That’s a lot of time to feel fulfilled in the workplace. Studies have shown that millennials in the workforce are willing to make less money, for a better place to work.
Offices with natural light scientifically give people more energy, but if you don’t have windows, using UV lights and having outside time at work can make all the difference. Bring the outdoors in with fake plants, real plants, a plant-growing program – anything to bring oxygen and life into the space. Biophilic workspaces are a trend that is relatively new but has shown incredible benefits to employees and company growth. Biophilic means bringing natural elements into the space to create overall wellness and health.
Beyond science, having a workspace that entices the employees to not only take care of themselves but to enjoy themselves, is key. Offering enticements don’t have to be anything fancy. Stock the break room fridge with unlimited water, soda, beer on Fridays, La Croix, whatever they like! Have a snack pantry where employees don’t need to worry about bringing their own snacks, or heading to the store or vending machine. An employee who doesn’t have to worry about bringing basic things like water and food to work can focus more on their own projects and in turn their livelihood. Our daily lives are stressful enough, offer up something really nice to your team that promotes the fact that they are appreciated and cared for at work. Plus nobody likes a hangry co-worker.