What is the impact of the workspace on modern employees?
What to consider when moving or designing your office space
One of our main concerns when moving a business is the way the working space is laid out. Not only do we have to consider how to make it efficient, maximise space and create adequate and intelligent storage solutions, but we also increasingly have to think about how the space impacts employees.
For the last several decades, we as a workforce have been spending more time in the office than anywhere else, which means that the way our work environment is set up is crucial to the way we work and feel. Happy staff have increased productivity, are more likely to be creative and contribute more to their employer. In the past it was expected that employees had be at peak performance despite what their working space looked like, but recent trends have shown that companies are starting to realise that their strengths lie in a happy workforce whose needs regarding their surroundings are considered and facilitated.
Several Factors need to be taken in consideration when designing a space such as the company’s customer base and its business goals. A centuries’ old bank will have different layout needs than a fashion start up. Location is critical too: where will talent be sourced from? Will you need more hot-desking space or a more traditional design? Health and wellbeing are also increasingly important. Besides work areas, companies are now adding personal care facilities to their spaces in order to help their employees make the best of their time in the office and create a more comprehensive, multifunctional space designed to encourage happiness, comfort and convenience.
Do Trends Matter?
Changing trends need to be accommodated, particularly with an evolving workforce. Millennials make up more than a third of the British workforce and overall they don’t feel loyalty to their employers. A 2016 Gallup report found that in the US, 21% had changed jobs in the previous 12 months and don’t plan on staying at their current jobs for longer than that. In addition, an employee who has no sense of duty towards their employer will move on if they feel they are no longer having a positive experience. Millennials also look at work as a source of purpose rather than just a way of making money and bosses need to take this phenomenon into consideration and accommodate them.
A sense of purpose often also brings with it added social considerations. People want to feel that they’re working for the “good guys” who are making a difference by offsetting rather than negatively impacting the planet, and the introduction of automation technology helps gather data that enables companies to optimise their facilities. For example some companies are already using sensors at people’s desks to work out how spaces are used in order to maximise function and energy conservation. Areas that are not often used don’t need to be constantly lit or air-conditioned/heated or could perhaps be turned into meeting or storage areas.
Trends play a big part on space design too and the latest growing trend is flexible working. If, as we’ve seen, staff are willing to change jobs if the company doesn’t meet their lifestyle needs, this will surely apply whether their company offers agile working. Enabling staff to work from home also results in less dedicated space for staff seating on site-there are environmental benefits too as it results on fewer people on the roads; instead, hot-desking setups can be installed where people can share depending on the time spent in the office. Many companies only require their employees to only be present for a few weeks a year, maximising their facilities for those who are around more often and enabling those who are agile to work around their personal schedules. Agile working also solves the problem of fast growing companies, where prior to moving premises, their short term needs can be met by only having a core number of staff on site, once again saving money and resources on those that aren’t.
Open plan or not?
The trend for open plan working has also taken up a lot of column space in recent years. Depending on the type of organisation and personality types, many can thrive in that environment where others might hate it. As a result, one solution has been to introduce isolated areas in new office environments such as dedicated “study” or quiet rooms where talking is not permitted. Barring that, there’s the option of huddle sofas or even walled seating cubicles where it’s possible to have an element of isolation from the hustle and bustle of the open plan office. Adding plants, partitions or carpeting can also help in cutting down on sound where necessary.
During a time of change such as an office move, it’s important for a company to not only asses its business goals and targets but also to consider the needs of its workforce. While a highly productive and powerful business plan can enable a company to achieve its goals, when considering a new space, it’s important to realise that employee wellbeing will be a great part of what will add value and help the company towards a more stable future.
People wish to identify with their employer and feel like they’re part of something greater. In our own environment people will often say how proud they are to be working for the market leaders in commercial relocation so it’s important that their working space reflects the values of the company, makes their job easier and reminds them of why they come to work every morning.
In a competitive marketplace it’s more than just salary or benefits that will sway someone’s decision to work with a company, and space is fast becoming one of those crucial factors.