As more companies increase their focus on employee well-being, the design of an office or other forms of workplace is becoming increasingly important when trying to attract the best talent, with up to 78% of employees saying their physical environment influences where they choose to work.
Office design trends have changed over the years. However, not all innovations lead to higher rates of satisfaction and productivity, so what factors must be considered to create a suitable office space/environment today?
We previously wrote about the benefits of biophilic office design and how it helps attract the modern staff member - this is essentially the process of incorporating greenery and organic elements into your office design. It’s by no means a new idea, and studies have shown that including natural elements in your office can help boost productivity by 8% and well-being by 13%.
Elements of biophilic design also now take into consideration the effects of a greener office on the planet and encourage a focus on sustainability as part of the overall increase in natural elements in the office. Not only does this help the planet but making positive sustainability changes to an office can also help with your business’s bottom line as you lower costs for the future. By changing to a more sustainable office, business owners are preparing for an overall shift in the market in the future – recently, a survey showed that 72% of global businesses said a focus on sustainability would be “influential” and 11% said “it will be the key influence” in future office investments.
Traditionally society would argue that a worker's free time is their chance to focus on their own personal happiness, but modern life shows us that your satisfaction at work plays a big part in your overall levels of stress and well-being, both inside and outside of the office. As a result, there’s been a recent shift in thinking, with many now finding the responsibility of employee well-being no longer sits purely with the employee themselves.
Morgan Lovell created a list of important well-being factors to consider when focusing on your employees’ health and wellness. With things like changeable temperatures, on-site exercising facilities, and contemplation zones, all getting a mention.
Studies have shown that using an office design that aligns with your corporate values will help create a healthier and more engaged workforce. Visitors, possible future business contacts, and employees see your office space as an extension of company culture and brand values. In other words, your workspace design offers a unique opportunity to build your brand identity and reinforce your core values. There are many ways to “brandify” your office space, including listing your core values and items associated with certain values to amplify your brand personality.
Another idea that helps with employee satisfaction, which has been around for a while, is a focus on open areas within the workplace, but does anyone actually prefer 'open office' space? The idea behind open offices is to increase inclusivity and encourage an increase in shared ideas and communication in general; however, studies have shown that in certain cases, when businesses switched to open offices, face-to-face interactions fell by 70%, so it is important to understand how and when to implement open elements within an office space to maximise the benefits.
So if there are risks associated with open office space, what are the benefits of shared space in the workplace? According to studies from the Harvard Business Review, “face-to-face interactions are by far the most important activity in an office” and “creating chance encounters between knowledge workers, both inside and outside the organization” helps improve worker performance.
On top of this, a survey of workers showed that “younger workers are more appreciative of a community atmosphere than their older peers” with millennials being the “most likely to want a workplace that helps them bond with fellow employees”. With this in mind, it suggests that open spaces within offices are here to stay.
As office design has evolved, it has become increasingly important to understand how your outdoor space contributes to the overall feeling of your workplace, and workers are noticing this too, with some studies suggesting up to 85% of workers want to spend more time outside during work hours.
Not only are staff interested in working outside, but from a management point of view, there are a number of data-backed benefits to outdoor spaces at work. Amongst them are lower stress levels, an increase in energy levels, and generally a higher level of happiness reported amongst staff.
Studies have shown that better access to natural light and outside views sit at the top of many employee wishlists, and statistically, an increase in natural light helps increase employee satisfaction and productivity with many office improvements. Furthermore, as levels of satisfaction increase so does productivity.
Whilst access to the real thing is best, it’s important to remember you can also supplement the feeling of natural light within an office using replicators such as tabletop UV lamps or natural-spectrum bulbs.