Employee engagement and satisfaction wellbeing are the cornerstones of all successful businesses today. No matter the scale or size of the organization, several studies have established the direct link between workplace design and employee engagement. The overarching understanding is that employees’ control and mastery over their physical workspaces, inspires engagement, through how it influences personal and professional interactions.
Workplace designs that create opportunities for colleagues to socialize, limit interruptions, encourage creativity and expression and foster a sense of wellbeing/calm are what best engage employees today. These benefits also align with the trending millennial perspective on work – seeking career prospects that offer personal fulfilment and enrichment rather than ones that simply fulfil obligations.
The research also reveals interesting trends. For instance, older employees tend to prefer personal space (cubicles), moderate tech support, and structured process. Younger professionals, on the other hand, prefer collaboration and teamwork, flexibility and greater integration of technology. Considering this, designs today are an outcome of the evaluation of several cultural, technological, and physical factors. Here are some ways in which workplace design is driving a change in the outlook towards employee engagement:
Willingness vs compulsion
Collaborative workplace designs can make employees feel excited about going to work, rather than flinching at the thought of a long day. They would look forward to working in an environment that facilitates their ability to focus, collaborate, learn and achieve. The most successful workspaces are those that provide ‘fit for purpose environments’ with dedicated spaces for focused desk work, meetings, brainstorming, scrum and even downtime. Most importantly, the workplace must be suited to the employee profile; it begins with an understanding of employee demographics, preferences and work patterns, among several other aspects that are critical yet easy to ignore.
Liberty of choice
Employees don’t necessarily require collaborative environments or personal spaces throughout the day. They have different personality types and may need areas that are either quiet or conducive to discussions, depending on the nature of assignments. This is achievable with an ‘agile workplace design’ that incorporates a variety of places and spaces. These can foster productivity and interest in employees based on the type of work and employee profiles. For instance, a person could brainstorm for strategies in a Zen garden or resort to an enclosed single-room to structure a plan before a meeting. Another example could be that while some employees may prefer sitting for longer durations, others may require facilities more supportive of physical activity – for instance, standing desks that do not exacerbate postural problems, a common issue with desk workers today. A seating arrangement that gives them this choice also provides workers with a better sense of belonging. Freedom of choice, which can be integrated in a variety of big and small ways, can go a long way in supporting more suitable work environments.
Technology and wellness
Advancements in technology allow workspaces to address key wellness issues for workers today. For instance, maximizing natural light and other aspects has a proven positive impact on the energy and concentration levels of employees. Centralized air purification systems along with sound proofing can aid employee health and wellbeing, especially considering the prevalent air and noise pollution in all metropolitan cities. Apart from this, other arrangements such as adjustable chairs and comfortable workstations aid productivity and better work.
IoT technologies can also be leveraged for other things including visitor management, locating colleagues and booking meetings, managing room comfort , raising tickets, and making digital payments on vending machines and cafeteria through their mobile devices. Technology has added a new layer to experiential workplace which not only engages employees but also impacts productivity and optimises workspace.
Blend of fun and formal
A good workplace design should be an ideal mix of hospitality and residential elements to create a more welcoming environment. For instance, comfortable sofas, soft carpets, indoor games, wall hangings, greenery, posters etc. can be included in corners and passages, to encourage a better sense of connection with the workplace and among employees themselves. It is also important to consider the broad skill and age spectrum in modern offices and create ageless designs which appeal to large audiences. In addition, such elements within offices can help people hailing from diverse cultures feel at ease.
New-age workspace designs are the future of employee happiness and the secret ingredient of long-term business success. They can inspire, empower, and enable employees to give their best and ensure overall wellbeing. The workplace must be thought of as an ecosystem which gives people choice and control of where and how to work. Rather than merely focussing on designing a space that looks good on the surface, workplace design should centre on evaluating what motivates people and nudges them into delivering their best. As they spend a considerable amount of time in this environment, they should feel energized and inspired to harness their capabilities towards the organization’s goal and feel like they are part of something bigger than their individual selves.