Creating Workspaces People Love
Are you struggling to keep your best staff? Are a lot of your staff disengaged? Perhaps you’re trying to get your staff back to the office, but they are not keen? While these situations have very different symptoms, there is often a common cause – your office is not good enough. According to Savills, just 31% of staff are happy with their office.
We’ve been planning, designing, and building offices for over 15 years. We’ve learned that if the staff don’t love the space, the project will not be a success – no matter how good the design looks, or how cheap/quick it was delivered. For your office fit out to deliver a great ROI, the end result has to be a great office experience every day.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly why creating a workspace your people love is so important. We’ll then go through our 8 top tips for creating an office that delivers a great staff experience. By the end, you’ll know if your office is good enough, and if not, you’ll know how to go about creating a workspace your people love.
Why Does a Workspace Your People Love Matter?
One of the most important factors when companies design their office is the user experience – what it will for your staff to use it each and every day. Despite this, much more attention is paid to the cost of the project and the design aesthetic. However, if you are to create a workspace that your people love, user experience has to be your primary consideration.
But why is user experience so important? What a design looks like and what it is like to work in every day are very different things. It may look amazing, but if it doesn’t suit the way your staff work, then it will be a poor user experience. As a result, your people will be less productive.
When you create a workspace your people love, there are 3 key benefits:
There are also many indirect benefits of a workspace that your people love, including improved productivity, wellbeing, and innovation. Here, we’ll explore the 3 key benefits in turn:
Employee engagement is the level to which your people are intellectually and emotionally invested in your company’s success. Engaged staff are committed and enthusiastic about their work, and are always looking for ways to improve their individual and company performance.
Engaged staff are far more effective. According to research by the Harvard Business Review, an engaged employee is 45% more productive than a satisfied worker. Companies with engaged workers have 23% higher profit than those with workers who felt “miserable”.
However, 91% of the UK’s workforce is not engaged. This is a huge issue for companies, but it’s an opportunity for significant improvement. Your office is a crucial part of how your staff feel about your company. By creating a workspace your people love, you can significantly improve your staff engagement. To learn more about why staff engagement matters and how you can improve it using your office, read this article.
Attracts Staff Back to the Office
One of the most difficult challenges facing company leaders over the next few years will be your working model – whether you should work in-office, hybrid or remote. How to implement your decision is equally difficult. To learn about the different characteristics of each working model and help you make the best choice for your company, read this ebook.
If you do decide to implement an in-office or hybrid working model, then creating a workspace your people love is absolutely essential. The key to a successful implementation lies in attracting, not forcing, your staff back to the office. To do that, creating a great office experience is crucial.
There are several things you can do to improve your office to help attract staff back, from improving wellbeing to upgrading technology. To learn more, read about the Top 6 Ways to Get Staff Back to the Office Using Office Design.
Improves Talent Attraction & Retention
When we speak with companies about the motivations behind their upcoming office fit outs and refurbishments, one of the most common themes is talent attraction and retention. With unemployment lower than ever, recruiting and keeping top talent has never been so difficult.
However, if your people love your workspace, then they will be far less likely to leave. The average cost of losing an employee is a staggering 33% of their annual salary, so improved staff retention is a key part of your office fit out ROI. Over time, a workspace your people will love will build its own reputation, helping to attract great talent too.
From creating a great first impression to encouraging connections, there are 5 ways your office design can improve your talent attraction & retention. Read more about those in this article.
How to Create a Workspace Your People Love
1) On-Culture Design
To create a workspace your people love, it’s got to provide a unique experience. It can’t just be a mediocre space like hundreds of other offices nearby. Otherwise, it will provide just another mediocre experience. Your office should be a space that brings your culture and company personality to life.
When creating a culture-tailored office design, you have to think about so much more than the signage and decoration. You have to consider the entire experience, from the location of your office to the layout of the space to the quality of the coffee. To learn exactly how to create a space tailored to your culture, read this article.
2) Collaboration Spaces
Top-performing office workers spend 45% of their time collaborating. When your staff spend so much time working in teams, plenty of collaboration space is essential if your people are going to love your workspace. This is especially true if you have a hybrid working policy, as your office will mainly be used as a collaboration hub.
Given that your people spend so much time collaborating, you’ll need a lot of collaboration space in your office – 30-45% in most cases. However, it is also important to have a variety of collaboration spaces that suit the different ways your people work together. To learn more, read 5 Ways to Improve Collaboration with Office Design.
3) Breakout Spaces
A study by Microsoft found the top 4 reasons staff would be motivated to return to the office all revolved around building and/or strengthening relationships with their colleagues. 84% of staff would be motivated to go back to the office if they could socialise with their coworkers.
Enabling socialisation is a great way to encourage your staff back to the office. Creating dedicated breakout spaces will increase your office attendance and improve your team relationships, leading to performance improvements in other areas.
4) Focus Spaces
46% of employees describe their workplace as noisy and distracting. This is very frustrating for staff, reducing their job satisfaction as well as their productivity. Unfortunately, many offices are too cramped and have poor design, resulting in a very distracting environment.
For your office to be a space your people love, they need to have a space where they can focus on deep work without any distractions. Focus spaces include much more than desks. Other options for focussed spaces include bookable individual offices or work pods.
Biophilia is our appreciation of nature. In recent years, it has become a major part of office design. Biophilic designs improve staff wellbeing by 13% and productivity by 8%. As a result, staff will stay longer and have better job satisfaction.
There is much more to biophilia than adding plants to your office. Biophilia includes all natural materials, including wooden flooring and wall panels. You could even incorporate naturally coloured finishes and upholstery. It will all create a more relaxing and inspiring environment, helping to create a workspace your people love.
Lighting is another design factor that has a major impact on the performance and wellbeing of your people. 40% of office workers struggle with poor lighting and 1 in 3 say better lighting would make them happier at work. A workspace with poor lighting increases the risk of eye-strain and other health issues. It also contributes to a very frustrating workspace experience.
To maximise the natural light in your office, you should ensure the most-used areas of your office are located on the outside with access to natural light. Meeting rooms and executive offices are used less than 20% of the time, so it is a waste of a limited resource. Throughout the rest of your office, you should ensure your lighting mimics natural light to get as many of the benefits as possible.
7) Seek Staff Input
The 6 factors we’ve gone through so far are best practices, and will be applicable in almost every situation. However, the best way to apply them will differ. To truly ensure your workspace is a place your people love to work, you will need their input.
It’s important to be structured about how you get staff input. If staff have too much input, the design will never be finished. You can survey all of your staff about what is working and what isn't in their current space. You can then work with a small group to input and feedback on the design directly. If you do this successfully, then your people will have a space designed around their specific needs, with their input taken into account. The result? A place where they love to work.
8) Allow Autonomy
All your staff have different strengths, weaknesses, and routines – so they all work in different ways. It’s impossible to design a workspace that’s perfect for everyone. Any attempt to do so will merely mean you have to compromise a lot, leading to a design that doesn’t really work for anyone.
As a result, you should design autonomy into your office. This means you design for variations in how your people use your space. It’s important to have enough capacity, so that certain areas in your office don’t get overcrowded. Having movable partitions and modular furniture also allows your people to change their environment to suit their needs – creating a great workspace experience.
Creating a Workspace Your People Love
Many of the toughest challenges faced by companies today – getting staff back to the office, improving culture, decreasing staff turnover – can be solved (in part) by office design. However, office design per se isn’t enough. If it looks amazing, but your staff don’t enjoy it, then it’s not good office design. If it was delivered very cheaply but is not durable, then it’s not good office design.
To be a space your people love, your office has to provide a great experience every day. Your company is built on the performance of your people, so maximising that performance is crucial.
Now that you know why a great office design matters and how to create one, you're ready to assess your own office. If your people do love your workspace, then congratulations. If not, then you’ve got work to do. You’ll want to understand exactly why your office is unpopular with staff, and how you can change that. To do that, read 8 signs you need to redesign your office and how to create an office fit out brief.
If you know your office needs improvement and you want to start preparing, download your definitive guide to office design. Inside, you'll find answers to all your questions about office design and why it matters. Before you speak to a design & build company, this will help you make sure you know everything that you need to about office design. Download your office design guide here.