If you have never been forced to work in a cramped space with inadequate lighting, and uncomfortable chairs, it might be hard to understand just how negatively this can impact your performance. In recent years, the idea of employee engagement in the workplace has reached an apex, and for good reason.
When employees are invested in their jobs, studies have shown that they are also more ardently motivated to contribute to their employers’ goals and achieve organisational success. Engaged employees are generally more enthusiastic about their work and will often take initiative to further their company’s reputation through positive actions.
Focusing on workplace design does not just have to do with following interior design trends or spending money on unnecessary gimmicks and fads, nor do employers necessarily need to have expensive artwork on the walls or change colour schemes every year. It all about constructing and arranging your workplace in a way that keeps you employees focused and engaged throughout the work week.
A few points to note:
• Space is key
According to a study by a group of Steelcase researchers, physical environment greatly affects how employees think, feel, and behave in relation to the work that they do. A recent New York Times Magazine article, “Rethinking the Work-Life Equation” says many companies today are actively looking for ways to give employees more control, providing them with solutions and options to complete their work in a way that works best for them. Oftentimes the challenge, as the article states, is overcoming the antiquated corporate culture that treats flexibility as a privilege.
Additionally, you can incorporate collaborative spaces. The workplace should not be designed for employees only. With more and more workers coming from different locations to use the office as a “hub”, workspaces are becoming areas of interaction between a variety of colleagues, contractors, and freelancers, as well as representing the company towards external guests.
• Provide the Best Tools and Technology
According to a report from FlexJobs, 3.9 million Americans (or 2.9% of the total US workforce) work from home at least half the time. On the global scale, the numbers are even more substantial. The office is a place for employees to collaborate and connect.
Provide your teams the best of the basics: reliably fast Wi-Fi, the latest desktop/laptop/tablet computers, smart furniture that seamlessly integrate technology and tools to control their personal space (the right light, sound, and temperature). Yes, that sounds like an extensive (and expensive) list, but the simple truth today is that your employees have more choices than ever. If technology is important to them and vital to their job, and you do not provide what they need, they will seek it somewhere else.
Even though technology makes it possible to run vast empires in your pyjamas, people still want to interact face-to-face with co-workers and customers. Every business still needs a home base. But nobody is going to want to visit that home base if the wi-fi is slow, or if the computers are old, or if they cannot get snacks or food conveniently.
• Offer more Perks and Amenities
Studies have shown that by 2030, millennials will represent 75% of the total workforce, and their preferences and demands will shape the business landscape. As a generation, millennials believe that there is no reason that work life and personal life should require separation in terms of time and space. This view has contributed to the growth of “corporate campuses” that include recreational facilities, day-cares, fitness centres, game rooms, onsite dining and shopping, and a growing list of office perks and amenities. Many of these do not cost an arm and a leg, employers need not have all, choose the ones that in your view cause the least distraction but be open to incorporating something and evolving with the times.
• Enable workers to physically move around during the day and change postures
Engaged employees are healthy employees. It is therefore essential for staff to keep moving throughout the day to maintain their physical wellbeing. Space should support a diversity of postures and encourage movement – whether through sit-stand desks, seating designed to support interaction with mobile devices, even lounge seats that allow staff to sit back with their feet up to relax. There are numerous options to boost physical wellbeing. Movement is a key enabler for brain regeneration, thereby helping teams generate their best ideas.
• Allow natural lighting
Exposure to natural light has long been linked to workplace happiness and healthy employees, so finding ways to increase light sources in your workplace should always be a top priority.
As the conversations surrounding workplace engagement have gotten louder over the years, the conclusion is that many employees are not engaged in the workplace. According to a 2015 study by Gallup, only 32% of America’s workforce identified themselves as engaged at the office. This means about $500 billion is lost every year as a result of inefficiency. Whilst we lack those data in Nigeria, we can infer similarities for like economies.
Employee engagement is an important and rather complex subject to fully achieve as there are several factors to consider. Nevertheless, workplace design has been identified as one of those factors that employers can explore towards improving it. The physical surroundings can shape employee behaviour, feelings and attitudes towards their co-workers, employers, and experiences at work.
The reality is that an engaged employee is just as important to a corporation as a satisfied customer. Thus, investing in your work environment can produce real results and boost efficiency towards improved business performance.
For support on how to design a winning employee engagement strategy, send an enquiry to smeblock@cr8careers..com