Does the type of office significantly affect employee performance and engagement?
Let's first look at the impact of the workspace design on the current needs of people at work. Just as people have basic necessities in life such as food and safety, people have different needs at work. Steelcase proposes an Office Necessity pyramid where basic needs are technology with access to computers and wifi, then comes the need for a variety of types of spaces that support different types of work, third comes the permission to use informal spaces and at the top are the needs for physical, cognitive and emotional well-being. A study that has been done in this area revealed that most organizations are only meeting the need for technology and permission to use informal spaces - the 1st and 3rd level of needs. The variety needs of types of spaces that support different types of work and the needs of physical, cognitive and emotional well-being are not being satisfied according to the majority of collaborators studied.
Regarding the variety of spaces that allow personal relationships, privacy and comfort, 53% of people surveyed say they can not find the right kind of space. Companies opt a lot for open space which is an interesting space organization for half of extroverted people and for tasks that require a lot of personal relationships. However, this way of organizing the space makes focusing work much more difficult, it distracts and creates a lot of anxiety for half of introverted people. This does not mean that you go back to the cabinets. Open spaces should continue to exist, but there must be privacy, noise-free, and distraction-free locations.
- What is important is the possibility for employees to choose the workspace that matches the task at hand - whether it needs focus or whether collaboration is needed.
Steelcase's study, made in 17 countries, found that employees who had control over where and how they worked and were free to choose the type of space were 88% more engaged in the job. Regarding physical, cognitive and emotional well-being, people say they are not satisfied and the main complaints are that they feel isolated even when they are in the midst of many people and feel very anxious - the two epidemics of the 21st Century. Some ways for companies to increase the satisfaction of these needs are:
- Give space for employees to move to the brain to have a higher performance one aspect - The brain is regenerated by body movement, and the movement leads to new ideas. It is therefore important to stand up, to vary the posture throughout the day, alternating between sitting, standing, stretched, walking. In addition, people like to change work space because it breaks the routine, reactivating the brain.
- Give rest spaces, with natural light and preferably with a view to nature that allows them to have moments of mindfulness to stay with more resistant and less stressed brains, to increase clarity and inspiration.
- Facilitate physical and virtual meetings between people, with lounges, videoconferences, whiteboards to exchange messages without being online.
- Transmit the company culture in a consistent and visible way in the workspace. For example, if the company culture is innovation, then there should be facilitation of personal encounters and there should be an environment that promotes imagination and knowledge with various art forms, distinctive wall patterns, libraries, and decorations with something of " crazy "or out of the box. If the mindset is flexibility or adaptability, office design should make it easier for people to change location and perspective. This way there can be no fixed places, there are only portables and there may be removable walls.
The growing concern of companies in facilitating these workplaces that help people do their best has a lot to do with the war of talent that is driving the most competitive companies to focus on giving experiences to their employees with the same quality of customer experiences. Physical space conveys the culture of the organization whether intentionally or not and will strongly impact the attraction and retention of talent. HRs are thus becoming more important and intervening in new areas, such as the design of the workspace.
Isabel Freire de Andrade | Bright Concept Partner