An average person spends one-third of their life at work. Work-life balance isn't just a buzz-word anymore, it's practically a KPI for your company's success. In the age of Google offering fully immersive campuses for their workforce, cubicles and bad fluorescent lighting are the stone-age. Having engaging workspaces for your employee isn't just a matter of Keeping Up with Jones, human and environmental health are intrinsically linked. There are multiple factors that lead to employee success due to their surroundings. Small yet meaningful modifications can be made to achieve an optimal workspace, even without the Google budget.
It Can Affect Your Well-Being
It's not enough to offer a fair salary and 2 weeks of vacation to keep an employee fulfilled. The current workforce, specifically millennials, admit that they would happily accept a lower salary if it meant working for a company with a strong corporate culture and focus on work-life balance. Culture and balance begins with the values you foster in your workplace.
It is important for an individual to feel their company cares about their mental and physical health. This means everything from food to encouraging movement. If a company provides a stocked kitchen, the healthier and more nutritious the snacks, the better fuel it offers. While being hangry makes for terrible morale, junk food leads to junk productivity.
Small changes like offering sit/stand desks, or encouraging small exercise breaks, have amazing impacts to the energy of employees. Workspace factors that affect the well-being of an employee also equates to the bottom line. Lack of wellness drives up costs of health care, leads to more sick-days, and loss of productivity. This means unhealthy employees ultimately cost the company more money.
Connections & Collaborative
Current design trends seem to lean towards open spaces for collaboration. They call for areas where management can mix with employees to foster synthesis and innovation. However, not all companies have the budget or time, to renovate their current offices, let alone build behemoths like Apple Park.
Simple measures can be taken to provide a more collaborative environment. If you have removable walls between desks, taking them down can create connections among employees. Think about location of desks in relation to employee organization (for example, team structure or departments). How can you create a democratic workplace? Are managers readily available for an employee to approach them? Even an open-door policy can change the feng-shui of this relationship.
Detox space: Quiet and Relaxation
On the other side of the coin, while collaboration and inclusivity is important, there still needs to be quiet areas available for independent thinking and private meetings. Some employees might not do well with constant interruptions. If you offer a variety of spaces for your employees to choose from, they can have a tailor-maid environment to match their needs.
When creating or repurposing quiet spaces, they can also serve as a relaxation area. Small breaks to decompress can boost productivity and prevent employees from burning out. California Pizza Kitchen kept this in mind when building an innovative new LA Headquarters. They have multi-faceted areas that serve dual purposes such as; a serenity room, which not only offers peace and quiet, but an area for nursing mothers (required by California law), and a multi-purpose room that can facilitate large meetings or a group yoga session.
Individualized Workspace Opportunities
If you can't make significant infrastructure changes to your office you can consider implementing new policies.
Dog Friendly- Could you allow employees to bring their dogs to work? Dogs aren't just members of the family, studies have shown that dogs lower stress and anxiety. Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association has said; "employers are starting to realize that [when you allow] a millennial to bring a pet to work, you wind up getting a more focused employee...someone more comfortable at the office and a person willing to work longer hours." Companies that aren't ready to go full pet-friendly offer certain days or times that pets are allowed, 'Bring your Pet to Work Day' or 'Yappy Hours.' Logistically- if you don't own the building, the lease will need to be consulted. You also should chat with HR to avoid any issues with other employees such as pet allergies.
Plants- Plants are a very simple yet significant addition to a work space. You can either invest in plants for the office as whole or allow/encourage employees to bring in their own plants (or both!) Plants provide greenery that is not only appealing to the eye, but naturally calming. On top of this, they can make you healthier. A Norwegian Study monitored the effects of indoor plants over several years in offices and found that they can significantly lower issues such as headaches, scratchy throats, or skin irritations.
Increased Overall Productivity
Happy employees are productive employees. An experiment with 700 employees confirmed that happiness can increase productivity as much as 12%. Therefor designing workspaces and environmental factors of an office with your team's happiness in mind will directly increase overall productivity.
If you encourage individual expression, and tailor your office to your culture, you can keep the team's happiness as a main goal.
Workspaces are Just as Important to Future Employees
It isn't enough to have an engaged workforce, looking towards the future, companies also need to keep a healthy influx of new talent. As the natural progression of employees move on to elevated career paths or retire, Generation Z is knocking at the door. These new recruits only know innovative workplaces, with posh Silicon Valley headquarters as the measuring stick. When these applicants come to your workspace, you need to attract them. Ryan Jenkins, a millennial speaker and generations expert, advises that for your company to attract Gen Z it must be collaborative, offer flexibility, and promote both well-being and value infusion.
So while the workspace is imperative to your current workforce, it also equates to the future success of a company. Try these mindful transitions (that don't break the bank) to keep present and future employee's happy, successful and engaged!