Two findings that jump out from Capital One’s 2019 Work Environment Survey are that creative workplace design is a top-of-mind issue for today’s employees, and flexibility and adaptability are critical elements employers must offer if they want to attract and retain top talent.

Clearly, employee expectations around these issues are on the rise-;not surprising in light of other trends in the employment space. Employers face a sustained seller’s market in their quest to recruit, hire, and retain top talent, and issues like work-life balance and programs that support mental health and well-being are increasingly important to employees, especially millennials.

“Thoughtful workplace design is something that professionals increasingly expect companies to pay attention to, regardless of location,” says Stefanie Spurlin, vice president of workplace solutions at Capital One. “Employees define flexibility in terms of solutions and services provided by their employer that make work-life harmony more attainable, such as flexible office hours, commuter assistance, and on-site amenities like health centers.”

She notes that 81 percent of respondents in this year’s survey rank a flexible schedule in their top two reasons to stay with a company, up from 73 percent in 2018.

Flexible design drives productivity

Office design remains critical to employee success and productivity, with 90 percent of survey respondents agreeing they perform better in a well-designed workplace. Flexibility and adaptability are important attributes they seek:

  • 71 percent say it’s important for their workplace design to be flexible.
  • 65 percent assert they are more productive when they can change their physical location while working.
  • 73 percent profess to have their best ideas when they’re able to use flexible workspace options.
  • 73 percent claim to work better with access to flexible furniture arrangements (different seated or standing options, e.g.).

Spurlin says the fact that nearly all respondents agree they perform better in well-designed workplaces is “affirmation that the focus on thoughtful workplace design is here to stay.” Since the tools people need to be successful and productive at work are highly individualized, companies that embrace dynamic workplace design that can adapt to changing preferences and support a variety of working styles, are setting employees up for success.

Capital One’s own workplace strategy reflects its company culture of innovation, flexibility, and inclusion, Spurlin notes. By creating physical space to accommodate all work styles-;from large collaborative teams to quiet individual thinking spaces and everything in between-;it promotes balance and empowers associates to embrace their preferred work style method. This approach fosters employee productivity and innovation “to create the best products and services for our customers,” she says.

They want it all

Employees want a lot when it comes to dynamic and adaptable workplace design. Seventy-seven percent say they perform better when their workplace provides collaboration spaces, 88 percent say they perform better when they have space for focused, head-down work, and 45 percent would like to have space aside from their traditional workstation or desk for individual work. In other words, they want it all-;and the employers that give it to them have a leg up in the competition for top talent.

Some businesses may face size and/or budget constraints when it comes to providing this kind of flexible and adaptable workspace, but Spurlin says most challenges can be met by creative solutions. One example of affordable and easy-to-achieve flexible workplace design she offers is inviting employees with offices to open them up to colleagues and teams as collaboration spaces when they are traveling. Another is replacing large conference tables with smaller tables and chairs that can be easily reconfigured for groups and projects of different sizes.

“However employers choose to implement a new way of utilizing space, it’s critical to bring employees along for the journey by educating them on how the changes can make their lives easier,” she emphasizes.