Business leaders know the health of their organization's bottom line depends on employee retention, top talent acquisition and operational efficiency. But many leaders fail to recognize the one thing with remarkable influence over all three of these factors -- the organization's workspace.
Think of your workspace as an intricate machine with hundreds of parts, each critical to its overall function. What happens if a tiny spring pops out of place? The machine probably still runs, but not nearly as efficiently as it could. What's worse, that loose spring could also lead to more significant complications in the future.
Your workspace is no different. It's full of moving parts (people, workstations, technology, equipment, spaces and utilities) and the better those parts are organized, managed and maintained, the smoother the overall operation runs. If those parts aren't well-aligned and properly managed and maintained, it can't operate to its fullest potential or deliver the ROI you expect.
If you're looking to increase ROI in 2017, the wisest place to focus your budget is in streamlining and updating your workspace. Let's take a look at specifically how your workspace impacts ROI.
Under- and over-utilized office space can cause serious issues with workflow, productivity and employee satisfaction. When office spaces are unorganized, things like empty coffee bars or overbooked conference rooms obstruct your employees' ability to work efficiently.
Close working quarters also can be distracting and cause employees to disengage. Likewise, too much space can lead to silos among employees and departments, which inhibits collaboration and can cost your organization a small fortune in wasted utilities.
Fact: Organizations that are successful at keeping employees engaged see almost 150 percent higher earnings per share compared with those who don't.
Not all employees want the same type of working arrangement. Some require seclusion and a quiet atmosphere to concentrate. Some do best in collaborative open spaces where casual conversations can spark fresh ideas. And some thrive in flexible office arrangements that allow them to work from home and on-site.
Leaders have long argued over which office type is best, but the correct answer is all three. By keeping employees satisfied with their work environment, you can reduce turnover and increase productivity.
Fact: A Harvard Business Review study found that "employees who have choice in when, where and how to work have higher levels of satisfaction, innovation and job performance."
As you work to optimize your workspace, you may discover a substantial percentage of space that isn't used or that truly isn't necessary. Given the rise of telecommuting, it's more common than you may expect.
You can transform unused space into something useful -- or turn off energy-sucking equipment and lights to restrict utility consumption in the area. You may be able to downsize your real estate and reduce your rent, which will decrease your utility costs and radically lower your cost of operation.
Fact: Energy accounts for an average of 29 percent of total office expenditures. That's an average of $30,600 a year per facility in the United States.
Even the shade of paint you select can affect employee output. A University of Texas study found that bland wall colors (like beige, gray or white) made employees feel sad and depressed. Meanwhile, employees with plenty of office windows were 15 percent more productive, as were employees in offices with plenty of plant life.
Where to Begin
To achieve the biggest ROI in 2017, you must update building systems and processes, and evaluate how your workspace supports employee workflows, productivity, collaboration and comfort.
- Start by observing how physical workspace is used
- Adjust floor plans to eliminate bottlenecks and give employees equal access to shared resources
- Provide employees with options regarding the type of workspaces they can use to stay productive, including quiet and collaborative zones
- Transform wasted space into useful space
- Reduce energy consumption in unused areas by unplugging equipment and turning off lights
- Ensure your employees have the resources and technologies they need to stay engaged and efficient
- Make simple updates to workspace lighting, decor and wall color to energize and motivate your staff
Progressive organizations that design their workspace and environment to support employees see a direct impact on their business output. They also retain their employees longer, which fortifies company culture and boosts selling points to attract top talent. Are you ready to make your workspace work for you?