Competition for top talent is fierce. As it becomes increasingly more challenging to recruit and retain talented employees, companies are getting creative and turning to workplace design as a solution.
But do you actually know what your employees want in the workplace? Leesman, a private company that collects workplace data, has been analyzing the answer to that question from more than 250,000 respondents. As an architect who has worked on many office spaces throughout my 20-year career, I find the results to be fascinating.
Here are the top 10 physical and service features that employees considered to be most important in the workplace, in order of preference:
1. Functional desk
As technology has evolved throughout the years, desks have followed suit. Sit-stand desks are popular among employees, and the most-requested desk type I get from clients. In recent years, sit-stand desks have become more cost-effective and companies looking to convert traditional desks can do so for between $600 and $900 each, an investment that's in line with other higher-end desk types. Soon, we'll be waving goodbye to large corner work surfaces that previously housed oversized computer monitors.
2. Comfortable chair
Given the amount of time your employees spend in their chairs, this should be a top priority. After all, ergonomics can dramatically increase comfort and productivity, help to improve posture, and reduce health risks. Investing in good seating is an investment in the health of your employees.
3. Tea, coffee, and other refreshment facilities
Eighty-five percent of employees surveyed want this. During an interview with a company's leader, I learned that he purchases coffee for his team, and makes it for them. There are so many great coffee-and-tea options available (along with some pretty cool office coffee bars to dream about) that this should be a no-brainer. A coffee or café bar can be a wonderful addition to any office, and encourages workers to fuel up throughout the day.
4. General cleanliness
Bacteria can be found anywhere, especially where food is stored, prepared and eaten. But how often do you wipe down and clean your desk? Many employees eat at their desks, yet every cleaning crew follows cleaning limits. Check out what your crew's limits are, and fill in the gaps to prevent germs from spreading throughout the workplace. Your employees will notice.
5. Temperature control
This is probably the hardest to control because user preferences vary. One person may feel great with 76 degrees, but another may prefer 66. The most effective way to make this work is to go "free address," in which employees are free to move to the area of the building with the most comfortable temperature for them.
6. Small meeting rooms
The open office has brought to the forefront the importance of small collaboration spaces. With more employees connecting through task orientation, the demand for concentration space and small rooms for impromptu meetings is on the rise. Function is key when creating various small meeting spaces, and employers that don't adapt are putting employee satisfaction at stake.
7. Restroom privacy
This is an area that can improve employee comfort several times throughout the day. I have seen an increase in requests for walls dividing toilet spaces, not just a flimsy panel with no acoustical privacy. This takes more space to achieve; but if your restrooms are due for a remodel, it's worth seeing if this change can be made. Also adding in a few amenities, such as mouthwash, mints, and toothpicks, adds a nice touch.
8. Functional printing, copying and scanning equipment
Equipment needed to do your job is typically a given, so much so that 78 percent of employees surveyed put this on the list. Nonworking or outdated equipment not only frustrates employees but can also negatively affect efficiency and productivity, a reason why many businesses today are investing in office equipment that helps them successfully operate with ease.
9. Natural light
As a WELL Accredited Professional, this makes me smile. Natural light is of primary importance to the health and wellbeing of every person on the planet. According to the World Green Building Council, employees working near sunlit windows have a 15 percent higher production rate, so it's great to see employees taking note and listing this as a most-wanted feature.
10. Nearby restaurant or canteen
Food options in close proximity to work round out the top 10 list of must-have features. If nearby parking is an issue for your building, reasonable walking distance to restaurants is even more important. Other options are food trucks plus pop-up catering and delivery from restaurants out of walking range.
Now it's up to you to evaluate where your own workplace falls on the employees' top-10 list. I always recommend that companies have their employees surveyed by an outside firm or conduct their own focus groups to see where they stand. Workplaces that strive to provide the features their employees actually want benefit the most in attracting and retaining a loyal workforce.