For organizations intent on attracting and retaining the best talent, the look and feel of the workplace plays an essential part in boosting employee engagement and creating great workforce experiences.
Plenty has been written over recent years about the key factors to consider when designing an office space, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach – what works for one business might not work for another.
But what are the main ingredients for creating an attractive workplace, and which companies have found the perfect recipe for an aesthetically pleasing environment? Here’s our guide of the key things to consider.
Create a space through color
Scientific studies have proven that color can greatly affect our moods, and in the workplace psychologists believe that color can have a direct correlation to our levels of focus, calm and creativity.
According to interior designers Open Workspace, employees are most productive in offices painted blue, while orange stimulates focus, concentration and promotes organization.
Green is ideal for people who work long hours, and red should be used in environments requiring physical activity.
However, blue can cause some people to feel sad and cold, and too much yellow can make people angry – so the key is to create a balance of the right colors for your particular type of business.
At Google’s Mountain View Campus in California, a mixture of bold colors are contrasted by white tables and chairs, and natural daylight from the large floor-to ceiling windows.
[Image source: Google press office – featured image at top of post]
Let the outside in
Incorporating nature and the outdoors into office design is a growing trend. The official term is biophilic design – derived from the word biophilia – which draws on the affinity human beings have with the natural world and looks to incorporate trees, plants, grass, and other natural elements into buildings and workspaces.
Companies from Google, Facebook and Amazon, to smaller independent businesses, are embracing biophilic design to create beautiful, calming, inspiring spaces for their staff.
According to biophilic design experts, Human Spaces, nature-inspired materials and elements can help create more positive working environments that stimulate the senses – increasing focus and productivity, sparking creativity and reducing stress.
Restoring the connection to nature and the outdoors for people during their working day can help employees to draw energy and ideas, or simply concentrate and recuperate.
Some great examples of biophilic design can be viewed by Moscow-based designers Open AD at a creative office in Riga, Latvia, while JustGiving has recently brought the outdoors into their London office with grass style flooring, and indoor trees.
[Image source: employee photo from Glassdoor.co.uk of JustGiving’s office]
Collaboration versus solo-time
Much emphasis has been placed on creating open-plan, collaborative working environments in recent years, but research by office furniture designer Steelcase has shown that workers are craving alone time.
The need for privacy sometimes, is as basic to human nature as is the need to be with others.
The harder people work collaboratively, the more important it is to also have time alone—to be free from distractions, apply expertise and develop a solid point of view about the challenges at hand, says Donna Flynn, director of Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures research group.
The key recommendation from their study is for businesses to achieve a balance in office design, so that workers can switch between working together and working privately.
At Google’s Sydney office, individual tree-house pods allow workers to escape for some alone time away from their desks.
[Image source: Google press office]
Inject your workers’ personalities into the design
Allowing your staff to contribute to the look and feel of the workplace can boost employee engagement. Simple ideas like creating a ‘motivational wall’ where they can stick up inspiring quotes or colorful images can motivate staff.
At Expedia, the travel giant has created a wall of employees’ travel photos that greets visitors when they walk into the reception of the building.
[Image source: employee photo from Glassdoor.co.uk of Expedia’s office]
Building great employee experiences through workspaces
There’s a reason why the top ranked ‘best companies to work for’ invest heavily in the design and aesthetics of their office spaces – they realize that poor design can affect employee morale and can also stop them from being successful in the search for new talent. Providing a vibrant, modern, fit-for-purpose environment will ensure companies remain an attractive proposition for both existing and future employees.
Yet, its important to realize that simply having a create physical environment alone doesn’t equate to being an attractive place to work.
These companies aren’t seen as good employers because they build attractive looking workplaces. This is just one of many ways that they build great employee experiences.
Google’s HR and people team, for example, use people analytics and are known as the People Operations team (or, POps). They state that they ‘live by the mantra “find them, grow them, keep them” to staff, develop and build a distinct and inclusive culture’.
Ultimately, having a great space isn’t what makes a good employer. But its usually an indication that they’re a company who seriously consider employee experiences – and that’s what candidates and other employers should sit up and take notice of.