For many employees, the physical work environment ranks among one of the top factors that influence their decisions to join a company. With a global war for talent intensifying, the workplace can be a strategic asset that distinguishes an organisation as an exceptional employer.
Linda Trim, a director at Giant Leap, a workplace design specialist company, said: “As workplaces look to attract the best and brightest, companies are turning to design to help differentiate their work environment, focusing on an increased understanding of what employees really need to make them happy and engaged at work.”
The magnetic workplace
How can workplace designers create a magnetic workplace that attracts employees?
“The most important principle is that the office space should make people feel really good,” said Trim. Landscapes, nature views or the introduction of plants in the office strongly influence productivity, because there is a powerful bond between human beings and the natural world referred to as biophilia. Studies have shown that being surrounded by nature improves both physical and mental health.
Feel-good spaces should also be tactile and have ample daylight. Living walls or biowalls and natural materials bring a sense of the outside into the work environment.
Office appeal and productivity can also be improved by offering a variety of interior settings that allow employees to choose where they want to work that day based on the mode of work required.
“For example, in the morning, workers could gather in a cafe style area for coffee and informal interaction. In the afternoon, they can move to a gathering place designed for teamwork or to a privacy ‘hive’ for focused work,” said Trim.
Magnetic workplaces support the unique roles, work styles and personalities of each individual. They provide a range of space types, furnishings and multi-functional common areas that draw people in and keep them wanting to come back to the office.
Coming challenge for design
Telecommuting offers employees an alternative to working in a traditional office. This trend, combined with the number of hours people now spend online, means that individuals are interacting in vastly different ways than they once were.
Remote work is likely to become the norm. The designing challenge, therefore, is to create a space that attracts employees back to the office.
“A magnetic workplace will be defined as one that is so appealing that employees who might otherwise work remotely from home or in a coffee shop, choose to come and spend their day at work,” she said.
There are already examples of this in co-working spaces that blur the lines between office and social venue.
“Knowing that our future workplaces present a greater emphasis on virtual communication, workplace designers will be challenged to create physical spaces that encourage face-to-face interaction and speak to our innate need for human connection.
“Many view the workplace as a second home, so employees will be drawn to magnetic workplaces offering comfortable environments where they can work, socialise and simply be themselves,” Trim concluded.
Linda Trim is a director at Giant Leap, a workplace design specialist company.