Rethinking the workplace does more than just boost efficiency. New office designs might be more space efficient, take less energy and cost less to manage, but the bottom line benefits pale in comparison to the human factors. Put simply, the right office layout and configuration can make your workers happier, more productive and more likely to remain at your company.
When designed correctly, a workplace is a physical embodiment of the values and ethos of the underlying company. Think about a 1950's style office. It was frequently located in an imposing building, assigned space on a hierarchical basis, and typically kept workers apart. That space let you know who you were, where you stood, and to whom you answer. It let you sit down, do your work, go home and get back to your life.
Today's most successful workspaces follow a different paradigm because the nature of work has changed. While focus work remains important, most companies are still extremely focused on building collaboration. Whether it be in formal meetings or in informal interactions, having employees work together doesn't just make them happier -- it makes the company more productive. Spaces that bring people together with open areas, casual spaces, team spaces, and less private space support this.
Workplace technology can also make workers happier. One of the challenges in having workers in collaborative meetings all day is that the competition for conference rooms can get heated. Conference room booking apps give everyone a chance to get the space they need, when they need it, or give them the transparency to know when they will have to find a plan B. Sensor-heavy offices can turn lights on for people, notify support staff of paper jams or even make sure that the office coffee pot never goes empty (for long).
Health and wellness can also be built in. Better light in terms of quantity, quality and color, can help to drive better alertness and better health. Better indoor air circulation and better ventilation reduce the transmission of germs between employees, reducing the amount of sickness. Finally, many modern, green buildings incorporate features to improve employee health -- like facilities for showering or biking or exercise facilities in or near the workplace. While these features are directly related to an employee's physical well being, a healthy worker is likely to also be a happy worker.
Ultimately, the nature of work and of the workspace has changed. Workers can do much of their jobs from anywhere. Furthermore, the upper echelons of the labor force typically have the ability to choose from (or create) multiple job offers. As such, creating workplaces where worker happiness can be achieved along with greater efficiency and productivity is a best practice for any company that wants to perform at its peak.
Other Workplace articles to check out: