How to create an engaging workspace

Most research tells us that a happier environment leads to more productive employees

July 11, 2019

Creating a more engaging employee experience not only benefits workers, but employers too. Lease renewal is one way you can increase happiness and productivity in the workplace. At this milestone, companies are often prompted to take a closer look at how to create a more productive work environment. Creating an atmosphere that keeps workers engaged is critical to productivity, but most companies are falling short in that department. JLL research shows that 59 percent of employees around the globe aren’t engaged or are only somewhat engaged at work. It can be an expensive problem — Gallup estimates U.S. businesses absorb more than $450 billion in lost productivity a year thanks to stagnating engagement.

What’s the fix? Is it designing more collaborative spaces? Making workspaces more flexible?

The answer is less about integrating the latest fads, and more about how solutions are identified. Here are some critical questions to ask:

How can companies design productive spaces without stifling creativity?

Productivity and creativity don’t have to be at odds with each another. You can achieve both by building in as much flexibility and variability as possible into workspaces to support different styles of work. Choice is a great enabler; employees like to have options. Their needs won’t always stay the same; they are constantly evolving. With that in mind, movement is being built into more offices today by integrating a range of quiet and collaborative spaces, where employees can take a break from their desk or meet, collaborate, and socialize with coworkers.

Another key consideration — what inspires your employees? Is there a certain objective, or a specific type of space? It’s important to ask them what works (and what doesn’t) in existing spaces. Small elements can have a big impact.

What makes employees tick?

Your employees hold all of the secrets. Designing an engaging environment has to start by first engaging them. What keeps them going at work? What kind of environments do they need access to? Technology and the influx of data are creating major disruptions, so consider how that is changing the way people work and what they need. Are your employees empowered with options?

Office design also needs to reflect your organization’s cultural values to inform employees and generate engagement. Does the work environment accurately mirror the company’s core values, or how have they changed? Does it motivate employees to give their best effort? Asking these questions has a significant payoff: Companies that take the time to develop their culture to engage employees returned more than 500 percent higher revenue than competitors.

Employees know better than anyone else what they need, so getting their input early on in the design process should be a top priority.

How is technology changing the game?

Technology is changing the workplace, and it will continue to evolve rapidly. Work arrangements are more flexible, independent contractors are frequently floating in and out of offices and communication is heavily tech-centric. However, tech overload is setting in, and there is a desire for more human-to-human contact. Now more than ever, there is a greater need to break down silos and communication barriers inside organizations, and bring disparate people together. As a result, more offices are breaking down visual barriers, maximizing space for collaborative work and finding other design strategies to encourage teamwork. And, when technology proves to be too much of a distraction, having at least one minimal-tech area in the office can be a welcome retreat.

Designing an engaging workplace doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles. What it does need is a good strategy that is well-informed by employees. That will serve as a solid foundation for many years to come.

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