Out with the old, and in with the new. Today’s employees are looking for more than just a desk and a communal coffee pot, which means it’s time for employers to adapt.
The contemporary office demands flexibility and adaptability, and the modern-day worker demands that too — and more. Top companies are acting on requests from employees to ensure their office spaces are comfortable, offer collaborative work environments and have a built-in flexibility to do much more.
Companies that fail to meet these demands risk falling behind in both their recruitment and employee-retention efforts.
Here’s what you need to consider when designing an office space for the modern employee.
Wide, Open Spaces
When it comes to cultivating a new feeling for your office, the trend is clear — today’s employees are looking for spaces that foster productivity and collaboration. Gone are the days of cubicle walls and one static, multi-purpose conference room.
Instead, focus on creating open, varied floor plans for your desks and office stations. Open floor plans immediately establish a more comfortable environment, allowing your employees to interact with ease. This design also contributes to a warmer, more comfortable office aesthetic.
Seeing people working or talking at their desks is such a relief compared to the barrage of beige that comes with isolating cubicle walls. Employees are looking for spaces that encourage conversation, teamwork and self-expression, and open floor plans are a great way to encourage that.
TIP: When you’re looking for an open floor plan design that saves on space, try experimenting with modular desks in groups of two or four.
Aside from your standard desk arrangement, the modern-day worker is asking for a different kind of space in the form of collaboration rooms.
Modern offices should focus on incorporating several types of collaboration spaces to adapt to the way conversations are happening in the office. In this graphic from Knoll’s article on Creating Collaborative Spaces That Work, we can see four different examples of rooms that serve different needs.
Brainstorming rooms ask for casual comfort, huddle rooms ask for a smaller, more private place to focus, while video conference and project rooms ask for bigger spaces that can be integrated with items like whiteboards, TVs, projectors and video conference equipment.
Employees are looking for flexible office spaces where they can pick up and work wherever, whenever, and by providing different collaboration rooms, you’re opening different exciting possibilities in the ways they can work and interact with one another.
TIP: Instead of walls, consider using furniture to create room divisions or semi-private meeting spaces.
Home Sweet Home
The modern-day worker isn’t looking for the old-school, cookie-cutter office. Especially with people clocking more and more hours, they’re looking for a place that feels more like a home-away-from-home.
As stated in this Knoll article on Future Proofing, employees want furniture for their office, not office furniture — an important distinction. So, when choosing furniture, the goal is to find flexible, comfortable pieces that encourage conversation and act as a more aesthetically pleasing way to divide spaces.
Your choice of pieces and office aesthetic should create a feeling of stability and cultivate a sense of community among your employees. When it comes to additional opportunities to develop a cohesive culture, find ways to encourage employees to express themselves. Chalkboards, game rooms, places for casual social interactions or community walls are examples of small implementations that build a sense of comradery and culture in your workplace.
According to this article from Mercer, employees are asking to be recognized as an individual, and “respected for their individuality.” Finding places to encourage self-expression helps answer that call.
Give the People What They Want
Most importantly, listen to the needs of your employees. No two office environments are the same, and each has different needs.
In their study on Collaborative Spaces, Knoll notes there can be a gap between the importance placed on creating flexible and collaborative spaces for employees and the actual effectiveness in implementation. Despite being such a priority for employers and workplace leaders, it’s easy for an office to fall short of expectations.
Communicate with your employees to find what they’re looking for from an office. You have the power to create a specialized, specific and comfortable working environment for all of your employees. Don’t take that lightly.