How to improve the workplace environment and entice employees back to the office
The Covid-19 pandemic transformed the way we work, blurring the lines between office and home and reshaping our perceptions of the workplace. While remote working became the norm, many employers are keen to reverse the trend now that pandemic restrictions no longer apply. The time is ripe for organisations to reimagine their premises, and we’re here to help improve the workplace environment to entice employees back to the office.
How has the workplace environment changed?
Prior to 2020, homeworking was on a slow upward trajectory, but the onset of the pandemic triggered an immediate and dramatic rise. The proportion of the UK workforce based exclusively at home increased eight-fold between February and April 2020, from just 5.7% to 43.1%. Businesses had to completely rethink traditional office dynamics and find new ways of operating under unprecedented circumstances.
The pandemic was a game-changer that challenged the traditional five-days-in-the-office norm and created an entirely different work landscape. While some companies have fully embraced remote working, closing their premises permanently, others are eager to entice employees back to the office. However, three quarters of employees say they would actively look for a new job if their employer’s flexible work policies were reversed.
For this reason, there is an increasing trend towards hybrid working, which ensures both the needs of the business and the new expectations and needs of its workforce are met. The remote working element allows distraction-free time to focus, while the office time promotes collaboration and face-to-face interaction. It is forecast that 39% of the global workforce will be hybrid by the end of 2023.
What would entice people back to the office?
A recent study by Sony Professional Display and Solutions Europe suggest that UK-based employees are keen to return to the office in some capacity, with just 7% backing fully remote working and 41% preferring to work from a dedicated company premises. However, eight in ten stated that they would like to see significant improvements to their company’s office, with a design that is better suited to modern working habits.
The workplace environment can have a significant impact on employee performance, so getting it right is crucial to success in the ever-changing landscape. Businesses must implement intelligent office design to ensure they create a workspace that is comfortable, adaptable, efficient and welcoming, which in turn will lead to happy and engaged employees who enjoy coming to the office.
How can I improve my workplace environment?
Consider redesigning your office space to reflect the changing needs of your workforce. Create open, collaborative areas for team meetings and brainstorming, while also providing quiet, private spaces for focused work. A well-designed workspace can enhance productivity and creativity. Here are ten areas to focus on when planning a new office design:
With flexibility crucial to retaining employees, your office space should support this by including different zones suited to the different tasks undertaken by your workforce. Clever solutions like Fathom’s storage wall systemcan be used to divide larger spaces into smaller areas to create breakout zones, meeting rooms and private workspaces. This allows employees to choose how and where they work within the office, significantly improving the workplace environment and their productivity.
Comfort is key when creating a welcoming and productive workspace for your employees. Ensure your workstations are ergonomically designed and adaptable to individual needs. Some people may prefer a standing desk, for example, while others may need a footrest or adjustable chair. Don’t compromise on practicality in the pursuit of style. Opt for something durable enough to stand the everyday wear-and-tear and comfortable enough to reduce the chances of any health problems.
It’s no secret that lighting can have a significant impact on mood, so it makes sense that the right lighting can improve the workplace environment. Take advantage of any natural light, arranging workstations close to windows or light tunnels where possible. Incorporate LED lighting, which imitates natural light, to lift dark corners and communal areas. Consider providing each employee with a personal desk lamp so they can control the lighting in their designated workspace to suit their preference.
While the UK lacks clear rules on workplace temperatures, it’s a no-brainer that working in an office that’s either too cold or too warm is not conducive to productivity or employee wellbeing. When considering your office design, it’s important to incorporate a heating and cooling system that retains the optimum temperature for a workplace environment, which is typically between 16°C to 24°C. It is also important to circulate fresh air wherever possible, so ensure employees have the options of opening windows if your space allows it.
Aside from the obvious aesthetic reasons for making your office look attractive, colours play a significant role in influencing employee productivity, so it’s well worth paying attention to their impact when choosing paint or artwork for your workspace. Blue hues can be mood enhancing, yellows can stimulate creativity, greens can offer reassurance and neutral tones can be calming. When planning the work zones in your office, choose colours that best suit the activity that will take place in each space.
Research has found that clutter has a negative impact on overall well-being, increasing stress and decreasing productivity. Intelligent workplace storage solutions, like these bespoke installations for PZ Cussons, ensure that everything has a place and reduces unnecessary mess and disorder. This leaves your employees free to work in a clean and tidy space and reduces time wasted in searching for items in amongst the chaos.
Biophilic office design is becoming increasing popular, fuelled by studies demonstrating that bringing nature into the workplace can boost both productivity and creativity. Plants can also enhance air quality and of course improve the aesthetic of the workplace environment, carving up open plan spaces into work zones. These planter units for digital agency, Fountain, bring the outside in to create a relaxing atmosphere, and double up as storage units for multifunctionality.
Nobody wants to work in an office where the technology – or lack of it – makes it difficult to complete tasks efficiently. There is nothing more frustrating than losing Wi-Fi in the middle of a task or being unable to load an impressive deck on outdated equipment. Many employees have better technology at home than in the office, so investing in the right technology that supports remote and in-person collaboration seamlessly in essential.
9. Home comforts
Employees who have been working from home are used to the comforts that go with it. To improve your workplace environment and entice your employees back to the office, look at providing similar facilities. Ensure bathrooms are kept clean and fully stocked, offer comfy sofas and relaxation areas for breaks, install a fully-equipped kitchen with decent coffee and a supply of snacks – all things that show your employees’ wellbeing in paramount.
Alongside the physical aspects on the workplace environment, it is also important to invest in team building and company culture. Hosting social events and activities can help to rebuild the sense of community that may have been lost during the pandemic. Employees who feel connected to their colleagues are more likely to want to come back to the office. Gift experiences like this one from Gilded Bee can go a long way in promoting workplace harmony.
As we navigate the post-pandemic world, employers must adapt to the evolving expectations of their workforce. Creating a welcoming workplace that enables employees to carry out their tasks with flexibility and ease is key. By implementing intelligent workplace solutions, organisations can foster an environment where employees not only want to return but thrive. Embrace the future of work, and your employees will follow suit, bringing with them renewed enthusiasm and productivity.
To improve your workplace environment, get in touch with Fathom’s expert team.