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First impressions

Almost half of candidates have said that the room where they were interviewed for a job would influence their opinion of whether or not to work there. This confirms, says Mark Phillips, MD, K2 Space, why the workplace should not be viewed as an inflexible cost centre but rather a space that can have a huge impact on productivity, staff retention and talent attraction

Office design has evolved at a rapid rate over the past decade, moving from a traditional focus on functionality and maximising headcounts to becoming an increasingly staff-centric exercise. Today, companies endeavour to create work environments that cater to the needs of all staff, be they functional, personal or even emotive. This concept has gained such traction that a recent study by Deloitte (Global Human Capital Trends) revealed 79 per cent of executives rated workplace experience as a critical issue to improve productivity and enable growth.

Furthermore, research of 150,000 employees worldwide by Leesman – regarded as the world’s largest measure of workplace effectiveness – found that only 55 per cent of respondents feel that the design of their workplace enables them to work productively.

This tallies with new research from London office design company, K2 Space, who worked with YouGov to survey 1,000 UK office based workers and found that over 30 per cent of respondents felt that their current office was dated, uninspiring and in need of a complete refurbishment. This survey also found that one in five respondents felt that they would be more productive in a better-designed workplace.

Increasingly, companies strive to make a statement through creating an impressive workplace which reflects who they are and what they do, and that critically leave a positive impression not just on clients but also prospective and current staff. There is now a prevailing sense that office design really does say a lot about an organisation and that it is something which will continue to rise in importance on the corporate agenda.

It is fair to say that nobody wants to work in a drab, cluttered environment where they don’t feel productive. This is where office design can play a greater role through creating an environment which can create the right first impression and also help to attract (and retain) the very best staff.

Interestingly, the K2 Space survey found that almost half (48 per cent) of respondents agree that the room where they were interviewed for a job would influence their opinion of whether or not to work for an organisation. For employers, this serves a stark reminder that first impressions really do count and that they need to think carefully about the visitor experience when designing their workplace. This was particularly high within Medical & Health services at 69 per cent, Sales & Marketing at 57 per cent, and Finance & Accounting at 53 per cent.

Millennials are more likely to be influenced by the setting of an interview than any other generation at 54 per cent, however, numbers were also high amongst Boomers and Generation X at 45 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. Fifty per cent of employees working in large organisations are more likely to be swayed by where they’re interviewed, but only slightly more so than those working in small and medium-sized businesses.

When designing any workplace, one of the first questions should revolve around what you want your new office to say about your business and what impression you want your new office to make on clients and staff alike. The answers to these questions create the basis of the brief which office designers will use to create any new workplace and as such require careful consideration and discussion. Companies and people work and collaborate in different ways and the goal for office designers is to establish what would work best for the company in question before starting to design.

It may be tempting to follow trends and current fads and think that by adding a table tennis table or dartboard, you’ve improved the workplace and that’s job done – but in order to create a happy workforce you need to understand your people, understand how they work and then build the workplace around their specific needs. Workplaces are essentially all about the people in them and, as such, must be built around the people doing the work, rather than based on perceived notions of what an office should or shouldn’t look like.

The survey also asked respondents what could be done to improve their office space with the following responses:

  • Increase the amount of natural light in the workplace (32 per cent)
  • Introduce more colour, artwork & graphics (31 per cent)
  • Introduce private spaces for taking calls & for concentration (30 per cent)
  • Inclusion of more informal breakout spaces (29 per cent)
  • Better quality tea, coffee & snacks (28 per cent)
  • Inclusion of sit-stand desking (20 per cent)
  • Better showering/wash facilities (20 per cent)

What this highlights is the importance of maximising natural light and providing staff with a variety of spaces where they can work comfortably depending on the task at hand and whether it requires collaboration or concentration.

All of the above factors have become the expectation in modern workplaces and if your organisation is intent on attracting (and retaining) the very best talent in what is a challenging marketplace, investing in creating a workplace that not only meets but exceeds their expectations should be a priority – great staff deserve a great workplace – and great workplaces attract the best staff.

More than a third of workers are dissatisfied in their current jobs, citing poor relationships with their managers and a lack of development opportunities as the reasons they’re planning to seek new jobs, according to The Institute of Leadership & Management’s latest survey. The Institute has some advice for those workers who feel dissatisfied at work, and are considering looking for a new role:

⇒ Let your manager know you want to be challenged. If you feel you’re under appreciated by your manager, talk to them to find out what they value and where they think you can improve. Let them know how you feel and what else you can give the business.

⇒ Seek opportunities and volunteer. If you feel like you’re not making any progress, ask to take on more responsibility or try to find new opportunities that will help to address this issue.

⇒ Set a timescale to achieve the improvements you want. Doing this will help both you and your manager to understand how you want your career to develop, how you’re going to go about it and create a benchmark for success.

www.institutelm.com 

About Sarah OBeirne

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