If you are like the majority of the workforce you spend your days at the office. In fact, based on the average 40-hour workweek, over the course of our careers, it is estimated that we spend up to 10.3 years of our lives at work, and most of that time at the office. Add in dingy, out-of-date office spaces, with too many walls and too little light, and that number can quickly become depressing.
It is no surprise that according to research from Gensler, an optimal physical environment can serve as a foundation for an effective and engaged workforce. In fact, research shows that there is a strong correlation between employees reported engagement levels and reported satisfaction with the workspace environment.
A comfortable workspace is something that ensures simple amenities such as a properly functioning elevator (those interested can see here to learn more), so that employees don’t need to take stairs. As well, as innovative solutions to improve employee engagement where they feel valued. Needless to say, any company that values its employees and keeps their needs at the forefront is sure to prosper.
Additionally, companies may also engage employees with special holidays, workations, yearly office trips, and interactive business events. They can book a resort and take the whole team on a weekend getaway or reserve an events venue for a corporate party where employees can connect with colleagues, make new business contacts, enjoy assorted food and beverages, and more. These small and big engrossing activities can help a company improve employee engagement and retention.
With that in mind here are our favorite 5 trends (some a bit over the top, some more realistic) for creating an office where your employees will love to spend time:
Room to Roam – Research from Gensler shows that, “employees who are given a choice of when and where to work are higher performing, more satisfied, and see their companies as more innovative.” This could mean offering the option to work remotely for a few days a week or month, but it doesn’t have too. It could be as simple as creating more unassigned work spaces within the office where employees can choose to spend part of the day. Think lounge areas with laptop charging stations and “coffee shop-esque” counter-height tables along the windows. You could also make the actual office spaces more comfortable by bringing in ergonomic and flexible chairs and functional desks like those found on office monster. This way, both the work and chill zones can be places of productivity + creative downtime.
Space to Play – Several studies have found that adults can become more creative if they think and act like children. How can this be translated into the workplace? Investing in table football (foosball) is a classic example (for game rules, see how to play table football). My personal favorite, having a closet full of board games for employees to play throughout the day (because who wouldn’t love to challenge their co-workers to a game of Candy Land over lunch?). Want to go over the top to bring out the inner child? Red Frog Events in Chicago boasts an office with a huge tree house, complete with rope-bridge and slide… just sayin’.
Food, food, food (and coffee, of course) – I think that the title of this Inc. article says it all – “Want Happier Employees? Feed Them.” According to the article, and research by Seamless, 60% of employees surveyed said that having food at the office would make them feel more valued and appreciated, and 40% said that having food in the office would reduce stress. Make sure that the break room is well stocked with (good) coffee and snacks that employees can access throughout the day. Offering healthy brain foods like blueberries, yogurt and nuts, in addition to the typical vending machine fare, can lead to improved concentration, lower stress and a much needed afternoon energy boost.
Nap Time – The benefits of a short nap during the workday cannot be understated. A NASA study showed that a nap of 26 minutes could boost productivity by as much as 34% and increase alertness by 54%. A few companies are embracing the napping trend. HubSpot has a nap room featuring a giant hammock and soothing cloud painted walls. Google has “energy pods,” or giant reclining chairs in a bubble that even have a built in alarm so you don’t miss your next meeting. No space for a nap room? No problem. Just work to make napping an acceptable part of the company culture and send the message that naps are encouraged as long as performance goals are being met. Where there is a will to nap, people will find a way (in fact, you employees might already be sneaking some shut-eye into their day).
Pet Friendly – So this is the most over the top, but definitely the best of the bunch (in my opinion). We have all heard of the multiple benefits that interaction with animals and pet therapy can offer. Improved mood, sharper focus, lower blood pressure, decreased levels of anxiety and stress, the list goes on and on. So why are those benefits reserved for when we come home to our pets? A government office in New Mexico offers a “kitten library” where employees can check out a kitten (from a local shelter and also available for adoption) to bring back to their workspace for the afternoon. Other ideas to incorporate our furry friends: Offer a once a month (or quarterly) Bring Your Pet to Work Day or set up a regular cadence of afternoons where employees can leave work to volunteer at a local shelter.
Have any favorite office trends that we should add to the list? We would love to hear them. Tweet your ideas at @MeridianKS!