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Work environment matters

August 8, 2018

By Sara Pebbles, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

First it was replacing desk chairs with exercise balls, then it was open workspaces, now it is the standing desk.  Have all of these just been trends? Should employers let them come and go and not stray from the tried and true desk or cubicle? A new survey by Capital One suggests that employers need to pay attention to all of these trends because employees are becoming more concerned with the design of their workspace and citing it as a factor in their productivity and innovation.

The results of the 2018 Work Environment Survey found that most employees value the design and flexibility of their workplace.  85% of employees think flexible workplace design is important and 83% agree that a flexible workplace design leads to better ideas. The exercise ball chairs, open workspaces, and standing desks became popular because they were innovative ideas.  Nearly 4 in 5 employees (79%) agree that if companies want to encourage innovation, they cannot do so if they do not have an innovative environment. Executive level employees agreed even more, with 87% believing innovative ideas will come from an innovative environment compared to 77% of non-executives. Sitting in the same cubicle or at the same desk for years on end isn’t going to foster any new and exciting ideas for employees today.  

Just as a flexible workspace is important to employees, so is having more than one workspace.  You have probably at one point spent quite a bit of time at your desk trying to figure something out and were unable to move forward only to have a great idea while driving home.  80% of employees say they are more productive when they change their locations while working.  Being able to get up from the desk and even just going to another room helps employees stay on task and get more done.  

When it comes to the elements that matter in workplace design, employees would like to see the following in their workplace:

  • Natural light
  • Easily reconfigurable furniture and spaces
  • Artwork and creative imagery
  • Collaborative spaces
  • Spaces for rest and relaxation
  • Bold colors

Perhaps surprising to some is that employees place more importance on the design of the office as opposed to where the office is located. 2 in 3 employees (66%) say that workplace design is as important or more important than workplace location.  Executives feel even more strongly with 76% agreeing that design is as (or more) important than location, compared to 63% of non-executives.

Today’s employees are more in tune with their work style and what environment works best for them.  Since that won’t be the same for all employees, having flexible workplaces can make it easy for each employee to find the space that works for them.

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