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There is often a disconnect between what employees want and what employers think employees want. Employers are often scratching their heads about the best way to retain top talent and to keep employees engaged in the workplace. Given the increased demand for talent in a fast-paced market, keeping an employee productive and content is no easy task!
We have seen all sorts of attempts to ‘Google up’ offices in a bid to nature a more productive and healthier workforce. Ping pong tables, rock climbing walls, mindfulness, onsite gyms, sleep pods are all in the mix and the list goes on.
Yet according to Gallup (a consultation group) over two-thirds of employees are still disengaged at work, leading to a significant drop in productivity, morale and performance.
So, what do employees want from an office?
You might be surprised!
A recent study in the USA of 1600 employees by Future Workplace showed that employees cared less about the Google-like perks such as bowling alleys, and craft beer happy hours and cared more about the basics of human survival, such as air, light and water.
According to the survey’s results, three out of four employees say the air quality in their offices is substandard. That’s a very high number of people (75 percent) working in offices with bad air.
A further, 50 percent of those surveyed say the poor air quality makes them sleepy, and 33 percent report irritation to their throats or eyes due to their poor at-work air.
It’s obviously a large undertaking to revamp your existing office into an official green building, so it may be just a case of working out better ventilation methods throughout the building?
If, however, you are looking for a quick fix in the meantime, Atmosklear portable and fixed devices work efficiently to sterilise the air you breathe whether you are in the office, in the car or at home?
As for natural light, which is well known to be positively correlated with health, 40 percent of those surveyed said they should be able to have a view of the outdoors, and 33 percent note that a comfortable level of light is key to their well-being. Again, as with air ventilation, creating new windows or skylights in an office can be a costly and timely exercise.
There are however a few products such as Big Sky Dome and Big Sky Horizon which can help create an environment which helps create comfortable light levels whilst at work.
We have all become used to personalising our outside-of -work lives. We can easily set up our Netflix and Spotify to the films or music we want to watch or listen to. At home we can easily adjust our thermostats and dim our lights, in some cases by using an app on our smart phones.
The Harvard Business Review carried out a survey which revealed that 42% of employees would trade a paid holiday for the chance to personalise their work environment.
Specifically, employees want to:
Personalise workplace temperature:
You may not think it, but the office temperature does matter to most people. It’s a hot topic that can leads to workplace disagreements because people function at different temperatures. Being too hot at work can cause headaches, lower concentration while lower temperatures can increase blood pressure and cause illness to develop.
Some companies are working on technology and apps based on thermol imaging which set the temperature to the optimum setting, based on the body temperature of each employee.
It’s a challenge to create, or find, a one size fits all solution when it comes to finding a system which provides optimum temperature for all employees in the office.
For companies that don’t want to invest in a whole new air-conditioning system they can apply a simple strategy which comes down to changing the floor plan by introducing acoustic pods which have their own air conditioning systems.
By creating different work zones, hubs and office pods planed around where the heating system is located, employees can simply choose to work in pods or warmer or cooler areas within the office, in line with their preferences.
Personalise overhead and desk lighting:
According to the Harvard Business Review one third of employees want to control or personalise their overhead and desk lighting, as well as the natural light streaming in.
Has your work ever been interrupted by a glare of sunlight hitting your eyes? Or maybe you have been affected by the blinds in the meeting room that have been left closed, making the office feel darker?
Employees now want the ability, via apps, to control the light and natural light source from their office desks. This might sound either demanding and wildly unrealistic, but it is happening.
Employees working at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals can use a cell phone app that lets them control the amount of natural light streaming through the glass of their office windows; it’s a shame there isn’t an app that can control the British weather!
Personalise noise levels:
From the Harvard Business Review study one third would like to ‘soundscape’ their workspace. Sound is a big issue for employees and improved sound quality is high up on the list of what employees want when they are in the office. We all know it’s hard to concentrate when there is excessive noise in the office. Telephone calls, conversations, visitors, all generate so much noise and is a distraction for those trying to focus and concentrate on a task.
For companies who can’t personalise acoustics on each workstation, they can simply adapt and recreate the workspace. How? By creating a floor plan that includes ‘neighborhoods’ of agile workspaces designed specifically for collaboration, or remote working configurations for those who choose to work alone.
By functional, we mean height adjustable or sit stand desks. These types of desks allow employees to change and vary their posture throughout the working day.
This again goes back to employees wanting to personalise their workspace by giving them the flexibility of being able to work seated or standing, or simply at different levels according to their preferences.
We offer a vast array of sit stand desks which are available in a choice of manual and electric options. In addition, we can supply desk frames such as the Rapid Height Adjustable Desk Frame and Control which means you can repurpose your existing desktop.
Given the amount of time people spend seated in their office chairs, their comfort should be a top priority. After all, ergonomic chairs can dramatically increase comfort and productivity and help to improve posture. Investing in good office seating, put simply, is an investment into the health of the workforce.
There are of course many more things that employees want from an office including in house coffee bars and smaller meeting rooms but not everything can be done so easily or quickly.
It may be surprising to learn from the survey that employees were more focused on the basics such as air, natural light and office acoustics, but we are human after all! Games and quirky ‘Google perks’ only have a limited feel-good factor. It seems that our innate human desire to breathe and make ourselves comfortable throughout the day, literally wins the day!
We also think it’s important to recognise that employees want to personalise their office space, as we have become used this level of choice in everything we do in life from shopping online, customising online products to ordering bespoke furniture solutions. By applying this level of personalisation for each person in the workplace, we will no doubt be on our way to creating a positive, motivated happy workforce.
We hope this blog has inspired you to make some changes to your workplace!
Let us know what you would like to improve within your office too!
Office Reality is a resource for those who look to source and buy office furniture, contract furniture, healthcare furniture and equipment
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