Nobody should have to go to work thinking, oh this is the place that I might die today. That’s what a hospital is for. An office is for not dying. An office is a place to… live life to the fullest. To the max. An office is a place where dreams come true.
We love him, we hate him, but Michael Scott from The Office got this right. Companies want to keep their employees motivated. One of the factors that keep employees motivated is the physical workplace environment.
The physical workspace includes everything we can touch, see, and smell or taste. It’s the office floor plans, the graffiti on the walls, and any perks we might receive, like meals in a lovely cafeteria, or a lounge area, or a workout area, that employees can go to for refreshing themselves.
There are numerous studies behind physical work spaces and how to manage them to increase employee productivity. Still, the essence of the matter is that employees are different, their motivators are diverse, and most importantly, their working habits may be dissimilar.
A general mistake that companies make is that they design their entire workplace in uniformity. Workplaces should not stick to a single floor plan but branch out to different models to accommodate all kinds of workers. That way, if certain employees feel that they would like to work alone in their own spaces at the start of their day, they can. If they want to work on a project collaboratively after lunch, they can work in a different area, perhaps on a sofa with their colleagues, or have a meeting over a game of billiards.
One of the organizations to recognize the need for that is LinkedIn. LinkedIn has successfully used its Workplace Design Lab to regularly innovate its office after experimenting with different workplace designs for even the regular aspects of the workplace.
Another essential aspect of designing work spaces is to make sure they reflect the company’s culture. An organization that has managed to do that is Airbnb. Be it Presidential suites, log cabins, or meeting tents, Airbnb’s headquarters has them all to represent the various kinds of homes they have welcomed into their network throughout the years.
One thing common in all companies known for their workplace designs is their constant practice of updating and innovating. Modern companies need to realize that their workforce demographics are now quad-generational. A mix of millennial workers with Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, and baby boomers is typical for most offices today. Here, each group has its own way of working. Thus, work-spaces need to be designed in a way to accommodate all, and the focus should be on constant improvement to ensure maximum collaboration.
A vital question that also needs to be answered is how companies today ensure that employees’ physical environment is such that employees are productive round the clock when companies are increasingly adopting the WFH or WFA culture.
A low-cost yet effective practice that can be adopted by companies is to set calendars such as Work from a garden day (or somewhere with trees and plants across), Work from a café- day, a day to work from open space, and encourage employees to make arrangements to abide by them. The areas can be experimented with, but the motive behind this should be to encourage employees to get out of their rooms where most of them would now not only sleep but also spend their working hours.