Tips for creating engaging workspaces

I recently attended an event on ‘User Experience’. This particular seminar was on ensuring end-users are engaged, researched and tested before product development commences. Thinking about what humans physically and mentally need to thrive, verses what many workspaces provide, I left wondering why all of our spaces are not designed for the ultimate user experience?

If a company’s biggest overhead is staff wages, designing spaces to suit users just makes sense, and the financial loss from 75% staff disengagement is too big to be ignored.

Designs should match your corporate culture

We were often asked during our green building research, how do we improve staff productivity? There has been a growth in Activity Based Working (ABW) and Open Plan environments, but it is so important to remember the end-users when designing the workspace. A blanket approach following the latest trends may not be relevant and applicable for all companies. It is necessary to find the mix of spaces that suit the type of work done at your company, and your workforce. Your space should reflect the corporate culture you are aiming to achieve.

Productivity and engagement factors to consider

In a busy and rapidly changing world there are many factors in and out of the workplace that impact productivity. For example, stress at home, health issues, work satisfaction, colleagues, relationship with your boss, indoor environment quality – the list goes on.  Rex Miller summarises this well, leaders need to recognise that life and work stresses now intermingle and boundaries are blurred. It is necessary to recognise these overlaps and provide suitable spaces that are both safe and engaging. Business that can meet the needs today’s fast-paced life presents, will minimise the risk of unproductive and disengaged staff.

Meaningful work, meaningful spaces

In today’s age, people want meaningful work, and to contribute to a greater good. We are seeing the growth of social and ethical enterprises, the start-up space in this area is booming. And this will only increase as Gen Y enter the workforce. Embracing sustainability is a method to keep up with this growing corporate force of good, and an easy staff engagement tool often missed off the radar. Active and well communicated CSR and sustainability objectives that match your company culture can connect with staff. For example, locally sourced and recycled materials in fit-outs, connections to local businesses, recycling, support for community projects, tracking and reducing environmental impact of your operations…to name just a few. These are ways your staff can connect to your business on a personal level, and feel comforted that they are part of a bigger picture.

And although it comes down to the bottom line – our buildings can successfully do both – improve productivity and be environmentally sustainable.

Creating productive spaces are important, but creating sustainable spaces are the future of good business. One day I hope we don’t even need the term sustainable, it will just be the norm.

How much do you love your workspace? How connected do you feel to a bigger picture? Would love to hear!

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Dr Sam Hall

Dr Sam Hall

Sam is the founder of Spaces Alive. She's an advocate for re-imaging our cities and buildings to prepare for the future of work and study.