5 Ways to Design a Workplace Your People Actually Want To Go To
By Stephen P. Rush, Vice President of Leasing, Brandywine Realty Trust
Exceptional offices are the centerpiece of a successful work eco-system. Here’s how great companies can make their spaces irresistible.
The COVID pandemic has scrambled people’s relationships with their workplaces. While operating from home has left a lot of employees disconnected, overwhelmed and anxious about their jobs, many of those same workers are still unsure about going back to the office. As MIT Sloan Management Review recently reported, “Many employees have become hesitant to incur the personal costs of going to the office if they think they’ll have exactly the same interactions that could have been done virtually.”
And yet, the office remains at the center of the work ecosystem — a place crucial to helping organizations and employees maximize their potential.
To bridge that gap, future-ready companies are starting to think about their workspaces differently, creating places that really are a value-add for employees. Here are five steps organizations can take to make the office feel less like a mandate and more like a magnet.
1. Make it a place to connect.
The reason the physical workplace remains critical to both company and employee success is simple: It’s where relationships are formed and fostered. Strong relationships and energizing interactions are essential in an array of areas, from mentoring and idea-sharing to building a sense of purpose in an organization.
For companies, that means offering workers a dynamic mix of spaces that allow them to connect with others. Brainstorming with a team. Meeting one-on-one with a manager or mentor. Having serendipitous (but impactful) encounters with people from other departments. All are crucial to creating a dynamic organization that performs and continues to evolve. “Creating more effective interactions will generate an organic pull where people begin to see the value of coming in,” according to management professors Rob Cross and Peter Gray.
2. Make it personal.
In a more virtual work world, some companies are abandoning individual work spaces in favor of hoteling concepts — allowing employees to reserve common spaces throughout the office rather than using permanently assigned spaces. Companies that are embracing hoteling may also find value in considering ways to simultaneously add a level of employee personalization within the space. The Journal of Corporate Real Estate reported in a review of the existing literature on this topic, that a full 73% of workers said that personalizing their space to their individual work style would make them more productive and more satisfied.
3. Make it green.
Sustainability has become a front-burner issue for many organizations, and for strong reasons. In addition to the potential social good that comes from it, high-performing companies understand it’s critical for attracting and hiring the best talent. In a recent survey from Fast Company, 70% of millennial workers said they preferred to work for a company with a strong sustainability agenda. Additionally, according to a survey from the U.S Green Building Council, 90% of workers in LEED-certified buildings said they were satisfied on the job, and 79% said they would choose a job in a LEED-certified building over one in a non-LEED-certified building.
4. Make it healthy and energizing.
Research continues to grow about how the physical office environment impacts employee health and productivity. And it’s something employees are demanding. According to the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report, 87% of workers said they wanted their company to offer healthier workplace options, from ergonomic seating and wellness rooms to healthy lunch options and company fitness benefits.
That’s one reason more organizations are adapting the Fitwel and WELL Building Standard for their workplaces. WELL offers a roadmap for creating and certifying spaces, focusing on seven concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
5. Make it a place to have fun.
Smart organizations continue to provide their employees with an amenity rich environment — offering fitness facilities, coffee bars and much more. However, while high-quality amenities remain important to employees, they are also seeking events and experiences that provide opportunities to engage with one another, have fun and build community. There is an increasing need for personal connectivity, and casual get-togethers can provide that — ultimately making the office a place where employees are eager to be.
Stephen P. Rush currently serves as vice president of leasing for Brandywine Realty Trust. Rush has been with Brandywine since 2001 and works closely with Brandywine’s urban development team in developing the marketing and leasing plans for new developments in University City, Philadelphia.