3 office design strategies for creating happy, productive workers

Office spaces that provide focus, balance, and choice are the ones that will improve employee experience, enhance performance, and drive innovation, according to Gensler's 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey.

The survey of more than 2,000 knowledge workers across the U.S. shows that just 25% of U.S. workers feel they work in an optimal workplace environment. As a result, workplace effectiveness has declined since 2008, as measured by comparative data between Gensler’s 2013 and 2008 U.S. Workplace Surveys.

Gensler cited three main drivers of employee dissatisfaction with their work environment:

Workplace density continues to increase — From 2010 to 2012, the average SF/person dropped from 225 to 176. This number is predicted to drop to as low as 100 SF/person by 2017.

Most offices don't offer a balance of collaborative and individual work spaces — 77% of survey respondents prefer quiet when they need to focus; 69% are dissatisfied with noise levels at their primary workspace.

Most offices don't offer choice when it comes to when and where to work — Employers who offer the choice of when and where to work have employees who are 12% more satisfied with their jobs and report higher effectiveness scores across all four work modes.

Three-step solution for office design

1. Provide effective focus space. "Enabling employees to perform their jobs effectively begins with supporting the individual, focused work that represents the core of their days and a critical aspect of employee and team performance," states the report. Workspaces should have a satisfactory noise level, be highly functional, and offer an attractive look and feel.

2. Collaborate without sacrificing focus. "Layering in alternative spaces and opportunities that support all work modes, from collaboration to learning and socializing, enables the connections that drive success in today’s knowledge economy," said the Gensler report. The availability of alternative meeting, circulation, and support spaces, as well as in-office amenities (eating areas, break rooms), are key to creating "balanced" work environments, or those prioritizing both focus and collaboration. 

3. Drive innovation through choice. Employers should offer anywhere (and anytime) working by providing a variety of spaces and the tools that allows employees to work remotely. Companies must pair the right tools and spaces with organizational policies that empower workers to best match space, tools, and tasks to achieve optimal productivity.

More on Gensler's 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey.


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