How The Right Office Can Increase Employee Engagement

There is a lot of noise surrounding employee engagement at the moment, with businesses large and small undertaking initiatives to improve the relationship that employees have with their organisations and become more engaged.

While staff engagement surveys, employee engagement strategies and giving employees more flexibility seem to be the order of the day, the office environment can play a huge part in keeping your employees both happy at work, and with a positive view of the organisation in which they work.

So how can the right environment help to increase employee engagement, and how can you take this into account if you are finding an office. 


Why engaged employees build better businesses

There have been numerous studies which show the correlation between engaged employees and productivity. In fact, figures suggest that companies who benefit from high engagement scores have revenue levels on average 4.5 higher than those with the lowest. It’s clear that an engaged workforce can lead to organisational success. 

While these top-line figures are compelling, digging a little deeper shows that revenue is not the sole reason for seeking to engage your employees in a meaningful way. A study undertaken by Gallup showed that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement experience 10% higher customer ratings. After all, if you consider your workforce as another customer stakeholder, the way in which you treat them is likely to reflect on your customers. Happy employees with aa high level of job satisfaction will project this outwardly giving a more positive reflection of your organisation.


How the office environment affects your staff

Although many businesses are moving towards more flexible ways of working, both in terms of flexible hours and working from remote locations, the fact is that the average individual will spend one-third of their life at work.

Therefore, how welcoming the office actually is can deeply affect employee wellbeing. Take a look at the plans for Google’s new London headquarters, which include a sky garden, swimming pool, massage rooms and a running track, and you can see how big business is looking to look after its employees.

And there is a clear reason why. Research from Steelcase found a clear correlation between high levels of engagement and high levels of satisfaction with the work environment. Additionally, according to Fellowes, 34% of workers have said that they have considered moving jobs due to the negative impact that their work environment has on their health.


Improving employee engagement through office design

While sadly we cannot all build offices quite as grand as Google HQ, when either looking to let a new office or making plans to renovate an existing office, you can take incorporate certain features of the larger organisations.

-        Create flexible working areas

With more “knowledge workers” in the workplace than ever before, and with an increasingly diverse workforce, it can be extremely beneficial to offer different areas which suit different tasks. For example, your sales department may be a loud, sociable team who need this environment to thrive. However, for the IT manager who is poring through spreadsheets next to them, it may be a little… distracting.

Additionally, many workers take on a variety of tasks throughout the day, and offering a variety of environments in which they can do so can be extremely beneficial.

-        Consider social spaces

It is hugely beneficial for staff to have appropriate break rooms where they can take a break from the office, whether it’s somewhere to eat lunch or take a quick coffee break. Research has shown the when employees take time to recharge, productivity actually increases.

Wherever possible, when planning for break out spaces in your office building, consider differing uses. For example, large round tables for those who wish to socialise to gather around are great – but sometimes your staff may want to take a break to recharge their batteries in a quieter area.


-        But don’t forget privacy

Privacy is one of the key elements of an ideal workspace. Research in the Journal of Environmental Psychology shows that worker satisfaction is dependent on maintaining some level of privacy, and the social benefits of open-plan offices can be outweighed by their negative impact on employee well-being.

While this does not mean that all employees should work in their own private offices, it does show the offering a range of spaces in which to collaborate, and somewhere more appropriate for a private chat, or just “getting on with things” can be incredibly beneficial.


-        Get the acoustics right

If you’ve ever tried to write a report with someone taking a loud call next to you, you’ll know the noise levels can have a direct impact on the quality of your work.

In fact, workers can be up to 66% less productive when exposed to just one nearby conversation. With the rise of the open-plan office, noise levels are rising, and this can seriously impact the output of your teams. Choosing to zone areas can be one of the best ways of tackling office noise, however small changes such as the addition of plants can even help to combat noise levels in the workplace.


- The right facilities for your culture

When it comes to office design, there is no “one size fits all”. While collaborative spaces and walking desks may suit a cutting edge marketing agency, it may not be the right fit for say, a Barristers Chambers.

Before searching for a new office, take the time to ensure that your business culture is defined, and work towards sourcing office space that can be planned to attain your goals. Consider what your employees working life should look like. While internal factors are important, there are also external factors such as location to consider. Positioning can be key – for example renting an office in Central London, may be of benefit to your staff and customers if you want a buzzing location.

Whatever your business requirements, if you are considering an office move, Pearl and Coutts offer a variety of office space to let across the UK.