Strictly Business – Is your no-nonsense workplace hindering your performance?

08 Oct 2014 by Sarah Leembruggen.

In our recent Salary Survey, we asked participants what factors ensure commitment to their current employer. Unsurprisingly, the top-ranking answers included having clear career progression, ownership of role and more challenges and responsibilities. When asked what they regarded as important when looking for a new role, similar answers ranked highly: an opportunity to scale the career ladder, a higher salary and a feeling of empowerment. Again, nothing unforeseen. We were, however, dealt one small curveball. In response to both of these questions, there was one other factor that scored big. It would appear that employees place a high value on their working environment.

Perhaps we should have been more prepared to see the large show of hands in favour of a pleasant atmosphere in the office. We have, after all, had first-hand experience of candidates who have cited ‘a grotty office’ as their reason for leaving a job. Conversely, we’ve heard on a number of occasions how the office environment has been the deal breaker when deciding whether to accept a job or not.

The working environment says a lot about a business and can give clues as to how professional it is, and the general attitude of staff and management. A thoughtfully-designed space, with attention to the ergonomic details, will no doubt rub off on employees, helping to make them more proficient and in turn, more valuable to the business.

We’ve seen a few workspaces in our time and yes, we’ve all drooled a little at the big corporate offices with amazing views and onsite gym facilities. We’ve been (possibly a little too) excited by the some of the fancy agencies with state of the art chill-out areas and kitchens offering free homemade soup and fresh fruit. Naturally these are not the only things that have impressed us. A gorgeous office soon loses its allure if it’s so clean and tidy that you’re afraid to put anything down for fearing of marking the polished surfaces; similarly if the atmosphere is so quiet that you find yourself forming an exit strategy before you’ve even sat down. A working environment can look as good as one on the cover of a style magazine, but it needs to feel right too. A warm welcome, a friendly buzz, a good level of energy and touches of individuality go a long way.

So don’t start thinking you need to carry out an extreme makeover. Just investing a little time and thought into your office space could have a large bearing on the attitude and productivity of your employees.

Why not talk about some of these points at the next team brainstorming session to decide if it’s time your work environment had a bit of a facelift?

The heat is on (or off?)

What temperature suits everyone best? Is everyone comfortable with the setting of the heat or air conditioning? It’s highly unlikely that you’ll all agree upon this one but an open discussion may result in a reshuffle of desks or seating so that everyone is in a spot that allows them to work well.

Feeling dazzled?

As well as influencing personal well-being and health, light also has a positive impact on motivation and performance. This is one area where it may be worth investing in some ergonomically designed lighting. Call in an expert to establish the perfect balance of indirect and direct light sources as well as a balance of natural and artificial light. The right combinations and quality of lighting will enhance work performance.

To personalise or not?

Give employees a bit of freedom to create a workspace that fits their personality. Remember that everyone will have a different style of working and while a clear and orderly desk with pencils sharpened to the exact same length will work for one member of the team, piles of papers and nik-naks that make the surface of the desk a distant memory will be what gets another member firing on all fours.

Give everyone a say.

What matters to one person won’t bother the next. If you can create a space that caters to the individuality of each team member, you’ll have a positive physical working environment which is going to lead to greater job satisfaction, longer employee retention and have a bearing on attracting the right kind of talent to the team.

Is your working space in need of a few cosmetic touch-ups? Or have you already made some positive changes? Let us know!

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