How office design can improve employee engagement

If your employees seem disengaged, look around your office space and consider some changes

Creating an office design that can encourage employees and coworkers in positive ways may sound challenging, even idealistic—but it’s a problem that WeWork is on a mission to solve. It’s the foundation for how the company began—as a builder of communities that connect people, ideas, and places.

Many of the companies that choose WeWork for their office space or headquarters are making a lifestyle choice. They’ve decided they want a modern, clean office design built to their specific needs. This likely includes the innovative attributes WeWork is known for, like inviting indoor spaces, access to the outdoors, and a combination of connected and private areas that can transform from a collaboration zone to quiet pods as needed. Once the foundation or floor plan is established, smaller design decisions are made that further inspire and engage teams to do great things. 

Office design impacts health and productivity

In a well-known study from Ohio State University and the National Institute of Mental Health, participants who worked in older buildings with low ceilings and loud air conditioners experienced more stress than employees in newer buildings with natural light and open layouts. Even more interesting, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, the stress followed the study participants home. Their uninspired office space left them feeling discouraged when they weren’t even there.

The Journal writer sums it up this way, “Most of us spend a good portion of our waking hours in the workplace, often in uninspiring (and shrinking) cubicles without much access to natural light. But how the workplace looks matters, a lot, to our health, emotions, and productivity.”

That is why WeWork and our clients want employees to feel welcome in office space that amplifies employee engagement. Comfortable decor, inspiring views, and opportunities for me time are all meant to engage employees and de-stress the work environment. 

Sensory engagement encourages employees

Incorporating tactile or visual details like art and photography draws employees into an experience that can be enjoyed solo or shared with coworkers. Textiles create atmosphere on the floors, walls, and furniture. For WeWork member companies, decisions come down to what type of atmosphere suits your goals for the space. If comfort is number one, you may lean toward cushy, ergonomic furniture. Warmth or cooling may be a priority, based on the local climate. Maintaining the flexibility to configure or even change spaces based on your head count may be top of mind as you consider the impact of unused or vacant space on employee mindset. 

Get outside or bring the outdoors in

Teams need mental and physical breaks during the day to stay productive. In fact, these breaks are linked to higher levels of employee engagement and creativity. From the Harvard Business Review: “Greenery isn’t just an air freshener that’s pleasant to look at, it can actually significantly boost employee well-being, reduce stress, enhance innovative potential, and boost a sense of connection. Yet most of us don’t spend much time in nature.” Your office should provide access to pedestrian zones, bike trails, terraces, or gardens that give employees a chance to take a breather and come back more inspired to work. Natural sunlight and living plants are also effective mood enhancers, air detoxifiers, and stress reducers. 

Foster community and collaboration

Common areas are great for catching up with coworkers, but they can also serve as event spaces for hosting clients or building neighbors. Branding your space also gives workers a sense of belonging to the community that is your company and ownership in the work you’re doing. 

Let’s get together and talk about how WeWork can design a more engaging office for your company.

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