If employee engagement is down, an office tour may explain why

Companies have tackled their flagging employee engagement with intentionally designed space

Employee engagement is an ongoing challenge for companies of all sizes. In the seminal study of employee engagement conducted by Gallup back in 2015, only 32 percent of employees in the United States considered themselves engaged at work.

When people aren’t involved and enthusiastic about their work, it costs their employers money. A separate Gallup poll estimated that actively disengaged employees were costing U.S. businesses $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

How office design impacts employee engagement

There are plenty of proposed solutions—from selecting managers with the knowledge and talent to support their teams to implementing objective performance measurement frameworks such as OKRs. But there’s another more tangible potential fix: creating an inspiring workspace.

Architecture and design firm Gensler surveyed more than 6,000 full-time workers across the United States to determine what amenities had the greatest impact on effectiveness and experience. Topping the list were those that directly supported the work needs of individual employees and their teams: Spaces for team collaboration, group meetings, and focused solo work had much higher effectiveness and experience scores. Lounges and break rooms, on the other hand, had relatively small impacts.

Campari’s custom office fix

Gensler put those findings to the test when they designed the North American headquarters for Campari Group, a leading spirits company that’s home to Campari liqueur, SKYY vodka, and Wild Turkey bourbon. The New York office was designed with a series of “bars” that do triple-duty as reception areas, employee cafeterias, and coffee shops, giving people an alternate way to collaborate and interact away from their workstations.

One of the quickest ways for medium and large businesses to transform their workspace is by moving into a headquarters by WeWork private office. Companies can choose from a number of smaller white-labeled locations leased and managed by WeWork, allowing them to retain both physical and digital privacy as well as brand identity, with their name instead of WeWork’s on the front door. Of course, they also receive the hassle-free managed services bundled pricing that WeWork is known for. WeWork builds out the space behind the scenes, providing desks and chairs, conference rooms, lounge areas, IT infrastructure, utilities, security, and other services to get the team into the space and up and running faster. 

Oscar’s office environment overhaul

Health insurance startup Oscar recently worked with WeWork to design a space for its 500-plus employees in New York. The resulting workspace included amenities that matched Oscar’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle: a large room that can be used for yoga and other classes, and showers for those who bike to work. There are also small lounges with reconfigurable furniture arrangements, as well as a central library “quiet zone.”

When employees enjoy spending time at work and feel energized by their environment, satisfaction goes up. A recent study by industry groups for interior designers and furniture makers found that employees satisfied with their workplaces are more engaged, more supportive of coworkers, and less likely to quit. Another survey by professional services firm Aon revealed that the top attributes that make a company stand out to employees and potential employees are that it’s a “fun place to work” and offers a “flexible work environment.”

With the workforce seemingly more competitive than ever, people have more choice over their work environment. Smart companies make an inspiring workspace one of the key elements of their employee engagement strategy.

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