Can office design help you attract and retain the best staff?

16th July 2019

Whatever industry sector you might work in, all organisations have the same focus when it comes to staff. You want to attract the best people for the job and, once you’ve found them, you want to ensure that you keep them in the business.

There are plenty of ways that you can do this. Improving the employee experience and focusing on your company culture are two obvious approaches. However, it’s also worth considering how your office design can not only encourage people to join the business but also make sure that they don’t want to leave.

We’ve already explored the relationship between office design and productivity, so we asked Helen Bartlett, Design Director at Paramount Interiors, to give us her thoughts on how office design can help to attract and retain the best staff for your business.

Finding the right balance

There’s a misconception that simply adding a few unusual or creative elements to an office will be enough to make it an interesting and engaging working environment.

However, while a slide from one floor to another might suit the Google offices, it’s not likely to go down well at a law firm.

One size does not fit all and every organisation will have different requirements. It’s also important to use the design of a workplace to present the organisation’s culture and brand

With this in mind, here are three potential styles of the workplace. There are clearly a lot more possible approaches than just these three. However, they can be adapted and combined to create working environments designed to attract and retain the best staff to your business.

An agile & adaptable workplace design

As businesses embrace more flexibility in the workplace, there is an opportunity for this to be reflected in the layout and design of the working environment.

While there might have been a time when a social space was a nice addition to an office, today employees expect somewhere to relax and socialise.

The agile workplace offers staff a different room for every task and the opportunity to pick and choose how and where they work.

When you consider that a 2018 study from Harvard Business School questioned the idea that open offices promote interaction as much as had been suggested, it’s hardly surprising that many businesses are recognising the importance of giving their employees private areas for discrete meetings.

The features of an agile & adaptable workplace design include:

  • A workspace split up into zones for differing needs
  • Sound-proof privacy pods
  • Social break-out spaces
  • IT systems to support remote working
  • Standing desks
  • Collaboration spaces with whiteboard walls

A healthy & happy workplace design

Employees’ mental and physical wellbeing is a key issue for many companies.

The World Green Building Council report on Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices found that office design could have a positive effect on both productivity and staff morale.

Incorporating wellbeing practices into an office design and understanding what your staff want and need from their working environment can help to keep them happy and motivated.

The design of the space can help to inspire more movement in the workplace, as well as encourage contemplation and relaxation.

Small things can often make a big difference. A comprehensive study into wellness and the office conducted by CBRE and the University of Twente found that people sat in window seats slept for 46 minutes longer than their colleagues and that plants in the office increased productivity by 10%.

The features of a healthy & happy workplace design include:

  • Ergonomic seating
  • Homely design elements like sofas and armchairs
  • An on-site gym
  • A mixture of social and private spaces
  • Acoustic panels
  • Natural and biophilic elements
  • Plenty of natural light

A workplace design to be proud of

This concept is all about the sense of pride that staff have when they work in an office they can’t wait to show off to visitors.

In this case, the workplace design is developed directly from an understanding of both employees’ needs and the company culture.

It’s the perfect opportunity to put the heart and soul of the business onto the walls of the office, whether that includes pictures of the company’s people and products or artwork that reflects the brand identity of the business.

This could also help to position the business in more unconventional ways.

A Wall Street Journal article explored the trend towards businesses making their office more “Instagrammable” by offering playful art that employees and clients can photograph and post on social media. It also encourages employees to come into the office rather than telecommute.

Features of workplace design to be proud of include:

  • Prominent examples of artwork
  • Bold features like sculptures or living walls
  • Digital wallpaper and bespoke backdrops

Ensuring that you attract and retain the best people

More organisations are recognising the importance of their workplace design.

These are just three of the ways your businesses could invest in the creation of an attractive, effective and engaging office environment.

By focusing on just a handful of these principles, you can ensure that your workplace design becomes one of the many reasons why potential employees want to work for you and existing employees want to stay working for you.