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In a world where flexible working and working from home on set days has become the norm, it’s essential that as an employer you don’t lose sight of the importance of having an office workspace.

Whilst to some, it might just be a building, to others it’s an area for collaboration and support, a place to bring people together, share knowledge, provide a sense of purpose and reinforce your culture and brand.

Meaningful connections

The plethora of Zoom or Teams calls have made it impossible to replicate day-to-day staff encounters that enable the flow of information, knowledge and information. Whilst in the office there is still the opportunity for face-to-face conversations, natural communications in meetings, or shared spaces like open plan offices, kitchens and staff rooms, where meaningful connections can be made.

And it’s probably no surprise to learn that having staff together at the same time in the office can improve engagement and productivity. It can also aid learning and development, boost listening skills, aid feedback and allow your staff to build deeper and more trusted relationships.

Workplace design is increasingly important

But with the lure of working from home to compete with, employers must try to create a workplace where staff want to be and that might mean thinking about its design more carefully than ever before. It’s not just about offices full of desks, the modern day office has to deliver so much more – it needs to be multi-purpose, flexible and activity based. There needs to be quiet space where people can be left alone to work on their own, plus areas for collaboration or socialising with colleagues.

As well as the obvious benefit of finding a suitable place to meet the needs of their work, employees also want to know that their workspace delivers when it comes to their health and wellbeing.

A holistic approach is essential

A holistic approach to workplace design should provide a combination of spaces and facilities which balance business requirements with staff wellbeing. In addition, a successful workplace should minimise distractions and be capable of accommodating different work styles and preferences. Ergonomics, lighting, technology, relaxation, colour schemes and/or space for break outs, fitness activities and/or counselling, open, collaborative spaces to encourage teamwork and idea sharing, plus onsite catering is also important.

Essentially if your employees are going to a commute to your workplace, it must be a worthwhile experience – a destination perhaps, more than just a place to do work. It should also be a physical, safe space where your staff feel they can foster a sense of community and belonging, where they can work, interact and have some fun too.

What you should be looking to achieve is a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing workspace, one which demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and can improve employee well-being as well as increasing engagement and job satisfaction. And if you get it right, new starters will want to join and talent will feel valued and want to stay.

How can I help?

A well-designed office can significantly impact staff retention, for advice, help and support with any ideas that you have for improvement, please email caroline.robertson@actifhr.co.uk