No, you don’t need a slide in the boardroom—the four things corporate workplaces actually need

By Tushar Agarwal, CEO and co-founder, HubbleHQ

The workplace has changed dramatically in the last few years. Gone are the days of isolated grey office pods, with big, fixed computers and where hierarchy and a person’s position in the company was defined by their desk position or, if they were lucky, their own personal office. 

In today’s world of work, business leaders are taking the time to think about the specific requirements their teams need. Many have started to make the direct link between providing a good office space and productivity; you no longer need to be isolated in a cubicle to do your best work. Yet some companies have fallen into the trap of relying on “cool” amenities, like ping pong tables and bean bags, to attract top talent—when often this doesn’t really provide any meaningful support for the team. 

A topic of hot discussion during the American presidential election, Democratic nominee Michael Bloomberg promised to forego the Oval office and sit in an open plan office if he wins—opening up a conversation about breaking tradition and implementing a new approach in office layout. Whatever this means for each individual company, business leaders need to take the time to understand their employees, and use this information to create an office environment that is both pleasant to be in and conducive to work. 

Never underestimate the basics 

The first step to creating a place where people want to come and work is to make sure all the basics are there to provide a frictionless day in the office. 

It sounds obvious, but these things are often overlooked. Don’t underestimate the power of good air con, working lifts, clean toilets and kitchens, as well as superfast internet connectivity and an efficient front of house team. Having a good amount of natural light is also essential in keeping up team spirits—very few people thrive in a basement atmosphere.

The basics need to be executed properly before you even start to consider the added bonuses. There’s no point having a pool table in a dark, stuffy office with ultra-slow WiFi. 

Make sure you have enough meeting rooms! 

An intelligent office layout is also hugely important in maintaining a productive workforce. Workspace that offers a good balance of privacy and breakout space for agile working is key for many businesses, and providing an environment that promotes collaboration will also help with morale. While open plan offices do encourage more collaboration and companionship within companies, meeting rooms remain in high demand; in 2019, they were one of the most searched for office facilities on—second only to WiFi. Meeting rooms are not only a necessity when it comes to hosting external meetings, but also as a place employees can escape to for some peace and quiet for confidential meetings and calls. 

Interestingly, having an entirely open plan office has been shown to reduce face-to-face communication. Research conducted in 2019 and backed by Harvard Business Review analysed two Fortune 500 firms that had moved from cubicles to open spaces. The results showed that face-to-face interaction fell by a drastic 70%. Without meeting rooms, employees were talking to each other through a keyboard rather than in person—which ultimately killed the whole office atmosphere. 

Be savvy with your office design

Recent studies have shown that plants and artwork have a positive impact on people’s productivity, creativity and happiness—so why don’t we bring more into the office? 

During a 12-year study, Dr Craig Knight found that people in an environment filled with art and greenery worked 15% more quickly than those who didn’t. In other studies, plants have been proven to reduce stress, and by introducing one plant for every three people, air quality can be significantly improved—great news on all accounts, from the professional to the environmental. 

Many big corporates are already taking this on board—Deutsche Bank has 60,000 pieces of art spread across its 900 offices; the biggest collection of art among all big corporates. They also encourage employees to immerse themselves with the art world, providing detail on all of the works of art as well as hosting talks with artists. There are also businesses that provide art on a rental basis, so companies who may not have the capital to buy art can loan them instead. 

For companies keen to tap into the benefits of biophilia, there are numerous office spaces in London putting nature at the forefront of their design; the ever-popular Second Home in Shoreditch, for example, is filled with thousands of plants and trees, and is bursting with natural light—creating an enjoyable atmosphere that is kinder to mental wellbeing. 

Adding these small touches that are neither intrusive nor distracting is a great way to create a positive working environment for all employees to thrive in.

Prioritise work-life balance—even in the office

It’s important to be able to separate your home life from your work life, but sometimes this just isn’t possible—and we’ve seen an increasing number of requests for office services such as childcare, which has seen a 147% increase, or for dog-friendly offices. 

With more parents with young families in the workforce than ever, and the cost of childcare becoming increasingly expensive, having childcare onsite would be invaluable for many parents. Business leaders should think about what their employees need to make their lives easier and less pressured when they’re at work so they can feel comfortable that their loved ones—furry or otherwise—have somewhere safe to be during the working day. 

There’s no doubt that the traditional office space has changed drastically in the last few years. Companies are now providing spaces for their employees to work in that are enjoyable, positive and engaging. This positive attitude is having a significant impact on the mental wellbeing of employees and, as a result, increasing productivity and happiness in a big way. Companies need to consider what their teams really want and need, before simply adding in a slide or ping-pong table for the sake of it.

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