- “Fancy” work equipment like ping-pong tables are out. Instead, workers want to feel an emotional connection to their environment.
- This can be achieved through physiologically appealing design elements such as biophilia, flexibility of choice, and natural light.
- Brian Parker of Cooper Carry shares ideas on how to create an emotional connection to the workplace to help attract and retain employees.
This article was written by Brian Parker and originally appeared on Work Design Magazine.
Gone are the days of ping-pong tables and nap pods, as recruits and interview candidates no longer seem enticed by these “fancy” pieces of equipment in the workplace. Instead, “invisible” design elements take center stage, igniting an emotional connection between a job candidate and the workplace with physiologically appealing intangible design elements such as biophilia, flexibility of choice, and natural daylight. Invisible design is what a person feels when they enter a space, not necessarily what they see. As soon as a candidate walks into a potential workplace, they imagine themselves in that work environment and determine if it feels like a place where they can be motivated, creative, and collaborative. Money and perks aside, sometimes it’s as simple as that gut feeling that you’ve found the right place.
According to CNBC, one in four workers will leave their jobs in 2021. Employers are increasingly looking for ways to attract and retain talent, and one of the ways to do this is to carefully consider the work environment. work. After a work disruption, employers can’t just unlock the door, clean out the cobwebs, and expect new or even existing employees to pick up what worked over two years ago. They need to look at their values as a company to create a space that employees can be proud of and potential employees can be impressed with, compelling them to take the job.
Workplace design isn’t just about what works in the present moment, designers and employers must look to the next generation of office workers to anticipate their needs. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing a workplace that evokes a feeling in someone, to help attract and retain employees:
1. Amplify a company’s personality
As the job market continues to be competitive, amplifying the personality of a company’s office space through design can be the tipping point in an interviewee’s decision to take the next step in his career. Candidates may visit 3-4 offices in a week, and workplace design is crucial in establishing a positive, lasting impression and emotional connection to a space.
Branding and culture are important because they reflect a company’s history, values and purpose. Whether it’s the colors of the walls, the logo engraving on the front door, or the type of furniture used, a company’s brand can leave a lasting impression. For existing employees, it creates a sense of camaraderie and collaboration, where they feel part of something bigger.
As an example, Transwestern’s new Southeast Regional Headquarters uses its signature blue color throughout the space and illuminates the logo to enhance the arrival experience. Clients are immediately aware of the office space they enter and can instantly understand its values of being an accessible, bright and modern workplace.
2. Design equitable spaces
Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of the design decision-making process, especially when it comes to the future workforce. Potential employees want to know that they are working in an environment where their voices will be heard. Windowless doors and private offices can create an unwelcoming feeling, while glass walls produce visual transparency, showing that a business has nothing to hide. Moving away from hierarchical seating arrangements, whether in the conference room or with personal office spaces, keeps everyone on the same playing field.
We also plan to see more equitable conference rooms and collaboration spaces after Covid, with new table geometries instead of the usual rectangle, equidistant chairs and no end seats. With the rise of hybrid working, ensuring there is a hypothetical “seat” for everyone at the table, virtually or in person, will cultivate a more inclusive culture. While this can be done through mobile technology and individual cameras and screens, technology is advancing every day and we anticipate developments in producing more equitable hybrid meetings in the near future. In fact, CNBC reports that within five years, employees may be able to meet via a hologram in the metaverse instead of a typical video call.
Recognizing that employees have varying psychological needs throughout the workday is also important in designing fair spaces to attract new talent. Community rooms, amenities, and gathering spaces not only serve to keep employees generally comfortable, but can also be used to address employee energy levels throughout the day. Hybrid working has led employees to redefine their spaces and where they feel most productive, and this variety of workspace choices should also be offered in every work environment.
3. Health and well-being
Elements like biophilia, flexible spaces, and natural light aren’t always immediately noticed with the naked eye, but can help create a wellness-focused environment that makes candidates feel valued.
By using greenery and natural light in a space, a respondent can sense what the company values are. An employer with well-being on their sleeve shows that they care about the well-being of their employees. Creating a variety of outdoor spaces with private spaces to escape the crowds and monotony of an office also invokes a sense of self-reliance. Having these wellness-focused design elements and areas demonstrates that an employer puts their employees first, which is exactly what an interview candidate may be looking for in their next career step.
For the brand new office tower at the Atlanta-based Midtown Union mixed-use center, that means floor-to-ceiling windows allowing natural light to pour into the lobby and flexible suites, plant wildlife scattered throughout the areas gathering space, a 12,000 square foot outdoor amenity terrace called “The Yard” on the eighth floor as well as elevated landscaped decks providing alternative meeting space and outdoor workstations.
A respondent’s first impression of their potential employer is more than a handshake; it is done as soon as they walk through the front door. Designing a workplace that embodies company values may ultimately be the deciding factor in their decision for the next step in their career. Showcasing a company’s personality, dedication to DEI policies, and the health and well-being of their employees can be not only heard, but also exemplified through thoughtful workplace design, and invoke an emotional connection between the next generation entering the workforce.