If you want to foster a culture of high performance within your company, start by taking a look at your office environment. It matters more than you may realize; physical space does in fact play a vital role in employee productivity.
The CEO of the design and architectural firm Gensler has collected and reported years of research that supports the notion of an optimal physical environment serving as a foundation for an effective workforce.
An emerging suite of literature and research clearly points to the power of choice and autonomy when it comes to employee happiness as well as motivation and performance levels. Gensler’s recent Workplace Survey reveals that workers whose companies give them the autonomy to decide when, where and how they work were far more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, perform better and view their company as more innovative than corporate competitors.
An example of this space-enabling productivity is the technology industry employees who took part in the Gensler survey. Tech workspaces are built to be open-plan (often wrongly perceived to be a productivity killing office design) and these tech employees reported an above-average ability to focus as well as above-average satisfaction/happiness with their companies.
So why were these tech employees so satisfied? Having a choice in work space and place was the key differentiation between them and workers in other industries – with 41% of tech respondents reporting that they have ability to choose when and where they work compared with 31% as the average across all other industries.
Facebook has truly led the way when it comes to flexible workplace innovation. At the Facebook headquarters, employees have the ability to tailor the layout, height and configuration of their own desks to perfectly suit their own personal preference. Teams can also create bespoke, changeable workspace layouts to support individual projects – with the ability to move desks and breakout areas into work enhancing shapes and structures. The Facebook freedom of choice works holistically; the campus boasts a vast array of meeting spaces whilst the HR department offer a wide range of welfare enabling options to employees to help with work/life balance – this ranges from transactional advice (banks, cleaners etc.) to social advice (restaurants, events etc.). This ability to control one’s entire working day has been shown to lead to a greater organizational productivity effort and proves how meeting employees’ needs for autonomy can positively influence motivation and performance.
Whilst not every company can offer complete choice to employees on the same scale as Facebook, organizations should carefully consider the small changes they can make to give employees self-sufficiency when it comes to workspace. Tools to enhance and support how, when and where they work enable personal and corporate goals to align rather than override each other.
The Yahoo! recall seems to indicate that the organization’s previous remote and isolated work policy was no longer a type of working choice that supported Marissa Mayer’s goal of improvement and innovation. Instead, Mayer opted for a shared workplace that encouraged face-to-face interaction, idea sharing, serendipitous forms of communication and informal meetings. A working environment with few assigned desks, cafes, lounges and plenty of breakout spaces inside and outside the office were just a few of the physical design solutions that reformed Yahoos working space to aid employee choice.
Work place and space choice is just one facet in a broader culture of employee autonomy to encourage motivation and productive work ethic. With the right tools and technology to facilitate a flexible working space, any organization is able to reap the benefits of optimized workforce performance. Because who wouldn’t want more satisfied, motivated and creative employees?!