We recently surveyed workers across Britain and found that employees generally aren’t very enthusiastic about work. Given that recent employment statistics make for a depressing read, these findings were not all that surprising. Our research found that only 10% of Brits are happy at work, a figure that suggests employees feel undervalued and overlooked. 

The office is a space where employees spend the majority of their time, usually five days a week, almost all year round. Therefore every aspect of it should reflect a company’s unique values and culture, whilst demonstrating a significant investment to the workforce. It’s simple – employees should look forward to coming to work in an environment where they feel appreciated, valued and motivated.

When designing our new Southampton EMEA HQ we took this into consideration. Creating an interactive and innovative office significantly boost staff morale, setting us apart from the standard IT office.

In partnership with our people, we ended up with a giant yellow slide, a tree house, multiple swings, a golfing green and an office pub. We wanted staff to be excited about coming to work and in turn contribute to the overall business success of the company.

The competition for talent is tough and being in the relationship business, every interaction and business opportunity counts. We want to hire people who are passionate, creative and collaborative, and when they come for an interview they can experience first-hand what that feels like, whilst we can assess whether they are a great culture fit. This is reflected by other organisations, including Google, Red Bull and Innocent Smoothies, who boast the world’s most impressive and creative offices.

What can be done to create a more engaging office?

Undertaking an office overhaul is not always a viable solution for an assortment of reasons, but there are other options that can help create a more engaging office. Creating interactive and open spaces will assist in promoting an environment where employees can thrive as a team, whilst feeling valued.

Training and development programmes are an additional option and are relatively quick to implement. Some of the opportunities we offer include sponsored further education up to £3,000 per year, a £200 personal development allowance to be spent on fulfilling a personal learning aspiration and a peer exchange program, which runs each quarter. This enables people to head over to one of our other offices to participate in an exchange of learning and development. Every business should focus on their HR operations, because in the end it is the employees who directly affect the performance and profitability of all businesses.  

How do you measure the return on investment?

While it may be tempting to measure overall profitability or business success, the focus when measuring ROI should be on employee engagement levels and the retention of exceptional performing employees.

PEER 1 Hosting grew 150% last year and our engagement score across the company improved by an astounding 13%. Our team is also made up of people that were with us right at the start, joining in 2009 when we opened our first UK office. This is all the evidence needed to demonstrate that by offering employees numerous opportunities that help with personal growth, staff will want to contribute significantly to the business.

How do you measure levels of engagement and the effect an office design can have on employees?

There are no firm guidelines on measuring employee engagement levels and the relationship to office design. Instead, we use the simplest of measurement tools – staff feedback. We ask our staff how they feel about the office and whether there is anything they would like added or changed. We want to offer choice and flexibility to our people, which is why we are always changing.  For example, we just created some quieter break out spaces to the office to create more opportunity for focused and detailed work.  Furthermore, with the arrival of new generations into the workplace, employers have to think of new ways to ensure that the culture of the office suits all staff members.

How can companies decide which type of design is best for their business?

Every company is different and our EMEA HQ was designed alongside our employees, with regular feedback and ideas during the process. While having a cinema and BBQ deck may seem like a gimmick, it showcases how our employees like to have fun. The lines between working and social life are increasingly blurring, so creating an engaging atmosphere has never been more important.

Every office should underpin the unique values and beliefs of the organisation, while also inspiring and exciting partners, employees and consumers. A simple act like changing a meeting room to a lounge room can loosen the hierarchy within a company, promote worker confidence and encourage staff to voice their opinions. If in doubt as to how to restructure or adapt your office just ask your employees, who will no doubt have a few suggestions!

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