Attracting and retaining talent through workspace design

Office design company, Penketh Group, outlines the workspace demands of the modern worker – something dealers should be paying close attention to

In decades gone by, moving from job to job was very much frowned upon. So-called ‘job hoppers’ were seen as a liability, and prospective employers questioned their dedication and ability as a direct result. These days, however, it’s a completely different story – millennials and members of Gen Z are more willing to move between roles and companies as travel becomes more accessible and personal requirements climb up the priority ranks.

As a result of this modern-day flexibility, and transient approach towards career building, companies are having to do more in order to attract and retain their staff. These additional tactics include things like setting out clear growth plans, community or charity work and more relaxed working hours. However, one of the most effective tools which employers can use to appeal to young talent is a strategic workspace design scheme.

The facts and figures

A survey of 2,000 UK office workers – carried out by Mindspace, in conjunction with OnePoll – revealed that 34% of 18-24-year olds are willing to commute for up to an hour each way, every day, for an office that suits their requirements. This research also shows that 21% of 18-24-year olds have rejected a potential employer due to poor office design, and 16% of the same age group have actually left a job on account of being dissatisfied with the design of their working environment.

A quarter of those surveyed said they were desperate for more breakout areas, 23% wanted more space for private work and 19% wanted to see more creative brainstorming spaces. With over half of the entire workforce expected to be made up of millennials (35%) and Gen Z (24%) by the year 2020*, it’s paramount that businesses and employers start listening to these demands. So, how can business owners and interior designers use strategic workspace design to help attract and retain new talent?

Creative collaboration spaces

One of the overriding desires of younger working generations is the chance to work in more collaborative work settings. Specifically-designed collaboration spaces and breakout areas are the ideal way to accommodate this and facilitate more efficient sharing of ideas. Many studies have shown that millennials and Gen Z prefer more synergetic approaches to work so your workspace design needs to consider this.

The design of breakout and collaboration spaces is very much down to the unique preferences and requirements of each business. If it’s a creative branding agency, for example, the space might include write-on walls and soft seating for lengthy brainstorming sessions. For something like an IT specialist, it might include high tables and tech-integrated furniture where staff can plug in, problem-solve and discuss solutions in an environment conducive to co-working.

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A place for private focus work

Amidst all this, undeniably valuable, collaboration and increased communication, young employees are, seemingly, crying out for a sanctuary within the workplace – hence the ‘privacy crisis’. As open-plan office spaces increase, in order to promote the desired collaborative work within the office, areas which cater for focused and private work can be neglected. In order to combat these concerns – and strike the perfect balance – employers need to offer all staff – not just millennials and Gen Z – somewhere to escape to perform individual tasks where concentration or confidentiality are vital. Whether it’s acoustic wall panels to absorb excess noise, a soundproof pod or a focus booth situated in a quiet area of the workspace, giving staff peace of mind (and peace and quiet) will be an enticing advantage in today’s busy working world.

Creating a home away from home

‘Resimercial’ office design is a prominent industry trend which combines more traditional commercial design with softer, residential elements such as rugs, soft seating, low lighting and domestic colour palettes. This is an effective way to make the working environment more homely and show consideration for work-life balance as we spend more and more hours each week ‘at the office’.

Space to socialise and build relationships

Another great way to cater for the increasingly blurred lines between private and professional lives is through the implementation of social spaces within the workspace design. Social spaces provide staff with a place to go when they need to relax between tasks, rejuvenate or communicate casually with other members of staff.

Encouraging socialisation amongst the workforce will not only make the office a more fun and enjoyable place to be, it will also bolster much stronger communication lines ‘back at the desk’ as staff nurture internal bonds. A social space also provides the perfect level playing field, where juniors can communicate with senior members of staff without the pressures of an archaic professional hierarchy.

To conclude…

In order to attract and retain the best of today’s talent, businesses need to be breaking away from tradition and offering a much more flexible working environment which focuses on diversity and adaptability. These new found working environments also need to facilitate the growing work-life balance while simultaneously providing adequate resources for both creative collaboration and private focus. With the right workspace design and portfolio of products, this seemingly complicated task becomes not just possible, but entirely seamless.

*Statistics from research carried out by Park Communications

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