It’s no coincidence that some of the most successful brands also have the coolest offices; just look at Apple, Facebook and Google. These ultra-successful businesses have the funds to spend on cutting-edge designs in their workplaces, but they also recognise that if they want the best people, they have to do something to grab and keep their attention. Great office design is one way to do this.
So how does this work? How can office design help you to attract and retain the best talent? The first thing to remember is that it isn’t always about implementing wacky features like slides and segue walkways. If you understand what your people want from their workplace, you’ve already got the most important element.
When you’re interviewing new staff, your office will leave one of the strongest first impressions that your new recruits will have of your company – so it needs to be a good one! You’ll want your office to be somewhere that they can see themselves enjoying for eight to ten hours a day, five days a week. Welcoming them to an old office with frayed furniture, stained carpets and broken light fittings will leave them with a sour taste, regardless of the package you’re offering. So how do you design an office that will help you to attract the best talent?
A good office design should reflect the company culture and in doing so, give clues to potential employees about what it’s like to work there. For example, Splunk’s graffiti-clad brick walls represent their start up roots, while writable walls at Thoughtworks reflect their culture of collaboration and innovation. A flexible workspace where people have a choice of different environments allows them to focus on their current task – such as quiet booths for independent working or huddle spaces for collaboration. Simply by providing a choice, individuals can work in a way that suits them and their work style.
There are some aspects of office design that will appeal to everyone; an inviting coffee and kitchen area, a choice of different workspaces and adequate natural light. But other things are very specific to the organisation and the individuals that you’re looking to attract. For example, a bank isn’t likely to attract the best talent by providing bean bags, but a media or advertising agency with a more playful culture might. It also goes to say these facilities go hand-in-hand with the culture that you’re trying to implement. FirstRand recognised the hard work of their teams, so we designed and built a bar and ping pong table for their new breakout area and kitchen.
The reality is that people form a fundamental part of your wellbeing at work strategy, and office design has a big impact on how you interact with your colleagues. Environments that promote social and spontaneous interaction can lead towards potentially more ‘lightbulb’ moments between colleagues. Office design can also boost engagement by communicating the company values and ethos. A great example of this is Superdrug, who've used multi-purpose acoustic graphic boards throughout the office design to showcase the brand's fun-loving nature and their corporate values, all while absorbing excess sound from the open floor.
Work should never be a chore, which is why to keep your staff engaged, you need to set up your workplace as a destination that they want to work from, not somewhere that they have to be. This can be achieved by providing facilities that support their both their personal and professional lives; starting with great connectivity and an engaging environment they wouldn't otherwise have in their 'third space' workplace. Nuffield Health recognised the importance of their staff maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so they included bike storage, changing facilities and even a fully-equipped onsite gym in their new fit out.
In a world where everyone is competing for the best talent, businesses should be doing everything they can to attract and retain the best people. By creating spaces where people want to be and environments where individuals can thrive, you can use your office to help to attract and retain the very best talent from your industry.