86 percent of business leaders say that culture is one of the more urgent talent issues they face today. Still only 14 percent understand what the “right culture” really is. One of the most overlooked components of a high-performing culture is how the organization’s physical facilities and environment positively enables or negatively impacts the employee experience.
What makes a workspace an effective one? And how can the work environment enhance performance and improve how connected employees are to their work?
Here are 3 questions to help you uncover how your work environment is impacting your employee experience.
1. Does your environment support meaningful collaboration?
While most organizations still need to have separate space for independent or “quiet work,” start to understand how much your workspace increases the opportunity for connections between your people.
Take for example Rich Sheridan and James Goebel, of Menlo Innovations, who decided to add 7,000 square feet onto their office so that start-ups could work in close proximity to early stage entrepreneurs. Now entrepreneurs can work alongside Menlo programmers, helping to drive a greater sense of community and innovation in the process.
Scott Birnbaum, a vice president of Samsung Semiconductor, believes in creating spaces that don’t just allow for more facetime—but what he deems as “collisions”—chance and unplanned encounters between employees. Not surprisingly, the research suggests that these “collisions” do improve company performance.
Two quick, easy wins that can help you move toward a more collaborative setup include:
- Amenities distribution: amenities like strategic coffee locations can encourage more natural social interactions. Coffee machines alone won’t change the employee experience, but it’s one tactic that can support more cross-functional “collisions.”
- Examine out-of-office work: many companies have a large amount of work being done off-site or not within their building. What are ways your company is able to support collaboration and interaction when the work happens off-site?
2. Do employees feel they have choice over how they work?
Are top leaders the only ones in the company who are equipped to work how and where it is best for the work at hand? Research collected by Gensler shows that when employees feel they have the opportunity and empowerment to control how they get their work done, it increases their motivation, performance, and happiness. And research by Steelcase conducted with a global sample of 12,480 employees suggested that employees who have are free to choose a work space to fit their task at hand are 88 percent more engaged at work.
The Gerson Lehrman Group’s headquarters in New York is an example of a company that provides flexible workspaces for their teams. Employees don’t have assigned areas to work. Instead, they work in “neighborhoods,” helping drive a sense of autonomy, and for those who crave it—a greater sense of freedom as to where they’re working. When desired, they can set up and move areas. The setup also is conducive to greater collaboration between teams.
3. Does your environment support a customer-centric culture?
High performing organizations know that the workspace must be conducive to supporting the customer, too. It sounds simple, but in practice, setting up a work environment so that you can best serve customers can be difficult.
Quicken Loans’ office in Detroit, Michigan feels like a tech startup, with open offices and flexible work spaces. The space is designed to feel like an outside street, but with less noise, a design that’s intended to be fun and dynamic.
This setup is conducive to the kind of high-energy that Quicken Loans expects its employees to have when dealing with customers. (Some of their principles include, “Yes before no” and “Obsess with finding a better way,” for example, which speak to this approach with customers.)
The environment is one that considers how employees can do their best work—relative to serving their customers.
Melissa Price, an HR leader at Quicken Loans and the CEO of dPOP!, the design company that created the office space, said that they want employees’ “feedback [on the space],and then we immediately do something about it.” If the feedback tells them that the workspace isn’t aligned with their values, they’re ready to do something about it, she adds. “And that just encourages and promotes more feedback and inclusion.”
Shaping Your Employee Experience
For HR, answering these questions is one of the first steps to shaping an environment that drives performance improvement. Takeaways for leaders looking to empower teams include:
- Know what results you’re trying to achieve (greater collaboration, productivity, innovation)
- Continually seek feedback to see how work really gets done
- Design your workspace to support cross-functional success
- Ask what kind of “freedom” or flexibility employees want
- Address any major disruptions, even if they’ve become the norm
- Partner with your Facilities, IT, and Communications Departments to develop and execute the right plan for your organization
- Think about the working environment as “just” the facilities or building itself
- Forget to collect feedback on where employees disconnect or recharge
- Adopt new collaboration technology without examining its potential impact
- Be afraid to experiment with your space
Gather Feedback & Insights on Your Employee Experience
Talmetrix improves business outcomes for talent-focused organizations by capturing employee feedback and linking it with your business metrics. The generated insights are used to improve your employee experience, as well as factors including retention, performance, productivity and culture.
Talmetrix is easy to implement and configurable to fit an organization’s culture. Through our Solution Advisors, we partner with you to to tailor and execute your feedback campaign to meet your needs. Together, we help you capture data analyze to determine which actions will have the greatest impact and value for your organization. . Contact us today to learn more about the powerful employee feedback and insights that will help you improve your employees’ experience and business outcomes.