According to the latest trends in desirable employee benefits, it’s clear that the masses are well on their way to demanding a more holistic experience at work – one that prioritises issues around health, wellbeing and happiness.
That includes the need to recognise – as opposed to brush under the carpet – problems around boredom, stagnation and poor productivity at work, which can all impact not only the profitability of any business, but the mental health of its staff. And as it’s proven that happy employees are significantly more productive than unhappy ones, it’s easy to see how a vicious cycle can quickly form in a workplace that’s dismissive of these issues.
So what has this got to do with workspace design, and the potential to personalise it? It all starts with the fact that…
Autonomy makes us happier at work
The words flexibility and autonomy are hot on the tongues of eagle-eyed professionals as we move into 2020, who increasingly seek a different kind of working lifestyle to times gone by. In light of this, we’re seeing more and more companies embrace dynamic office design principles enabling staff to break free of the shackles of their desks and to work in spaces reminiscent of their own living rooms instead.
Other companies, like Facebook, have taken this notion even further by allowing their staff to design the height, layout and configuration of their very own desks. And with studies proving that giving staff this kind of autonomy over the way they work can influence both motivation and performance, it seems they may be on to a good thing.
Working environment is a very powerful thing
Now let’s take a minute to examine just why the ability to control the finer details of our work environment could seriously shake things up for the better. To start, it’s helpful to consider the shocking statistics around workplace aches and pains, which can be caused by anything from repetitive strain injuries through to improper posture – both of which are largely to do with bad workplace ergonomics.
One study shows that a staggering three quarters of office workers suffer from work related pain in some form or another, and yet most companies take a one-size fits all approach to the equipment they offer their staff. Bearing in mind the vast differences in anatomy and needs of individuals, perhaps it is time to start thinking more along the lines of Facebook’s tailored work stations.
By letting staff have a say over where and how they sit for 8+ hours a day – including their chair, desk height, keyboard position and screen set-up – we might just find ourselves in a much better position to tackle the back pain epidemic of the 21st century. And that’s not even taking into account the other side of the coin – the mental needs of employees and how these can be massively more catered to when a personalised approach is taken.
It’s time to view employees as individuals
Remote working is more popular than ever, and it’s easy to see why. Rather than being chained to an uncomfortable desk all day – in a work environment that’s proven to be hazardous to health – professionals are free to listen to, and follow, their own instincts around both physical and mental wellbeing. Instead of stagnating within the confines of the same four walls, they hop between bustling cafes, creative co-working spaces and their own rather alluring couch.
Taking heed from those flocking to the freelance way of life, companies may well be very wise to try and replicate these benefits within their own offices. For example, If a member of staff feels they need utmost silence to concentrate, why not let them choose to place their workstation in a less busy part of the office, and ensure they have access to dedicated quiet rooms too? Another may be much taller than average and simply need a larger chair and higher desk for niggling back pain – which, when you think about it, seems cruel to deprive them of.
By viewing each member of staff as an individual, and not merely a cog in a machine, you could – and probably would – be much more likely to attract and retain top talent. What’s more, you’d improve your chances of seeing that top talent thrive and, in turn, of them delivering excellent results for your business long into the future.
This kind of workplace tailoring may seem like an idealistic and impossible-to-achieve concept – and it won’t be doable for all businesses, at least not yet, anyway. But for conscientious companies that strive to innovate and inspire; to break the mould and push boundaries – this might be as good a place as any to start.