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Does workplace design support company culture?

The simple answer is ‘yes’.

As the war to attract, retain and develop top industry talent heats up, staying that extra step ahead of your competition has never been more important. And one powerful means of creating a compelling and highly attractive employee experience is in the workplace design itself.

Susan Peters, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at General Electric, told Forbes she believes employee experience is taking the time to see the world through the eyes of the employees. She said, “In the last year, we have appointed a Head of Employee Experience and we are developing a strategy to create an employee experience which takes into account the physical environment our employees work in, the tools and the technologies that enable their productivity and learning to achieve their best at work.”

A 2016 study by Workplace Trends found, of the HR leaders who participated, 51 percent were dedicating more resources to improving their physical workspace. That percentage is sure to increase.

A great example of how the physical environment helps drive employee satisfaction and engagement can be found at Medibank. Kylie Bishop, Executive General Manager, People and Culture at Medibank, told guests at the 2015 AHRI National Convention, 79 percent of staff at their state-of-the-art Medibank Place in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct reported working more collaboratively in just four months of moving into their new building. A staggering 70 percent of staff even purported to feel healthier.

Similarly at Qantas, Jon Scriven, Group Executive HR and Office of the CEO, said staff at the Flying Kangaroo’s new Mascot office stated 10 percent higher employee engagement levels compared to the Qantas average.

It’s important to adopt a philosophy that a workplace where people want to work is preferable to creating a space where people have to work. This philosophy also has a crucial role to play in how workspace design can help HR professionals in doing their job in sourcing and retaining talent.

The modern workplace needs to enhance moods and make it easier for personnel to carry out the duties they are employed to perform. Consequently, effective workspace design helps improve productivity and reduce turnover by presenting design solutions that are exciting, enjoyable and practical. For example, incorporating spaces that facilitate group discussion and collaboration but, at the same time, provide options for staff who prefer ‘quiet time’ to concentrate help accommodate different personalities and the varying needs of a multigenerational workforce.

With employees working in more and more flexible ways, it’s increasingly important that the work environment helps to enforce brand and company values. The office is not just a place where work duties take place but one in which personnel should derive their identity and feel a sense of belonging. The physical landscape of the workplace is one factor that can contribute heavily to the identity of an employee and what it means to be part of a particular organisation.

As Jeanne Meister of Future Workplace noted when speaking to Forbes, “The workspace is not just a building but part of the HR agenda to extend the company’s culture and engage employees.” Creating a space that supports this will only have positive impacts on employee satisfaction, your organisation’s bottom-line and, ultimately, make everyone’s job a whole lot easier.

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