Employees feel they would work better in improved environment

The seating area is miniature, mod and mellow.
Having a quiet area is one way workers feel they would do a better job.

Workplace design and environment have become a significant part of company culture, as well as a tool to help drive productive, innovative and collaborative work. But many workers feel their companies are coming up short.

That is the finding of a workplace survey conducted across the U.S. by Capital One. The survey found workplace influencers, including:

  • Design drives innovation: 82% of office professionals believe companies can't encourage innovation unless their workplace environment is innovative, and 63% feel innovation isn't reflected at all in their current workplace's design.
  • Local culture is missing: 69% believe local culture isn't currently reflected in their company's workplace design.
  • Flexibility is a must: 85% believe flexible workplace design is important, and 82% of office professionals have their best ideas when they're working in flexible spaces.
  • Attractive design elements: The most desired design elements include natural light (62%), artwork and creative imagery (44%) and easily reconfigurable furniture and spaces (43%).
  • A gap in health and wellness: Most office professionals said their company doesn't currently offer a nursing room for mothers (76%) or environmentally friendly programs (70%). When asked to prioritize on-site benefits, the top three responses were healthy food and beverage options (41%), relaxation/social areas (36%) and health/wellness centers and programming (35%).
  • Location, location, location: When considering a new job, nearly two in three (64%) office professionals believe that workplace design and environment are equally important or more important than office location.

Appealing to millennials

The survey also took a look at millennials' preferences in the workplace:

  • Design drives innovation: 86% of office professionals believe companies can't encourage innovation unless their workplace environment is innovative, and 57% feel innovation isn't reflected at all in their current workplace's design.
  • Local culture is missing: 63% believe local culture isn't currently reflected in their company's workplace design.
  • Flexibility is a must: 88% of office professionals have their best ideas when they're working in flexible spaces.
  • Attractive design elements: The most desired design elements include natural light (66%), artwork and creative imagery (51%) and easily reconfigurable furniture and spaces (48%).
  • A gap in health and wellness: Most office professionals said their company doesn't currently offer a nursing room for mothers (75%) or environmentally friendly programs (65%). When asked to prioritize on-site benefits, the top three responses were healthy food and beverage options (39%), relaxation/social areas (36%) and health/wellness centers and programming (33%).
  • Location, location, location: When considering a new job, more than two in three (71%) millennial professionals believe that workplace design and environment is equally important or more important than office location.

Improvements can be easy

Additionally, a Coldwell Banker survey found that a more amenable office would keep staff happier. The survey showed nearly two-thirds of employed U.S. adults believe that their office could better utilize its physical space, and one-third said improvements can be as simple as a better floor plan.

"Over the years there have been many transformations that have shaken up the traditional office configuration," said Fred Schmidt, president of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, in an announcement of the survey results. "These go beyond the headline-grabbing news of foosball tables and napping pods. Workers, and notably the newest members of the workforce, are demanding smart uses of office square footage.”

The survey looked at which popular office amenities resonated with respondents to see how office spaces could further improve the functionality of their square footage.

  • Ample parking is the most popular amenity: 64% said having enough parking would be helpful within the workplace environment.
  • More lunchtime options at the workplace: 60% want to have a food court, cafeteria or restaurant on-site.
  • Rooftops, outdoor patios and gardens are in vogue: 41% would like to have outdoor lounging space available.

The survey also sought ways to improve existing open office layouts. Open floor plans might still be the dominant choice, but workers are increasingly seeking private space to temporarily withdraw from their shared workspaces, take a personal call or focus on important assignments.

  • Nearly 8 in 10 said they would feel comfortable with an open floor plan if private spaces were available.
  • This is especially popular among the newest generation of workers. Nearly 9 in 10 younger millennials would be comfortable working in an open floor plan if private spaces were available.

"Open floor plans can facilitate collaboration and creativity within the office, but it is also important to carve out private spaces to provide a break from the buzz around the office,” Schmidt said in the announcement. “We've noticed an increased demand for private space within the open office after years of conducting this survey.”

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