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The Workplace is Changing – Here’s How to Give Employees What They Need

Furniture World News


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Ed Bonner, area vice president, furniture, Staples Business Advantage


The North American workplace is going through a major transformation. Today more and more companies understand space matters to their bottom line, to their ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce, to supporting their company culture, and even to enabling execution of their business strategy. We’re moving away from employers providing three key areas for employees (private offices, cubes, and catch-all conference rooms) to workplaces with a proliferation of spaces where people can get work done, including heads-down areas, breakrooms, informal meeting rooms, formal collaborative spaces, areas for privacy, and more. Different types of work require different environments, so it’s critical for employers to set workers up to be successful. Workspace is a crucial aspect of linking people to a company’s culture and strategy.

Portable technology is a key driver of this movement, as employees are more productive when they have the freedom to move between different types of workspaces to get work done. In the past, everything employees needed to do their work – large monitors, printers, fax machines, etc. – had to be tethered to that work station. Now, people can take their smartphone, tablet, or laptop and go wherever they want to work.

It’s also crucial for organizations to take office aesthetics into consideration. According to the Staples Business Advantage 2016 Workplace Index, the majority of respondents describe their office as standard, plain, and dull, even if they’re in an open or hybrid environment. Here are a few ways employers can ensure they’re meeting employees’ workplace needs:

  1. Pay more attention to office design. The Workplace Index found that employees are looking for features like natural light, standing desks, ergonomic and flexible furniture, lounge areas, and private spaces. 

  2. Ensure workplace design aligns with their culture and strategy. If a company stresses the importance of collaboration, but yet a potential employee comes into the office and sees high cubicles and no spaces for groups to meet, it does not match up. The physical work space must align with what the organization preaches.

  3. Incorporate eco-friendly practices in the office. Seventy-two percent of respondents say an eco-friendly company is important when making an employment decision. To show their commitment to sustainability, employers can recycle office technology, use green cleaning products, and choose furniture that’s refurbished or made from sustainable materials.

  4. Provide the right technology to boost productivity. Three out of four respondents say their employers do not give them access to the latest technology to help them do their job more efficiently. Even those who feel they are productive at work agree they could do more if they had the right tools.

There is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to create an experience where employees truly want to show up and contribute. With five generations in the workplace for the first time, there are more differences in preferences than ever. The onus falls on employers to be aware of what their workers individually need to be productive and motivated. Well-designed offices are about more than just furniture – it’s the integration of furniture, technology, wellness, sustainability, and more.

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