Experts have been vocal about the fact that the global pandemic has changed the ways businesses ensure their competitiveness. There is certainly truth to this – and the rise of telecommuting has been one of the contributing factors to this so-called ‘business revolution’. These same experts cited falling occupancy levels and bargain-basement pricing for office space as proof that the era of the modern office is over. However, then there was a modest but growing number of companies that realized the advantages of office space. It seems that workers are more productive, collaborate more effectively, and can fully take advantage of experienced employees and the opportunity for mentoring.
However, there is also the fact that telecommuting has broadened the horizons of skilled labor – and those potential assets have become pickier about the office environments they will be expected to utilize. There is also the fact that intense competition from online businesses (with low overheads) has forced office managers and business owners to very carefully examine how the office space offers exceptional ROI.
One of the results has been increased business for professional office designers, but, just how do these professionals ensure that the office space delivers a competitive advantage? Here are some of the factors that are influenced by office design – and how these factors can provide measurable value to the business.
1. Employee Satisfaction.
Good office design can contribute significantly to employee satisfaction, and that, in turn, leads to increased productivity, at least according to a recent study conducted at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. It is not by chance that some of the best employers in the world (such as Google) offer office campuses focused on balancing the work experience of the employee. Free healthy meals in state-of-the-art cafeteria’s, game and relaxation rooms and childminding services in dedicated areas all contribute to employee satisfaction. The Google office in Dublin, for instance, has a putting-green and an authentic jungle.
These offices optimize employee interaction and even the colors of the paint have been carefully selected to foster creativity. These offices are the work of highly skilled office designers with intimate knowledge of human psychology. They focus on employee wellbeing – and the result is a distinct competitive advantage through higher productivity.
2. Reduced Employee Turnover.
Happy employees stay with companies – and office design contributes to that happiness. Companies spend large amounts of money training new employees (and paying external companies ‘finders fees’ for identifying that talent). By retaining existing talent those Human Resource costs are significantly lowered.
3. Brand Value.
An old saying in the Internal Communications and Human Resource industries is that the best form of business advertising is word of mouth – and your best brand ambassadors are not your ad agency employees, but your own. These are your brand ambassadors. A happy employee talks about their company to others and makes its products and services seem more attractive – and also attracts quality talent (and builds brand reputation). A skilled office designer is well aware of the fact that office design contributes directly to employee happiness. This is one of those subjects (Brand Ambassadors) that has been the subject of numerous studies (example: 1,000 satisfied employees = approximately $2m in advertising value – Kredible.com Employee Advocacy Study). The role of office design is pivotal in creating and maintaining employee satisfaction.
4. Client Relations.
A company lives and dies by the loyalty of its customers – and its brand identity. Office design contributes to increased customer loyalty. An office that is well designed and projects the company ethos is invaluable. Take two contrasting approaches to furnishing. One is a legal firm and the other is an ad agency. The legal firm has office furniture with bold wood tones and marble floors. Classic art hangs from its walls. Each partner has their own office and the boardroom boasts a solid mahogany table and walls lined with legal journals. The reception area has the firm’s name in Brass lettering. The immediate impression on existing and prospective clients is one of solidity and adherence to traditional values – a solidity to the brand. An ad agency boasts bright paintwork, varnished concrete floors with inlaid designs. It is open plan. Bold graphics line its walls and the boardroom features Perspex chairs and a glass table. The immediate impression is one of vibrancy and creativity. The brand is one that will push the creative boundaries. In each case, office design has created a distinct first impression – and first impressions count.
The services of a professional and experienced office designer can make a measurable difference to a company’s bottom line. The competitive environment of the 21st century is a game of inches – and office design provides that extra inch when it comes to the race for competitive advantage. Companies that do not consider the services of design professionals will have started that race at a disadvantage.