Workplace of the future

New report highlights importance of physical design of workplace to help companies achieve engagement and productivity gains.

Workplace of the future

A new report from real estate firm JLL has revealed that more and more companies are using the design of their work spaces to express their company culture and values to employees.

Rather than the faceless cubicles of the past, today’s offices are being designed to engage workers, drive financial benefits and grow business performance.

“Companies have spent a significant amount of time refining strategies to increase engagement through the efficiency of their workplace and effectiveness of their employees,” said Grant Morrison, Director of Workplace Strategy, Asia Pacific, JLL.

“But many are realising they may have been undervaluing the only resource with unlimited potential – their workforce. In response, we’re seeing a trend toward looking at organisational culture and creating workplaces with a personality and expression to match, thus making employees more likely to be engaged when they spend time in the office.”

The benefits of an engaged workforce and the problems associated with disengagement are well-documented. Recent studies peg the cost of disengagement in the U.S. at US$ 450 billion to US$ 500 billion per year. Conversely, research shows organizations with engaged employees experience almost 150 percent higher earnings per share compared to their competition. Companies that have taken the next step, however, are reaping even more benefits. Those who actively developed their culture returned more than 500 percent higher revenue and 750 percent higher income.

JLL’s report, Fully Engaged, introduces the concept of “workplace expression” as being the final piece of the “3 E’s” of employee engagement. Significant gains have been made over the last two decades in the first two “E’s” – efficiency and effectiveness. Adding the final piece – expression – to the mix can create a dynamic and compelling environment that reconnects employees to their purpose, directs renewed energy and engagement, while driving innovation and productivity to new levels.

“Would you bring your best friend to your office?” asked Morrison.

“The answer to that question is very telling. Culture is intangible and hard to actively measure, yet it’s easy to sense when you walk into an office. Workplace expression shifts the office from being a passive background to an active cultural lever used to shape employee perceptions, motivations and behaviours. Allowing it to become a location where a company’s vision and mission manifest itself can easily transform a place to work into a best place to work.”

Morrison added: “This is particularly relevant to companies in Asia given that many countries in the region are battling with high attrition rates among staff and a highly competitive environment to recruit the best candidates. Workplace is increasingly a key differentiator.”

According to the report, four principles to consider when creating a powerful workplace expression include:

  1. A deliberate office design that allows cultural values to inform, direct and generate employee engagement.
  2. A combination of office design, objects and systems to show the company appreciates its people and the contribution they make.
  3. An environment that empowers employees by giving them choice in their daily work habits.
  4. An atmosphere that boosts internal buy-in and direction.

Download the ‘Fully Engaged’ report here.