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How to use your space to improve the employee experience

In this post, explore different ways to get creative with your workspace to keep folks happy and engaged in the office.

Amy Kirkham
By Amy Kirkham Content Marketing Manager

When folks went remote during the pandemic, employee experience became a huge focus. Organizations wanted to ensure people had a positive experience working from home. Now, the story is flipped. As people return to the office, companies are looking for creative ways to drive a great employee experience at the workplace.

Smart space solutions are a key way to achieve a great employee experience in the workplace. In fact, more than 53% of companies plan to increase their investment in employee experience technology next year–including tech that helps optimize the space people use to work. 

In this post, we’ll explore how to harness the power of technology and your space to improve the experience folks have in your workplace. Let’s get started.

4 ways to encourage productivity in your workplace

For those who know Marie Kondo, an organized wardrobe is representative of an organized life. Her famous motto is: “Keep only what sparks joy.” 

The same sort of thought process can be applied to the workplace—especially when it comes to space optimization and office design. Does your current space spark joy? If not, why? What’s contributing to a negative experience? 

When your employees feel positive in your workspace, they’ll be more productive. For example, by ensuring your room booking process is a positive, streamlined, and easy experience, your people can keep focused and happy onsite. Here are four creative ways you can use your space to encourage productivity and a great employee experience in the office.

Color-coded desk lamps

You might consider adding desk lamps or lights within your desks as an easy way for employees to show they are open to chatting. After all, we’ve all been in a position when a coworker comes over to ask a question or chat right in the crucial moment of being in the zone. While impromptu interactions are a benefit of the office, sometimes those interruptions can disturb your workflow. By having a desk lamp system, employees know when their coworkers are in heads-down space versus lighter work, helping to avoid awkward moments and promote spontaneous collaboration.

Office design

Imagine walking into an office with color schemes that work, plants that calm, desks that don’t look crowded, and different rooms for different needs dotted around the floor. It smells clean and fresh, and the temperature is just right. Instantly, you feel ready for your day ahead. 

Office design is a small but continual effort that has a huge impact on how your people feel onsite. The difference between thoughtful office design and a space that feels empty, whitewashed, or messy is employee experience, productivity, and retention. 

Convertible spaces

Take a critical eye to your space and think about what’s realistically possible. While you might not be able to knock down a bunch of walls in your first year of space planning, you may be able to get creative. Think convertible spaces, like moveable walls, that enable you to transform a private area into a social space. Also moveable whiteboards and screens to make open spaces more accessible for collaborative meetings. You can also add tables with wheels to your kitchen space so they can be easily moved in and out or swap out lighting features to fit specific moods. 

Different types of spaces

Your employees have different roles and by nature require different types of spaces to do their best work. The sales team, for example, might need to feed off the energy of others and so need to work close to their team. The engineering team, on the other hand, needs to focus more and may require a quieter spot in the office. Having different types of spaces is necessary to ensure everyone feels supported at work. Examples of different types of spaces are: 

  • Productivity zones. Your productivity zone might include banks of desks, individual work stations, or small pods for people to work away from noise. People are productive in different ways, so this might vary across each office.
  • Collaboration spaces. These are collaborative areas in your office where folks can talk freely about something at work. This could be a meeting room for a more structured conversation, or it could be a more noise-friendly part of the office where people can chat on the fly. 
  • Quiet zones. Some people like to chat, some people don’t. Ensure your space has a quiet zone for people to focus without having to rely on noise canceling headphones. 
  • Social areas. This could be couches and a TV screen. It could be a games area. It could be an extension of your kitchen. Whatever it is, having space for socialization is crucial to ensuring a positive employee experience onsite.  
  • Wellness spaces. Things like nap pods, massage rooms, and mothers rooms are an increasingly important staple in modern offices. 

How to implement the right tools to drive employee happiness at work

Tool fatigue is a very real problem in today’s world. In our personal lives, we use an average of 30 different apps each month. Combine that with our professional lives, where we use up to 35 applications a day, it’s no surprise that folks feel overwhelmed by technology.

It’s important to think about this when choosing new additions to your tech stack. In the past, a lot of leaders haven’t got it right. According to PwC, 90% of executives implement technology based on what’s best for their people. But that isn’t translating lower down–where only 53% of employees say the same. 

Here are some ideas to make sure you’re implementing the right tools that make employees’ happier in their space, not more tired.

  • Survey your employees (regularly). Get their perspective on what they need at work. While you might think fancy motion sensors will entice folks back, the novelty wears off overtime. Ensure you get employee input and buy-in for new tech. 
  • Communicate (always). If you suddenly switch up peoples’ permanent desks with hot desks without context, it’s likely employees won’t take it too well. After all, we’re all creatures of habit. Communicate why you think this tool will make everyone’s experience of the office easier and more efficient. 
  • Consider an all-in-one approach. Instead of adding multiple space solutions to  your employees’ tech stack, consider a workplace app that has it all in one place. Want to check into your desk for the day then find the nearest available meeting room? Easy—it’s all on the same workplace map. The more you can keep everything you need for the workplace in one place, the better for your employees.

It pays to invest in employee experience. According to Inc, investing in employee experience increases productivity by 21%, profitability by 22%, and decreases absenteeism by 37%. 

But employee experience goes beyond just fun and games onsite. Sure, everyone likes to be able to grab a coffee and sit on the couch with a coworker. It offers a valuable break away from the screen. It also drives workplace culture when coworkers can catch up as friends. 

However, the larger portion that makes up a positive employee experience is the technologies you use and the space you create. Consider everything covered in this post–the power of different types of spaces, the impact of office design, and using that space with technology. It all adds up to a positive employee experience onsite.

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Amy Kirkham
Author Bio Amy Kirkham

Amy is a content guru at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, you can usually find Amy drinking coffee, exploring new places, or planning her next trip.