There has been such a big change in the last 30 years in how our office spaces look and function. “Open door policy” is a saying of the past because we have no doors in our open plan office designs!
I attended an interesting talk late last year at the CCIWA HR conference which discussed office spaces and how they make employees feel. During the naughties businesses took the minimalist ‘clear desk policy’ to the extreme and workplaces asked employees to de-clutter and remove personal belongings from the work place – not necessarily to place a limit on self-expression, more of a space saving, more flexible way of working and in the process reducing distractions for employees– people could work from any desk as long as they could log in to any computer…but what businesses forgot to consider was their people.
People like to have a sense of belonging, we seek it out and have done for as long as we can remember. Cave drawings, Egyptian hieroglyphics, photos on our walls all clearly demonstrate our human need to make a space our own. We all want to create our place, a home that reflects our values and passions and this is no different at work.
Studies show that people who have personal items surrounding them at work are more likely to have a higher level of engagement – far from being the distraction they were once thought to be, workers can actually be more productive when surrounded by familiarity and clutter (if that is what they so wish!). In addition to familiarity, nature is an important aspect for higher levels of motivation and happiness at work. People with windows that view nature are happier and therefore more productive than those without. But don’t despair if your office space is windowless – the next best thing is bringing nature in – having plants and even pictures of scenes from nature can boost motivation and happiness levels.
What lessons can we learn from this? In my view the move towards true flexible working where people work from home is more likely to be a good thing than a bad thing in terms of motivation and productivity. Don’t get me wrong it brings with it it’s challenges for business owners but these are certainly challenges businesses can overcome and which are important if our places of work are to continue to evolve and keep employees highly engaged and motivated.
But the most important lesson to take away is to ask and consider your employees in times of change…you just might find out that all they want is to belong and encouraging this can only be a positive thing for business culture and employee engagement.
So therefore my advice to you is allow your employees to find a place for themselves and their plant pot at work!
As always, remember, ‘Energy equals outcome, so make sure that you are focusing on the right things’.
For HR that really makes a difference to your company and your people. Call us at Vouch for a chat, we’re here to help you.