For most recruiters finding prospective employees is only half the battle. As challenging as it may be to sift through resumes and emails, when that one outstanding candidate comes along, there is an even greater obstacle: making sure he or she chooses to work with your organization.
So how can one company stand out against another? Salaries and benefits are a huge factor, but they are certainly not the only variables considered. Company culture also plays a crucial role and, in many cases, may be the deciding factor for prospective employees. When a candidate visits a company’s office for an interview, the workplace design contributes to their first impression, showcasing a company’s culture.
Architecture and design is one way to grab the attention of prospective employees, but it also entices employees back into the office, once it is safe to do so, and builds the company’s culture. Strategically designing a space to support the well-being of its occupants can have a positive impact on how the office is perceived by visitors as well as current and future employees. In this way, the role of amenities is more important than ever.
What the Workplace Can Offer
Over the last few years, we have witnessed the evolution of workplace design — with the adoption of technologies, programs, amenities, and support systems to cater to the various wants and needs of employees. From fitness centers to coffee bars and cafes, mini-golf, beanbag lounge areas, and more, workplace amenities have become a vital aspect of workplace strategy.
Company culture plays a crucial role and, in many cases, may be the deciding factor for prospective employees.
Not only does workplace design illustrate a brand’s history and identity, it can also engage all employees to come together as a team, create emotional connections to the office, and promote wellness and agility in the way we work both individually and in groups. But in the age of COVID-19, companies must reconsider what amenities will truly attract employees back into the office, especially after they emerge from a more comfortable work-from-home lifestyle.
Understanding Evolving Prospective and Current Employee Needs
It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we look at the traditional office. Many have grown accustomed to the advantages of working remotely, especially with the flexibility it provides. However, isolating has made people long for those spontaneous social interactions that were once an expected part of day-to-day life. Although some have started to return to the office, it is evident that company culture, as well as life in general, will not be the same.
Amenity spaces that once attracted employees with bells and whistles are mostly unused at the moment, with increased sensitivities toward spaces that have high-touchpoints. The coffee bar is an excellent example of this; it has been used as a space where staff could breakaway, chat with others, brew their own coffee, or take some time away from their desks. In an effort to limit the number of people congregating close together, this amenity needs to be reinvented. So, what comes next? The goal has always been to attract and retain employees. To keep this momentum, employers must now re-evaluate what their employees or future employees might want through the lens of a pandemic.
It is imperative that companies decide how to maintain existing amenities by altering them in a way that makes the entire staff feel comfortable. Rather than having a self-serve coffee station, how about a barista or automated touchless coffee service? Although it may not be feasible for some businesses, it is just one of the many solutions to limiting contact.
Employers must now re-evaluate what their employees or future employees might want through the lens of a pandemic.
Another modification could be embracing activity-based working, which provides employees with settings for a variety of workplace activities. With activity-based working, employers can make the most of their space by having team members share desks and the shared spaces among them. Eliminating unused desks means companies can reallocate wasted space and replace it with amenities or flex spaces that employees can benefit from, like lounge spaces for reading, working, and collaboration.
Even prior to the pandemic, many workplace design concepts incorporated breakout spaces, private lounges, and communal areas to support different working styles and preferences. As people continue to grow into the habit of having more flexibility while working from home, employers will need to modify their existing spaces to accommodate this desire.
Utilizing Green or Outdoor Spaces
If there is a positive aspect that the pandemic has brought to the workplace, it is that we have become more open to discussing our anxiety, stress, and feelings of uncertainty. While workplaces want to entice their employees to come back to the office through physical amenities, they must also be respectful of those with anxieties surrounding the virus or other stressors. As a result, we can expect to see companies adopt policies and spaces that support mental health. For those who choose to come into the office, but still want spaces of respite for meditation, an uptick in green or outdoor spaces will be seen, as some might still feel anxious working in close quarters with others indoors and suffer from the general stress the pandemic has brought on.
This need for the outdoors has also given way to the implementation of more workplace solutions that incorporate biophilia. Though biophilic design has been a trend in recent years, workplace designers are looking beyond green walls to bring the idea of biomimicry through the office by bringing the outdoors in. Through indoor plants and increased outside air, people longing for a connection to the outdoors will benefit from fresh air circulation and flow.
As people continue to grow into the habit of having more flexibility while working from home, employers will need to modify their existing spaces to accommodate this desire.
Thus, in the age of communal and open workspaces, it is not uncommon or difficult to convince a potential employee that your office will give them the opportunity to socialize and work in a place that’ll feel like a “hang-out” spot. Communication and social engagement has always been a norm throughout office and company culture, but others are worried they won’t be given the quiet time they need to get their work completed if there is too much chatter. We often hear stories about how many distractions there are at home — everything from children learning remotely, pets requiring attention, and so forth. However, it is easy to overlook how many distractions are at the office as well, especially with so many amenities available. This is a case-by-case basis and is dependent on an individual’s work style; however, demonstrating to future and current employees you have provided a comfortable space that works just for them makes all the difference in establishing a productive and comfortable environment.
First Impressions Are Key
When communicating with a potential new employee, one of the most important goals every recruiter wants to establish is not only trust, but also a positive lasting impression. By understanding the evolving needs and preferences of current and prospective employees, companies are more likely to attract and retain top talent, as it will be clear when goals and priorities are aligned. As a whole, an office is the first non-digital impression that is made to prospective hires. Aside from what they read about the company online, what the candidate sees or experiences firsthand will be the ultimate deciding factor. It’s pivotal to make the first impression count.