Working environment is key to employee productivity and retention
Date: 13th February 2020
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Working environment is one of the most common causes of employee dissatisfaction. We all know how costly and lengthy recruiting is, and that retention is the best approach. So how does a good working environment contribute to increased retention rates? 

We all work differently. The environment that allows you to perform at your best, isn’t necessarily going to tick the boxes for your employees. You may like open plan, lively offices, whereas some of your employees may need quiet to concentrate. Getting the balance right is key and can be hugely beneficial. 

Just a few of the benefits of a flexible working environment:

  • Increased concentration levels
  • Less sick days taken
  • Increased productivity
  • Calmer, less stressed employees
  • Improved decision-making
  • Less tired, more engaged employees.

All of these can contribute to improved employee satisfaction levels and consequently increased retention rates. Which means less hiring! 

One Cambridge company that is leading the way in providing a smart, flexible working environment for their employees is Abcam. Their new offices provide their people with a space in which to thrive, no matter how they work best. If you’d like to take a look inside their office, I’ve written a Case Study here.

working environment

What kind of working environment does your organisation offer?

Take a look around. Is your office an open plan space or is it all private offices? Or something in between? How green is the space? Is it cluttered and untidy, or neat and bare? Are employees talking to each other and interacting, or heads down, headsets on and getting on with work? 

How flexible is your organisation’s approach to working?

Flexible working is shown to have major benefits to all. It allows people to figure out where and how they work best, which ultimately means higher productivity rates, motivation levels, and staff morale. So lower churn and less recruiting required. What’s not to like? 

We can’t all have a beautiful new build office like Abcam, but there are certainly some tips and design elements to steal, that can be used in any office space. 

working environment

Quick tips to improve your organisation’s working environment:

  • Green your space to improve the air: Studies have found that elevated levels of CO2 between 1,000ppm and 2,500ppm decrease information utilisation, decrease performance by 10%, and increase rates of absenteeism. Adding plants can help to reduce the levels of CO2 and increase the oxygen in the office, as well as helping to absorb pollutants from the air.
  • Break up the space: Open plan offices aren’t conducive to getting work done. Use partitions, bookshelves or screens to form smaller areas that allow employees to get on with their work undistracted. Soft furnishings such as cushioned chairs and carpets can help to absorb noise too.
  • Areas for different activities: As humans, we require a change of scenery every now and then to refresh and reboot our focus and productivity levels. Create break out spaces that encourage people to utilise them in different ways – think cushioned seating for taking five, a dining table to encourage proper lunch breaks, a library corner for inspiration, or a gathering area to encourage employees to interact informally.  
working environment
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle: Does your organisation encourage their employees to lead a healthy lifestyle? A scary study from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough regular physical activity. Can you encourage your employees to cycle or walk to work like Abcam? Or to get off the bus a stop earlier? Do you offer a well-stocked biscuit jar, or a fruit bowl? Could you organise a monthly yoga class or lunchtime running club?
  • Get rid of the clutter: It’s hard to concentrate when there’s mess around you, which is where Open Plan Offices are difficult. Encourage your employees to keep their desks tidy and keep relaxation areas clean and tidy. Remove old outdated posters and signage!
working environment
  • Good workspace design: Desk space is really important, and there are some easy ways to ensure that your employees don’t end up getting signed off sick due to bad posture. Ensure that desk heights and screen heights are correct and that monitors are at eye level. Are there ergonomic chairs at all the desks? Could you add some standing desks to encourage people to move around and sit less? 

If in doubt, why not ask your employees what they would like to improve their workspace?

We all work in different ways, so offices are no longer ‘one size fits all’. Finding out what working environment will allow your employees to thrive could mean the difference between success and failure for your organisation.