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Ways to create a workplace that works

Is your workplace working for you? What about your employees?

Office design carries huge potential to inspire – or uninspired – employees. But it’s not a simple equation: many offices can be aesthetically amazing, but not meet the needs of the company’s workforce. A workplace that truly works for a specific company culture and employee set can sometimes overnight jump-start employee productivity, satisfaction, and recruitment. But most companies have highly varying job titles, requirements, an experience levels—which means most workforces are far from homogeneous. One size almost never fits all.

Every employee matters, so every employee needs a workplace setting – or settings – that enable their highest productivity and contribution to innovation. As a growing amount of employees are working remotely and valuing having multiple workspace choices, companies need to think about how their real estate footprint can best enable the company’s workforce by offering choices, options and productivity.

JLL’s recent Office Renew project, a complete redesign of the company’s headquarters at the Aon Center in Chicago, shows that leaders in commercial real estate are not only talking the talk but walking the walk in their own offices.

“Our workplace strategists collected a wealth of information and crafted a plan that addresses three things we found our workforce values most – connection, choice and agility,” said Greg O’Brien, JLL’s Americas CEO. “The result is a workplace that works for our employees. We found that our people want to connect more, so we designed our space to drive that aspect of our culture and give our employees what they need to be happy, productive and successful.”

By catering to their employees’ wants and needs, JLL has created a new workplace that employees are not only more comfortable in, but a space they actually want to come to, and that ultimately boosts employee engagement, satisfaction, collaboration, and productivity.

Here are 5 ways we designed a workplace that works for our employees—and that could inspire your company, as well.

  • Sustainable workplace, sustainable workforce

    It is no coincidence that a healthy workplace typically has healthier workers. More firms are focusing on office sustainability, features such as air and lighting control, zero volatile compound paints and sealants, and increased recycling stations to align with employee values and promote healthier, productive lifestyles. A health environment offers numerous documented results, from reduced absenteeism to improved employee engagement scores and increases in documented innovation.

  • Quiet retreats to deliver balance and choice.

    Many organizations have switched to an open office space, which are great for collaboration, but they come with unintended consequences, like an increase in distractions at work. A recent study found that 50 percent of employees say a distraction-free environment would increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent, citing loud coworkers as the top distraction. For some company cultures, employees might thrive in open offices but there is no one size fits all approach. In a diverse, multi-generational workforce, it is important that employers create the right environment, for the right type of worker so that they can produce. Private, individual spaces can provide employees with a place to concentrate on work that requires uninterrupted focus and quiet.

  • Ergonomic furniture to promote employee wellness

    Ergonomics and an emphasis on holistic employee health continue to be a growing trend, and one that employers will be wise to take into consideration when evaluating how their workspace will evolve to meet changing needs. Opt for adjustable-height desks and chairs that can be moved around easily to create collaborative space on a whim. Other flexible furnishings include cushioned filing units that double as informal chat chairs; adjustable-height monitors; and sound-absorbing privacy panels that can move up and down with the desktop to support more focused work. People come in all sizes and shapes, so why shouldn't your desks?

  • Bringing in tech brings out productivity

    A key to improving employee productivity and stimulating collaboration is by offering the latest in workplace technology. As employees begin to work from multiple locations at varying days and times, it is critical that technology enables seamless communication between employees. Collaborative technology tools such as enhanced video conferencing, smart whiteboards, and easy to use tools such as smartphones and touch screens enhance the workplace experience and make workers more connected and engaged with the company culture, even those that don’t work in the physical office.

  • Choices, choices, and more choices

    JLL studies show that over 80 percent of meetings that occur include between two to four people—hardly enough to fill a traditional large conference room. Instead of offering the conventional office design consisting of individual desks and large conference rooms, many firms are shifting their attention to offering more collaborative workspaces to address this trend. Huddle rooms, open work areas, and cafés are being leveraged to promote collaboration and productivity between smaller groups of employees. Increased choices and comfortable options help increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

Image credit: JLL, via Office ReNew