Design an Employee Experience

By Nov 23, 2018 Jul 2nd, 2019 Food for thought, Uncategorized

Design Experiences

In a time when critical thinking, creativity and teamwork drives and supports growth, your employees are your most important asset. Designing an environment, not just for visual impact, but also for health, comfort, flexibility and ease of use, ensures that you attract and retain top talent.

Key factors influencing an employee experience

Focus on facilitating the wide range of work activities and design the space around that, rather than around status and hierarchy.

  • Offer choice. Give people the freedom to work wherever they want by providing a range of spaces with different tools and atmospheres that meet their changing needs throughout the day.
  • Ease of work (fast connection, accessible power, good lighting) means the problem-solving process is uninterrupted. Eg. dual monitors can increase productivity by 20-30 per cent (Jon Peddie, The New York Times, 2006)
  • Aesthetics of the environment, such as natural light, indoor plants, the smell of coffee, can affect the enjoyment of work and enhance productivity.
  • Offer control of the environment, like dimming lights, or controlling blinds, setting the air-con temperature, reduces frustration and distraction.

Mental Space

Increasing “mental space” also increases the likelihood of creative/divergent thoughts.

For example, Compare a classroom with big windows, and furniture that can be moved around or out of the way for different activities. To a classroom with desks arranged in rows facing the board with little or no view of the outdoors. The effect on student participation and creativity is very different.

Other Spacial factors that can influence behaviour:

  • The cool colours recede, while warm colours advance. In an experiment done by Zhu & Mehta, 2009, they found that test subjects provided more creative answers in a blue room, whilst they performed better on analytical questions in a red room.
  • Lighting and noise affects behavior. Bright light and silence creates an exam like setting that promotes analytical thinking. Low light and a low buzz, like a coffee shop, relaxes people and helps promote creative thoughts.
  • Mental space is not only tied to physical space, but distance and time as well. According to Liberman ET Al, 2011, travel posters of far away places or photos of time long past can enhance the creativity levels in a work place.
  • The concept of “leaking energy” basically suggests that energy can leak out of say an open door, or an empty seat at a meeting table, closing the door, or removing the extra seat keeps the energy focused.

How we meet matters.

Meetings can hamper productivity and steal valuable time so deciding how you meet and what you want to achieve with meetings can really set the tone and pace. Let’s explore a few examples:

Studies have shown that standing meetings are, on average, 34% shorter than seated meetings (Turnstone 2017) which is ideal for team discussions. Alternatively, by completely removing a table and having your meeting, sitting on mobile ottomans you could achieve a informal, relaxed atmosphere that can promote creative thinking and is good for brainstorming.

Round meeting tables focus energy to the centre and to the problem at hand, and neutralises the power of the individuals around the table. In contrast to a meeting where negotiations and power play is key, a meeting in a more formal boardroom setting may be most suitable.

Client meetings in a work lounge may be less intimidating and send a more friendly signal.

A note on the “Agile Office”

There are many explanations and descriptions of what is an agile office. Earlier this year  Entrawood posted a simplified and relatable metaphor using two restaurants.
to read the article.