Why Office Space is Better for Employees
The digital age has ushered in revolutions in every area of our life, including the ways in which we work. Increased connectivity has meant more opportunities for remote working than ever before. But what is lost when employees move out of the traditional shared office? Let’s look at the positive impacts that physical office space brings employees who go into the office daily.
The Impact of Physical Office Space on Productivity
In 2013, Internet-giant Yahoo issued a memo saying they would no longer be permitting remote-working. Why? Because “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” In 2017, IBM followed suit. There are limited, and often conflicting, studies on productivity differences between remote and in-office workers. Remote work champions often overlook the drawbacks of remote working for employees.
Remote Employees and Productivity
For remote employees, there can be many blocks in place hindering their productivity. These can include:
- Invisibility: “Out of sight, out of mind” can mean remote workers get left out of the loop, or struggle to make their impact felt.
- Lack of Feedback: Remote workers may find feedback is limited to more formal avenues. This means less in-the-moment or continuous feedback, which can play an important factor in improving employee performance.
- Lack of Access: Some problems just can’t be solved remotely. When this happens for a remote employee, there can be longer time delays in resolving issues.
In contrast, office-based employees enjoy being physically located with their manager and colleagues. They are able to collaborate to solve problems quickly, and are easily kept in the loop on emerging developments.
The Impact of Physical Office Space on Creativity
A World Forum Study found that creativity will be one of the top 3 skills employers need by 2020. Many industries now rely on their staff to deliver creative and innovative solutions to grow their competitive edge.
The physical work environment can help foster a creative atmosphere. Many employers have started looking at how they can foster the environments needed for creative work within the office.
Businesses can foster a creative work environment by:
- Creating areas where employees can connect and share ideas informally. Examples of this include couch areas, games zones, or whiteboard walls. Co-workers can collaborate outside the structure of their everyday work, and let more creative ideas fly.
- Using lighting, color, office layout, and other design elements to foster a sense of creative possibility.
- Using office space to bring project teams together. For example, an agile team may have their daily scrum in a shared space and use sticky-notes, markers, and other physical tools to share their progress.
- Ensuring quiet, distraction-free zones for when employees need to “get their heads down” to work on that next big idea.
In a physical office space, there is a large enough footprint for all of these zones to exist and be used by employees. In contrast, remote employees have a much smaller space to work with. A remote employee is unable to invest the time and money in designing the most creative home office space. Often it is more a case of making do with what small space they have available in their home.
One of the biggest differences between a home office and a physical office is the lack of co-workers. Sometimes, creativity requires bouncing ideas back and forth to come up with the next big idea. Ideas can blossom in seemingly unrelated conversations. These kinds of organic, spontaneous, and creative interactions with co-workers are hard to replicate – even with the best online collaboration tools around.
The Impact of Physical Office Space on Culture
Human beings are social creatures. We like connecting with co-workers we respect, and we value in-person interactions. For thousands of years we have been building relationships and communities in shared spaces – it’s what we do. It’s harder to create this sense of community and shared culture when employees are working remotely. While there are certainly companies that have mastered the balancing act of remote working and strong culture, it can definitely be a challenge.
These challenges can lead to negative impacts for remote employees. People are increasingly aware that remote employees are just at risk of burnout as their in-office co-workers. This is especially true if remote employees begin feeling isolated or disconnected from the organization they work for.
Smart companies use their physical office space as a way to create a shared sense of mission and vision. This can include anything from noticeboards promoting company events or employees’ causes, shared eating spaces, and holding office events to foster community. An attractive company culture, which centres on building a strong sense of community, can be a powerful tool to recruit top talent—as well as retaining the high-performers already within a company.
Upgrade Your Office Space
When you’re first starting out, remote working may be the best way to get your business up and running. As you grow, it is worth considering whether the benefits offered by a physical office space will help improve your company culture, your employees’ morale, and the work you do. If you’re interested in learning how Bevmax can help your team make the transition to a physical office space, reach out and speak to a member of our team.