In our What Coworkers Want report from 2019, we surveyed nearly 2,000 staff about office space, and asked important questions about workplace satisfaction, including over 40 different office features. We’ve extracted the most crucial information from the results of this survey, and put together a list of our top five ways to improve your working environment. These suggestions are important areas of focus for flexible office spaces which aim to keep coworkers happy.
1. Improve Air Quality
Our research into air quality proved especially revealing; 80% of survey candidates agreed that air quality was important, while only 52% stated that they were satisfied with it in their office.
Monitoring air quality is the first step towards improving it – and this is becoming an increasingly popular measure in office spaces, with 62% tracking air quality on a monthly basis. Once you’re aware of the air quality in your office, you’re in a better position to improve it. Increasing ventilation is one way of doing this – but throwing open the windows isn’t always the answer, especially if your office is in a city where the air is often congested anyway. Instead, ensure that all your air vents are unblocked, keep your office as dust-free as possible and consider investing in some greenery, as plants can improve air quality.
2. Monitor Noise Levels
Noise can be one of the most distracting factors in a shared workspace, and our survey returned results that only 53% of participants were content with the sound levels present in their current office space.
There are many different ways to reduce noise levels in a workplace, but the least disruptive methods include adding softer furniture to absorb sound – glass, marble and other hard surfaces will look stylish, but also allow noise to ricochet. As well as improving air quality, plants can also block high-frequency noise, so adding some succulents or leafy pots can help too.
Another way of managing noise in a flexible office space is by creating dedicated social spaces, where coworkers are free to collaborate, speak up and be loud without concern. A breakout area like this will prevent those who need quiet from being disturbed, and provide an outlet for noise.
3. Keep an Eye on Office Temperature
Temperature in the office is a common bone of contention between coworkers, and finding a sweet spot which keeps the majority of staff happy and comfortable is challenging. A huge 78% of survey candidates stated that they felt office temperature was important, but only 55% expressed that they were satisfied with it.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t legally require that employers must maintain a specific temperature within the workplace – but it does recommend that offices operate between 68 - 78 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s even an indication that an optimal temperature can have a direct result on performance; research from Berkeley Lab’s Indoor Environment Group indicates that a temperature of 72 Fahrenheit is ideal for encouraging productivity.
However, if a one-size-fits-all approach to temperature doesn’t work for your business, many flexible office spaces now have a sophisticated heating system which can create a different temperature in each meeting room or office – an ideal way of keeping coworkers happy.
4. Design Quiet Spaces
After our earlier findings about intrusive noise levels, providing sufficient quiet spaces may seem like an obvious tip – but our results indicate that the majority of flexible office spaces aren’t up to scratch. 76% of participants stated that access to a quiet space is important, but only 54% were happy with their current setup.
It could be that you don’t have sufficient space for specific quiet rooms, or that the quiet rooms you do have are difficult to access – either way, there are simple solutions at your fingertips. If you’re not in a position to improve sound-proofing via insulation, you could install small, private booths which catch sounds to enable independent working or 1-2-1s, but you could also designate one specific meeting room as a quiet area, where coworkers can achieve a greater level of focus.
5. Provide a Comfortable Working Area
Enabling your employees to be comfortable in their workspace is essential to productivity, performance and workplace satisfaction overall. Out of the 48 factors our survey covered, comfort was established as the most prominent issue, with 82% of participants agreeing that it’s important, but only 61% feeling content with their level of comfort at work. Comfort – both ergonomic and environmental – directly influences workplace wellbeing and enjoyment, so it’s crucial to get it right.
It’s true that having a ‘comfortable’ workplace is subject to interpretation, as comfort can look different to everyone. There are however plenty of measures employers can take to ensure that a flexible workplace caters to all coworkers, and is as comfortable as possible. Whether that means investing in orthopedically-sound furniture, or working on the other tips mentioned in this blog, like air quality and noise reduction, all these steps will cumulatively improve the comfort of your colleagues in a flexible workplace.