How do you motivate your employees to be at their most productive and creative while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance? The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting rapid rise of remote work have made this question more relevant than ever. As it turns out, inspiring office spaces play a big role in the answer.
Providing inspiring and functional workspaces will move your teams toward productivity and community, bringing them value in working outside their home. But creating inspiring workspaces means not just understanding the nuances and benefits of modern office design—it also means evaluating the ways in which different companies today are building their physical environment to work for their employees. Let’s jump in.
First Things First: What Does It Mean to Create Inspiring Office Spaces?
Before digging into the benefits of inspiring office spaces, we must first examine what characteristics inspire workers in these spaces to experience an increase in their productivity and satisfaction.
As it turns out, there is no single answer to this question. Instead, the ideal workspace depends, at least in part, on your personality. As a recent Newsweek article points out, for example, introverts have very different needs than extroverted employees:
An ideal workspace for those who prefer introversion is one that provides private offices or quiet spaces (be it a room or even a corner)….compared to introverts, generally extroverts are more outgoing and need to be able to connect with people to be stimulated.
In other words, while extroverts gravitate toward open spaces where ideas and creativity can flow freely, introverts need options like private offices. But of course, the modern workspace can live at neither extreme; instead, it has to provide multiple options that different employee personalities can take advantage of as needed.
This view coincides with the findings of McKinsey partner Bryan Hancock who, in a recent podcast interview, shared research about the need for three basic types of workspaces in today’s professional culture:
- Individual spaces, where it can be quiet enough to get work done.
- Team spaces, going beyond the traditional conference room and toward more openly collaborative spaces.
- Broader cultural spaces, like outdoor areas or snack bars, to rest and recharge between times of focus.
Beyond a general variety of spaces for different kinds of work, Business News Daily recommends a workplace design that inspires productivity through plants and other decorations that make the workplace feel like home, outdoor spaces, opportunities for movement, and aligning your physical space with your company culture.
Why Are Industries Moving Toward Inspiring Workplace Design?
With a basic understanding of what inspiring office spaces look like, it’s time to dig deeper into why organizations across industries have begun embracing the concept.
The shift to remote work and coworking spaces as a hybrid alternative began in the 2000s. But it accelerated rapidly and began spanning far beyond the tech industry in March 2020, thanks to a fundamental shift in the way organizations functioned. And, with forced remote work in nearly every industry, workers began to realize that the physical company office doesn’t need to be a default space.
Today, 68% of employees say a hybrid schedule is the best workplace model. According to Gallup, 6 in 10 remote workers are “extremely likely to change companies” if that flexibility is taken away. In this environment, employees must be convinced to return to an office—ideally a better office than the traditional one. This is where intentional, inspirational workplace design enters the equation.
That’s why businesses across many industries are now offering some form of remote flexibility. It’s also why coworking spaces, which can combine the benefits of remote work with the collaboration opportunities of the physical office, have risen so rapidly in popularity.
How the Right Office Space Can Enhance Productivity
Perhaps the most tangible and clear benefit of workplaces designed to inspire their occupants is the impact these spaces have on productivity. Consider, for example, the benefits of a flexible space that offers both open and private areas. By providing customized areas for every need and personality, your teams will be able to work in the environment where they feel most productive.
Research suggests that the less stressed your teams feel in their physical space, the more invested they will be. For example, 87% of workers say they would work harder and stay longer at a company that offers holistic health and wellness benefits, which could range from outdoor spaces to wellness rooms, ergonomic seating, and healthy snack options.
Forbes notes that remote workers are 7% more productive than those working in traditional offices. But while fully remote work can severely reduce the collaboration and community benefits of a shared physical space, coworking can be an ideal compromise. In fact, 84% of respondents to one survey said that working in a coworking space made them feel more motivated than working remotely.
The takeaway is clear: a warm, inspiring, and casual workplace that feels like home, while also promoting health and well-being, can go a long way toward transferring the productivity of remote work into office and coworking environments, as well.
Building Employee Morale Through Office Spaces that Inspire
It’s not just about productivity. In addition to helping your organization as much as possible, it’s also crucial to prioritize a workplace that boosts and sustains community amongst workers and overall office morale. Especially post-pandemic, this can become a significant challenge.
For example, a recent Gallup report found that only 20% of employees say that they have a best friend at work. Worker morale and well-being was affected by the stresses of COVID-19, with work-life balance near the top of worker concerns—thanks in part to the need to commute and plan a larger part of the day for work.
The role of inspiring office spaces is to address these challenging trends, effectively building community and boosting morale. The good news is that it’s well-prepared to do so. In fact, 82% of respondents to a recent survey said that working in a coworking space has increased their professional network, and 86% of workers using coworking spaces felt like they were part of a community.
Boosting morale, in other words, is about more than just providing spaces that enhance productivity. It’s about designing cultivated areas that provide holistic support for both individual and collaborative work. The goal is to create a sense of connection and professional community between individual members. Today’s workers can’t find these office qualities in remote work, and the traits tend to be very limited within a traditional office.
Using the Physical Space to Spark Creativity
Finally, it’s impossible to overstate just how much the physical design of the space around you can impact your creativity. For example, incorporating art and other visual decorations into the workspace has been shown to improve the creativity of those working in the space; even a well-placed and aesthetically pleasing wall or divider can have surprisingly positive effects.
Natural features matter, as well. Biophilic design, or the process of incorporating elements like water features, plants, and natural wood, has been shown to increase employees’ creativity and overall well-being by 15%. Combine this with features like breakout and social spaces, and the potential for increased creativity grows.
Other elements of office design boost creativity as well. Natural light and bright colors are surprisingly strong factors in the creative process. So is the mere existence of enough space around you. As it turns out, once you feel less cramped, your creative mind can also expand its capabilities.
Sometimes, sparking that creativity requires some solitude in a private space. At other times, you need to run ideas past other professionals. A snack break may be the thing you need, or a quick walk-and-work outside might just be the key. Workspaces that offer these features can lay the foundation for workers who are able to think more outside the box and become more willing to expand beyond the status quo.
How Coworking Spaces Can Answer the Call for Inspiring Office Design
Strategic workspace design is anything but a fad. Its importance might have accelerated with the pandemic, but the trend was already moving in this direction. Providing inspiring office spaces for your organization can go a long way toward building productivity, boosting morale, and sparking creativity.
That process may include going beyond the traditional company-owned office. Coworking spaces at Vuka allow your teams to take full advantage of intentionally designed coworking spaces that leverage many of the features discussed throughout this guide, from outdoor areas to collaborative spaces and private offices. Ready to inspire your team while building community and increasing productivity? Book a tour at one of our two Austin locations today.