33 (128) 2018
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Real Estate & Construction

From the office desk to commitment – how does the workplace affect your team?

By Anna Bartoszewicz-Wnuk, head of Workplace Advisory, JLL
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Anyone who spends a minimum of eight hours sitting down at work, and mostly at an office desk, starts after some time to recognise the health consequences of such a lifestyle.

What immediately comes to mind are back problems. Indeed, this is the most common ailment, but there are other problems that can be exacerbated by our daily work.
Employers are increasingly aware of the fact that the well-being of their employees translates, to a large extent, into increased job satisfaction and a rise in productivity. But back in the 1990s, when the multinational corporations began launching their offices in Poland, no one paid much attention to this matter. Back then, having your own office, as big as possible (often in a separate L-shaped room that ensured privacy), was a symbol of status and an object of envy for those who worked at smaller work stations located in open-space office areas. The main elements of the office therefore consisted of individual work spaces, where each employee spent a large part of their day. Apart from depriving employees of the possibility to select their own place, the downside of such a solution was 'space-absorbency' – the arrangement required quite a large area, which translated into higher maintenance costs. And one cannot help but get the impression that in such an office an employee might feel merely as a cog in a great machine, and who has little or no impact on company operations.

Fortunately, modern offices increasingly operate contrary to such solutions. The modern office layout is also influenced by progressive changes to the management model among modern companies. They are made up of predominantly open or semi-open spaces, arranged in a flexible and employee-friendly way and which can accommodate a range of working styles. This set-up allows employees with the possibility to change a working place to match the task at hand. In addition to the comfortable and ergonomic chairs and desks (that can often be adjusted to a standing position), employees can now use locations in the office dedicated to, for example, working in focused seclusion, performing creative tasks as well as conducting meetings, both formal and informal. This option of being able to choose the most appropriate working place at any given time is beneficial to one's well-being. An additional motivation to break away from the desk are the relaxation areas - both silent (couches, hammocks, beanbags), and those that are equipped with games such as table football, game consoles, etc). This type of space contributes to integration between employees, which in turn leads to greater engagement among employees and more positive experiences associated with the workplace.

According to research conducted by JLL with the company's 40 global customers across 12 countries, only 40% of employees feel committed to their work while 11% of workers declare that they have none. However, a well-planned office can significantly help to improve the overall perception of the workplace among employees. In addition to the above, what is of paramount importance in terms of increasing employee commitment are large kitchens which offer plenty of places to sit and relax. This encourages teams either to have a chat over coffee or lunch. All these activities contribute to the development of a happy and fulfilled team, whose members enjoy what they do and are effective while doing it. This success, however, requires the appropriate planning and implementation. Conducting an office space analysis in-house can prove to be challenging. So it may be a good idea to seek the help of a consultant who will professionally adjust the arrangement strategy and office functionalities to the needs of an organisation as well as helping to implement all necessary measures. Companies and their employees have different needs, so it is not possible to come up with an off-the-peg solution. Developing an individual approach and taking into account employees' opinions are an absolute must.

One must remember that a modern office should not only contain an attractive design with eye-catching corporate colors. The most important thing is to ensure a comfortable working environment, especially when the employers operate on a very competitive market in this era of increased fight for talents. The office layout is increasingly regarded as an important weapon in the fight to reduce staff attrition rates. In particular, young people (the Millennial generation), when considering various employment offers, pay more and more attention to the comfort and the atmosphere at work as well as all the benefits that the employer has to offer. However, a satisfaction-oriented approach starts to emerge from an organisation’s internal needs as well. The reason for this is simple – managers grow aware of the tangible benefits that can result from actions focused on the employee. A comfortable office is a happy office!

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