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How to Use Your Office Culture to Build Employee Engagement

“Work and play are the words used to describe the same thing under different conditions.”

- Mark Twain

How do your employees’ surroundings impact their productivity? Do they perform better in certain environments than others? Some of today’s most forward-thinking organizations—Google, Zappos, Pixar, 6 p.m. and Red Bull, to name a few—have discovered the power of an innovative office culture to keep employees energized and engaged.

Before we dig deeper into understanding how to build employee engagement with office culture, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with a few terms.

So what is office culture?

It’s more than coffee stations, holiday parties and the occasional birthday cake. We’re talking about the intangibles that make your company unique.

Office culture is a blanket concept covering all aspects of a company’s operations, from location to dress code and management styles. It also includes things like corporate history and traditions, recruitment and hiring practices, even the color on the walls.

Indeed, physical environment is central to the “vibe” of an organization. In addition to the layout and configuration of a workplace, its colors, textures, accents and other aesthetics all influence how employees think, feel and work.

Your corporate culture can ensure that your employees aren’t just present, but engaged.

And what is employee engagement?

Satisfaction is different than engagement. Satisfied employees are generally content with their jobs. They get their work done and collect their paychecks.

Engaged employees, on the other hand, are genuinely passionate, energized and excited about their work—and that enthusiasm shines in their job performance. They continually look for ways to learn, improve and evolve. They’re the kinds of workers who inspire those around them to excel.

An engaged employee is an asset to any organization. Dozens of studies have shown that an engaged staff results in higher levels of service, sales, quality, safety, retention and profits. And of course, a great office culture simply makes the day-to-day better for you and your employees.

How can you build employee engagement?

While many factors contribute to an employee’s level of engagement (or lack thereof), the physical workplace plays a big role.

Whether you’re planning your office space from scratch or revamping your existing space, here are some things you can do to help foster an engaging environment:

Create a multipurpose workspace.

No two employees work alike, so why should every work area be identical?

To help foster engaged employees, strive to offer a dynamic space that caters to a wide variety of working styles, personalities, and job duties. Ideally, there should be a mixture of open spaces - which make for easier collaboration - blended with private areas to enhance individual work.

When planning workspaces, invite employees to share their suggestions and preferences to ensure that your solutions meet their needs.

Cultivate a strong and inspiring culture.

Employees naturally (often unconsciously) react to their surroundings, and their reactions will ultimately reflect in their work—good or bad. By providing a comfortable, inspiring, and aesthetically pleasing workspace, you’ll encourage team members to get excited about being a valuable part of your company.

In addition, you can develop culture by planning team-building events and seeking input from employees at all levels. As an example, many smart new libraries have started a dialogue with local residents to get their input on design, to ensure that new buildings reflect their community’s vision and values. Your company can do the same.

Make it interactive.

We all know what happens when it’s all work and no play. Studies show that creating more opportunities for fun in the workplace can boost productivity and reduce sick days.

Many tech companies build interactive features into their office design to encourage a sense of fun, which leads to higher levels of engagement.

For example, when you visit Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, you feel the energy. The “Googleplex” has features you’d associate with a luxury cruise ship, not an office space. Employees can build at the gigantic Lego area, climb ladders instead of staircases, enjoy massages, rock climb and have meetings while playing pool or Ping-Pong in spacious game rooms.

On the surface such amenities may seem like the indulgences of a cash-rich megacorporation. But the results are undeniable, and even a small family company can learn from the best.

Design for equality.

Successful workspaces are designed for all employees. Each employee should feel equally important and valued with a space that’s conducive to his or her personality and working style.

One key is to account for workplace flexibility from the get-go. Set a workflow, and choose furniture and colors you can configure in a variety of ways. It can be daunting, but that’s where we can help with a customized solution.

Ready, set, engage!

It’s a given that encouraging employee engagement has big benefits for businesses. The quickest path to engagement is to foster communication among employees of all levels—and physical office design plays a big role in that process.

To start designing a more engaging environment, browse modern office furnishings from Connecting Elements.

Need a little help? Our skilled office and space planners can help you design the workspace best suited for your team, culture, and values. Give us a call at 877-779-3409, send an email, or drop by one of our showrooms in Charlotte, NC or Columbia, SC.

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