enhance employee experience
22 February, 2024
How to enhance employee engagement through office design
The Forrester Research report, Customer service unplugged: How to scale empathetic customer service, put numbers to something that many of us probably already know - that the vast majority (82%) of customers who feel appreciated and respected are likely to spend more with a brand.

However, to achieve a positive customer experience, your employees must first have a positive experience in the workplace.

How do you do that? Your office space can make a profound difference, setting the tone, the expectation and driving behaviours within your team. Here’s how. 

How to create positive behaviours in the workplace

The Forrester report itself highlighted the key aspects for creating an environment that fosters an engaged team includes creating training environments, implementing technologies that enable focus and understanding, as well as building a positive space to work in.

We also know this to be true in practice, starting with the fundamentals of flow, the foundation on which design is developed. Design Director, Jose Mercado sums it up perfectly, saying:

“Flow enhances behaviour, so it’s an incredibly important part of working environments, understanding what a client wants to achieve in the workspace and helping them to reach that goal. If you create a path that’s straight vs one that’s meandering, it will encourage entirely different emotions and behaviours in those who use it. Design flow influences the behaviour of the users and affects where you place adjacencies such as meeting rooms, social areas, open plan areas according to the interactions you want to encourage during the working day.” 

enhance employee engagement

Establishing workplace culture through design

Designing an office is about much more than bringing the brand into the paint colours and making sure that everyone has a desk.

They are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the psychology of the space.

Instead, a magnetic office is workplace that attracts people to utilise them as a major part of their working lives, providing an enhanced employee experience, encouraging community, wellbeing and culture.

Your workplace is the first visual indicator of your values and who you are, attracting talent and giving people a sense of what to expect. It also sets the tone for how comfortable, supported and motivated your people feel when they’re at work, which in turn will influence their commitment to staying.

As an example, part of that creation of culture may include encouraging people to stay in the office on their lunch breaks with places that they enjoy spending time. A dedicated coffee shop, akin to the best on the high street, is one of our most popular contributions to workplaces. It may seem like a luxury, but reinventing cafe culture at work creates the places that give people a moment’s break, making them feel supported, and enabling spontaneous conversations (‘chaos theory’ as Chief Design Officer Colin Owen puts it).

Influencing workplace behaviour through design

Driving behaviours through design is essential in what we do, and ultimately, it’s understanding behaviours in the workplace that influences productivity, wellbeing and culture, all of which contribute to engagement. Without a happy, healthy team, you can’t have an engaged, proactive, productive team.

Nurturing behavioural change

An example of this in action was in our work with financial services company, Hymans Robertson LLP. We worked with them to transform a two-floor workspace to meet the needs of a modern environment.

Instead of team members coming to the office, sitting in one place all day and then going home, which had historically resulted in siloed departments, the design nurtured behavioural change. Individuals would not have a dedicated desk going forward but would be encouraged to interact through fluid neighbourhoods and zones.   

Creating pathways for communication

enhance employee engagement

At leading tech firm, Datatonic, their blue cross logo became the basis on which we brought teams together by encouraging movement through the space. We formed three circular areas with the cross running through in the carpet and in acoustic panels on the ceiling, creating literal pathways around the office, connecting one space to the next, encouraging communication and movement.

Connectivity and wellbeing for staff retention

Meanwhile, at Lowell UK Shared Services, where the call centre was known for being a pressurised environment ripe for burnout, company leaders were highly focused on supporting team wellbeing. One way that was addressed was by encouraging movement and connection in the vast office. While lifts and accessibility measures were readily available, a beautiful staircase also became a significant feature, encouraging people to walk where possible and engage with different people within the organisation.

Designing offices to support individual needs

The other aspect of nurturing engagement is enabling people to work in a way that suits them. We increasingly understand that people work, learn and operate in different ways.

While some people thrive in a buzzing open plan space, others prefer peace and quiet in order to concentrate. While some of us feed off the energy of bright colours and engaging stimuli, others need much more tranquil spaces to concentrate. That need varies from peripheral preference to fundamental need depending on the individual, but design can be the game changer to enhance employee experience and gives people the support to maximise their contributions in the workplace. 

Design Director, Adam Haury, who is passionate about creating spaces that support people in their needs and roles, says: “Neurodiverse people are everywhere and creating environments for neurodiversity is super important. Just as we need to make sure we create spaces that respect peoples’ wellbeing in other ways, thinking about neurodiversity in the workplace is essential.”

enhance employee engagement

How to design an office to enhance employee engagement

Lighting, choosing where to work, connecting people and supporting wellbeing are all tools that are powerful contributors to workplace culture and help to enhance employee engagement. However, two other things are essential to keep in mind when designing your office:

  1. The specifics of your organisation and your people
  2. What does the future look like?

A workspace that enhances employee experience, comes down to the specifics of your company culture, your organisation, and your team. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. A vital part of the process for us is extensive research and understanding of your business and your people.

The future of work

Great design isn’t just about creating an environment that work for today, but one that has the capacity to evolve with ever changing wants and needs.

As technology and knowledge progress collectively, we can become ever more sophisticated in how we support and create engagement amongst our teams. Equally, the specific progression of your company will also impact how an office is designed to evolve.

By carefully considering and executing the design to meet your current and future needs, we create a dynamic environment that enhances employee experience and drives the behaviours you want and exceeds expectation.

Do you want to find out how your office could improve employee engagement?

Speak to the team at Maris