When designing an office space, whether that be brand new premises or a refit of an existing workplace, thought should certainly be given to those working within on a daily basis. A well-designed working environment can have a remarkable effect upon the workforce, and companies are steadily beginning to realise this fact. In line with this realisation, a new study recently conducted by Unispace has found that HR managers are now taking a much more active role in workplace design as creating a positive employee “experience” is seen in an increasingly-important light.

The study of 100 HR Directors asserts that if future success is to be achieved, heightened emphasis must be placed upon keeping the workforce “engaged in the workplace”, enabling them to better collaborate with colleagues and boosting productivity as a result.

Simon Pole, Unispace Global Design Director, commented, “Our research suggests that there will be greater HR ownership of the physical workspace. This is reflective of a change in perspective from ‘human resources’ to responsibility for the employee life cycle and experience, and a growing sentiment that employees are internal ‘customers’.”

This effectively means that HR professionals are set to take on the role of “curator” within the office, charged with creating a positive atmosphere to inspire the large pool of millennials now entering the working world en-masse.

This focus on employee experience is, according to the survey’s respondents, now reaching heights previously reserved exclusively for clients and customers, reaffirming the aforementioned assertion from Mr Pole that the workforce itself is now seen more as a group of internal customers. An unnamed HR director from an unspecified Fortune 500 company told Unispace, “It is really heartening that people are starting to talk about employees as ‘customers’ of the organisation. They actually are; we refer to them as the first and most important customers.”

Another unnamed respondent stated, “I think more and more HRs are looking at the general experience of work. So, our intention of inspiring this debate absolutely feeds into taking a more active interest in how the buildings are set out, how people work together, how they meet, how they engage. Does the building help or hinder that?”

These opinions do however differ depending upon the company’s base location. While on a global scale 80% of respondents said they foresee greater HR ownership of the physical workspace, this drops to just 67% amongst European enterprises. Australia presented the most positive response with 86% of respondents agreeing with the above statement. This figure drops to 85% in New Zealand and 73% in the United States.

“We have identified a clear consensus that workplace culture, employee engagement and knowledge sharing are all substantially affected by a change of work environment,” explained Mr Pole. “Similarly, while wellness, talent attraction and talent retention are less affected, there is still a significant perceived correlation with a change in physical space. These findings highlight the immense opportunities organisations have to realise strategic HR objectives if they engage with their people during any workplace change.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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