The vast majority of employers want people back together at work once the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control. Will employees who’ve become used to a remote workplace comply?
A new white paper from the Silverado Roundtable advises U.S. employers to embrace workplace design focused on creating a collaborative culture to remain competitive and retain top talent. According to The Nature of the Post-Pandemic Workplace, one-third of office workers say the design of an office would affect their decision to accept a job offer.
“Especially for Millennial and Gen Z employees, we learned in 2020 work is a ‘thing,’ not a ‘place’ for most office based employees,” said Jim Mumford, owner of Good Earth Plant Company in San Diego, CA. “Work is something you do and not a place where you go.”
“The great redesign of the modern American office is underway,” said Shane Pliska of Detroit based Planterra Corporation. “Designers are working not only with high-tech firms, but traditional corporate clients to create fresh collaborative spaces to motivate and welcome employees on their return.”
Here are some key findings from The Nature of the Post-Pandemic Workplace:
- Just one in five remote workers said they wanted to go back to an office full-time.
- One-third of office workers say the design of an office would affect their decision to accept a job offer.
- Top items desired in office space by employees: Natural light, live indoor plants, and quiet working space.
- Healthy workplaces are no longer negotiable. Access to fresh air, natural light, adequate personal space, and cleanliness affect the perception of safety.
- Creating a nature-based environment with plants and natural materials is essential to post-pandemic business survival.
- One month of workplace greenery maintenance costs less than buying lunch for employees once a month
According to the World Health Organization, 19% of factors affecting health and wellbeing are directly related to the built environment, making architects and designers key to protecting public health.
Design professionals have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance current thinking about the optimal work environment. In the white paper, the Silverado Roundtable — composed of workplace greenery experts who work with design professionals, facilities managers, human resources professionals, and other business leaders — examines these economic and design challenges, and explores the human behavior and response behind the issues.
The report offers answers architects, interior designers, and human resources leaders can incorporate and implement to give their clients the ability to productively and profitably use their commercial space and push back the pandemic threat to their livelihoods.
As valued talent returns, employees will demand surroundings serving their needs at least as well as their home workspaces do. They want assurances they will be safe. Competition will emerge for these top employees as unemployment rates rebound. Employers will need to make the case in large part through the working environment they create.
“In our experience, a well-designed space with natural elements makes it easier to recruit talented employees and can better provide those employees with a workplace that is energy lifting, instead of energy zapping,” said Edward McDonnell, owner of Botanical Designs in Seattle, WA.
Workplaces built to maximize space efficiency are no longer desirable, according to the white paper. The reconsidered workplace will foster collaboration and communication in environments with a focus on creativity and inspiration in a healthier way. Companies must cultivate their culture, creating a place where people want to gather and work together to contribute to a greater purpose.