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Office Design Influences Retention

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Office Design Influences Retention
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Office Design Influences Retention
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An ideal space can generate an ideal workplace.

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An ideal space can generate an ideal workplace.

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Career Resources

HR: Employee Retention

An ideal space can generate an ideal workplace

By Lindsey Nolen

Aside from attaining an adequate salary, a comprehensive benefits package and a tolerable commute, job-seekers now largely consider what a company's workplace environment has to offer before accepting employment. These applicants, especially recent graduates, want to work in spaces that promote success and productivity while incorporating positivity, relaxation and comfort through their surroundings.

According to Gensler,1 a global architecture, design and planning firm; factors that influence the ability of an employee to focus most efficiently include the functionality of primary spaces, optimal design and effective noise management. Additionally, workplace innovation can be fostered by offering a variety of setting options where employees are capable of conducting work.

Mimicking University Settings

These location options are important because when professionals utilize different workplace strategies, they often require different focus or collaboration spaces. Furthermore, in order to attract and retain younger talent, companies must make a focused effort to study work styles and analyze the environments that millennials prefer. In doing so, researchers often reflect on where many of these young adults have spent the last four or five years of their lives -- college.

Office Design Influences Retention

"Our hypothesis is that corporations should address today's work styles and take design cues from higher institutions," explained Jonathan Webb, vice president of sales and marketing and workplace strategy at KI Furniture, a manufacturer of innovative furniture and movable wall system solutions headquartered in New York City. "86% of newly hired graduates become lost when they make the transition from college to corporate."

Contributing to these feelings, college work styles have led recent graduates to become more content and familiar with remote and optional work spaces rather than with the confinements of a cubicle. By providing more spatial options, including college-inspired spaces for collaboration, the ability to work remotely and to sit wherever and with whomever one wishes, companies ultimately promote better business performance and employee satisfaction.


Designing an office to suit all types of employees is also crucial to the success and retention of a company. Being able to complete designated responsibilities and to move with general ease around the workplace environment should apply to all workers, regardless of age or disability. For an accessible workplace, eliminating barriers that could otherwise prevent people with disabilities from working to their potential will maximize productivity.2

To become fully inclusive, a workplace must seek to be accessible technologically, attitudinally and physically. Workplace accommodations that most frequently need to be made include those to parking lots, entrances and exits, shared work spaces, desks, stairwells, common spaces and restrooms. In order for a company to most efficiently evaluate their accessibility needs, it is fundamentally beneficial for them to contract a consultant with a related specialty.

"Having office furniture ergonomically designed to fit multiple generations as well as those who might have disabilities is an asset. People don't work well if they feel uncomfortable using their office furniture," commented Leslie Markman-Stern of Leslie M. Stern Design LTD, a residential and commercial interior design company in Chicago. "For example, if a task chair is not adjustable for someone who has spinal issues, someone who is under 5-feet tall or over 5-foot-9, the employee may be in pain and therefore not perform well in the office."

Physical Components

A company's physical appearance has also been known to impact a worker?s perception of the workplace and employee retention. Employees want to enjoy their surroundings and feel at ease while at work, and one way this is possible is through the integration of artwork.

"While we knew artwork and office design can positively affect employee retention, we wanted to know with cold hard facts. So we did some research and commissioned a survey with the Business Committee for the Arts Inc. and the International Association for Professional Art Advisors, which revealed some telling facts," explained Marlon Heimerl, director of marketing at Art Force, a company specializing in artwork solutions specifically designed to improve employee and customer retention. "94% of people who responded agree that artwork enhances the work environment."

Incorporating nature into the workplace additionally helps boost morale and efficiency. In recent years, the human affinity for nature has continuously become involved in building-design concepts. Natural designs have come to include the addition of plants, green technology, increased daylight, more fresh air and natural-looking design schemes.

"Direct connections to nature provide a number of benefits for the use of a building, including less stress, higher performance, increased emotional well-being, better learning, and directly related to this type of office, faster healing," said Ryan Thewes, an architect at Nashville Modern Architecture in Nashville, Tenn.

These benefits further contribute to higher rates of employee retention, important to the overall health of an organization or business. If unable to keep employees, employers lose valuable assets to their teams, as well as the money they've already spent training them.

Lindsey Nolen is a former staff writer at ADVANCE.


1. Gensler. What factors drive workplace performance?

2. Work Without Limits. An accessible workplace.

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