Offices in Jackson and around the nation have been evolving for decades. First, the cube farms of the 1990s were replaced by an open floor plan and surrounded by smaller office space plans.
Then, in a new trend following Google’s example, we saw ping pong tables, stationary bikes, and bean bag chairs arrive at work. Recently, the stand-to-work movement took hold, and everyone needed the appropriate desks for that.
We’re coming to the end of a truly bizarre year in 2020, and we can predict more changes happening in office layout and design in 2021. Your ideal new office space in Jackson will be easy to clean, socially distant, and well lit. Ideally, you’ll have access to some opening windows and natural light. Grubby ping pong paddles are out, sneeze guards are in. And top talent is sure to have some caveats as they return to the office in 2021.
Today, we’re going to talk about the things great employees are looking for as they return to work. And for many, cleanliness trumps a steady paycheck. If you’re wondering how to select and design the best office space in 2021, read on.
On the Future of Office Space Hygiene and Visitor Behavior
If you’re in the market for office space in the wake of COVID-19, know the best employees are going to have a different set of standards this year. The team at Speed Commercial Real Estate is two steps ahead of the game. We know what your staff wants more than anything this year: a meticulously clean office.
Frequent, professional office space cleaning is crucial this year.
Schedule professional cleaners at the end of a shift, rather than on the weekends. This way, they’re arriving as employees leave. This will boost your staff’s confidence in a clean environment. Also, know that:
- Office employees will be looking for designated workspaces — phone sharing is out.
- They’ll also appreciate a hand sanitizing station in the lobby for visitors and gentle reminders (signage) that support social distancing.
- Therefore, new lessees should closely examine their office space options with a proper lobby in mind.
Returning to work in an office space after a long time working from home (WFH), your employees will be less fit. They’ll have shorter attention spans in the beginning. Even though they’re excited to be back in the game, don’t expect a blast of high-productivity immediately. Spend a few days reviewing updated employee handbooks and post-pandemic best practices to help them get back in the groove.
And, you can boost their mood and morale by offering some new perks this year.
A Focus on Employee Wellbeing in 2021
In 2019, Forbes Magazine published some interesting statistics provided by a Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report. We find them even more poignant today:
- 87% of employees surveyed would prefer an employer who offered wellness-focused perks. These could manifest as gym memberships, workout rooms (frequently disinfected), healthier lunch options, and sit-to-stand desk space.
- 93% of tech employees said they’d stay longer with employers who offered those types of perks.
But there’s more to employee health than cardio! Noise issues and lighting are two more examples.
Noise Pollution and Worker Productivity in “The New Normal”
Some of your staffers have been multi-tasking throughout the pandemic. They’ve somehow managed to homeschool children, be with their family 24/7, and still get their jobs done. By now, they’ve mastered the skill of focusing in a disruptive environment.
What a relief it will be to work in a wholly professional environment, free of outside distractions and noise! You can take advantage of that feeling by creating a quieter office space, free of noise pollution.
Naturally, a bustling office is going to have a certain amount of background noise. Phones and faxes ringing, visitors chatting, the occasional rumble of a truck outside lends a certain “buzz” to an office that customers will respect.
But excessive or continual sounds do affect the mental health and stress levels of your employees. Noise pollution can lead to an increase in disturbing emotions and a reduction in productivity. In the long term, it can cause headaches, increased stress, and higher blood pressure.
If you’re re-homing your business in 2021, your goal should be a less disruptive office space.
By this, we mean the sort of place staff can arrive a little early and stay a little late, rather than checking the clock every five minutes of the day. From the employee perspective, constant disruption might be managed easier at home — which could drive them to seek a WFH position.
- Pro-tip: ask the lessor or property manager to turn on the HVAC systems when you visit an office. A roaring AC might feel wonderful, but ask yourself if it will disrupt work.
Another aspect to consider is natural light and fresh air.
On Sunlight and Employee Retention
Per the Harvard Business Review (HBR), the number one perk in any workspace is natural lighting.
In 2018, HBR published findings by HR firm Future Workplace titled “The Employee Experience.” In a research poll of 1,614 employees, they discovered that access to natural light and picturesque views of the outdoors are the primary attributes employees seek in a workspace.
They found that sunlight and a view is more valuable than other highly-prized perks, including on-site daycare facilities!
Furthermore, they found that an absence of natural light and outdoor views in an office space damages the employee experience:
- More than one-third of employees surveyed feel they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace.
- Nearly half of them (47%) claim they feel tired or exhausted from the absence of natural light or a window at their office.
- 43% report they feel “gloomy” because of the lack of sunlight.
Research at Cornell corroborates these findings.
Research by Professor, Dr. Alan Hedge of Cornell University, reinforces the connection between natural light with wellbeing and staff retention. His study found the optimization of natural light in an office significantly improves health among staff. Workers in office environments with plenty of sunlight reported a 51% drop in eyestrain incidence, a 63% drop in headache issues, and a 56% reduction in drowsiness.
Ultimately, we know that 2021 will be an unprecedented year for businesses. We’d suggest that companies take advantage of commercial real estate availability and seek the very best office space for their dollars. It will pay off in increased productivity among your staff and better retention rates. This is more important than ever this year, as we all know how difficult (expensive) it is to hire and train top talent.