National Business Furniture’s new study and recent work reveal office furniture’s impact on workers’ well-being.
Executives and employees alike can appreciate beautifully designed workspaces, but a recent study from National Business Furniture (NBF) shows just how valuable they can be. According to the study by Kelton Global on behalf of NBF, a whopping 92% of American workers say that when their physical workspace is not up to par, their mental well-being and productivity can suffer. Because office design affects stress levels and mood, more thoughtfully designed workspaces can mean happier, more productive employees.
The shift in the nature of work is a major driver of this trend. Because working from home is on the rise and technology like laptops and smartphones allows for increased flexibility, the days where workers sit at their desk for eight hours a day are dwindling. “Employees have greater flexibility than ever before to work outside the office,” says Dean Stier, chief marketing officer at NBF. “It’s more of a centralized hub, where people can meet, share ideas, and check in on projects. We don’t see this trend slowing down, so spaces need to change along with this.”
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Flexibility is Key
NBF’s study shows workspace preferences differ somewhat by generation. While nearly one in five working millennials attribute open floor plans to their happiness at work, they still desire some privacy in the workplace; 40% of millennials, compared to 30% of boomers, say having privacy screens or walls around their workspaces are essential. In general, flexibility is key, as 43% of NBF’s study respondents said not having a private space would affect their mental wellness, and 25% value flexible areas to work away from their usual workspaces.
In many offices, static cubicles, offices, and corner offices are giving way to a variety of new creative spaces: meeting nooks, phone rooms for privacy, and conference rooms that allow for greater flexibility. When digital advertising company Sizmek outgrew its space, it turned to NBF, which it had worked with to redesign its offices in the past. They sought the furniture company to build out a new space from the ground up, making it a colorful, vibrant workplace in keeping with the company’s branding. The space is a blend of collaborative and private areas: open desks and breakout meeting areas as well as small conference rooms and phone booths to take personal calls.
“NBF is great about matching our furniture requirements with a cool, fun look and feel,” says Tim Quillin, associate vice president of real estate and facilities at Sizmek. “The result is high-quality, stylish pieces that are still cost-effective, which is a win for us. There’s plenty of breakout and private space for our teams and a variety of furniture. People were ecstatic when they first saw it. It really helps with employee retention.”
“Sizmek is excited and enthusiastic about their space,” says Rusty Jenkins, NBF’s regional sales manager. “It energizes the employees and makes them want to go to work. We’re not just selling furniture—we’re creating environments and creating furniture that works for customers based on their needs.”
Companies can accomplish a lot by making small changes to their workspaces, like updating their breakroom or redesigning a conference room, according to Stier. “When it comes to employee retention and recruitment, a lot of attention has been given to things like adding ping-pong tables and creating Silicon Valley-type environments, but that’s really not what’s driving great office spaces,” he says. “It’s about making people comfortable, with different spaces for different needs—having open space but being careful not to ostracize your introverts. Acknowledging that the nature of work is changing and doing small things to your office can make a really big difference.”
“The walls of the cubicle are coming down, and people are using their spaces for different purposes,” Jenkins says. “Having a cool, fun work environment shows employees you care and affects their morale and productivity.”
A recent study by Kelton Global on behalf of NBF pinpointed four primary factors that can derail workplace satisfaction:
1. Cluttered work area.
2. Outdated technology.
3. Poor workspace ergonomics.
4. A lack of privacy and flexibility.