David Press, Managing Director - DMJ Recruitment
The first purpose-built office is thought to be the Old Admiralty Building in London which opened its doors in 1726, allowing for a space where employees could work under strict supervision. As the office place evolved, open-planned spaces became popular and often consisted of rows of people sitting on desks being constantly supervised by their managers. This first iteration of the office was not about connectivity, happiness or the even mental health of employees instead, it was about short leashes and high production. We’ve come a long way, baby!
With the development of technology, the number of offices increased dramatically throughout the 19th century and added new features like private offices and meeting rooms. Electricity allowed people to work longer and more efficiently however, the idea of creating an employee friendly space to boost moral and, ultimately, productivity didn’t come until the turn of the century and throughout the 1900’s.
No one will be surprised to learn that we’ve been going through another workflow evolution which was fast-tracked by the pandemic. Employees are enjoying a digital transformation and remote work is becoming more popular. Modern technology allow people to not only be able to work from home but to finally be as, or even more, productive as they would be in the office. In fact, Hybrid working has become one of the most essential factors when people are looking for a new role. This transformation has provided an opportunity for people to have a greater work/life balance, has allowed employees to spend more time with family and reduce commute times & the associate costs.
The most successful businesses tend to be those with the happiest employees. Motivated employees will often go the extra mile, not because they have to, but because they want to. So, what are organisations doing in the 21st century to ensure a happy, healthy and productive workplace? How far have we come from the Old Admiral Building and how can you ensure the happiness & productivity of your employees and the success of your business?
- Natural lighting and colours impact employees’ energy and productivity and colourful elements change the environment and feel of the office. Avoiding drab colours and a darkness will help your employees feel at home.
- Providing quiet spaces is also essential, places where employees can retreat or focus on a difficult project without distractions is worth the investment.
- Treating employees to lunch/breakfast once a week can be a good way to reward and build strong relationships within the team.
- Adding wellness activities can really improve the well-being of the employees. Encouraging them to go for a run or to the gym during lunch can be a way of getting a break from the usual routine and improving productivity during those long afternoon stretches. Many organisations provide gym discounts or perks for those who take care of their physical well-being.
- Scheduling fun activities for a healthy company culture, such as going for a drink after work is a good reward for the employees for their hard work.
- Improving communication between the manager and employee is also essential. Setting standing meetings each week to discuss the current focuses and discover where support can be offered is a helpful way to understand the needs of your team and goes a long way to showing employee’s they are valued!
- The option to work from home is now an essential part of any employment package. Most companies are now offering hybrid working with at least two days remote. Those looking to grow their team or retain their current talent will find it difficult without a progressive hybrid working policy. Furthermore, current employees will be more satisfied, and therefore more productive, with the option of working outside the office for at least part of the week.
- Allowing staff members to set up their own schedule can increase productivity and employee satisfaction. Everyone is different and while some are more productive in the morning, others may benefit from a later start.
- Pet-friendly offices have also been a great addition to working life with pets providing a source of comfort and relaxation to their owners and co-workers. As a dog-lover myself, I whole-heartily support this new trend!
- Offering recognition for hard work and successful projects consistently is a huge part of why the modern office has become so successful. Managers have realised that loyalty and productivity will reign when employees feel valued. Additionally, proper and consistent feedback help reduce employee turnover creating a stronger business with long-lasting teams.
Over the decades, we’ve improved our office life by leaps and bounds. We’ve gone from the stick to the carrot to comfortable spaces which foster communications, productivity and creativity. The office is an ecosystem that will continue to evolve, and businesses will need to adapt to the times - updating their policies based on current climates to ensure a happy, healthy and productive workforce.