Employee engagement is a serious bottom-line issue. According to the Steelcase Global Report, only 13 percent of global workers are highly engaged and highly satisfied with their work experience. 

When employees are disengaged, companies lose money, projects slow down, resources are drained and company goals are undermined, which is exactly why employee engagement is one of the key issues facing global organizations today. 

At Egyptian Workspace Partners, we know engagement is a complex issue that requires time and money. Still, we believe it's important to pinpoint exactly why  your people are disengaged and think of new ways to engage them through workplace design. 

In this article, we'll show how to create a great employee experience with these five design tips, so you can help boost employee engagement and productivity within your organization. 

4 Ways to Encourage Employee Engagement in the workplace

1. Give People Control over where and how they work  

How to Encourage Employee Engagement through Workplace Design in 2021

Engaged employees have more control over their experience at work. But still, 51 percent of people say they need an escape from working in the same place during the day, and 53 percent can’t find the right types of spaces they need at any given time.

The fact is, people need the freedom to work wherever they want. They need access to a broad ecosystem of spaces with different tools and atmospheres to meet their changing needs throughout the day.  

Highly engaged employees have greater flexibility to make choices about where and how they work. They can move around the office easily, change postures and choose where they want to work based on the work they need to do. 

In fact, the Steelcase Global Report found that as the amount of choice and control increased, employee engagement also went up, resulting in 88 percent of workers being more highly engaged and highly satisfied than before.  

Design Considerations

  • Offer a variety of settings, both in and out of the office, to help employees feel supported in their work
  • Install a room scheduling system like Steelcase Room Wizard or Crestron Room Scheduling so users can easily book space to collaborate or focus
  • Create separate zones for individual, team and organizational needs

2. Create Spaces that Support Wellbeing

How to Encourage Employee Engagement through Workplace Design in 2021

It's absolutely vital that employees feel as though they're being appreciated, heard and taken care of by their organization. After all, happy, healthy employees are more engaged and more productive, and they have lower turnover rates and absenteeism too. 

As reported by Gallup, one way to help boost employee engagement is to focus on their physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing. Of course, every person is unique, and their needs are different, but there are a variety of ways you can design for workplace wellbeing. 

To stay healthy, people need a work environment that fosters physical healthy, helps them think better and amplifies their performance through its policies, behaviors and design. 

Employees also need authentic places where they're free to be themselves and connect with colleagues, as well as office spaces that offer a wide range of ergonomic options, like height-adjustable desks or office seating that encourages active sitting.

Design Considerations

  • Incorporate natural elements, like lush greenery, living plant walls or materials with organic patterns or natural textiles
  • Position key work areas close to windows and install glass wall partitions to increase the amount of natural light within your office
  • Encourage all-day movement with easy-to-adjust furniture that fits a variety of sizes, needs and preferences 
  • Provide work cafes and coffee bars with healthy food options so workers can rejuvenate and get to know each other better

3. Design a workplace for tomorrow with technology

How to Encourage Employee Engagement through Workplace Design in 2021

From smart homes to smart cars, technology has completely changed the way we live. Despite that, people are still working in offices that offer little in terms of technology that helps them work better, think better and feel better. 

Without easy-to-use, accessible technology, people can't do their jobs correctly. When this happens, they're more likely to be disengaged and unproductive because they're frustrated or distracted. 

Going forward, organizations will need to consider the changes in how people work. They'll want to thoughtfully integrate technology into the physical work environment, so their employees can easily share ideas and information from any location or any device. 

On top of that, companies can use embedded technology to reveal what spaces are and aren't being used, so they can finetune those spaces to ensure their employees are highly engaged and productive. 

Design Considerations

  • Opt for space management sensors like Steelcase Workplace Advisor or Crestron XiO Cloud to deliver real-time usage data and drive employee engagement 
  • Provide people with ample access to mobile devices and large-scale collaboration devices with videoconferencing tools
  • Install room scheduling systems like Steelcase Room Wizard or Crestron Room Scheduling so people can easily book space to focus or collaborate
  • Use similar tools and technology in all spaces, both in-office and at home, so distributed teams can collaborate and communicate effectively

4. Achieve a balance between privacy and collaboration

How to Encourage Employee Engagement through Workplace Design in 2021

While open-plan work environments make it easier to connect or collaborate with colleagues, people also need private spaces where they can rejuvenate, take a private phone call or focus on heads-down work without distraction. 

However, too much privacy and not enough interaction with others (or vice-versa) can actually take a toll on employee engagement, productivity and wellbeing. 

When reimagining your workspace, you'll want to achieve a balance between privacy and collaboration. Ultimately, the number of private spaces you need will depend on your employees and what they need to be highly engaged and productive. 

At the same time, you'll need to provide plenty of collaboration spaces, so people can get together and talk without having to reserve a conference room hours ahead of time. 

Design Considerations 

  • Support both spontaneous and planned needs for privacy with phone booths and pods
  • Provide nomadic height-adjustable workstations so people can focus or work one-one-one with a coworker, while maintaining privacy in an open office
  • Use a solution like Steelcase Flex to create destinations in the open plan and define space so teams can create together without distractions
  • Let workers manage visibility and availability with a broad range of boundary options like screens, partitions, furniture or plants 

Why should you care about employee engagement? 

It's cliché to say employees are an organization's most important asset, but it's the truth. Without the right people, businesses wouldn't be able to generate new ideas, solve problems or come up with game-changing products. 

Yet, some companies seem to forget about their employees and what they need to be highly engaged at work. Unfortunately, these businesses are unable to understand their people's needs, wants and expectations. 

To create a great employee experience, organizations need to listen to their people and observe how they work. They need to optimize their space for performance, provide smart technology and create places where people actually want to work. 

That being said, engagement is an ongoing process, but it's a step in the right direction. By putting your people first and foremost, you'll be better positioned to attract and retain the best talent, outperform competitors and thrive. 

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Brett Baltz

Written by Brett Baltz